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To: alt.magick,alt.occult.methods
From: catherine yronwode 
Subject: Re: protection
Date: Wed, 10 Apr 2002 05:22:42 GMT

The Natural Philosopher wrote:
> anon wrote:
> > Hi I have this weird feeling that some one is using occult powers 
> > on me.I have studied magic out of interst but I didnt really get 
> > into it.My question is how do you protect yourself other than 
> > prayer ect., without using black magic.
> >
> Oh lord.
> I just read Cat's post. I wasn't going to respnd, but then I saw all
> that mumbo jumbo....

Well, i don't normally respond to your posts, either, but you have set
forth a course of action that i belive is not going to work very well
because it leaves out a few important steps. I am not saying that i know
more than you or that you are wrong, i am simply saying that in my
experience, you wrote something that is not thorough enough and might
lead to overlooking some issues that the querent may have. 

We don;t know this querent, but for the purposes of demonstration, 
let's consider three people who believe they have been cursed or
affected by magic in some negative way. We shall call them Al, Bob, and

The names have been changed, but these are actually descriptions of real
people, not composites, whom i have dealt with over the telephone (for
free, as per my offer to give a free consultation to one person per day
on any topic dealing with magic) during the past 12 months. 

Al has incipient diabetes and high blood pressure, but he doesn't know
it yet. He is fatigued a lot. He feels run down, has no energy, and
doesn;t know why -- and now, suddenly, he is unable to maintain an
erection. In his culture, these symptoms -- especially the erectile
dysfunction -- add up to a folk-wisdom diagnosis that he might be
cursed. So he says, "Hey, my wife says i may be crossed up somehow, or
someone put roots on me. What do i do to get rid of the problem?" And
that's ALL he says, because he is too shy to mention erectile
dysfunction to a woman on the phone.

Bob suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder and he now is entering a
phase of clinical depression as well. He worries a lot and suffers from
a variety of contamination phobias. He is also a hypochondriac. His
latest intrusive fear, which he can't seem to shake, no matter how often
he lights candles and prays, is the idea that a Gypsy woman who read his
palm about 18 years ago told him he was cursed and asked for more money
to burn candles for him, but he refused. She said the curse would only
get worse. Now he thinks SHE cursed him as well, because he didn;t pay
her to remove the curse. So he says, "Hey, i am pretty sure i have been
cursed. I tried prayer and it didn;t work. What do i do to get rid of
the problem?"

Stanley has a mother-in-law who hates him. She has said many times, in
front of witnesses, that she wishes her daughter had never married him.
Both of them come from a culture where inter-family curses are
considered common and both of them know how such work is done. He goes
over to the mother-in-law's house with his wife to visit and needs to
pee. There is a lot of company over at the house and the bathroom is
occupied, so he goes downstairs to the basement/ garage to take a leak
outdoors and he sees a black candle, partially burned, on the washing
machine, next to a jar of liquid with some stuff floating in it. He
opens the jar and smells vinegar. A week later his wife says she wants a
divorce. Then, three days later, she says she doesn't want one. Then a
week after that she again wants a divorce. He describes her as "confused
in mind," and he believes that her mother has put a curse on the
marriage. So he says, "Hey, i am pretty sure my marriage has been cursed
by my mother-in-law. What do i do to get rid of the problem?"

Okay, now let's look at how your reply addresses these three problems
which have in the recent past actually been presented to me as "curses." 

You wrote: 

> Look. First of all, it doesn't matter a tuppeny fuck whether its all 
> in yer head or a black magician is out to get you. You want out 
> right? So don't wste energu on trying to resolve that point OK?

This is not bad advice, although i fault it because it attempts to
convert the querent to your belief system rather than respecting his.
(Mao Zedong called this approach "headism" -- that is, you propose to
lead before you gain the consent of those whom you wish to lead.) In
essence you are saying, "Your problem is not important, but *my*
solution is important." You may lose your querent there -- he may simply
think you are awfully arrogant. 

