A woodcut depicting a demon attacking a man…I think. It kind of looks like he’s pulling the man out of his bowels.
Today, Roderick brings up the subject of magical attack and how to protect oneself from it. Magical or psychic attack was a pretty big topic in the 1990s, as was the related topic of psychic self-defense. I recall that I almost couldn’t pick up a book about Wicca without at least one chapter in it elaborating on one or the other or both. To me, most of the symptoms of a magical or psychic attack sounded very similar to the onset of a depressive or a psychiatric episode. Others sounded like they were straight out of a ghostbuster’s handbook. Consider the following list of warning signs I found online:
Roderick’s list also reinforces a lot of the “depressions signs” in his warning signs to note in yourself where he recommends to “watch for signs of inexplicable lethargy, sadness, or anger, unexplained illnesses or multiple injuries in a short time span; look for unexplained mood swings, confusion, swift changes of heart, or a run of bad luck.” Unlike many of these lists, however, he also gives warning signs in a family unit (watch for multiple, inexplicable arguments, estrangement, tantrums, illnesses, and injuries, or romantic affairs), a home (watch for an inexplicable sensation of heaviness or oppression in your home, a feeling of being watched, unexplained noises, odors, or images), and in pets (watch for inexplicable, unusual behavior or illness).
Because so much of these lists look like warning signs of medical issues, and because it’s been my experience that we pagans are largely a bunch of happy people who wish nothing but happiness for ourselves and others and who take our ethics very strongly, I’ve not been concerned with magical attack until very recently. After all, I don’t think it would occur to most practitioners these days to actually wish a curse upon another. Binding or wishing a karmetic return upon another person might be about as far as that grand majority of us go.
However, I had forgotten that witches and pagans don’t have exclusive access to magic. We might be able to wield it more effectively and dramatically, but we’re not the only ones who can use it. You can set the forces into motion even when you’re not aware of it. As Roderick notes, magical energies “are natural forces that form the universe and all of life. It doesn’t take much for someone unskilled in the ways of magic to set psychic energies in motion.” Really, anyone in a nigh emotional state can conduct energy, and–unfortunately–jealousy, hate, anger, and sadness can pack a psychic wallop.
I have been very lucky in my life to have been surrounded by amazing, generous, wonderful friends and very, very few enemies. In the few instances where I’ve had to prolong a relationship I did not like, I’ve done my best to be respectful of that person and to follow the very sage advice of Thumper’s mother from Bambi: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all. I figured that most educated, ethical people lived the same way, so I never really thought about psychic protection.
My last few months living at the co-op, though, taught me otherwise. For about four months prior to leaving, I was inexplicably tired. I didn’t want to do much of anything, and I was very sad. It was one of those situations where “everything that could go wrong did”. I got into a small car accident because I was rushing to leave the house, I was having terrible luck finding employment, I experienced a fair amount of wild mood swings, and I really didn’t know what was going on. At the time, I attributed all of this to my academic frustrations and “grieving” and thought I might be entering a depressive spell. But, in retrospect, I can see that these troubles weren’t isolated to me alone. Lots of little arguments cropped up among my housemates, and alliances formed. The very air in the house felt oppressive.
At the time, I attributed this to a very real, ongoing, and divisive fight we were all engaged in about the rats that had infested our home. (The house was divided in a spectrum between “do everything to get rid of them short of setting the house on fire” to “live trap and release and love our new pets.”) But now that I’ve been out of the house for several months, I think that perhaps what I’d experienced was a form of psychic attack against me–the one person who epitomized the far right anti-rat stance–and a girl who, though anti-rat, was also vehemently against us taking any action that might result in inadvertent harm to her dog. I think that as the months passed she interpreted my immense desire to end the vermin problem as an attack on her dog. She, consequently, put a LOT of energy into hating me. When I entered a room, she’d shut up and glare at me. She excluded me from a lot of impromptu house events, and she ended up spreading a TON of rumors about me (the most hurtful of which was that I abused animals). It was during this period where so much went so wrong for me. I, quite literally, felt like I was being boxed up in my own private room. In reality, this was the case. She put a lot of energy into making sure that I would not feel comfortable anywhere else in my house. What I experienced was a definite case of psychic attack, and one that was accompanied by real-world actions along with the psychic actions. It’s certainly taught me a major lesson about how much psychic wallop untrained people can pack, and it’s solidly taught me the importance of good psychic defense.
Roderick offers us a few protective tools in the days that follow.