Baneful magick: series introduction

Something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile now is a series exploring the performance and implications of baneful magick. This includes such things as ethical considerations, metaphysical mechanisms, and rationales for recruiting one entity’s assistance rather than another’s. The current entry provides a tentative summary of some things I’ll be covering in that series.

baneful magick series introduction

Introduction

Baneful magick is something that I’ve increasingly been thinking about in recent months. Not that anything particularly bad has been going on with me personally. But experiences of other people I’ve been exposed to in the last while have triggered a certain amount of reflection. It’s also definitely is a topic that frequenters of a blog like this one seem likely to be interested in. So all the more reason to delve into it a bit.

This post will ultimately serve the same purpose as the introduction I wrote to the empathy series back in 2020. I’ll similarly be editing it on an ongoing basis as I complete posts expanding on the points below.

Ethical opposition to baneful magick:
The general question of karma in Satanism

It’s long seemed to me that baneful magick has some interesting parallels with firearms ownership. Some people say “this is a power that no one should have, so we ought to discourage it in any way we can.” Others say “the individual has a right to this power, but an according obligation to use it responsibly.” And finally, like it or not, there are also those who say “well, I should be able to do whatever I want – fuck everybody else!” Genuine Type 2’s tend to find Type 3 insufferably annoying insofar as such people often create the sort of trouble that fuels the arguments of Type 1.

I reckon most right-hand-path esotericists are Type 1, while most left-hand-path esotericists are Type 2. As for Type 3, one readily pictures it dominated by particularly immature associates of the Order of Nine Angles (ONA/O9A) and Become A Living God (BALG). It seems to me, though, that there’s a fairly strong current in LaVeyan magickal thinking that also leans toward Type 3. One can thus argue that Type 3 has more mainstream Satanic cachet than Type 2 may like.

The associated question this raises is about the role of “karma” in Satanism. That is, what motivates the position that Type 2 takes? What part of it is built on anticipation of acausal backlash for ill-considered magick? Vs. what part is built on personal ethos, separable from the question of potential consequences for the magician? Further, is a responsible personal ethos on this front frameable in recognizably Satanic terms? Or does it seem like something people import from their upbringing, whose absence could cause trouble in a society where everyone was “Satanic”?

Ethical opposition to baneful magick:
Pushing back against The Satanic Temple

Adjacent to the above is a specific issue I have with some writings of The Satanic Temple that I’ve run across.

Basically, there is a growing case being made for “secularized” ritual within that denomination. This seems to coexist, however, with a disapproval of baneful magick. And I find the strength with which such opinions are expressed to be odd given TST’s stance on the supernatural. You don’t believe magick actually does anything acausally. Yet the firmness with which you discourage baneful workings feels, to me, like it goes beyond claims of psychological harm…?

It’s not that I can’t see how “cursing people” can be an unhealthy approach to interpersonal problems. However, my own experience with esoteric matters suggests that this applies mainly to people who are ignorant and/or incompetent at the actual mechanisms of magick – both in general and in the baneful context specifically. Vs. if performed according to how most esoteric traditions define an effective working, magick should resolve emotional attachment, not aggravate it.

It thus seems to me that the rationale driving TST’s dissuasion of baneful practices may unintentionally propagate distorted views of what Satanists who do practice baneful magick are actually doing. I would therefore like to put forward some insights to counteract this.

Pragmatic aspects of baneful magick:
Alternatives to consider?

My own stance regarding baneful magick is somewhat complex. On one hand, I do not think it is illegitimate in the sense of the universe “disapproving” of it etc. On the other hand, though, consequences of its mechanisms should not be overlooked by enthusiasts. In terms I used above, only Type 2 occultists behave intelligently regarding this issue. Vs. Type 1 fixates on it to the point of alarmist catastrophizing. And Type 3 winds up acting either ineffectively or counterproductively by refusing to attend to it.

Pragmatic issues with baneful magick in my mind include such considerations as the following:

  • How much energy it requires
  • The nature of nexions that it entails either opening (new) and/or exploiting (existing)
  • Whether the magician is able to view the situation baneful magick is to be directed at objectively – e.g. are “they” the problem, or is it actually you?
  • Whether malice or a different intent (e.g. rendering the person ineffectual, making them go away, etc.) would better serve one’s purposes

Put those considerations together, and many cases emerge in which something other than a baneful working might be better. Or at minimum, there may be other magickal workings one should perform before resorting to whatever baneful magick one intends to resort to. Attending to such considerations would then render baneful magick more efficacious when one does resort to it.

Here, a consideration of traditions outside of Satanism can broaden one’s view and offer inspiration. Traditional witchcraft, Hoodoo, etc. offer much that can be translated into Satanic contexts via the principles of Chaos Magick. It wouldn’t surprise me if many esoteric Satanists were already familiar with rites of binding, cord-cutting, etc. Nonetheless, I think there is value to be had in the articulation of such topics within explicitly Satanic framing.

Pragmatic aspects of baneful magick:
What should you be doing before and after?