If you lose him due to your arrogance, his suffering (and potential
health complications) will persist. 

But let's say he follows along with your advice, just for drills. 

You say:

> So first off, take a nice long walk in the country, gets some 
> exercise, lay off the beer and coffee, and take two aspirin and get 
> a good night's sleep. If this works ignore the rest.

This will not will not diagnose, treat, or cure Al's undiagnosed
diabetes, although it may alleviate symptoms a bit. 

This will not will not diagnose, treat, or cure Bob's ocd with
depression, although it may alleviate symptoms quite a lot. 

This will not treat or cure Stanley's family situation and is irrelevant
to the fact that his wife is vacillating about divorce and he knows that
his mother-in-law hates him.. 
> Secondly, become as nothing. This is easy to say, but hard to 
> describe. Slide into what ever feeling you are getting, no matter 
> how unpleasant, and relax and try to determine what it *feels* like. 
> Don't welcome it and don't resist it. Very hard to do. If you fully 
> take possession, unmoved, of the feeling, it loses its power to 
> affect you - you have 'learnt' it.

This will not diagnose, treat, or cure Al's undiagnosed diabetes, which
has nothing to do with "feelings". 

This will not diagnose, but may temporarily alleviate, Bob's symptoms of
ocd with depression. 

This will not treat or cure Stanley's family situation in which it
appears likely from the evidence that a magical curse was cast, although
if he becomes sufficiently "relaxed" he may become  indifferent to being

> For me, a little smoke helps as well. Gives me a little more focus 
> and concentration? Wrong word...ability to focus on feelings? 
> Better...

This will not diagnose, treat, or cure Al's undiagnosed diabetes. In
addition, since marijuana makes people hungry, it may exacerbate his
obesity and consumption of sugar and worsen his condition.

This will probably exacerbate Bob's symptoms of hypocondriacal ocd with
depression, for marijuana's one bad side effect is to make people
"nervous" or "paranoid" if they are already inclined to misapprehension
of somatic symtoms. 

This will not treat or cure Stanley's family situation in which it
appears likely from the evidence that a magical curse was cast, although
beong stoned a lot of the time may make him indifferent to being
divorced, and it may also get him busted, which will ensure that he does
not even get joint custody of the children. 

Now, again, here's what i said -- and why i said it. I am not trying to
convert you to my way of thinking., merely trying to get you to
understand that there is no "one size fits all" method to help people
who present as "cursed."

I wrote: 

> > First, you may wish to determine if you have actually been jinxed,
> > hexed, crossed, or cursed or if you are just imagining it. 
> >    One way to do this is to compare your symptoms against those  
> >        of others and also against symptoms for medical and 
> >        psychological disorders. 
> >    Another way is to look for motive, method, and opportunity: 
> >        Do you simply have a vague "feeling" that all is not right, 
> >        or has someone you know verbally cursed you 
> >        or might they have a motive to curse you, 
> >              and be capable of doing so 
> >              or of hiring the work done? 

This is where, if the person calls me, i ask questions. 

