Monday, March 29, 2010
Psychic Self Defense by Dion Fortune - Chapter 3
A Case of Modern Witchcraft
independent psychics point to witchcraft in a previous incarnation when trouble of this sort is afoot. The motive is nearly always vengeance, but there is also good reason to believe that the projection of the astral body takes place involuntarily during sleep, and is not deliberately willed by the offender. Very many people who are at present psychics and sensitives got their training in the covens of medieval witchcraft, and for this reason experienced occultists are very wary of the natural psychic, as distinguished from the initiate with his technique of psychism. Where psychism and mental unbalance are found conjoined with a malevolent disposition, there is strong presumption that the cult of Diabolus is not far to seek.
A curious set of happenings, in which I myself was one of the actors, throws a good deal of light on this by no means uncommon occurrence. It was in the early days of my interest in occultism, when I was still buying nay experience by the expensive but effectual method of running my head into obstacles, I made the acquaintance of a woman who was interested in psychic matters. She was a person of the most extreme sensitiveness to anything unclean or ugly, fastidious to a degree in her personal habits, living almost exclusively on uncooked vegetarian foods, even refusing eggs as too stimulating. Although not an animal lover, she was morbidly humanitarian, reading with gusto those papers which give lurid and detailed descriptions of vivisection experiments. Had I been older and wiser I should have recognised the significance of her ultra-cleanliness and ultra-sensitiveness as marking the ab-reaction of a sadistic temperament - sadism being a pathology of the emotional nature in which the sex instinct takes the form of an impulse to inflict pain. Not having learnt then many things which I now know, I looked upon her characteristics as indicative of an exalted spirituality.
At the time I knew her she was verging on a breakdown which was alleged to be due to overwork, and she was very anxious to get away from cities and back to nature. I was just leaving London to take up my residence at an occult college which was hidden away in the sandy fastnesses of the Hampshire barrens. In the innocence of my heart I suggested that she might come down there and help with the domestic duties. The suggestion was acted upon, and a few days after my own arrival Miss L. joined us. She seemed quite normal, made herself agreeable, and was well liked. One incident, however, in the light of subsequent events, was significant. On getting out of the ancient fly in which she had driven from the station, she immediately went and patted the still more ancient horse that drew it. That beast, usually sunk in an apathy from which he was with difficulty roused when action was required of him, galvanised into life at her touch as if she had stung him. He threw up his head, backed, snorted, and nearly turned the equipage over in the ditch, to the amazement of his jehu, who declared he had never been known to do such a thing before, and viewed our visitor with disfavour.
Miss L., however, appeared quite normal, made herself agreeable, and was given a friendly reception by the humans at any rate.
That night I was awakened by nightmare, a thing to which I am not usually subject. I struggled with a weight on my chest, and even after consciousness had fully returned, the room seemed full of evil. I performed such simple banishing formula as I knew, and peace was restored.
At breakfast next morning an assembly of blear-eyed people met together, complaining of having passed disturbed nights. We compared notes, and found we had all, some six or seven of us, had similar nightmares, and proceeded to exchange experiences. The effect of this upon Miss L. was curious. She squirmed upon her chair as if it had suddenly become red-hot and said with much emphasis:
"These things should not be discussed, it is most unwholesome."
Out of deference to her feelings we desisted. But presently up to the open window came another member of our community, a woman who slept in an open-air shelter at some little distance from the house. We enquired after her health, as usual, and she replied that she was not feeling very well, as she had slept badly, and proceeded to recount the same nightmare as the rest of us. Later on in the morning, another lady, who had a house a little way down the road, arrived, and she in her turn told of a similar nightmare.
These nightmares continued, on and off for the next few days, to afflict different members of the community. They were vague and nebulous, and there was nothing we could pitch upon for diagnostic purposes, and we put it down to indigestion caused by the village baker's version of war bread.
Then one day I had a quarrel with Miss L. She had conceived a "crush" for me; I have a constitutional repulsion for crushes and give them scant politeness, and she complained bitterly of my lack of responsiveness. What ever may be the rights and wrongs of the case, I had roused her resentment in good earnest. That night I was afflicted with the most violent nightmare I have ever had in my life, waking from sleep with the terrible sense of oppression on my chest, as if someone were holding me down, or lying upon me. I saw distinctly the head of Miss L., reduced to the size of an orange, floating in the air at the foot of my bed, and snapping its teeth at me. It was the most malignant thing I have ever seen.
Still not attaching any psychic significance to my experiences, and being firmly convinced that the local baker was responsible, I told no one of my dream, thinking it one of those things that are better kept to oneself; but when the members of the community came to talk matters over in the light of subsequent events, we found that two other people had had similar experiences.
A night or two later, however, as it came to bed-time, I was overcome with a sense of impending evil, as if something dangerous were lurking in the bushes around the house threatening attack. So strong was this sensation that I came down from my room and went all round the house, testing the catches of the windows to make sure that all was secure.
Miss L. heard me, and called out to know what I was doing.
I told her of my feelings.
"You silly child," she said, "it is no use latching the windows, the danger is not outside the house but in it. Go to bed, and be sure and lock your door."
She would give no answer to my questions except to reiterate that I should lock my door. This was the first night I had slept in that house, previously having been in a cottage on the opposite side of the road.