Overlapping with the previously-mentioned issue is that of considerations preceding and following baneful workings.

In addition to overlapping with considerations mentioned above, beforehand considerations include deciding such things as:

  • When to cast – e.g. aiming to act immediately vs. waiting for an opportune time
  • When not to cast – e.g. perils of directing baneful workings at “the ex who hasn’t moved out yet”
  • Who to recruit for assistance – more about this below

Afterward considerations will consist of tips known to many magicians, but still well-worth highlighting for the benefit of those who may be novices. This includes such things as:

  • “Follow-up” vs. “lust for results” – i.e. should you trust it worked, or look for signs of effects, etc.?
  • Acknowledging the value of post-ritual hygiene without needing to construe baneful magick as something wrong or inherently regretful
  • Early warning signs that things are going awry with your working and what to do about it

Baneful magick in practice:
Politically-motivated targeting

Yet another aspect of baneful magick I’d like to reflect upon is politically-motivated targeting. This means casting spells on the following kinds of targets:

  • Politicians that the magician doesn’t like
  • Groups possessed of specific characteristics that the magician thinks are correlated with participation in systemic injustice
  • Other such cases where the magician has limited personal linkage to matters that they are considering directing baneful magick at

I have to admit that my default intuitive reaction to this kind of thing is strongly negative. My gut feeling is that it doesn’t work, takes energy away from more useful endeavors, etc. At the same time, though, I reject the idea that Satanism – and by extension, magick – “is” or “should be” apolitical. (Here’s a post of mine on Satanism and politics that might interest those with opinions about that topic.) Even supposing baneful works are used in a way that’s complementary to real-world activism, though (vs. cases where they replace it, which is obviously counterproductive), I’m really not sold on the idea that it is either efficacious effect-wise or salutary for the magician to be doing these kinds of workings.

I’d therefore like to dedicate some space to sorting out my actual principles and beliefs regarding this topic. On one hand, maybe my distaste is not well-founded, or goes away once certain considerations are satisfied. But on the other hand, maybe there are real issues present that would benefit from clear expression. I also wonder if there could be something of a generational issue here (e.g. young people thinking these kinds of applications of magick are valid more than older people?) and if so, how to navigate it constructively as far as helping differing perspectives understand one another.

Baneful magick in practice:
Working with the Nekalah

Finally, there’s an angle of baneful magick that bears directly upon my book, Nine Keys of Abyssal Darkness:

It so happens that there are a number of Nekalah whose proclivities make them suitable for calling upon for baneful purposes. Doubtless this will surprise no one who knows anything about those other Satanists who venerate the Nekalah. My intentions with Tenebrous Satanism, however, are worlds-away from the antisocial criminality often associated with said individuals. In connection, I face the challenge of communicating occult information accurate to the nature of these entities without promoting the sort of “super malicious magick just for fun, because we can!” -type ethos often associated with BALG/Temple Ov Blood/etc. -type Satanists.

Accordingly, one thing I’d like to do is offer additional information about working baneful magick with these specific entities. According to my own gnosis, the Nekalah pantheon consists of two factions, who differ from one another in a systematic way regarding how they deal with humans generally and the magician specifically. This information will then have implications re: given the specific circumstances in which one is considering baneful magick, what might one anticipate from each entity vs. are there pitfalls associated with such dealings that one ought to be wary of?

My intuition is that a prevalent tendency to not be wary of this side of things may be one small factor in, shall we say, “why O9A is O9A.” Vs. I definitely do not want Tenebrous Satanism to “be O9A” in this sense. At minimum, I thus foresee one or more entries reflecting on “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should” -type issues re: working with the Nekalah. Said reflections may in turn impact what I present about them in the Eighth Key, or how I present it.

Concluding thoughts

This post is sure to undergo future revision as I get these entries done. What you see above gives a general idea, though, of some things I want to blog about in 2023 here. As with my previous series, I won’t do these all in a row. Probably there will be 1 or 2 entries between each. On a three-week schedule, this will space them out to 6-9 weeks between installments. Which is fine, because much as I think this is a topic worthy of exploration, I do not necessarily want it on my mind 24/7.

To summarize, probably the above will produce at least six entries:

  1. The embrace, rejection and/or general understanding of “karma” in an esoteric Satanist context
  2. Why I think TST’s reasons for rejecting baneful rituals show misunderstanding of the practice
  3. Other rites that magicians should consider performing before, or instead of, baneful magick
  4. Tips about considerations to take into account before and after performing baneful magick (might be 2 entries, but probably 1)
  5. Thoughts on directing baneful magick at politically-motivated targets
  6. Things to be wary of when working baneful magick with the Nekalah (might be more than one entry)

I might not write them in this order; if I change it, I’ll change the order in this list but leave the rest of the entry as-is.

I’m curious how my thoughts on baneful magick may converge or diverge with other left-hand-path practitioners. Whether left-hand-path practitioner or not, though, if any readers have thoughts re: particular angles of baneful magick that you seldom see explored and would be interested in my take on, please let me know!

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