09 May 2011

Ethics of Banishing

I was doing a radio interview this weekend and the host asked me an interesting question: what is something that movies and television get wrong about paranormal entities.  The question threw me for a moment because the list is so long.  What do they get wrong?  Nearly everything.  It would be much easier to list what they get right, like occasional bits of folklore.  I decided to pick something that bothered me about the way media portrays the paranormal and that is ethics.  In a lot of media everything that is paranormal is automatically treated as evil and frightening and that’s just not the case.  Sure, there are plenty of very bad things out there but they’re absurdly rare.  Most of the paranormal creatures people are likely to run into are benign or nothing more than annoying – hardly the picture of terrifying menace that sells so very well.  There are plenty of practitioners that will banish any entity that even startles them – I know I did back before I got comfortable with them – but that’s hardly ideal.

As someone who deals with the paranormal rather more often than the average bear, I think it’s incredibly important to have a clear set of ethics when it comes to banishing paranormal entities.  Sentient beings think and feel; they may not think or feel in a way that is understandable to people, but they do.  Their thoughts and wills should not be simply disregarded because they’re inconvenient for us.

Does this mean we cannot protect ourselves against them?  Of course not.  It just means that we have to think before we act against them.  I try consider three grounds to be necessary before conducting a banishing on a sentient being: standing, failure of more polite methods, and self-defense or the defense of others.

Standing is a legal term meaning that someone has grounds upon which to be heard before a court.  In terms of banishing, to have standing means you have a personal reason to want or need the banishing.  For example, someone whose home was inhabited by an imp has a very immediate and personal reason to want the imp banished – it’s bugging them!  On the contrary, someone who had heard that the house down the street is haunted but doesn’t actually know the people that live there and hasn’t been asked for help does not have a personal or immediate reason to need or want the banishing.

Banishing is serious magick and should not be done lightly.  All acts of magick carry consequences and magick that potentially goes against the will of another can carry very serious consequences.  If you try to banish an entity and fail, the entity can become angry or even dangerous: it might come after you or, if it can’t get to you because of your protections, it might go after those around you.  Also, banishing can be harmful to the entity being banished.  Some banishings can feel very much like an energetic brawl, with the practitioner and the entity battering each other with energy until one of them gives in – hopefully the entity.  Imagine you’d been beat up and thrown out of your house; how would you feel?

The clearest form of standing is to own the property from which the entity would be banished.  You always have standing to eject unwanted entities from your property, particularly your home.  Standing can also be given to a practitioner by the owner of the property in questions asking the practitioner for help.  If your friend asks you for magickal help, then you’ve every right to give it if you so choose.  Such scenarios give very clear standing, less clear are situations where the practitioner does not own the property or when the practitioner chooses to intervene on the behalf of others without their asking.  A practitioner may have standing to banish in places such as their school or place of work if they have been personally affected by the entity or if a friend asking for their help has been affected.  A practitioner may also have standing to intervene when they see someone being physically or mentally harmed by an entity.  These are the grey areas for which each practitioner really needs to make their own choice.

Before doing a banishing it is always best to try more polite methods for getting an entity to move on.  Most entities that you will encounter are not malevolent – but that does not mean that they won’t be intrusive or difficult to live with.  Many entities don’t understand that their behavior is disruptive or unwelcome, or perhaps they are merely mischievous and don’t really mean us any harm.  Like intelligent children, many entities will stop negative behavior once it is pointed out to them. 

The number one justification for evicting an entity from any location is defense against harm.  If you feel that something is an imminent threat to your personal safety, you have the right to act to defend yourself.  That means that if you know an entity is present and you are afraid that if you do not banish it right away, it will harm you physically, emotionally, or spiritually.  You will have to use your judgment to discern whether something that does not currently pose a real danger but might do so in the near future needs to be banished.  If you feel that someone is being physically threatened or severely emotionally/spiritually threatened, then banishing is always appropriate.  In all other cases, you will have to use your judgment to determine if the entity poses a great enough threat to warrant banishing.

We have the right to reject an entity in cases of self-defense and the defense of others, where the person wanting the entity banished has ownership of the area and a genuine need to have the entity removed.  In the end you have to use your judgment and decide whether banishing is appropriate and necessary.  Remember, you never HAVE to banish an entity.  You always have a choice.

1 comment:

  1. I concur with your three rules although I tend to use a fourth one and that is did the people who are being bothered do something to the spirit