I did not lock my door because the night was intolerably hot and the room and the window small. I compromised, however, by putting an enamel slop-pail at a strategic spot in the fairway, trusting that any intruder would fall over it and give the alarm.
Nothing happened, and I slept quietly.
Next morning, however, the storm broke. Miss L. and I were peacefully at work in the kitchen when she suddenly caught up a carving-knife and started after me, as mad as a March hare. Fortunately for me I had in my hands a large saucepan full of freshly boiled greens, and I used this as a weapon of defence, and we danced round the kitchen table, slopping hot cabbage-water in all directions.
We neither of us made a sound; I fended her off with the hot and sooty saucepan, and she slashed at me with an unpleasantly large carving-knife. At a psychological moment in walked the head of the community. He took in the situation at a glance, and handled it by the tactful method of scolding us both impartially for making so much noise and telling us to get on with our work. Miss L. finished whatever she was doing with the carver, I dished up the cabbage, and the incident passed off quietly.
After lunch Miss L. experienced the reaction from her excitement and went to her room completely prostrated with exhaustion. I was somewhat perturbed. Although used to mental cases, and therefore not as disturbed by the recent fracas as anyone else might have been, I did not relish the prospect of being the housemate of a dangerous lunatic who was under no sort of control. The head of the community, however, said there was no cause for alarm, he would soon have the case in hand. He went up to the bath room, filled a soap-dish with water from the tap, made certain passes over it, and dipping his finger in the water, proceeded to draw a five-pointed star upon the threshold of Miss L.'s room.
Miss L. made no attempt to leave her room until forty-eight hours later when he fetched her out himself.
Two curious incidents occurred during the period of her treatment at the hands of this man, an adept if ever there was one. The house in which she had a room was a very old one, and the front door exceedingly massive. It was secured at night by two enormous bolts that extended right across it, a chain that could have moored a barge, and a huge lock with a key the size of a trowel. When the door was opened in the morning it acted as an alarm clock for the entire village. It creaked, it groaned, and it clanged. Yet night after night we came down in the morning to find this door standing ajar. We all slept with our doors open on to the small landing. To go down the ancient, creaking stairs was like walking on organ-stops. The back door was a modern affair, which could have been opened easily. The windows were modern casements of the most gimcrack description. Who opened the heavy front door, and why?
We exchanged recriminations several mornings at break fast as to who had left the door open the night before, but no one could ever be convicted of the blame. Finally the matter came to the knowledge of the head of the group.
"I will soon put a stop to that," he said, and each night he re-sealed Miss L.'s room with the pentagram. We had no more trouble with the front door coming open after that.
While he was dealing with Miss L. he made a practice of sealing the threshold of his own room in the same way, only in this case he drew the pentagram point outwards, to prevent Miss D. from coming in; whereas when he sealed her room, he put its point inwards, to prevent her coming out. She did not know this, nor was it likely to reach her ears indirectly, for he was very uncommunicative, I only knew that he was sealing his room because I chanced to see him doing it.
Nevertheless, one day I heard a knock at my door, and there was Miss L. with her arms full of clean linen. She asked me if I would be good enough to take it into the room of the head of the community, and put it away. I asked her why she did not do so herself, for I knew he was out, and it was her work to put away the linen. She replied that she had been to his room for that purpose, but there was a psychic barrier across the threshold that prevented her entering.
She also asked me, on several occasions, to put inside my frock out of sight a little silver cross that I habitually wore, as she said she could not bear the sight of it. This cross I had purchased just before coming to this occult college, and had taken it to a priest of my acquaintance to be blessed, for I had not been altogether easy in my mind concerning the nature of the group I was joining, and during the early days of my association with it was poised on tiptoe, as it were, ready for instant flight. Naturally I had kept my own council concerning the psychic precautions I had taken against my new friends, and no one was aware that the cross had been specially magnetised against psychic attack. Nevertheless, the woman who would have attacked if she could, felt its influence and feared it.
Auto-suggestion and imagination play so large a part in so-called psychic impressions that one is chary of accepting confirmatory testimony from a psychic who knows what is expected of him, but a spontaneous reaction is in my opinion evidential.
When the treatment of Miss L. had progressed some way towards her final recovery, much interesting information was elicited. She told us that she had distinct memories of dealings with black magic in her previous lives. This, she said, had been confirmed by several independent psychics, and I would certainly have been willing to add my testimony to theirs had I been asked. As a child, she used to day dream that she was a witch, willing the death or misfortune of those who annoyed her, and she also averred, though whether this was true or not I cannot say, that her wishes were so effectual that she was frightened and tried to abandon the practice. She also volunteered that she was in the habit of visualising herself standing before people she was angry with, scolding them, and projecting malignant force at them. This, of course, would explain our nightmares. She also said that she had been in the habit of attacking her mother and sister in this way, and had made her sister very ill, so that they now refused to have her in the house. This statement was later confirmed by the mother.
She told us that she felt as if she were two distinct persons, her normal self being spiritually-minded, intensely compassionate and idealistic. Her other, and lower self, which came to the surface when she was crossed, upset, or over tired, being intensely malicious and subject to paroxysms of hate and cruelty.
These characteristics had been particularly marked when she was little. But as she grew older she recognised the wrongfulness of them, and her lofty idealism represented her endeavour to rise above them. This endeavour was, I am convinced, an honest one; unfortunately it was not always successful.
