Putting baneful magick on the table as an option, in my opinion, comes with an attendant responsibility. On one hand, yes, I do think circumstances arise in which one is within one’s rights to resort to it. But whether that is the best choice for the situation and in true accord with one’s goals is another question. What this entry will therefore discuss is alternative options to consider before or in place of baneful magick. Not because baneful magick is “wrong,” but because sometimes it is impractical or even self-destructive.
Reasons for hesitating to resort to baneful magick
At the point someone is seriously considering baneful magick, broadly-speaking five limiters may yet come into play:
- Insufficient insight into the situation. OK, so you’re angry / hurt by someone. Are you sure your assessment of fault is reasonable, though? And do you know enough about whatever life circumstances of theirs you intend to target banefully to do so effectively?
- Emotional control issues. The classic problem when targeting troublesome family members, traitorous friends and ex-lovers. On one hand, feeling any sympathy for a target will obviously compromise one’s ability to cast baneful magick on them. On the other hand, when betrayed love breeds intense hatred, this too can compromise the magician via attachment to results.
- Inability to distance oneself. Often a facet of the preceding, yet nonetheless a distinct issue from it. If you cannot or will not completely separate your life from that of the person you intend to target, you may wind up in the “blast zone” of your own working. Family and co-workers are two categories of potential targets especially likely to come with this problem.
- Preferring to avoid a “wizard war.” I personally believe that all people have unconscious psychic defenses that baneful magick can trigger. Obviously though, there is additional cause for caution when targeting a fellow practitioner. Such a person may have additional such defenses, either consciously or unconsciously. They may also intentionally counterattack, or have acausal allies who will do so, etc.
- Ethical misgivings. Some people think they are up for baneful magick “if what they did to me was bad enough.” Upon trying though, and experiencing subsequent shifts in energy, they may decide they do not have the stomach for it after all. In which case, surely it’s wiser to admit it and change course than keep doubling down.
Overcoming hesitation vs. giving into it
The above factors can be in play but fall aside as situations evolves, or otherwise ultimately fail to stand as reasons against a baneful working. For example:
- One is criminally attacked by a stranger (1) and despairs of legal remedy; one uses divination to learn what is needful to still target the offender effectively.
- One is initially too attached to the target (2) or “feels bad” generally (5); one cultivates detachment before proceeding with a baneful working.
- One is aware of collateral damage (3) and/or counterstrike (4) risks; one opts to precede or follow one’s baneful working with rites of protection, banishing, etc.
There will be other situations, however, where such factors as 1-5 do determine against a baneful working. Foremost among these are situations where a magician has cast baneful magick multiple times already, isn’t getting the results they hoped for, and is thus finding themselves drained, having to deal with additional unwanted complications, etc. In connection, the following strike me as red flags re: time to try something else:
- Repeatedly consulting divination over increasingly speculative facets of the situation. This can lead to targeting based on an entirely faulty set of premises (1), e.g. trying to break up a couple when actually they aren’t even together anymore and you just didn’t know.
- Repeatedly getting uncontrollably angry/sad/etc. in connection with the prospect of baneful magick. Excessive seething over it beforehand or angsting about “whether it worked” afterward are both signs of compromising levels of attachment (2).
- Experiencing aftereffects that “seem like” karmic retribution. Regardless of whether you are too close (3), bit off more than you can chew (4), or are haunted by guilt (5), the costs to you personally are getting too high to justify persisting as you’ve been doing.
Alternative options to baneful magick: general
The general purpose of baneful magick, as I see it, is to shatter someone’s power. Typically, motives for this will include some mixture of:
- Putting an end to their dominating influence over you.
- Exercising your right to self-defense.
- Getting them to go away and leave you alone.
- Discouraging them from continuing to do things you find troublesome.
- Obstructing their ability to cause similar harm to others.
- Punishing / harming / getting them to destroy themselves / etc.
What’s then worth noting is that only the last of these is inherently baneful in the strictly-speaking sense. The rest you can accomplish in other ways, which I will discuss each in turn below.
Does the existence of other methods mean the Satanist is obligated to use those methods instead of baneful magick? By no means. People who use such an opener to argue against baneful magick are too-often animated by anti-Satanic motives. They see hate as an ugly emotion that is socially uncomfortable. This renders them allergic to Satanists indulging it, even if privately and for the express purposes of moving beyond it.
Against that, I argue (at greater length in this entry): hate is a natural response to certain kinds of ill-treatment, and some of us find artificially suppressing it far more draining and harmful to our own mental-emotional health than finding controlled ways of expressing it. I frame resort to baneful magick as something of a “Satanic right” for this reason.
