Guy on the cruise: My kids aren’t quite as old as yours. What can I expect in a few years?
The Husband: Yeah, they spend a lot of time in their rooms. My youngest stays in there all day and listens to dark music.
Guy on the cruise [to The Youngest]: What bands do you like?
Youngest: Um, like, The Police, Blink 182, Red Hot Chili Peppers, I love The Beatles and Rolling Stones.
Yea, she’s old sql.
I give you this preface so that you understand The Husband’s concept of “dark.”
The Husband has gotten to the point in occult training where light-bulbs are going off left and right. After having a lesson he will come to me and say, “Ohhhh, I get it! That’s what you always meant by . . .”
The other day he had an epiphany about Professor Snape:
Everybody thinks he’s the bad guy because he studies The Dark Arts. He doesn’t apply them—like at the Quidditch game, he was counter-casting. But he wouldn’t know how to do that if he hadn’t studied all the attacks. Defense Against The Dark Arts.
Dude! So Professor Umbridge—the one who outlaws the study of The Dark Arts, the one who puts everyone at risk—is really The Bad Witch. And you’re—you’re like Snape!
It’s been a few years in rumbling thunder, but the lightning-bolt has finally struck.
This is all to have a conversation about defenses. Yea, yea—sage-smudge all the Grizzly bears you want—there are still things that require more than a tranquilizer gun. (See my post on Astral Nasties.) I know this, not because I have created them or because I lurve them or because I admire those that go slogging energy through the mire and farting it out as beasties. But because I bothered to understand them. Because I really know the difference between a simple gooey and an actual demon. Those who confuse thoughtforms or elementals and honest-to-goodness goetic entities have never seen them—I mean they don’t even smell the same—and therefore such folks have no business playing in the fields of Mystery. The only way to defend yourself is to know—really know—your assailant.
And, another benefit that comes from knowing about more aggressive energies is the understanding that sometimes—and more often than not—the problem is within yourself. I mean, sometimes nothing is being projected at you; rather, you are creating the image of an attacker in your own mind. Like the kid who is convinced that there is a boogady in the closet. In his anxiety and sleep-depravation, he perpetuates his fears and suffers the fallout from constantly walking around with his defenses up. All for nothing.
Here’s another epiphany.
So, wait. You don’t defend yourself when there is nothing to defend yourself against. I get that part; if you haven’t done anything to cause “darkness,” you don’t have to keep screaming “light.” That’s easy.
But if you are the one surrounded in “darkness,” your situation becomes more apparent when someone bright shows up. So you start screaming “light” so that you look brighter. That makes sense too. It’s ass-backward, but it makes sense.
But really—all the while—if you’re the one causing the darkness which makes you need the light in the first place, and you consider the other person’s brightness as a threat to your darkness that you hope no one notices, then why are you screaming “light”?
Wait . . . what? That makes no sense.
A advises: “Don’t lie or cheat.”
B says: “Did you hear that? A called me a liar and a cheat! I am not! I am forthright and honest! It’s A that lies and cheats! A is attacking me!”
C says nothing—on account o’ C figures A wasn’t talking about C. On account o’ C is neither a liar nor a cheat. If C says anything at all, it’s likely: “That’s good advice.”
I mean why stomp around defending yourself unless you have something that you’ve cheated and lied about? A is just giving general advice. That B internalizes the comment and affects a defensive posture, means there’s something to defend.
Why yell, “light,” unless there’s darkness?
Here’s why I advise as I do:
If you keep thinking that attacks—psychic or otherwise—are coming your way, you must know from whence they come before you can defend yourself.
If you know that you know that you know that they are externally generated, then you need to study (The Defense Against) The Dark Arts so that you can defend yourself. This does not make you a “bad” witch dabbling in “black” magic. It makes you smart.
If you know that you are suffering assaults but don’t really know—you just prefer to think—that they are external attacks, you might look at your internal threats. That doesn’t make you unsure or yourself, suspicious, or untrusting; it makes you smart.
How can you tell where an attack comes from?
Well, like MJ advises—take a look at yourself. It’s really the best way to begin. You have the best access to yourself and can rule that one out easily-enough. One way is to do some serious Shadowwork—even if you have done it before, do it again. Many folks forget that Shadowwork is a lifelong process that has to be repeatedly repeated. Plus, if the threat is actually external and you do Shadowwork, you haven’t lost anything. Shadowwork is always beneficial.
When you are sure you are not simply seeing boogy-man-reflection-of-your-own-shadows in the closet, then you move on to those close to you. Look at their behaviors and compare their acts to their words. See if their actions are consistent or if there is always a “special circumstance” to justify everything. And remember—don’t embellish or allow others to color your recall. If someone said, “Let’s do X together,” don’t let another convince you that he said, “I’m going to do X without you!” or “I want X all for myself.” If someone tries to sway you—that might be the department you want to start shopping in.
And, most importantly, go with your gut. I know—I’m one to talk, right? I’ve ignored my gut to great detriment.