She referred to the incident in which she told me to lock my door, and said she had done so in the hope of affording me some measure of protection against the astral projection in which she knew she was tempted to indulge.
At first sight her case had looked like one, of obsession, and had been so diagnosed by one or two members of the community, but wise handling revealed otherwise.
This case reveals another interesting point in that, true to the witch-tradition, she had a horror of sacred symbols. She would not occupy a room where there was a picture of a religious subject. Nothing would induce her to wear any piece of jewelry in the form of a cross, and it was impossible for her to enter a church.
This case has many points of interest, especially in the fact that what was apparently a case of well-marked insanity was cleared up by occult methods.
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Psychic Self Defense By Dion Fortune
Analysis of the Nature of Psychic Attack
together what we know of telepathy and what we know of suggestion, we shall understand its modus operandi.
Suggestion is of three kinds: Auto-suggestion, Conscious Suggestion and Hypnotic Suggestion. The distinction, however, is not as fundamental as at first sight appears; for the goal of all suggestions in the subconscious mind is the same, and they do not become operative until, it is reached. Suggestion is distinguished from threats and appeals to reason by the fact that these aim at a mark in the conscious mind. If they succeed, they owe their success to the acquiescence of the conscious personality, whether coerced or voluntary. But suggestion does not make its appeal to consciousness, but aims at laying its hands upon the springs of action in the subconsciousness and manipulating them from there.
We might compare these two processes to the operation of pulling at the bell-knob outside the front door and taking up a floor-board and twitching the bell-wires themselves. The result will be the same in both cases, the bell will ring. Threats and argument pull the bell-knob with varying degrees of emphasis, from the persistent tinkling of moral suasion to the resounding peal of the blackmailer. Suggestion twitches the wires at various points in their course.
Auto-suggestion is given by one's own conscious mind to one's own subconscious mind. Now, you may ask, why can I not give orders to my subconscious mind direct, without having to resort to the paraphernalia of suggestion? The answer to this question is very simple. The subconscious mind belongs to a much earlier phase of evolution than the conscious mind; belongs, in fact, to a phase prior to the development of speech. To address it in words, therefore, is like speaking to a man in a language he does not understand, In order to deal with him we must have resort to sign-language. So it is with the subconscious mind. It is no use to say to it, Do this: or, Don't do that. We must make a mental picture of the thing we want done and hold it in consciousness till it begins to sink into the subconsciousness. The subconscious mind will understand this picture, and act upon it.
The actor who wishes to cure himself of stage-fright will fail to do so if he says to his subconscious mind, "Don't be frightened," for a nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse. Equally, if he makes a mental picture of stage fright and says to his subliminal self, "Now don't do that," the result will be disastrous, for the subliminal self will see the picture and omit the negative, because the word "not" means nothing to it. In order to handle the subconscious mind effectually, we make a mental picture of the thing we want done and hold it in mind by repeated applications until the subconsciousness begins to be influenced and takes up the task of its own accord.
This is the end-result of all suggestion, and the different kinds of suggestion are distinguished, not by the difference in end-result, but by the gate through which they enter the subconscious mind. Auto-suggestion originates in our own consciousness; waking suggestion originates in the mind of another and is conveyed to our mind by the ordinary channels of the spoken or written word; hypnotic suggestion enters the subconscious mind direct, without impinging upon consciousness at all.
Hypnotic suggestion (which means, literally, suggestion made during sleep, and is to some extent a misnomer) is of three kinds: firstly, true hypnotic suggestion, made when the subject has been rendered insensible by magnetic passes or fixation of the eyes on a bright object; secondly, suggestion given during normal sleep, as Coue advises should be done with children, in my opinion a most undesirable proceeding; and, thirdly, telepathic suggestion. All these modes of suggestion enter the mind behind the censor; that is to say, they are independent of consciousness, which is neither asked to co-operate, nor has the power to inhibit them.
In most cases, suggestions made in this way are never recognised as coming from outside, but are only discovered after they have matured in the subconsciousness and are beginning to take effect. We do not see the invisible seed, that has been sown in our mind by the mind of another, but in due course germination takes place and the strong-growing shoot appears above the threshold of consciousness as if it were a native growth. The skillful suggestionist always aims at making his suggestions harmonise with the bias of the personality; for if they do not, the established sub-conscious complexes will expel them before they have time to strike root. All he can really do is to reinforce and stimulate the ideas and impulses that are already there, though perhaps latent. He cannot plant an entirely alien seed. He cannot graft a rose-shoot on a lilac bush, for it will merely wither and die.
For growth of the thought-seeds of suggestion to take place they must find a congenial soil. It is herein lies the strength of the defence. We may not be able to prevent the minds of others from sending us suggestions, but we may so purify the soil of our own natures that no harmful ones can find a congenial seed-bed. It is a simple matter to pull up a seedling nettle, but it is quite a different business to eradicate a thickset bank of tangled roots and stinging shoots, many years old.
