Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Why Do People Shy Away from Self-Defense in Magic?
I have had, to put it in the ladylike way I so often put things, a bug up my ass for a while about personal defense in magic and general attitudes toward it. An awful lot of people seem to not draw clear boundaries and guard them because, well, it's not nice. That's absurd. It operates on the assumption that every universal force is going to play by your conventions and ethos. When was the last time some criminal stopped just short of violating a victim because the victim wasn't the kind of person who would rob or rape or murder? We lock the doors of our houses at night, install alarm systems, have neighborhood watch groups. Why would magic be any different, and why on earth would it be a place to suddenly turn into a milquetoast? You have to be proactive. That's a lesson I learned the hard way, and it changed my understanding of magical ethics and my path permanently.
Bad things don't just go away or become nice. This isn't a sitcom. They get worse and wear you down until the wheels are falling off on every front. Taking care of yourself, your home, your people, and your life isn't bad, even if it requires aggression and ferocity. You've got to fix it and be practical about it. Think of it like roaches or mice or some other household vermin. It has GOT to go. So you clean house, then take preventative and protective steps to make sure the things don't come back in. We all know to call the exterminator or buy roach traps if the problem is pests. An awful lot of people don't know what to do when the problem is with energies and entities you can't fix with a trip to the grocery store.
There seem to be two extremes and not a lot of practical information in between them. You have very strong, complex protection magic in folk traditions like Santeria and Voudou, where these layers of protection are a matter of fact thing. I've heard people say that it's because of the acceptability and prevalence of hexing or working against people. There are some excellent, very easy ideas in root work, like Hoodoo, that are great to use, no matter how uncomfortable you are with the idea of being more aggressive in your protection.
Then you have the fluffy people who write books telling you to exorcise ghosts from your house permanently using only sage and an open window. Oh, and if that doesn't work, you must be drawing them to you with a bad attitude. The latter type often focuses on "psychic self-defense". I hate the term "psychic self-defense" because it's such a narrow, silly-sounding term for what should be a broad and very personal plan. I get why people use it. The problem is that there are so few resources out there on personal protection magic. To write some bit of fluff is a disservice to the community and dangerous to less experienced witches who may be scrambling for help because they've gotten in over their heads.
In the world of softer, gentler, upper-middle-class witchery, protection doesn't seem like something people take very seriously. Are they not very sensitive? Very aware? Do they not make connections between the thought "hey, that guy sitting next to me at the bar is kinda creepy" and the idea that maybe they should shield themselves in some way? I don't know about the general public. Maybe they don't like the idea of there being big, bad stuff out there or that there could be consequences to some fun, impulsive dabbling. When it comes to physical home security or online security, people seem to largely be willfully ignorant, as though not taking preventative steps will save them. It won't.