As a newcomer to the field, you will need to get to know some of the signs which can prove to be sure indicators that some form of definite occult attack is in operation against you.
Apart from unpleasant vibrations and general miasmas of hostility or fear, the symptoms of a magical attack can range from extremely severe, recurrent nightmares, through runs of unbelievably bad luck, psychosomatic disturbances and allergies, often accompanied by poltergeist manifestations, to outright cases of lunacy or even sudden death. In the case of the latter, even countermagic won't avail you much.
Of course, all of these things, bar the poltergeist phenomena, can, and in the case of the nonwitch, generally do have a definitely nonoccult basis. As such, it is always best to consult a regular doctor or psychiatrist before automatically assuming any form of magical attack. But should you actually have been informed in one way or another that you are being made the target of a sorcerous onslaught (and this is quite likely to be the case if you recall what was said in Chapter 1 about laying the groundwork for an attack), then you won't have too much trouble figuring out where the mischief stems from when any of the aforesaid symptoms begin to manifest themselves.
If you are a practising witch, you must expect the occasional fracas from time to time. You may possibly even enjoy it - at least it gives you a chance to flex your magical muscles a bit.
The first really telltale signs are the periodical nightmares and general sense of evil in the air. The dreams will generally have a specific motif repeated ad nauseam with minor variations on the theme. As a witch, your first step will be to determine their nature, if possible, and what their period of occurrence is, if any. Usually, if they are in any way magically induced, they will correspond in some way to the phases of the moon, usually reaching their peak at new rather than full moon.
Generally speaking, the nightmares themselves won't be the magical attack but rather their cries of help to your conscious self from your deep mind, which is the real target for all the bolts of dark fire. Should the attack worsen, then of course the deep mind's pleas for attention will become more frenzied, and you may begin to discover you are experiencing waking dreams or hallucinations. These can take the form of many different types of sensory delusions ranging from the visual pink-elephant variety to aural and olfactory ones. The latter may take the form of disembodied voices, snatches of music, a high-pitched whine or tone (in the past referred to by occultists as the "astral belt") and imaginary odours of varying degrees of pungency, usually fetid in the case of an attack. In fact, all the signs of a "bad trip" without an occasioning drug or naturally occurring personality disorder. Should you be fortunate or unfortunate enough to also possess free-floating witch power of the type manifested by so-called materializing mediums, then you will also begin to be the target of such apparently malicious poltergeist phenomena as disappearing objects, mysterious breakages, inexplicable outbreaks of fire and the like. All the signs of a traditional haunting, in fact.
Persistent runs of misfortune are often taken to be signs of a well-lodged curse, but they are more often than not self-inflicted by the victim's own deep mind for some devious reason, as already mentioned in Chapter 2.
Of course, if you are solemnly informed by a malevolent rival that you are about to be magically strafed, and your bad luck promptly begins from that time onwards, then you would appear to be a fool to ignore the more obvious root cause, in favour of some nebulous theory concerning an obscure self-destruction wish. Actually, really skilful practitioners tend to divine their victim's psychological weak spots, and then play upon their fears, aiming their attack precisely at those deep-mind blind spots where there is already a built-in self-destruct mechanism ready to be triggered. The most deadly attack is the least suspected one.
The main thing to avoid in all occasions of suspected magical attack is abandoning one's judgement to overriding fear. The descent into paranoia is one of the main pitfalls for many otherwise very competent witches. Probably one of the best ways of guarding against this is to let one of your witch friends handle the situation for you, with the express instructions to exercise as much scepticism as possible. It is to this fellow-practitioner that you must turn also for the relevant divinations, for these are the first practical magical steps to be undertaken under the circumstances. To divine the nature and if possible the source of the hostility should be your purpose here. The pendulum, Vassago, and the rune sticks are possibly the best methods to employ. Tarot and the I Ching can also be used.
