The Difference Between Bad Dreams and Psychic Attack

Here’s an excerpt from this week’s installment of Jason Miller’s Magick Monday Newsletter:

Witches, Magicians, and Sorcerers call upon wrathful beings for protection all the time. Not just spirits that are armed, like the Archangel Michael, but spirits that others may consider monstrous or demonic. This is not unusual, the world is filled with fanged and monstrous guardians called upon to protect against equally monstrous enemies. Statues and ikons of Dragons, Dharmapalas, Garoyles, and Gorgons abound. The last of these: Gorgons, are something that Sorcery of Hekate students often rely on when some extra protection is needed.

Last week a student performed the rites we use to call upon these Gorgons for protection, but wound up having Medusa and Serpent themed nightmares throughout the night. I wouldn’t even call them nightmares because the Gorgons did not attack in the dream. Still Gorgons are scary and have a fierce presence that can be upsetting. This student wanted to know why, If they called upon these beings for protection, were they being attacked instead?

My answer is that nightmares are not attacks, they are nightmares. Not everything that is unpleasant is an attack. In this case one of two things is happening:

  1. ORDINARY DREAM: When we dream we move short term memories into long term storage. Often images that we take in just before sleep play heavily into these dreams. The other night I stayed up watching the show Harlots with my wife. Lo and behold I had dreams of 18th century prostitutes. If I watched Cocaine Bear instead, I might have had a dream about being chased by a drug fueled bear.

    If you are laying down some Sorcery in the dark of night, as readers of this blog are wont to do. That is the imagery you took in right before bed. Dreaming about it, is not necessarily any more spiritually meaningful than London doxies or blow riddled bears.

  2. MANIFESTATION OF SPIRIT: After 9/11 it was not uncommon to see fully armed soldiers at airports, train stations, shopping malls, and anywhere else that people were afraid might be a target for a terrorist attack. This can be disconcerting and even scary, but they are there because we asked them to be there. It’s the same with the Gorgons. You called, they showed up. You have been developing psychic abilities, so you sensed their presence. Their nature is fierce so that manifested as a scary dream. Instead of worrying about it, this person should have been patting themselves on the back for signs of solid work manifesting!

Generally speaking one unpleasant experience should never be interpreted as a psychic attack. Even a couple truly painful events doesn’t really make the bar. This is a hard edged world, and bad stuff happens to everyone. It is a constellation of symptoms that should rouse concern. If a nightmare was followed by getting dumped, sick, and fired in a short amount of time then maybe its time to be concerned. Of course a little extra cleansing and protection rarely hurts. In this case though, I still would not assume the Gorgons are the cause. I would assume that its a manifestation of the danger that you called the Gorgons to fight off. If it doesn’t get better, then you can complain that they are not doing their job, but its still not likely that it is them causing problems.

There is a famous saying “Do not call up that which you cannot put down.” I wish to offer an alternative rule of thumb. “If your magic worked well enough to summon a being forth, it will work well enough to bind it to its task or send it back if needed.”

The first quote is from HP Lovecraft and is horror story thinking: the idea that Witchcraft exists to get you into trouble, but not out of it. This can make for a thrilling tale, but this fictional take on magic is no more true to life than Gandalf or Harry Potter.

I am not saying that there are no dangers to magic, or that all spirits are always nice and behave as we expect. I’m just saying they aren’t all petulant assholes either: eager to sew discord for no good reason. If they are, they can be sent away by the same formulas that called them forth.

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