It has been said, and not untruly, that a person cannot be hypnotised into doing anything which is contrary to his real nature. But what is the real nature of each one of us? Have we all overcome the ape and tiger, or are they merely caged? Suggestion can unbar the cage of all our secret temptations and let them loose upon us. None but the saint is naturally immune. It is possible to reduce anybody to anything provided suggestion has unchecked scope for a sufficient length of time. The purest woman can be made a harlot, the noblest man a murderer under certain conditions. Knowledge is necessary to protect, and it is that knowledge which I intend to give in these pages.
Let us now consider exactly how a psychic attack operates. In the realms of mind there is neither time nor space as we understand them. I do not propose to argue this statement philosophically, but state it as a fact of experience which anyone who is accustomed to operating on the Inner Planes will have shared. If we think of a person, we are in touch with that person. If we picture them clearly, it is as if we were face to face with them. If we picture them vaguely, it is as if we saw them in the distance. Being in the mental vicinity of a person, we can create a thought- atmosphere by dwelling upon certain ideas in connection with him. This is how spiritual healing is done. The affirmations of Christian Science are used in order to get the mind of the healer into a certain emotional state, and his condition effectually influences the mind of the patient with whom he has put himself en rapport.
This power, however, can be used for evil as well as good; the Founder of Christian Science was wise enough to put her teaching in such a way that her students would not readily discern the second edge of the sword. As long as the world in general was ignorant of the powers of the mind, it was better that nothing should be said by those who knew, because the knowledge, if spread abroad indiscriminately, might do more harm than good, giving information to those who ought not to have it. But now that so much is generally known and even practised concerning the powers of the human mind, it is as well that the real facts should also be known and the whole matter brought out into the open, and as far as lies in my power I am prepared to do this.
Any message to the subconscious mind must be couched in very simple terms, because subconscious thought is a primitive form of mentation, developed before spoken language was known to mankind. The primary aim of the suggestion is to create a mental atmosphere about the soul of the person, whether that person is to be attacked or healed, until a sympathetic response or reaction is elicited within the soul itself. (I use the term soul to include both the mental and emotional processes, but to exclude the spiritual ones.) Once this reaction is achieved, the battle is half over, for the gate of the city has been opened from within, and there is free ingress. The telepathic suggestion of definite ideas can now proceed rapidly.
It is this point which is the critical one in any occult attack. Up to this point, the defender has the advantage. If he has sufficient knowledge, the knowledge I hope to make available through this book, he can without any undue exertion retain that advantage indefinitely, and wear his attackers down, even if unable to meet them on their own ground of occult knowledge. There is nothing in this world or the next that a hypnotist can do with the person who keeps his nerve and won't pay attention.
There are two gates, and two only, by which the attacker can gain entrance to the city of Mansoul, and these are the Self-preservation Instinct and the Sex Instinct. The hypnotic appeal must be couched in terms of one or both of these if it is to be successful. How does the attacker proceed? He has to create an atmosphere about the soul of his victim on the Inner Planes. He can only do this by creating that atmosphere within his own consciousness while he thinks of his victim. If he wants to perform a psychic murder, he must fill his own soul with the rage of destruction until it overflows. If he wants to perform a psychic rape, he must fill his soul with lust and cruelty. The cold rage of cruelty is essential to effectual operations of this nature. Now what happens when he does this? He has sounded a ringing keynote in the Abyss. It will be answered. All beings who have this keynote for the basis of their nature will respond. "Dark Uriel and Azrael and Ammon on the wing - " and will join in the operation. But they do not operate direct upon the victim, they work through the operator. It is like the old game of Nuts and May, in which the one who is sent "to fetch her away" is gripped round the waist by the leader of a chain of supporters. The real pressure comes on his own abdominal muscles, as anyone who has played the game will remember.
And when the magical operation is over, what then? Will the operator be left to enjoy his victim in peace? Is it Likely?
This is the mystical basis of the story of Faust. The Devil might be not only willing but anxious to enable Dr. Faustus to win Margarita, but he came for his soul at the appointed time. We may also remember that if Margarita had not responded to the lure of the Jewel Song she would not have fallen a victim. The weak spot in the defence was after all in her own nature.
We have considered the modus operandi of telepathic suggestion in detail because it forms the real basis of every kind of occult attack. Whether it be a discarnate entity, a being of another order of evolution, a demon from the Pit, or merely the panic-stricken soul of a selfish friend, clinging to the life of form regardless of consequences, in all cases the opening gambit is the same. Until the aura is pierced, there can be no entrance to the soul, and the aura is always pierced from within by the response of fear or desire going out towards the attacking entity. If we can inhibit that instinctive emotional reaction, the edge of the aura will remain impenetrable, and will be as sure a defence against psychic invasion as the healthy and unbroken skin is a defence against bacterial infection.
It happens sometimes, however, that a rapport has been formed with the attacking entity in a previous incarnation, and therefore it holds, as it were, the key to the postern. Such a problem is a very difficult one, and external assistance is needed for its solution. The difficulty is increased by the fact that the victim is often disinclined to allow the break to be made, being bound to the attacking entity, whether discarnate or incarnate, by bonds of fascination, or even genuine affection.
A case with which I was acquainted throws so much light on various aspects of psychic interference by incarnate souls operating out of their bodies that it is of value to quote it at length.