In Al's case, in keeping with the instruction to "compare your symptoms
against [...] symptoms for medical and psychological disorders," his
mention of being "tired all the time" with "no energy," led me to ask
two simple questions -- "Are you overweight" and "Have you noticed that
you are drinking a lot more water lately, but you are always thirsty
anyway?" These immediately brought "Yes" answers from Al. I am no
doctor, but my next question was, "Did anyone in your family every have
high blood pressure or sugar diabetes?" Bingo. I then asked if he was
having any "personal problems, such as sexual problems." Bingo again. I
told Al that it seemed to me that his erectile disfunction MIGHT be the
result of a medical condition, not a curse, and i urged him to go to a
doctor. I told him i would be burning a white candle and praying for a
speedy diagnosis for his health issues (which i did, at no charge, of
course) and to call me back when he got the diagnosis. He did. It was
In Bob's case, in keeping with the instruction to "compare your symptoms
against [...] symptoms for medical and psychological disorders," his
unusual vocal inflections and reiterative manner led me to make a fairly
good guess, by asking, "Have you ever been diagnosed with anything like
obsessive compulsive disorder before?" This got a qualified "Yes"
answer: a couple of friends had told him they had seen tv shows on ocd
and thought of him, and he "kinda thought maybe, yeah, could be. On
account of, well, my habits and things." So i asked him if he ever had
"intrusive thoughts, negative ideas that won't go away and just keep
recycling in your mind all the time." He said, "Yeah, pretty much all
the time. And ... and... and worries about food, you mean? Like that?" I
told him that i am not a doctor, but in my opinion, he might want to get
checked out, because he seemed to be more afraid of this 18-year-ago
incident with a half-remembered Gypsy woman than was warranted. "So you
don't think this old lady cursed me?" he asked. "No, i don't," i said,
"but i tell you what: If you go to a psych doctor and take a test for
whether you have ocd, and he says you DON'T have ocd, then i'll give you
some free candles and oils to take off the curse, okay? -- 'cause that's
how sure i am that you have not been cursed." He never called back and
claimed his free candles and oils. 

In Stanley's case, after finding no health issues, despite questions,
and after determining that he loved his wife a lot, i worked out some
simple spells for him to try. One involved a honey-jar spell for
sweetening his mother-in-law's attitude toward him and stopping her
gossiping. The other involved some candle work for him and his wife.
Total cost to him -- about ten dollars in candles and oils, which i made
very clear he could buy locally and not from me. About a month later he
called me back and said things had improved. His mother-in-law was being
"very civil now." His wife had stopped talking about a divorce. They had
made up. He wanted some advice about how to get a better job. The crisis
had passed. 

Please do not flame me. I am not trying to tear you down. I would not
even have responded had you not contrasted your advice with mine. But
once you did, you involved me in a debate over methods -- and i believe,
with sincerity and the knowledge born of much experience, that my
methods for dealing with random strangers who present as "cursed" are
more effective than yours.

What you recommended *will* help some people. But i believe that what i
recommended will help *more* people, because i relate to querents on
their own terms and because i start with an attempt at diagnosis, while
you proceed directly to a combination of aerobics and Buddhist
non-attachment as a panacea. 

cat yronwode 

No personal e-mail, please; just catch me in usenet; i read it daily. 

     Lucky Mojo Curio Co.
   Send e-mail with your street address to
and receive our free 32 page catalogue of hoodoo supplies and amulets

Message-ID: <>
From: catherine yronwode 
Organization: Lucky Mojo Curio Co. 
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Newsgroups: alt.magick,alt.occult.methods
Subject: Re: protection
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The Natural Philosopher wrote:
> You assume that the poster is a moronic gullible and supesrstitious
> idiot, who will mistake symptoms of e.g. diabetes for being cursed. 
> I, on the other hand, assume that the person knows all about adult 
> onset diabetes - hey thay have a computer on the Internet, so 
> pissing a lot, feeling sleepy, feeling thirsty, feeling tired - well 
> its not hard to find out that sort of thing.

I speak from experience dealing with curse querents, which you do not. 

I make no assumptions. I ask the person to self-test the symptoms of
what they present as "being cursed" against known symptoms for common
adult-onset physical diseases. In the usenet example which started this
thread -- that is, in my reply to the original post -- i did not mention
diabetes, nor make any assumption about the poster's knowledge,
expereince, or gullibility. I simply asked him or her to self-test
against known symptoms. 

In the examples i later gave, in my second post, i recounted three
telephone conversations with querent. Here i described one man who
thought he was cursed but who turned out to have undiagnosed diabetes. 

I don't know whether he had internet access or not, and i don't know why
you assume he did. 

Many of the people who phone me get my number through word of mouth and
have no computers. 

Rather than wasting your efforts mocking and reviling a querent for not
being as educated as yourself, you might better spend that time
performing outreach to people who could certainly use the help of a
person of your evident education and deep knowledge. 

