Thursday, June 23, 2016


Enchantment at a distance

After the journalistic brouhaha leading to drawn pistols and rapiers and the apparent spooking of horses in early 1893 a more or less rational discussion began as to whether enchantment at a distance was, in any case, possible.  An early brochure by Papus, now virtually unobtainable,  seemed by its title, (Peut-on envoûter? – ‘Is enchantment possible?’), to cast doubt on this. Scientific experiments along these lines were difficult to set up but such as had been conducted by Dr Luys, Colonel de Rochas and himself at la Charité hospital had found it possible to achieve results only with deeply hypnotised people. Any attempt to influence anyone not hypnotised proved negative.

However, as it is not possible to draw valid conclusions by arguing from the particular to the general, this lack of success did not prove that the practice was impossible, so some traditional methods of dealing with such matters might well be worth considering. Some were therefore described in a short book that followed,  Pour Combattre l’Envoutement (Fighting against Enchantment), and replicated in subsequent editions of the popular instruction manual Traité Methodique de Magie Pratique.

At the same time Papus stressed the need to proceed with great caution, for many who thought they were being attacked were actually mentally ill, requiring professional medical or psychological expertise rather than amateur magic making or do it yourself exorcism. Nonetheless he was willing to describe various traditional means of defence, such as charcoal or sharp metal or magnetic devices.

As carbon, particularly wood charcoal, has the property of absorbing physical odours, so is it said to have the same effect with any astral plane emanation. It can thus be used to purify material objects suspected of being impregnated with any bad ‘astral fluid’ or atmosphere. To demagnetise a letter, for example, or any form of writing, it was enough to place it in a metal box full of charcoal. In those days the charcoal used in bakers’ ovens was recommended, of the type that gave intense glowing heat without flame. Probably that used for barbecues would be the modern equivalent.

Large objects, such as furniture, might best be dealt with by being placed in a magic circle and having a little charcoal placed upon them. Then after processing three times around it, burning incense, the charcoal could be buried at the foot of a tree.

Sharp metal points were considered act on astral forces in much the same way as electricity. The analogy of lightning conductors to protect buildings was suggested, and a house could be astrally defended by placing points at its doors. Or in individual cases a crown of points placed around the forehead could be effective, and at night the bed surrounded with sharp implements.   

On the other hand many who thought they were victims of enchantment were simply short of astral force; a quite common condition,  similar to anaemia, but unknown to most doctors,  despite devices being available such as the Vitalometer, invented by Louis Lucas in 1863,  or a similar Biometer by the abbé Fortin and a Dr Baraduc. The movement of the instrument’s needle under the influence of the left hand and then the right gave a measure of the astral fluid circulating in the organism,  or of any dispersion causing nervous anaemia. In such cases the application of one of the ‘magnetic crowns’ of Dr Luys, or the ‘electro-magnetic crown’ of Dr Gérard Encausse, or the magnetised plaques of Henri Durville and others were means of obtaining a cure.  

Modern sorcerers had begun to make use of the recent invention of photography, with the traditional wax dummy (or ‘volt’ to use its technical term) being replaced by a photograph of the victim. A number of disappointed lovers had been known to tear the eyes out of an image of the beloved, although this practice had no kind of repercussion on the astral and thus had no physical effect. There was, nonetheless, a secret way to give a photograph an astral vitality, but was of no use to most sorcerers who, happily, were “more boasters than initiates, even when they modestly called themselves Magi”. Astral attacks by means of a photograph were possible, “but the method of defence was reserved to the Rose Cross Kabbalists who were invested with a mission to destroy such works by whatever means” – {if one assumes that such magi were indeed initiates rather than boasters!  Some of this is on a par with the Grimoire or recipe book of a country sorcerer muddled with that of a snake oil salesman. Not Papus at his best. G.K. }  

But then there came a radical change in the level and type of advice, and the assertion that it is better to rely on spiritual rather than occult means in dealing with such matters. For instance, after a lengthy description in the booklet of the making of magic mirrors with different metals according to planetary correspondences, largely taken from Paracelsus, comes the bald statement that better than all these practices, prayer is the sovereign guard against all ill doing. That if one has enemies capable of using astral forces one should pray for them and ask heaven to enlighten them and bring them to the right way. If one did not know who they were it was necessary to ask for their invisible protection rather than overwhelm them with hatred and curses, which was the common procedure of sorcery.  

Against all astral action Psalm 31 is particularly efficient. And the recitation of the Gospel of St. John a remarkable ritual in all actions of astral defence. Whilst the practice of charity was indispensible for avoiding all attack. Particularly personal acts of help to individuals rather than general donations to organisations.

All of which seems to stem from a banishing ritual by Papus himself that went wrong, and led to his association with a mystical thaumaturge, Maître Philippe, whom he referred to thereafter as his ‘spiritual master’ after first assuming him to be an occult enemy.

1 comment:

Worldbridger said...

Very interesting, and it seems that there are similarities between the charcoal usage and shamanic 'smudging' which uses burning plant material (carbon) to dispel astral static. Also there are many similarities between the concepts of Feng Shui and the wearing of spiky metal to ward off bad things.