In the summer of 1926 I saw in the papers a short paragraph describing the death of a certain man and his wife, which took place within a few hours of each other. A couple of years previously I had been consulted by a friend of the wife, who was deeply perturbed about the state of affairs, and suspected psychic interference. The wife, Mrs. C. we will call her, had begun to be troubled by nightmares, waking up in a state of intense fear, hearing the echoes of menacing words ringing in her ears. At about the same time the husband, Mr. C., developed what at first sight looked like epileptic fits. A careful diagnosis by specialists, however, determined that although epileptiform, they were not true epilepsy.
In the case of Mr. C. this cardinal symptom was lacking. The attacks, moreover, always took place in sleep, and it seemed as if they were more of the form of severe nightmare, verging on somnambulism. It was a curious factor in the case that Mrs. CS nightmares usually heralded Mr. CS attacks.
These occurrences showed a certain cyclic regularity, occurring about once a month. In the case of a woman this would naturally be referred to the twenty-eight day cycle of her nature, but in the case of a man, no such explanation was forthcoming, and we therefore had to look for another twenty-eight day cycle to explain his periodicity. The only other cycle of this period is that of the phases of the moon.
We were then confronted by a correlation of epileptiform attacks, which had no organic basis, the nightmares of a second person, and the phases of the moon. Some theory had to be found which would resume these three and explain their inter-relationship.
A dream is commonly the first way in which psychic manifestations make themselves known, the subconscious perceptions being reflected into consciousness in this form.
It is held by many occultists that congenital epilepsy, as distinguished from that due to tumours of the brain, has its roots in the operations of black magic or witchcraft in which the sufferer participated in a past life, whether as practitioner or victim, the fit being an astral struggle with a discarnate entity, reflected on the physical body by means of the well-known phenomenon of repercussion.
The moon plays a very important part in all occult operations, different tides being available at different phases of her cycle. Persephone, Diana and Hecate, all aspects of Luna, are three very different persons.
It therefore appeared probable that as the physical investigation had drawn blank, a psychic investigation might yield fruits. One was performed. And with the following results.
Nothing at all was discerned with regard to Mrs. C. She was merely what lawyers call an accessory after the fact. But the psychic trail of Mr. C. was soon picked up and followed, and it appeared that in his last incarnation he had been associated with two women, mother and daughter, who had practised witchcraft for his benefit. The younger of the two women had been for a short time his mistress. Mother and daughter had paid the penalty for their crimes, but their male partner had escaped.
The diagnosis was as follows: It is the younger witch that is at the bottom of the trouble. It is her astral visits which cause the seizures of Mr. C. and the nightmares of Mrs. C., and they correlate with the phases of the moon because certain phases are favourable for the operation she performs and she therefore takes advantage of them. The question now remains, is this woman in incarnation or not? That is to say, is the midnight visit paid in an astral body projected from a living human being, or by an earth-bound spirit which has succeeded in evading the Second Death?
Mrs. C. had by now been taken into the confidence of the mutual friend who was concerned for her welfare, and lent a ready ear to the suggestion that some psychic influence might be at the bottom of the trouble, for this explanation coincided with her own intuitions in the matter, intuitions she had not dared to divulge for fear of ridicule. When asked if she could identify anyone in the circle of her husband's acquaintances who might prove to be the younger witch, she replied immediately that she could with out any difficulty identify both the women, and told the following curious story.
The older witch she identified as her husband's mother, an aged lady who occupied a suite of rooms in their house. For this inoffensive old creature Mrs. C. had always had a peculiar horror and repulsion, although admitting there were no rational grounds for it, and honestly endeavouring to do her duty by her. So great was her horror of the old lady that she would never remain in the house after her husband had left for his office in the morning, but went out herself to her club if she had no other engagement.
Among the frequenters of the house was an intimate friend of the elder Mrs. C., a woman of peculiar psychic temperament, who always called the old lady mother and was singularly attached to her, She was also very attached to Mr. C., but her feelings never exceeded, outwardly at any rate, the bounds of propriety, and Mr. C., who was sincerely attached to his own wife, never paid the slightest attention to her, looking upon her as his mother's friend, and as such to be tolerated.
Mrs. C. unhesitatingly identified Miss X., as we will call her, as the younger witch. Enquiries were then made regarding her history, and a very curious story unfolded.
As a young girl she had become engaged to a man who, soon after the engagement was announced, had developed galloping consumption and died after a short illness with a violent hemorrhage.
Soon after this, Miss Xs sister also became engaged, and by a strange fatality her lover shared the same fate, dying as died the other man, in a flood of his own blood.
Years went by, and Miss X. became engaged again. Soon the second lover fell ill, not, this time, with galloping consumption, but with a more lingering form of the complaint, in which hemorrhage was the principle symptom. He seemed to linger on from hemorrhage to hemorrhage, and this went on for years. Miss X., a woman of considerable private means, took a house, installed an aunt as a chaperone, and took her fiance to live there and be nursed by her. Soon the aunt developed symptoms of illness; she appeared to be drained of all vitality and for days at a time would lie unconscious, but no specific cause was ever discovered for her illness.
