On Being a Beginning Witch, Doing Protection Rituals, and Guarding Against Magical Attack

Live the magical life for any length of time and you will eventually run afoul of someone who would prefer to see you six feet underground.  It’s inevitable; though, the frequency and type of magical throw-downs will vary according to the sort of work you do (and, by extension, the magical groups you frequent). 

For example, spend a lot of time with ceremonial magicians and mystics in the “linear” post-Masonic traditions (Golden Dawn, OTO, Martinists, SRIA, Theosophy, Argenteum Astrum, Aurum Solis, AMORC, etc.) and you’re probably not going to meet many people who have developed magical attack skills.  Those groups are far more interested in mystical states, pathworking, controlling the elements, and developing the “Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.” 

Sometimes, the grimoire traditions are studied in those groups (at high levels and only with a great amount of preparation and care).  But mostly such magical systems emphasize self-development and attaining “harmonium.”  Ceremonial magicians typically know a lot of magical history and theory and are often more comfortable in a study or a library than in the ritual chamber.  There is nothing wrong with that.  It is just one way to lead the magical life.

Contrast this with practitioners of the African Traditional Religions (“ATRs” like Kimbanda, Santeria, Vodun, Louisania Voodoo, Curandismo, Umbanda, 21 Divisiones, Palo, and many other traditions and styles), who come from cultures where being a working sorcerer is often a serious full-time profession.  In those communities, your reputation as someone who can do effective work and who is not to be messed with is also your professional standing. 

You have clients who trust you and who often put their lives in your hands.  You can’t afford to lose face and there is a lot of pride involved in these lineages and the magical transmissions they provide to their magicians.  In those groups, magical warfare is an inescapable part of one’s practice.  The stakes are always high.  And rivals can seriously harm you with their malefica.  But such groups aren’t necessarily any more powerful or better than the European ceremonialists (power depending, as always, on the individual in question and not on the system).  They’re just different, coming out of a different cultural background, and serving different cultural needs.

Eclectic witches, magic-doing Wiccans, folk magicians, neo-pagan shamans, hedge witches, and traditionalist-craft witches fall somewhere between these extremes.  The state of the craft is always changing, has trends and popular practices that come and go, and reacts positively or negatively to whichever b-list magical celebrity authors are currently being promoted by a small group of niche publishers. 

Certain deities emerge along with these things (consider that magical energy and magical energy beings primarily follow human attention).  And the amount of depth and scholarship also changes with the times.  Goofy new age pop-magic witch books from the 1970s may seem laughable on the surface but may also really work.  The most gravely serious Scarlet Imprint trad-craft grimoire put out yesterday in black leather, full of spooky neo-Latin invocations, might look cool and be utterly useless (cf. “dark fluff”).

Facing this extremely confusing array of styles, traditions, and practices, the beginning witch can feel really turned around.  Where should one begin?  If you’re on your own, I usually recommend beginning with a simple eclectic Wicca book because that will at least give you a foundation and a way to start leading the magical life.  A great one is Scott Cunningham’s Wicca: a Guide for the Solitary Practitioner.  DJ Conway’s Wicca: the Complete Craft isn’t bad (but could be much better) and has a lot of information.  Skye Alexander’s Modern Guide to Witchcraft is solid.  And Paul Huson’s Mastering Witchcraft is probably better than all of the above, but is harder than them, too.  If you want a graduated course in the craft, you could do worse than Timothy Roderick’s Wicca: a Year and a Day in the Path of the Wise.  I’m sure there are others, but these are the ones that come to mind as I write this.

I say read everything and develop a practice that feels right to you.  But no matter which craft book you read, you will encounter a few things which are repeated almost dogmatically.  One of them is: you must banish, ground, and center.  Banishing means dispersing negative and obsession-inducing energies (and energy beings) from your body and immediate surroundings.  Grounding means taking the excess energy in your body and sending it into the earth where it can disperse.  And centering means gaining an inner balance such that you feel in harmony inside and with what is around you.

