In today’s guest post, magician and occultist Phillip Harris-Smith pulls back the curtain on a rarely discussed aspect of magical practice – the after-effects. Phillip shares from his extensive personal magical practice to shed light on the physical, psychological, and spiritual side-effects of performing acts of magic and communing with spirits.
If you enjoy this guest post, then please leave a comment for Phillip. If you would like to read his previous guest posts, they are listed below:
Magickal after-effects and the material world
After-effects of magic are rarely outlined in books or discussed on-line. In my opinion they are common, and I think it is reprehensible that this is so.
One of my first successful evocations was from Lemegeton, a spirit called Sabnock. At the time I had managed to get a reasonable part-time job with a bank. The rate of pay was higher than for most part-time jobs and this allowed me to keep up a good pace of effort with my pursuit of magick. Having successfully evoked the goetic spirit Sabnock to visible manifestation I decided to try out his abilities which are to cause injury and suffering. There are obvious ethical issues here. On the one hand I wanted to see if actual real-world outcomes can be affected based on my actually physically seeing a spirit in a ritual where I had worked myself up to a very altered state of consciousness. On the other hand, causing injury and suffering is generally a bad and unethical thing to do to another human being.
Fortunately for me ……but unfortunately for them, two folks at work for the purposes of their own career advancement were causing me and others much upset. That being said I do not seek to justify the fact that I set Sabnock on them, I was looking for an excuse, I could have simply resigned. My desire was to actually see the effects of a physically evoked entity in the real world outside of the ritual environment. To see if something I saw and spoke with when I was completely off my head in a ritual actually had some kind of impact in mundane life. So putting my hand on Sabnock’s seal in my pocket whilst at work I
directed this goetic spirit to cause pain and suffering to these two individuals, this newly formed ‘power couple’ within the workplace. All the while showing deference to them just as everybody else had recently started doing.
Over a period of about a week I felt continually at the edge of an altered state of consciousness which was unwelcome because I needed to function in a normal way in normal mundane British life. To specify, a faint continual feeling of nausea, butterfly’s at the solar plexus, increased sensitivity to sound and general over-alertness, disrupted sleep patterns. It was a continual effort and strain to hide these and appear normal. The following week these effects thankfully started to fade and the ‘power couple’ were unexpectedly absent at work, you could have cut the atmosphere with a knife.
They never returned, office gossips were unable to find out specifically why, only that there had been some kind of misfortune. About a month later I was shopping in the capital city of Wales; Cardiff. I saw one of them, he was in a bad state, not drunk but barely able to walk, mucus and crustiness all over his face and clothes. Had to be helped across the road and seemed disoriented and in pain. Presumably Sabnock was showing me that he had effected the instruction. I moved on from goetia after this.
Obviously, each will make an ethical judgement of my actions. Once this is done I ask that you bear in mind the physical effects I described because they seem to be a common occurrence.
These general after-effects that occurred with the goetic evocation of Sabnock also occurred each time I went and explored all 30 of the Enochian Aethyrs in turn. Although the experiences of each Aethyr followed on from previous Aethyrs the after-effect was the same, they seem to be generic. These effects also occurred when I and my late wife explored the planetary spheres and evoked some of the associated positive genii as outlined by Franz Bardon in his 2nd book The Practice of Magical Evocation. There was however a very interesting difference with Bardon’s training.
The energy of each planetary sphere and the associated after-effects were distinctive. Each planetary sphere had its own well…’flavour’, what we called at the time a planet-shine. So there was Moon-shine Venus-shine, Mars-shine Saturn-shine etc. Sunshine was particularly interesting. To explain, here in the UK sometime in February when it is still cold but you are outside on a bright day. You turn and the sun suddenly strikes your cold ruddy cheeks and for the first time in months you feel the warmth of the Sun on your face. Your whole body and awareness literally perks up and even dark and cold days that follow before the coming of spring blooms….These do not impinge in your general mood because you have received the promise of spring.
We did an experiment one sunny day in early March. We evoked a solar genii for some general info and noted the planet-shine effect afterwards was occurring, obviously in this case sun-shine. Then we went out to the lake, when the sun came out from behind a cloud we each had our forearms bare but our upper arms thickly covered up. We could feel the rays of the spring sun warming our forearms and yet the rosey glow of the solar planet-shine was stronger on our completely covered upper arms. This solar rosiness on our covered upper arms was stronger then the actual rays of the sun on our bare forearms!
What was also interesting is this quality I call solar rosiness was present in the physical sunlight shining on our forearms but it was very faint compared to the planet-shine/sunshine effect we had on areas of our skin that were covered by clothing. Each planet has its own distinctive emanation or planet-shine and it is highly initiatory to the magician if they personally and directly experience the distinctive energy of each
planet. The other after-effects I described earlier with Sabnock and visiting the Enochian Aethyrs are also experienced, as I mention these other after-effects seem to be generic.
As a small side observation. In 1988 as a university fresher in Cardiff I foolishly drank some mushroom tea (psilocybin) that was offered to me. All the after-effects of magic that I was familiar with occurred very powerfully but there was no control which as a magician I did not like one bit. A one time act of folly. The folks I was with knew it was my first time(and my last) and told me afterwards they were surprised at how well I managed, that I didn’t freak out.
The dose apparently was high. I was freaking out in actual fact but it was all kept internal and not outwardly expressed. Hazing freshers used to be a thing but I’m not sure it is in the current day. So clearly
certain drugs, psilocybin at least, can produce an experience analogous to the after-effects of magic. All you get though is the after-effect, the hallucinations are chaotic and undirected, not in any way initiatory or spiritually constructive. I know some folks are into shamanism and natural psychotropics. However all I have ever encountered with folks who promote that approach are hedonists/addicts who use the shamanism paradigm to justify destructive excess Sometimes these folks end up as drug induced psychiatric patients. Perhaps there are some out there who make spiritual progress with such an approach but I have yet to meet one such person.
To offer a conclusion
There is a generic after-effect phenomenon relating to performing magic as well as there sometimes occur specific after-effects related to the type of magic performed. These general after-effects are similar to the experience of ingesting psilocybin except the ‘vision’ experienced via magic is to an extent controllable whereas the hallucinations induced by psilocybin are not.
It would seem that magic is only successful and effective if these after-effects occur. Also it can appear to the magician that outcomes in the real world are associated with these after-effects and these after-effects are sometimes found to be unpleasant.
Importantly there is no strict empirical basis for any belief that magic and associated after-effects can cause changes in physical reality. This could all be nothing more than a preferred belief system with which the individual (me) combats the nihilistic materialism of modern-day life.
Finally I would add that some occultists I have met deny that any such after-effects ever occur to them. I note that most of these folks smoked a lot of cannabis whereas I do not even smoke tobacco let alone cannabis. It could be that I am mistaken, that I do not have necessary information and experience with respect to drug use and the occult, but then I also lack the psychological drug dependence I observed with some of these stoners.