That said, while some people find baneful magick psychologically salutary, others try it and find otherwise. Not because “hate is wrong and mean, boo hoo,” but due to nuanced complexities of individual psychology and circumstances. When this happens, one must admit it is happening and find other ways to cope. Hence, what follows.
Alternative options to baneful magick: specifics
Some may daydream about baneful magick, but see 1-5 above as reasons not to proceed. Others may throw hexes repeatedly whilst feeling like their situation is getting worse instead of better. In either case, the question to ask is, what is the central thing you seek/hope for? Based on the answer, I suggest alternative options below.
It should be noted that much of what follows is inspired by non-Satanic traditions, e.g. traditional witchcraft generally and hoodoo/conjure specifically. It is my position, however, that every competent Satanic magician is inherently a bit of a Chaos Magician. There is then no reason why the concepts alluded to here can’t be adapted to your own practice. My own way of doing this has always been to take whatever folk magic says works and frame it with ritual. So whereas the folk practice might seem like “just make up this little craft with focused intent,” for me it’s:
- Perform my standard ritual opening.
- Statement of intent that either a) stipulates I’m going to undertake ritually-efficacious action (cord-cutting, hindering) or b) consecrates some object or substance I’m going to use to carry out my purpose outside of the ritual itself (protection, hot-footing) – see below for explanations of what’s in parentheses here.
- Either a) do the thing during the intensification stage of my ritual (burn the candles, tie knots in the cord) or b) use meditative visualizations to put the appropriate energy into the object or substance (an amulet, witch bottle, etc.).
- Perform my standard ritual closing.
- For type a), things are now complete, or for type b), proceed to wear the object or conceal it in an appropriate place, etc.
Others will do otherwise though, and that’s fine. What follows is aimed more to inspire than to instruct.
Severing influences: cord-cutting
The initial go-to for freeing oneself from influence is a banishing. I presume though that at the point one is considering baneful magick, something stronger than a banishing is called for. This is where the concept of cord-cutting comes into play.
The general concept is, you envision ties that bind you to the target, then intentionally sever these ties. In theory this could be done via intensive forms of meditation, without any need for physical materials. Folk magic describes various material options though, e.g. write one’s own name on a piece of paper, the other’s name on another, roll each, tie these together; carve one’s own name into a candle, the other’s name into another, tie the two candles together; the connection is cut by a knife or scissors in the first case, burnt away as the candles burn in the other. (Here’s an interesting article that lists some other options and considerations)
Cord-cuttings strike me as having similar limitations to banishings. Namely, allowing oneself to resume unhelpful mental and emotional habits shortly after the ritual will tend to defeat the purpose. It therefore works best when you’re severing attachment from someone you can readily avoid crossing paths with in future, vs. not with someone you’re going to continue seeing around all the time. Trying it in that case I can see being a recipe for aggravating magickal self-doubt on the magician’s part.
Performing this sort of working may leave some magicians feeling like they don’t need to do baneful magick now, thus resolving the situation. For others though, this may just be something they need to do first, to prevent the baneful working they intend backfiring via lingering connections between themselves and the target. Either way, I think one should not dismiss the concept hastily just because “I saw it on witchtok so it must be lame” etc.
Protection is a consideration appropriate for cases where you are stuck interacting with a harmful individual regularly. Also worth considering when another practitioner is a problem, but you do not want a “wizard war” to escalate.
The magician can create various kinds of shielding via intensive visualization during ritual, e.g. to deflect, reflect, etc. I have done this myself in combination with other operations, e.g. “banish + shields up.” But if regular dealings with the target are arduous, creating an amulet may be an even better measure. One can empower this via ritual, then wear it whenever one is going to have to deal with the person. Or even wear it constantly, to ward against energies one associates with the person in addition to the person themselves.
This kind of operation can, interestingly, be adapted to be semi-baneful. The suit of armor covered in spikes is one analogy; the reflective shield is another. Personally, I’m of the mindset of “if you want to hurt the person, just go full baneful and hurt them.” I grasp though that to some, a “well now they are just hurting themselves, which would stop if they would just stop being such an asshole” -type situation is more ethically palatable. Those with “hang-ups” against baneful magick that they simply cannot overcome may therefore do well to give this kind of thing a try.
As with cord-cutting, for some, this will replace the need to do baneful magick; for others, it may be more of a wise precursor or complementary measure.
Go away: repulsion
This is essentially what the hoodoo/conjure tradition calls “hot-footing”. The aim is not necessarily to cause malicious harm to the target. Rather, one attempts to make it unbearable for them to stay around, with the result that they go elsewhere.