About 4 years ago i produced a Spanish-language full-colour comic book
for the Eli Lily Company. (Lily is a large pharmceutical concern and a
manufacturer of insulin for the treatment of diabetes.) The topic -- and
title -- of the comic book was "The Mysterious Symptoms" and it dealt
with a middle-aged woman's discovery that she had diabetes. In working
on the script and art, i learned a lot about how diabetes is perceived
in the American Hispanic community. 

Here are some things that came out during focus-group studies that
preceded the preparation of the comic book. 

1) Colour comics are very popular in Mexico and Guatemala and among
Mexican-Americns, less so among other Spanish-speaking immigrant  groups
in the US. 

So the family portrayed in the comic book would be Mexican or

2) Health education programs, such as the ones we have in American
public schools, cannot be expected to have been experienced by rural 
Mexican immigrants.

So the comic book would deal with the issue of diabetes from an
assumption that the reader had little or no knowledge about the disease,
The first half of the story would be about getting to the point of
requesting a diagnosis, the second half would deal with medical
descritons, treatment options, and a generalized prognosis. 

3) Many so-called Hispanic immigrants from Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, andf
Bolivia are actually Native Americans who speak Spanish as a second
language. (E.g. they are Mayans from Southern Mexico and Guatemala or
Quachas and Aymaras from Peru and Bolivia.) 

Therefore the comic book should be written in simple Spanish. 

4) Many Mexican-American women pride themselves on their cooking and
center a lot of their energy around family time. In focus groups, those
who had been diagnosed with diabetes said that
		(a) One of the worst things about being diagnosed with diabetes was
their worry that they would no longer be able to enjoy family meals
using traditional ingredients. 
		(b) One of the best things about getting diagnosed was the knowledge
that if they stayed healthy, they would be able to live longer and be
there for their daughters. 

To address the concerns above, it was decided by the editor that the
comic book should show a woman getting diabetes and that the story 
should emphasize her ability to cook and provide for her family,
including a teenaged daughter, even after her diagnosis. The story was
designed to close with a family meal being served by the mother,
indicating that despite a diagnosis of diabetes, she could still fulfill
a role that is important to her. 

5) The early symptoms of type two diabetes are generally not known to
the Mexican immigrant population. 

Therefore the comic book should present the symptoms twice, to reinforce
the message. The first time, the daughter will notice something is wrong
with the mother and they will discuss the mother's  "mysterious
symptoms" and decide to see a doctor. The second time, a doctor and his
female nurse will show the same material schematically, with charts, in
an office setting, as the mother learns. 

Well, we produced the comic book according to those specs, and i am
happy to say that 500,000 copies were distributed for free. 

Now, once again, i think your advice to the querent was good, solid
stuff. Excercise, healthy living, and Buddhist-style non-attachment
*will* ease a sense of dread or "being cursed" in a large number of
people. The fact that you took the time to give that advice demonstrated
that you sincerely wanted to help a stranger out. But you didn't take
into account the wide range of people who pose the "am i cursed?"
question -- and your latest post, insulting me and/or the querent, does
not help your case. 

The point i am trying to make -- and i am trying to make it in the face
of your slinging around needlessly offensive terms like "moronic,"
"superstitious," "gullible," and "schmucko" to describe people who think
they may have been cursed -- is that if you want to be of help to people
who ask for help, then rather than simply post preens over how smart you
think you are, it would behoove you to ask a few questions about the
querents, or to offer them some advice that starts on a *very basic
level* and proceeds onward from there. 

I would like to close by posing a theoretical question to you: Why
should a querent respect or follow your good advice about getting inside
his or her feelings and relaxing and even smoking pot, if, when someone
tries to offer advice from a differing standpoint, you blow up in a
display of edgy, vicious name-calling and hostility?  

Metaphysician, heal theyself. 

cat yronwode 

No personal e-mail, please; just catch me in usenet; i read it daily. 

     Lucky Mojo Curio Co.
   Send e-mail with your street address to
and receive our free 32 page catalogue of hoodoo supplies and amulets

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