This peculiar menage continued for years, Miss X. living in her big house with these two moribund creatures lingering on from attack to attack. She was a constant visitor at the home of the CS, both during the lifetime of Mr. CS first wife and that of his second, the friend of my friend. On the death of Mr. CS first wife she had great hopes, it was observed, that his attentions would turn towards herself, but they did not; nevertheless she swallowed her chagrin, and succeeded in maintaining her foothold as an intimate friend of the family when the new Mrs. C. came to preside over the household. Certain methods of protection were suggested to Mrs. C. which helped her considerably, but it was not possible to exclude Miss X. from the house owing to her intimacy with the old lady. In due course, however, old Mrs. C. was gathered to her fathers, and then young Mrs. C. put her foot down and said she would have no more to do with Miss X. Mr. C. concurred in this, as he had always had a repulsion for Miss X., and had only tolerated her for his mother's sake.
Soon after this Mrs. C. began to feel unwell, the indisposition slowly progressed, until finally, although she had no definite symptoms, she was obliged to consult a doctor on account of her steadily increasing weakness and sense of malaise. A diagnosis of rapidly growing cancer of the womb was made. An operation was performed, which gave temporary relief, it was not expected to do any more, and she went downhill steadily.
Towards the end she lapsed into unconsciousness, and at the same time, Mr. C. also became unconscious, apparently having one of his seizures in sleep, from which he never awakened. They died within a few hours of each other. Mr. C.'s first wife had also died of cancer of the womb.
About this time Miss X.'s aunt and fiance died within a short time of each other, and the last that was heard of Miss X. was that she had been removed to a nursing-home in the country with a severe mental breakdown.
Taken separately, any of the incidents in this strange eventful history can be explained away, but taken together they make a curious story, especially when it is remembered that without any previous information a psychic investigation had "spotted" the existence of a person with abnormal faculties who was interested in Mr. C.
Cancer is a disease upon which certain occult hypotheses throw a good deal of light. It is believed to be a disease of the etheric double, not of the physical body, and that a "Cancer Elemental" is the infective factor.
To prove or disprove anything concerning the foregoing story is impossible, but the following occult hypothesis may explain much. If this hypothesis be not accepted, readers may find an interesting exercise for their ingenuity in constructing another that shall explain more satisfactorily the circumstances of the case.
Miss X. retained subconsciously the knowledge and powers that had been hers during the previous life when she was implicated in the witch-cult. She also retained her passion for Mr. C., a passion which was obviously unrequited, She employed her power of projection of the astral body to visit Mr. C. at night, during sleep. In the absence of details it is impossible to decide definitely whether the "fit" of Mr. C. was a struggle or an embrace. It might be either, or it might be both, an initial struggle ending in an embrace. The dreams of Mrs. C. obviously related to the same astral visitant who caused the seizures of Mr. C. There is, unfortunately, no record to show at what phase of the moon these attacks took place, but presumably at the Hecate phase, which is the period of evil witchcraft.
The condition of Miss Xs fiance and aunt and the death of her first lover point markedly towards vampirism. It is difficult to believe that a consumptive would continue for so many years without his disease either being checked or making definite progress. It is difficult to say what the connection, if any, might be between Miss X. and the death of her sister's lover, but it is a curious thing that three men, associated with this ill-omened household as prospective husbands, should lose their lives in the same way. This, together with the mysterious illness of the aunt, are very suspicious. As noted before, any one of these incidents could be explained away, but taken together they call for thought. It is also curious that Miss X. should keep her fiance in her house and yet not marry him, from every normal point of view an arrangement with many drawbacks and no advantages. On the other hand, if her feelings were fixed upon Mr. C. and were obtaining satisfaction by astral visits, she would naturally not want to break her rapport with the man she loved by giving herself to the man she did not love. If she were a vampire, her motive for keeping the aunt and lover in her house, and their condition, would be readily explained. Also her breakdown, which followed immediately upon their deaths.
The fact that Mr. CS first wife died of cancer of the womb does not in itself call for remark, but it is a curious thing that he should lose his second wife from the same disease. Cancer is not as common as all that, and in any case, there are many available sites beside the womb. On the other hand, Diana, one of the aspects of Luna, of whom Hecate, the goddess of witches, was another, presides over the female reproductive organs.
The illness of Mrs. C. began to show itself soon after Miss X. was excluded from the house.
Finally, what shall we say concerning the deaths of the three people most intimately associated with Miss X. within a short time of each other, and her immediate break down? In the absence of details any conclusion must be guesswork, but we have good grounds for supposing that Miss Xs magical operations were attended by some mishap.
It may be said that such a theory is the wildest improbability and does violence to all the laws of evidence. Let it, however, be born in mind that two years before these matters eventuated, the work of a witch in connection with Mr. CS epileptiform attacks was suspected and the nature of her relationship to him was indicated; and subsequent enquiries revealed the curious facts in connection with Miss Xs history and menage; let it also be noted that the happenings which subsequently occurred are such as have been recorded in many accounts of witch-trials. It is a scientific maxim that the power to foretell the course of phenomena is a good indication of the truth of a theory.
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Psychic Self Defense - By Dion Fortune
Chapter 1Signs of Psychic Attack
its infinite complexity. If we take into our hands and examine minutely any living thing, however simple, equally must we realise that the ordered diversity of its parts is built up on a determining framework. Science has sought in vain for this organising principle; it will never find it on the physical plane, for it is not physical. It is not the inherent nature of atoms which causes them to arrange themselves in the complex patterns of living tissues. The driving forces of the universe, the framework upon which it is built up in all its parts, belong to another phase of manifestation than our physical plane, having other dimensions than the three to which we are habituated, and perceived by other modes of consciousness than those to which we are accustomed.
