The potential dangers of incautious magick have been mentioned a number of times in previous articles, as well as the necessity for effective precautions. Despite this, however, there will inevitably be a few people who skim to the functional details and dive headlong into magical reality. This is equivalent to picking a fight with Mike Tyson without having taken a day of training. And you would be very lucky to come away with only an ear missing. This piece is written for those who have screwed up and got into trouble, whether by their own failure to take proper care, or by having encountered some force they have not the skill to deal with. Of course, magical practitioners are by nature people who confront their fears and face the dangers of the world. It is therefore inevitable that problems will occur eventually, and this can be useful, for it destroys complacent habits.
The dangers inherent in magical practice vary greatly. There is no way to cover all the potential problems that may come up. However, it is possible to draw up a few broad categories, which will afford us with a functional basis for discussion. The first is when a working produces results that are undesirable. The second is when a spirit or other entity ‘haunts’ one, causing various kinds of trouble. The third is when a spirit or other entity possesses one, taking control of the body with or without any particular intentions. The fourth is when one becomes deranged, which may be subtler than it sounds. These all have variants; sometimes a spirit is malicious and sometimes it is merely unintelligent. We will take a look at each and consider the methods available to deal with them.
A magical operation can go bad in a number of ways. Besides simply failing to have any noticeable result (usually due to vague intent or a lack of power), there is the possibility that the results will prove to be unpleasant. It may be that one learns too late that the pretty redhead has a drug habit. Or the course taken by the magick to bring about the result may prove detrimental. For example, a procedure to obtain money may cause the death of an uncle or even a parent, providing a rich inheritance and a lifetime of guilt. The best way to avoid this kind of outcome is to be very specific about the desired goal, including a clause that disallows any kind of harmful side effects (to oneself and loved ones). It may be that this actually prevents any result, but that will only be the case when a working is ill-advised in the first place. Of course, if this has already happened, such preventative measures are useless. It is usually a bad idea to perform operations that have conflicting aims, as this will tend to divide your personal energy and leave you drained. However, if calamity has struck, it is possible to set things straight. You can do this by either performing an operation which is more focused and has greater energy than the original (and naturally has the objective of negating the first), or else by appealing to a higher power that has authority in the appropriate area. Thus, if you have messed up a romantic operation, Aphrodite is a logical choice to lodge your appeal. Now, by appeal I do not mean whining. You perform a damn good operation that communicates your desire to have the god sort things out. Gods always know more than you in their area of authority, so if you ask one to set things as they should be, you have a good chance of solving the problem.
I am assuming that you have tried banishing and it has proven ineffective. There are a number of procedures you could undertake at this point. I would recommend seeking the aid of a deity, as described above. Other ways include setting other spirits to hunt and destroy the troublemaker, or to try and trap it in a talisman. It is my opinion that one should take the course of action that has the highest probability of being successful first time, and I think that anything less than a god-working has an undesirable potential for failure. You must decide for yourself, and the other methods do not require too much ingenuity to fathom.
Whether or not you know much about the spirit (it is at times quite difficult to learn anything substantial), there is always one god they will bow down to, and that is the King. In every pantheon there is one deity that controls all the rest. The classical example (to maintain consistency) is Zeus. For the Norse pantheon, it is Odin. In the fictional mythos of Amber, it would be Oberon. In my own system, it would be the Monad. From experience I can say it has proven effective to perform a working with the objective of having tormenting spirits ‘bound’ by the Monad. If it is not sufficient to merely call on the god’s aid, you may wish to invoke it. This is likely to have more immediate results, particularly if the spirit is present. You should be prepared for a malignant entity to try to stop you from carrying out such a procedure. Unfortunately, if banishing has already failed, you may need to ‘soldier on’. The greatest weapon at this point is your strength of mind, your unity of purpose. Do what is necessary to summon the god, and it should deal with your problem in a very effective fashion. Of course, you may ‘owe’ the god after this, in which case it will be a good idea to make offerings to it. As you can see, it is easy to get caught up in a tangled prison if your early work is substandard.
There is not really any certain way to deal with possession by oneself when it is underway. If has retained some degree of awareness (blackout and amnesia are common), and the entity is of a fairly low order, it may be possible to drive it out by an act of will (something like screaming “Fuck off outta here!”). This is obviously impractical if it has complete control. However, it is rare for a spirit or other being to possess one constantly. Usually there are times when the body becomes too tired to sustain the presence, or the being needs to withdraw for its own reasons. Thus, the time to get rid of it is when you are again in control, even if this is for but a short time.
As with the earlier situations, my preferred solution is to summon the highest power known and have it destroy the being or mark oneself as ‘off limits’. However, it is possible that a similar procedure was the cause of the present problem, and may compound it. If this is the case, then one must concentrate the whole of one’s mind and energy to the cause of annihilating the spirit. You could create a mantra with the words “Kill [name]” (if you do not know the name of the beast, just imagine its most characteristic quality or feeling and use that, so if it makes your head swim with the scent of lemongrass, term it the “Lemongrass Fiend”, or some such). You might then light a bonfire and dance around it chanting “Kill the Lemongrass Fiend!” all night long. This is a spurious example, but it demonstrates the necessary features. The basis of the operation is to fill yourself with the totally committed desire to utterly destroy the being in question, to drive it out of your personal universe permanently. Fire is a useful focus in this context, for it has the property of destruction and has a traditional role in cleansing. Water is also useful; standing beneath a waterfall is another age-old practice, although one that is very dangerous and not to be recommended. What matters, and I make no apologies for repeating this, is that your entire mind and soul resound with the unconditional will to destroy your source of torment.
The fourth category is that of insanity. Now I have spoken elsewhere about the value of induced short-term insanity, which is something I regard as a necessity in this field. However, I do not regard long-term, involuntary madness to be of any use. In fact, it is a terribly destructive phenomenon, and yet another reason for proper banishing. There are many forms of mental illness, and I am not qualified to inform you as to their nature or methods of cure. All I can do in this context is warn you to maintain awareness of your behavior and thought processes, and if you find these have altered radically following one or more magical operations, it is a good idea to stop and evaluate the situation. It is unfortunate that magick is itself often regarded as nothing more than a symptom of madness, and it is true that many people would view the open practitioner of magick as a danger to the public for various reasons. Such facts are reason to keep ones work hidden from the world, but this necessity for secrecy can easily degenerate into paranoia. If you do suspect that you are suffering from some form of mental illness, do not panic. First write up an account of your views, and a list of all the things that appear to be wrong, and compare this with the record you have been keeping. You should be able to compare your present perspective with that of previous times, and see if there is any serious deviation. You should be aware that everyone has minor obsessions and fantasies, many of which are sexual or violent in nature. It is not the existence of these things that qualifies as madness, but the acting out of such.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by magical events, take a break from your practice and get involved in social activities. See your friends and loosen up. Relax. If you remain with the feeling that the world is wrong, or that you are not able to deal with ordinary affairs, seek professional help. A Jungian psychotherapist may be able to understand your magick rather better than others, and may be worth searching out. Do not hurt yourself, instead find a person who can help you.
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