Generally, you will find a magical attack to be motivated by one of two factors: lust or hate. However, in these days of more readily available sexual gratification, the first factor has faded very much into abeyance, save in such barbarous institutions where chastity is still enjoined. Hate, on the other hand, is still with us, alas in no lesser degree than in the Middle Ages, judging by evidence presented in the various news media.
A would-be magical antagonist of more-advanced calibre will often indulge in the luxury of enjoying attack in person, so to speak, by formulating his witch power into a definite "shape," and then transferring his consciousness to it. The shape is then sent forth to accomplish the witch's will. The shape, fetch, or wraith is often animal in form, the type being dictated either by analogy with the ensouling emotion of the projector or, on occasions, being that of the coven totem.
This process of "sending forth the fetch" is identical to that of present-day practices of astral, or etheric, projection. The fetch itself may be perceived with the inner vision of the victim or, on very rare occasions, with his physical eyes should he or the antagonist be in any way a "materializing medium." This is the basis for the legends of the werewolf and the vampire. Both of these creatures represent the materialized witch power of the practitioner through which he acts using the shape as a vehicle for his own consciousness.
In cases of the legendary werewolf, the ensouling desires of the projector would be those of destructive rage, while in those of the equally famous vampire, incubus, and succubus, they would be lust.
The artificially produced fetch differs from the magistellus or Watcher only in that the witch transfers her consciousness to the former and not the latter, and that the first relies solely on witch power and the powers of the deep mind, while the latter usually involves the implications of some further exterior agency, whether of demonic or elemental nature.
Tradition has it that when a habitue of "sending forth the fetch" happens to die, the vampire or werewolf personality can live on as a self-perpetuating robot, a psychic fragment of the original owner, maintaining its existence by feeding upon the magnetism of the unsuspecting living while they sleep. This witch practice has given rise to that body of lore known as lycanthropy, complete with all its traditional methods of dispatching such creatures - wooden stakes, silver bullets, and the like. Should a projected witch fetch assume any degree of materialization, it can in many cases be as vulnerable as the sleeping body of the projector itself, often transferring any wounds inflicted upon it back to its parent body by means of the process of repercussion. Because of the difficulty in accomplishing the projection, and the perils involved subsequent to a materialization, sending forth the fetch is generally regarded as a work for the more advanced practitioner.
However, if you wish to study it more fully, the elementary rudiments of projection can be gleaned from any of the current books on astral projection that are in print at the present time.
When you are reasonably sure you are the victim of a recurrent magical attack (and they usually are repeated), aspirins and laxatives having availed you naught, you must at that point set about the task of working out an adequate system of defence, using your own countermagic to weather the storm and, if possible, turn back the thrust.
You can rest assured that night will be the time most favoured for the attack, and if you have observed the rhythm of the occurrences, you will probably be able to gauge sufficiently when the next attempt is likely to be made. Now we arrive at another most important rule of witchcraft. In matters of occult warfare, passive defence is the most effective type of retaliation.
When a witch mounts a magical attack, if it happens to misfire or if the victim is in any way adequately protected, as they say in the craft - "An the witch bide the issue!" - the home of lost curses is right back where they came from, the sender herself. So if you can arrange to be ritually well-defended at the time that the dark spell is being cast, the spellbinders will, in fact, be conjuring to their own destruction. Advanced practitioners try to avoid the recoil by enveigling other, less-advanced members of their coven only too glad to try their hand at a bit of cursing, to do the actual dirty work for them: a well-known expedient in all fields! Regardless of any feelings of compassion for who actually "bides the issue," however, you should proceed with all your means of defence as surely as you would board up your house if it stood in the path of a hurricane.
The magical attack will usually begin any time after sundown, so you should have your preparations ready well before. Consult an astrological ephemeris, nautical almanac, or your local newspaper for the exact time the sun actually sinks below the horizon.
Your main defences are going to be the grand magical circle and the pentacle of protection. You will also employ the magical power of iron and protective herbs extensively, plus one or two other little devices; all your Earth amulets and magistelli will, of course, be working overtime.
First, you must see that the victim or victims all bear upon their breasts the pentacle of protection. Here is the manner of its construction:
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