We live in the midst of invisible forces whose effects alone we perceive. We move among invisible forms whose actions we very often do not perceive at all, though we may be profoundly affected by them.
In this mind-side of nature, invisible to our senses, intangible to our instruments of precision, many things can happen that are not without their echo on the physical plane. There are beings that live in this invisible world as fish live in the sea. There are men and women with trained minds, or special aptitudes, who can enter into this invisible world as a diver descends to the ocean-bed. There are also times when, as happens to a land when the sea-dykes break, the invisible forces flow in upon us and swamp our lives.
Normally this does not occur. We are protected by our very incapacity to perceive these invisible forces. There are four conditions, however, in which the veil may be rent and we may meet the Unseen. We may find ourselves in a place where these forces are concentrated. We may meet people who are handling these forces. We may ourselves go out to meet the Unseen, led by our interest in it, and get out of our depth before we know where we are; or we may fall victim to certain pathological conditions which rend the veil.
The Threshold of the Unseen is a treacherous coast on which to bathe. There are potholes and currents and quicksands. The strong swimmer, who knows .he coast, may venture in comparative safety. The non-swimmer, who takes counsel of nothing but his own impulses, may pay for his temerity with his life. But we must not make the mistake of thinking that these invisible forces are necessarily evil and inimical to humanity. They are no more inimical in themselves than are water or fire, but they are potent. If we run counter to them, the result is disastrous for us, for we have broken a natural law; but they are not out to attack us, any more than we are out to attack them. We must face the fact, however, that men and women with knowledge of these things, have, both in the past and in the present, used that knowledge unscrupulously, and that we may find our selves involved in the results of their actions. It may safely be said that the Unseen is only evil and inimical to humanity when it has been corrupted and perverted by the activities of these unscrupulous men and women, whom initiates call adepts of the Left-hand Path.
We must consider the outward and visible signs of psychic attack before we are in a position to analyse the nature of such attacks and indicate their source of origin. It is a fundamental rule that diagnosis must precede treatment. There are many different kinds of psychic attacks, and the methods that will dispose of one will be ineffectual against another.
The commonest form of psychic attack is that which proceeds from the ignorant or malignant mind of our fellow human beings. We say ignorant as well as malignant, for all attacks are not deliberately motived; the injury may be as accidental as that inflicted by a skidding car. This must always be borne in mind, and we should not impute malice or wickedness as a matter of course when we feel we are being victimised. Our persecutor may himself be a victim. We should not accuse a man of malice if we had linked hands with him and he had stepped on a live rail. Nevertheless, we should receive at his hands a severe shock. So it may be with many an occult attack. The person from whom it emanates may not have originated it. Therefore we should never respond to attack by attack, thus bringing ourselves down to the moral level of our attackers, but rely upon more humane methods, which are, in reality, equally effectual and far less dangerous to handle.
People also come into touch with the Unseen through the influence of places. Someone who is not actually psychic, but who is sufficiently sensitive to perceive the invisible forces subconsciously, may go to a place where they are concentrated at a high tension. Normally, although we move in the midst of these forces (for they sustain our universe), we are oblivious of them. Where they are concentrated, however, unless we are very dense-minded, we begin to be dimly conscious of something that is affecting us and stirring our subliminal self.
It may happen that the barrier between consciousness and subconsciousness is dense in some people, and they are never able clearly to realise what is going on. They merely have the sense of oppression and general malaise, which lifts when they go away to another place. Consequently, the condition may never be detected, and lead to years of ill-health and misery.
More commonly, however, if there is a definite psychic attack of sufficient force to make itself noticeable at all, there will soon begin to appear characteristic dreams. These may include a sense of weight upon the chest, as if someone were kneeling on the sleeper. If the sense of weight is present, it is certain that the attack emanates locally, for the weight is due to the concentration of etheric substance or ectoplasm, and is sufficiently tangible to press down the scale of a balance when it is possible to capture it for measurement. A great deal of research has been done with materialising mediums upon the nature of this tangible subtle substance, and the reader is referred to the books on the experiments conducted by Crawford with the Goligher Circle at Belfast, and in Paris with Eva C. by other experimenters, for further information and evidence on this subject. It may be noted that Crawford eventually committed suicide for no known reason.
A sense of fear and oppression is very characteristic of. occult attack, and one of the surest signs that herald it. It is extremely rare for an attack to make itself manifest out of the blue, as it were. We are not in our normal state of mind, body and circumstance, and then find ourselves suddenly in the midst of an invisible battle. An approaching occult influence casts its shadow on consciousness before it makes itself apparent to the non-psychic. The reason for this is that we perceive subconsciously before we realise consciously, and a line of creeping shade indicates the penetrating of the subconscious censor from below upwards.
As the attack progresses, nervous exhaustion becomes increasingly marked, and there may, under certain conditions, which we will consider later, be such wasting of the tissues that the victim is reduced to a mere bloodless shell of skin and bones, lying on the bed, too weak to move. And yet no definite disease can be demonstrated.
Such a case is an extreme example, proceeding unchecked to its logical conclusion. Other issues are possible, however. The resistance may be good, in which case the attack is unable to gain a foothold on the physical plane, and is limited to that borderland between matter and mind which we perceive upon the threshold of sleep. This is a very terrible experience, for the victim is afraid to sleep and cannot keep awake indefinitely. Worn out by fear and lack of sleep, mental breakdown soon supervenes.