Once you are sure you have been honest with yourself and have come to the conclusion that you—and those close to you—are not the provokers in question, widen your gyre. But unless you really know what you are smelling, don’t assume bigger is better—or should I say “badder”? Don’t assume “demons” or even “intentional attack.” Quite honestly, in our business, I find that a lot more attacks are accidental than are intentional. Even more are founded in carelessness than malevolence.
- Begin with accidental crust—Please keep all of this at the forefront of your mind if you are or have been working with people that you don’t know very well or haven’t know for a long time. Some folks are very good at wearing masks and covering their tracks.
- Is there a “bad energy” person in your group that is accidentally conjuring and/or attracting and/or leaving astral-larvae laying around? I know someone who is like a larvae-generator. She sucks up all the energy around her and drops larvae like goat-pellets as she traverses life.
- How about an innocent neophyte who is just overzealous and is inadvertently stepping on cosmic-toes or crossing some misjudged margins. This is another reason it’s so important to know the ins and outs of “The Dark Arts”—you have to be able to warn your newer associates about boundaries.
- Then, consider experimentation. Are you or is someone in your group more eager-beaver than they are studious? Is there someone who may have gone into the unknown unprepared? When we experiment, we are often affected by the astral atmosphere. This can be a good thing; however, if we are not ready to deal with our experiences, we might end up either bringing a whatsit back with us or manifesting whatsits because of new influences or even a feedback-loop.
- Think about this—especially if you have recently moved, made alterations to your abode, cut down some trees, initiated a conflagration (even leaf-burning can do it), or attended a ritual on land that has never or has not recently been employed in ritual use. Consider that you may have awakened some sort of land-spirit. These are not always all sugar and spice. They can be appeased, but you have to know what you are up against. Even if you didn’t do the deed, if someone offended a spirit while at your place, you could be stuck with the consequences.
- What about other spirits? Other things can be offended too. If you are dedicated to a deity, have you snubbed her/him? If one offered services, did you snub him/her? Pay attention to her/his rival? Anything of that sort, Even encouraging someone else to do one of these things (or worse, deriding someone’s deity) can bring some cosmic wrath on your head. Again, they can be appeased, but again you have to know what you are up against. And yet, again, even if you didn’t do the deed, if someone in your tutelage offended a spirit, you could be stuck with the consequences.
- One of the most common factors I’ve seen is broken vows. These days folks make oaths too easily and then move on to break them. I don’t just mean oaths to humans, but oaths to The Divine. Some folks toss them out like piñata candy and then forget about them just as easily. The spirit-world has a slightly longer memory. If you make a vow to a human and then break that vow, you might even find that his/her patron is none-too-pleased with you. The same holds true here: appeasement can be made, if you know what you are up against. And still the same, if someone in your circle—especially a student—offends a spirit, again you could be stuck with the consequences.
- If you have exhausted all of those possibilities and have come up empty, move on to intentional malefica. This gets trickier. You may need to understand the person creating the astral attacks so that you know what they are capable of. But it’s even better if you understand their tools of the trade. If someone really is pissed enough to spin their precious energy on attacking you (either magically or in the mundane world), you need to make sure you know what you’re up against.
- There’s no good in defending against opossums when it’s a hornet’s nest that’s been loosed on you. Guess what that means—you need to know the difference. Sure, sure, you can put up general wards. But if you have an attacker that’s savvy enough to be that specific, you should make sure your defenses are as specific as possible. After all, if you try blocking everything out—how are you going to continue on in a magical practice of your own? If you build a comprehensive-brick-wall, anything you send out to the universe is going to hit it like a, um, well, a . . . brick . . . wall.
- Finally, and when all else is worn-out, consider the malignant or demonic. If you have no experience with goetia, you might need to solicit some help. There’s no shame in this. I think our religion is the only one that encourages leaders to try to be a jack of all trades—and in this, the master of none. Think about the Catholic Church—not all priests are exorcists. Not all rabbis are baal shem. Not all imam are amil. Not all magicians study goetia—even fewer Witches do. And there is no value-judgments in this for other religions—why should there be for ours? In short, if you don’t know how to handle something on the nastier side of things—realize that there is no shame in asking for help.
Plus, consider that demons do more than possess people. Actually, many of them are quite benign (when handled correctly), some are even helpful—even if they are a bit disorganized. (Need another HP reference? Think Kreacher.)
So, you see—not all energy manifests from malevolence and it doesn’t all look or smell the same. Learn how to train your dragons, learn to sort out your disorganized-gooies, learn how to defend against specific malefica, and you will be a much safer practitioner—as will those who practice at your side.
And now—of all things—I am off to see PA4 with the Eldest. (And I am feeling inspired to write a post about the onslaught of (badly)occult-flavored films from 2012: The Possession, Sinister, The Apparition, what else?)
See you Friday at both Ehsha and TBW Files!
 Ironically while I was dressed as a pseudo-phoenix.