Visualization-wise, one may envision all manner of means of driving the target away without necessarily hurting them. Or folk-magic-wise, one could create a compelling substance or item, e.g., hot-foot powder, a witch bottle, etc. The magician then conceals or places this inconspicuously somewhere the target frequently passes by. The idea is that over time, they unconsciously absorb its “go away” vibes and find excuses to make themselves scarce.
I do not expect this to work well if a) there is no plausible event-sequence for the target ceasing to frequent the area (e.g., it’s easier to drive off an annoying renter who just moved in recently than an annoying long-term homeowner whom you moved in beside) or b) too-intense longing for baneful magick to work is driving you to try this (since attachment to results would thwart success in either case).
It can be useful though for getting rid of people whom it’s not in your best interest to antagonize further. Especially if that person is in any kind of unstable living situation already. The magician can then capitalize on existing misfortunes instead of being the one to create them.
Discouragement: positive redirection
This approach may translate to some as “just do what the white-lighter pussies told you to do all along”. I include it not despite this, but because – i.e., it is a valid concept that some will only consider if a fellow Satanist endorses it. The basic idea being, instead of trying to force an outcome in a negative way, encourage it to manifest positively.
Instead of trying to “ruin” someone, for example, one could use magick to attract a positive opportunity to them. As a result, they move away and the magician never hears from them again. Or, instead of trying to split the target from their partner, make a better match for that partner show up. Now, not only does the hated relationship end but at least one party is clearly better off for it.
Some will have a knee-jerk reaction to these suggestions to the effect this is just “praying for your enemy.” That’s a short-sighted and unfair reaction, though, for nothing here entails loving or even liking your enemy! Rather, what’s required is a strategic setting-aside of enmity just enough to enable you to think outside the box.
Obviously, this kind of thing is wholly unsuitable if the magician thoroughly, passionately loathes the enemy and that is never changing. I think though that in cases where one feels ambivalently – e.g., resents being hurt by a person but “still loves” them – it is definitely worth considering.
There’s also the consideration that some magicians are simply better at this kind of working. They may already have experience at manifesting positive things that serve their own indulgence and flourishing, vs. using magick to obstruct doesn’t come naturally to them. In which case, why not address the situation with what works for you, instead of what doesn’t?
What I mean by “hindering” may strike some as just a milder sort of hex. What is important to grasp, however, is the difference in intent. Purely causing harm is not the primary driver. Rather, the driver is “stop this person from causing harm to myself and others”. If someone were to call it “baneful magick but for pacifists,” I would not complain.
The magician here proceeds via similar methods as for baneful workings, but seeking to neutralize rather than to harm. E.g., Instead of putting pins in the poppet and burning it, just tie it up and put it in a box. Tying a series of knots in a piece of string is an even simpler material method that can complement visualization. Objects of this kind can subsequently be used outside of the ritual chamber as charms for protection or repulsion. (While it’s important to have a clear intent in any working, hindering strikes me as often complementary to other aims. I therefore see no problem with incorporating it into rites to protect or repel, as effective hindering is likely to produce similar results to such workings in any case.)
Yes, this kind of working is still “baneful” in the technical sense of being “against” someone. However, it entails approaching the situation more objectively than just “I hate their guts.” Implicit is an acknowledgment that the person’s behavior is harmful to others and even themselves, not just oneself. Recognizing this and responding pragmatically to it tends to require replacing angst with dispassionate analysis, and self-absorbed resentment with a degree of empathy. Some may therefore find this approach better for moderating emotions and satisfying certain scruples than a purely baneful working. And insofar as it’s subtler, it also comes with less risk of collateral damage or provocation of counterattack.
Nothing in this entry should be taken as contradicting positions I’ve taken elsewhere re: baneful magick. I still maintain that it’s something that has a place in a Satanist’s practice. If the Satanist’s hesitation to resort to such is based on feeling “not allowed” to hate someone who hurt you, one should strive to liberate oneself from such hang-ups instead of letting them limit your approach to a situation to what other people find socially and morally palatable.
That said though, there can be situations where even though a baneful reaction is deserved, practical considerations rule against it. And there can also be situations where too much persistence in baneful magick leads to ever-worsening circumstances wherein a magician, consumed by an escalating series of defeats, refuses to admit that whatever limited victories their workings are bringing them are Pyrrhic in nature – i.e., not worth it.
Spiritual maturity entails recognizing such situations when they arise. And having a full range of options to thoughtfully consider in connection helps one become a better magician. I hope this entry will provide some useful food for thought to readers on such fronts.