Nervous exhaustion and mental breakdown are the commoner results of astral attack among white people, for in Europe at any rate it is not often that an attacker is able to bring the attack to a conclusion in the death of the victim. There are, however, records of cases where the victim has died of pure fright. Kipling's terrible story, The End of the Passage, gives an account of such an occurrence.
But in addition to the purely subjective phenomena, there will also be objective ones if the attack has any degree of concentration. The phenomenon of repercussion is well known, the phenomenon wherein that which befalls the subtle body is reflected in the dense body, so that after an astral skirmish during sleep, bruises are found on the physical body, sometimes bruises of a definite pattern. I have seen the print of a goat's hoof and the ace of clubs marked upon the skin as well-defined bruises, passing from blue to yellow and dying away in the course of a few days, as bruises will.
Evil odours are another manifestation of an astral attack. The characteristic smell is of decomposing flesh, and it comes and goes capriciously; but while it is manifesting, there is no doubt whatever about it, and anyone who is present can smell it, whether they are psychic or not. I have also known a frightful stench of drains arise when a ritual belonging to the Element of Earth was being incorrectly performed.
Another curious phenomenon is the precipitation of slime. I have not actually seen this myself, but I have first-hand information upon good authority of one such case. The marks are sometimes as if an army of slugs had been marching in ordered formation; sometimes there is a broad smear of slime, and at others, distinct footprints, often of gigantic size. In the case to which I refer, of which I heard from an eye-witness, the marks were like the foot prints of an elephant, enormous tracks on the floor of the drawing-room of a bungalow situated near the sea.
Odd footprints appearing from nowhere and leading nowhere, are sometimes observed when there is snow about. I have seen them on two occasions on the roof of an out building. They alighted upon the edge of it, as if the walker had stepped off an aeroplane, went straight across, and ended abruptly at the wall of the main building upon which the lean-to abuts. They did not return. A single line of footprints came from nowhere and ended in a lofty wall.
A similar happening took place on a very extensive scale in Devon some fifty years ago, and an account of it is to be found in that very curious book, Oddities, by Commander Gould. In this case, however, the prints were not human, but were those of what was apparently the hoof of a donkey, proceeding in a single line and going straight through walls and over roofs and covering the best part of a couple of hundred miles in a single night on both sides of an unbridged estuary. Those who want confirmatory evidence would do well to consult Commander Gould's book, where the incident is given in detail.
There is a curious phenomenon known to occultists as the astral bell; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle makes use of it in one of his Sherlock Holmes stories. This sound varies from a dear, bell-like note to a faint click. I have often heard it resemble the sound made by striking a cracked wine-glass with a knife-blade. It commonly announces the advent of an entity that is barely able to manifest, and need not necessarily be a herald of evil at all. It may simply be a knock on the door of the physical world to attract the attention of the inhabitants to the presence of one who stands without and would speak with them. If, however, it occurs in the presence of other symptoms of an astral attack, it would give strong evidence in confirmation of the diagnosis.
Inexplicable outbreaks of fire are also sometimes seen in this connection. These indicate that elemental forces, not human, are at work. Poltergeist phenomena also occur, in which objects are flung about, bells rung and other noisy manifestations take place. Of course there may be multiplicity of phenomena, more than one type appearing in the same case.
Needless to say, the possibility of some natural, material explanation must never be ignored, even in cases where the supernatural element appears most obvious. It should always be diligently sought in every possible direction before any supernormal hypothesis is considered worthy of attention. But on the other hand, we should not be so wedded to materialistic theories that we refuse to take a psychic theory as a working hypothesis if it shows any possibility of being fruitful. After all, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and if, working on an occult hypothesis, we are able to clear up a case which has resisted all other methods of handling, we have pretty good evidence in support of our contention.
We must also bear in mind that the element of deliberate fraud may enter into the most unexpected places. I have seen a drug addict successfully pass himself off for a considerable length of time as the victim of an occult attack. A recent writer in the British Medical Journal declared that whenever he came across a case of bell-ringing, knocks, the dripping of water and oil from ceilings, and other untoward happenings, he always looked for the hysterical maidservant. Occultists would be very well advised to do likewise before they begin to worry about the Devil. But on the other hand, the wise man, whether occultist or scientist, will not insist upon the hysterical maidservant unless he can catch her red-handed, as he surely will do sooner or later if she is the guilty party.
Forged bank-notes would never gain currency unless there were such a thing as genuine bank-notes. It would never occur to anyone to produce fraudulent psychic phenomena unless there had been some genuine psychic phenomena to act as a pattern for the forgery.
The acceptance of an explanation should rest upon the weight of evidence in its favour, not upon one's dislike of its alternatives. I plead that the possibility of a non- material explanation should be investigated in cases where the materialistic hypothesis does not yield results. Not in diseases of the brain and nervous system, nor of the ductless glands, nor in repression of the natural instincts, shall we find the explanation in all cases wherein the mind is afflicted. There is more to man than mind and body. We shall never find the clue to the riddle of life until we realise that man is a spiritual being and that mind and body are the garments of his manifestation.
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