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Magic Without Permission

b2ap3_thumbnail_web3_sm.jpgWhen I first started studying magic – almost 40 years ago now – one of the first things I learned was that doing magic on or for someone without their explicit knowledge and consent was a big no-no. There was potential for creating serious negative energy that could extend beyond the lifetime in which the spell was done, and lead to debts that would need to be repaid in successive lives. Such magic also went against my personal philosophy that I was responsible for myself and my own actions, and the gods would judge and reward me accordingly, and by extension, other people we responsible for their own actions and would be suitably judged and rewarded. In general I have lived by this, doing little magic (what I have done has been successful) and often without formal circle as I tend to work more with meditation and journeying. But I have a close family member who is changing my mind.

As a new teen at age 13, she maintained she was evil. Since I have a degree in psychology, I came to some conclusions about why she kept saying this. But those conclusions were not helpful. The child refused any and all self reflection, clinging to this story as if it were life. Perhaps it was. But we could not allow such a belief to continue, especially in the face of her increasing anger and simmering aggression. She had already done damage to property and struck her mother - the latter I didn’t’ find out until over years later – but the psychic dark cloud that surrounded her was enough to demonstrate that she was drawing on some bad stuff.

On a psychological level, we ignored her comments about being evil and focused on the behavior we expected. On an energetic level, I smudged often, my husband put up Mezzuahs – a traditional Jewish protection for the home – and I Journeyed for her. What I found was ugly and I did what I could to change it. My moral justification was that she was a minor and in our charge and to not do so when I could would be irresponsible. I continued to remind myself of this periodically, and the truth was that, it did indeed improve things. She stopped referring to herself as evil, and was more open. She laughed more often. But something was still wrong. Her high school years were hell for me. She did get a tentative diagnosis of ADD, which got her some extra consideration from the school in terms of extra time to take tests and such, and it helped.

When she went off to college, I began to be hopeful that she might just manage to pull herself together and make a good life for herself. And for the first two years she did. Then she started to fall apart. It was a slow process, and we only marked her third year as a turning point later, when the small signs started to add up: a freaked out roommate, a failed class, the veil in her eyes. She had started smoking weed and we found out later she had spent a year being high all the time. She still got through her really difficult classes (she was in a STEM program) but the closer she got to finishing the program, the worse things got. Then she started breaking stuff in our house, which ended with a written threat about my cat. (Later she confessed to hurting one of my cats during middle school, an injury that I had thought was inflicted by his feline buddy). My husband threw her out.

In this current moment in time, she has finished college, has her diploma, and still needs a non-academic certification to work in her field. She has also been through a two year study for schizophrenia and has an additional diagnosis of high functioning autism. And after humble begging, she is living with us again. Neither of us is convinced she will be able to hold down a job. She is better to live with than she was. Physical incentives such as the use of the wifi, combined with periodic parental lectures means that she is developing a few useful life habits such as cleaning and cooking. She needs help. We need help. And I’m thinking about magic.

In the West, we have very individualistic models of humanity. This has been very good for all sorts of things, but it has huge failings when it comes to health issues. Our mobile society means that people are not embedded in a supportive community when health issue happen, and mental health is especially problematic on that score. But what if my model for magic was not the individualistic one, but the one where we are held by the supportive strands of family? If the family is not functioning well, is it not in the best interests of all to find a way to create a functioning whole?

In ritual, we can change our stories of self. I am doing the best I can to change her story without ritual since that is something for which she has contempt. Which leaves me with magic. What would such a spell look like? And what is my personal role? I cannot ignore my own presence in the web in such a working. Nor can I leave this for another. It’s possible I’m being a control freak, but I’m the one in the middle of it. I see her needs and weaknesses in a way that someone outside the immediate family cannot. If I call on Arachne, the weaver of webs, perhaps I can do some good here in a way that working in the embodied world has not been able to accomplish.

Have you done magic to or for others without their knowledge or permission?

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Selina Rifkin, L.M.T., M.S. is a graduate of Temple University and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. In 1998 she graduated from the Downeast School of Massage in Maine. She has published articles in Massage Therapy Journal, been a health columnist, and published The Referral Guide for Complementary Care, a book that describes 25 different healing modalities. In 2006 she completed her Masters program in Nutrition with a focus on traditional foods, and the work of Weston A. Price.
Currently she is the Executive Assistant to the Director of Cherry Hill Seminary, the first Pagan seminary to offer Master’s degrees.


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