These are all very good fundamental practices for a witch to know, because someday someone or something will want to harm you magically.  But here I want to talk about an obsession with protections themselves.  It’s like constantly washing your hands.  You do it once.  Then you feel like you got some bacteria on your hand an hour later.  So you wash your hands again, just to be sure they’re clean.  Then you start noticing that your hands are getting dirty a lot (compared to how they feel when you just wash them).  So you start washing your hands every hour, then every 30 minutes.  Then you begin to feel nervous about situations where you could get contaminated, and so on.  If this sounds crazy to you, it isn’t.  It’s just a habit of mind that people get into when they become hyper-aware of the shifting line between “clean” and “dirty.”

As with hand-washing, so with magical protections.  If you are engaging in constant banishings, you will resonate (your inner self will “vibrate”) at a very high level.  Your presence will feel very “clean” to people who can sense such things.  And certain classes of spirits, especially those who are aggressive or bound closely to the earth, will not enjoy hanging around.  That is all very good.  Unfortunately, it has a down side: miss a day and you will definitely notice.  You won’t be as lucky.  You will feel energetically unhealthy and grumpy.  You may even feel a strong need to isolate yourself and perform some cleansings because you have become so hyper-aware of the difference between walking in fully banished space and not.  Moreover, there will be some magic you just can’t do because your shields and personal wards will be so powerful that they will block everything.

If all you’re ever going to do is spiritually cleanse yourself (which is a completely legitimate way of leading the magical life), that’s fine.  Stick to your rigid cleansing routine and go about your business.  But if you want to work operative magic, if you want to be a well-rounded practitioner of the craft, you need to get a little dirty from time to time.  You need to let spirits in and take risks.  Witches are, almost by definition, risk takers.

So back to that person who wants to do you in.  Someday, you will encounter him or her and you may not realize s/he “threw on you” until things start going very wrong in your life.  You don’t want to put off learning how to protect yourself until this day comes, but you also don’t want to live in fear of it.  So here is a simple set of texts and practices to enable you to recognize and respond without having to do a hundred Lesser Banishing Rituals of the Pentagram every day.

First, get a magical wash.  I like concentrated “Chinese Wash” but you can get creoline or ammonia (I like Lucky Mojo’s “Buffalo Ammonia” for this).  You can also just use lemon-scented Pinesol and add lemongrass, chamomile, and bay leaves to it.  In any case, get that wash, mix some into water, and wipe down the walls, the floors, and the windows.

Second, make a simple “protection hand.”  Get a black flannel bag or a black bandana.  In it put 3 bay leaves, some lemongrass, and some dragon’s blood resin.  Light a paper match and throw it, lit, into the bag.  Shake it up.  Then say, “Creature of air, earth, fire, and water, I give you life that you will protect me and these premises from all threats.  Be ruled by me in this.”  Feed it with a sprinkle of whiskey once a week on Saturday. 

Third, actually learn a banishing ritual.  If the LBRP is too churchy for you, you can cast a simple shield (Google it) or use the simple banishing rituals given in the aforesaid texts.  Do this about every other or every three days unless you notice something nasty coming at you.  Then do it every day until safe.

Lastly, put a dream catcher up in your bedroom and, when you go to sleep at night (somewhere that kids and animals can’t reach), set out a glass of water close to your bed.  For extra zip, you can add a capful of Hoyt’s or Jockey cologne to the water or a splash of Florida water to it.  That will protect you all night long from being ridden when your defenses are down.

Hammer nails into the corners of your property to stake your spiritual claim.  And if you are attracted to the idea of setting wards and tasking guardian spirits, you can research those things on the internet for some basic practices.

Get and study the following four basic protection manuals: Have You Been Hexed: Recognizing and Breaking Curses by Alexandra Chauran; Protection and Reversal Magick: A Witch’s Defense Manual by Jason Miller; Magickal Protection by Damon Brand; and Angelic Protection Magick by Ben Woodcroft.  Optional: Psychic Self-Defense by Dion Fortune and The Witch’s Shield by Christopher Penczak.  By the time you finish these books, you will know a lot about how to detect magical attack and how to respond to it.  You will also know the difference between being an obsessive banisher and someone who uses protection in harmony with other forms of magical work.

