A while back I had a conversation with someone and the topic of curses and hexes had come up, and I had made a parallel to bullying. The emphasis of our discussion was on retaining ideas of self based on others perceptions, and on identifying with labels or words directed at oneself; for example a child always being told they are stupid will feel as though they are lesser than others and the experience of being bullied will change the course of their development.
If words/spelling can be considered “magic spells”, what really is a curse?
The term placebo is Latin which means “I shall please”, from the word placeō, “I please”). While many people have heard of the Placebo effect, usually there’s a dismissive attitude towards it, which is rather odd given that the placebo effect is demonstrable proof of the power of psychosomatics. Psychosomatic being that an idea in the mind effects the body directly; psycho being the mind, over soma the body. While the Placebo is a word that has been made common to the average western mind, the term nocebo is not so entrenched in common vocabulary. This word too is Latin (nocēbō), meaning “I shall harm”, from noceō, “I harm”).
I’ve recently finished reading The Mindbody Prescription – Healing the Body, Healing the Pain by John E. Sarno, M.D. who is a Professor of Clinical Rehabilitation Medicine and a physician. The book focuses on musculoskeletal pain disorders, joint pain, back pain, etc. and shows how often the experience of these pains is due to suppressed emotion, mostly suppressed rage. (I’ve covered how I believe the use of the hypnosis technique known as “Past Life Regression” gives expression to this pain that is otherwise concealed within the subconscious mind). Knowledge of this material can actually be therapeutic; Dr. Sarno repeats throughout the book that people reading his books find themselves alleviated of their suffering. He wrote: “TMS [Tension myositis syndrome] treatment is primarily a process of education; blind faith is not involved. Patients must conclude that what they hear is logical and reasonable, satisfying themselves that the disorder described as TMS pertains to them. The therapeutic result is almost always permanent. The fact that large numbers of people are “cured” by reading a book about TMS is certainly not a placebo. There is no treatment, no interaction with a “healer” – only the acquisition of information. It is the knowledge that gets the job done.”
The big takeaway from the book for me, was the mention of the nocebo effect with regards to back pain. The book mentioned that the spine may spur or have degenerative qualities with age, which is quite common (it details that otherwise healthy people had their spines assessed to find bulging discs, etc. however, as the people were unaware of the physical quality of their bones and tissues, etc., there was no pain). Tying this into nocebo, people who have experiences of daily, or even crippling pain may go to a doctor who doesn’t know about TMS, and then the doctor’s assessment and pointing at a physical flaw may enforce the belief that it is the source of the pain, and the pain will then only go away after a surgery (which was a giant elaborate placebo), but due to the nature of the pain being repressed rage or emotions, it can often even come back. Of course, actual injuries cause pain, but Western society suffers largely from migraines, back pain, and all kinds of physical symptoms due to suppressed emotions from our daily lives and upbringing; the nocebo also clearly demonstrates the effect of the hypnotic power which authority or “experts” have in influencing others. (By comparison, you can tie this back into the initial point I was making, that “bullying” could be considered casting evil spells or cursing another).
The legendary hypnotist Ormond Mcgill was recorded speaking with Barry Brilliant, and in their conversation Barry brings up an example of a hypnosis demonstration where a pair of scissors are held over a flame while the hypnotist reinforces suggestions that the scissors are being heated up to be red, red, hot. With the illusion of the flame under the scissors, when the demonstrator would touch the subject with the scissors, their skin would swell up where the scissors had touched (despite the scissors not actually being hot), which demonstrates the power and beauty of the mind to create physiological change which is psychosomatic. (Click here to watch their discussion).
One doesn’t have to look much further than the work of Mesmer to see the power of the mind in curing ailments. Mesmer had gotten such a reputation that people would often find themselves healed of their ailments while awaiting treatment in the waiting room. In the room itself Mesmer had used theatrics from wearing robes, to waving wands, to placing people on magnetic beds. Colin Wilson in The Occult (1971) wrote of Mesmer: “It may be felt that he was of no significance in the history of occultism. But this is not true. In important respects, he might almost be a reincarnation of Paracelsus. He recognized the importance of the spirit, the imagination, and felt the universe is pervaded by meaningful influences. Most of his results can be explained in terms of hysteria, release of repression, auto-suggestion, and so on. But what is important is that he understood that illness is not natural, but some kind of blockage of natural forces – a kind of mental stagnation. His instinctive desire was to set the vital forces in motion again. If the treatment had been entirely a matter of imagination it would not have worked as well as it did. He did not understand the forces he was using, but he recognized their existence.”
With all this said, we can see why auto-suggestion exercises such as Emile Coue’s famous method of touching each finger while saying to yourself “Every day, in every way, I get better and better”, has such profound effect upon those who put it into daily practice. We can see auto-suggestion within the magical works of Franz Bardon for example the exercises prescribed within his book Initiation Into Hermetics, and can even see it in Buddhism in with Mettā meditations where it is a cultivation of loving-kindness and rids one of being haunted by their mind.
So what thoughts are in your head, and how do they effect you? Do you curse yourself? Perhaps it’s time to take heed. Most importantly, what do you put out in the world, do you spread compassion and enable growth of others, or do you unbeknownst to yourself spit venom and trap others in illusions you have made of them? If words and thoughts are magic, how well do you wield them?
“In the beginning doth the Magus speak Truth, and send forth Illusion and Falsehood to enslave the soul. Yet therein is the Mystery of Redemption.” – Aleister Crowley