15 February 2011

The Dangers of Defense

First off, I’d like to thank Daniel Bautz over at The Grand Dark Conspiracy for having me on his show last night.  We talked about monsters, mayhem, magickal protections, and a bizarre zombie creating fungus.  If you didn’t get a chance to listen live, you can download the show as a podcast.

One of the points we discussed last night was the idea of the importance of intent in any defensive work.  Daniel asked the question of whether a novice could screw up defensive work to the point of making things worse, or if the power of intent/belief could make up for lack of experience.  The answer is yes and no.

Yes, focused intent and confidence in your workings can make up for a world of procedural mishaps.  If you accidentally smudge going clockwise rather than counter-clockwise while banishing you’re not going to accidentally create a portal into a hell dimension.  Wands, chants, incantations, and gestures are all just tools that help the practitioner focus their will – their intent – and the power of the will is what actually performs the magick and affects the world.  So yes, if you are truly focused on what you want to happen, know your own will, and are able to project that out into your environment magick will happen and you are quite likely to be successful, regardless of technical proficiency.  Inexperienced but strong intent can be quite effective against low level nasties: imps, pixies, most ghosts, etc. – the kind of beasties you’re actually likely to run in to.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t always hold true.

When dealing with the more rare and dangerous denizens of the dark a strong will alone is not going to cut it.  These are the creatures that, in my book, I rate at a danger level of 6+, such as red caps, the rare malevolent and powerful ghost, and infernals.  These creatures are much stronger than their less dangerous cousins and tend to be quite resistant to amateur attempts to remove them.  In the case of such strong creatures, a failed attempt to defend against them can just make them angry, making things much worse.  To use a really mundane analogy, the difference between trying to remove a weak entity, say an imp, verses a strong entity, like an infernal, is a lot like the difference between trying to remove some dust from carpet verses trying to clean up 10 gallons of spilled motor oil.  The dust can be vacuumed up by anyone with the tools they probably already have, while the motor oil is going to require professional cleaning or new carpets and trying to clean it up yourself is likely to just spread it around.

That is not to say that there’s nothing an amateur can do with faced with a big bad.  Basic shielding and self-cleansing techniques (such as basic banishing and hex-breaking) can all hold back some of the negative effects of malicious creatures and give you the time to find help.  In my book I give fairly detailed instructions for all of those techniques, as well as listing common protective stones, herbs, and oils – all of which can mitigate the effects of a malevolent entity and buy you time.  In the end, however, going toe to toe with high level nasties should really be left to advanced practitioners unless there is no other choice.  At the back of my book I have a section called “In Case of Emergency Break Glass,” which has some seriously potent protective and banishing rituals that can be used if there is no other option.  I hope no one ever has to use them.  Thankfully, the kind of entities that require such extreme removal measures are absurdly rare – we’re talking one in a million scenarios.  They happen, but unless you’re meddling with things you ought not to, you’re unlikely to ever come near them.

So yeah, do what you’ve got to do to keep yourself safe but never be afraid to ask for help.  If you have any questions feel free to comment to the blog or you can email me any time: emily at e-carlin.com.

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