 

 

 

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On Cursing and Being Cursed: a Hermetic Perspective

Unjustified curses are never as powerful as when they are justified.  This is because in order for a curse to work, the object of the curse has to resonate in sympathy with the curse on some level, usually subconsciously.  But when that person truly believes they do not deserve the curse, they will resist its vibration and the effect will usually be much weaker.

It works like this: the person performing the curse creates that vibration in her subjective universe as in any magical working (which I have at times referred to as “raising energy and putting it into a container”).  The vibration is sent through the Magical Link into the objective universe, where it waits at the periphery of the target’s aura, looking for a way to affect his subjective universe—the sum of all of his inner selves.  As with any type of magic done to influence another, the curse will vibrate in a certain way and attempt to cause a corresponding vibration in the target.

The third Hermetic Principle—that of “Vibration”—given in The Kybalion notes that:

All manifestation of thought, emotion, reason, will or desire, or any mental state or condition, are accompanied by vibrations, a portion of which are thrown off and which tend to affect the minds of other persons by “induction.” This is the principle which produces the phenomena of “telepathy”; mental influence, and other forms of the action and power of mind over mind, with which the general public is rapidly becoming acquainted, owing to the wide dissemination of occult knowledge by the various schools, cults and teachers along these lines at this time.  Every thought, emotion or mental state has its corresponding rate and mode of vibration. And by an effort of the will of the person, or of other persons, these mental states may be reproduced, just as a musical tone may be reproduced by causing an instrument to vibrate at a certain rate.  (http://www.sacred–texts.com/eso/kyb/kyb11.htm)

In this way, a curse will function by creating its vibration in the target, who will then radiate that vibration (usually without knowing it) into various aspects of his life.  All retribution and judgment begins with the Self or, as The Kybalion puts it in “The Principle of Mentalism,” “All is Mind.”

If the target, truly in the deep core of himself, believes he doesn’t deserve to suffer, he will resist the curse vibration on some level.  But, of course, to resist something is also to have a relationship with it.  This is how an unjustified curse can make mischief in the life of an innocent.  Essentially, by resisting, the innocent (consciously or unconsciously) accepts the reality of having to resist a curse and is then struggling against it and feeling some of its effects.  But those effects are usually short-lived, if still upsetting.

When the target has a damaged aura—i.e. a personality defect, a mental illness, a negative attachment, or an inner weakness—a curse will try to use that as a way to influence the target’s vibration, working through the place in his aura where it is harder for him to resist.  Magical workings (and curses are not exceptions to this) have a kind of intelligence to them—a guidance system that has caused some magicians to conclude that workings bring spirits to bear (whether the spirits are created, as with servitors and egregores  or simply attached to the work).

If a target has an unusually strong, resistant aura, a curse can be held at bay for a long time, sometimes even for decades, depending on the longevity of the curse and that of the target.  In the end, however, most curses will have to be dealt with somehow as only the weakest “blow over” on their own.  Legitimate curses (i.e. those not formed inadvertently through the psychic capacity of someone feeling extreme anger or hatred for another) can be complex works of magic with many contingencies and resources involved.  Like all magic, cursing is an art and should be taken seriously by those who feel they have been cursed.

The best way I know to deal with a curse is to have a competent spiritual worker cleanse and protect you.  Using our Hermetic model, this would amount to a magician, sorcerer, conjure doctor, shaman, priest, or other practitioner performing work that raises your vibration above that of the curse, causing you to radiate a beneficial energy and heal yourself.  Just as someone can be influenced to vibrate negatively, he can be influenced in the opposite.

For those who know what they’re doing spiritually (and / or who many not want to pay someone else), here are some texts on magical protection: Psychic Self-Defense by Dion Fortune, Protection and Reversal Magick by Jason Miller, Magickal Protection by Damon Brand, The Witch’s Shield by Christopher Penczack, and Practical Protection Magick by Ellen Dugan   I am a bit skeptical of the last two texts on this list, but everyone has a different experience with magical books and you might find any of these helpful.