This morning I still had some of her poison in me and it reminded me of what I've been reading in von Franz's books about witchcraft. Magic* is where you use the powers of the unconscious for personal gain; like to win the lottery, or beating a co-worker for a promotion. It's a misuse of sacred powers that exist within us to connect us with the Self.
[An analysand] reported that she had done an active imagination . . . against (!) one of her acquaintances. This person had annoyed her, and she had indulged in a fantasy in which she had beheaded her, turned her on the rack, spat on her, and so on. In this way, as she put it, she wanted to "abreact her anger." . . . Such a misuse of the imagination is very dangerous. Especially to people with schizoid tendencies, it may be very attractive. However, it by no means get them out of their mess, but on the contrary makes them vulnerable to psychosis. Imagining as a form of "love sorcery" or in service to one's own delusions of grandeur (heroic fantasies) belong to the same category. Wish-fulfillment fantasies have less than nothing to do with real active imagination. The girl whose case is described above [not the analysand who misused her imagination, another woman] had no intention whatever of influencing the old woman. She only wanted to get rid of the destructive influence of her own affect. This ethical purity of intention is one of the most important basic prerequisites for any active imagination(1, p. 155)
Witchcraft*, on the other hand, are those poisonous words that we shoot at each other in order to wound.
You have all heard the phrase, "to needle someone." Now what is it to needle someone? Needling, or picking on someone, generally has to do with stinging that person's complexes; one needles people, for instance, by making stinging personal remarks. And if needling remarks are to work, you have to make them about something you know the person has a complex for. Whee! - they hit the ceiling! That is the colloquial meaning of the term "needling."(2, p. 52)
There are witchlike women who love to do that (and some men too!) - they spy around on people's complexes and then turn up to make personal remarks about them, thinking that if they aim right the person will become helpless. And this does happen when complex is hit. Then you can't answer, you are confused and the needle witch goes on. She aims a stream of directed psychic energy onto your complex.
Ninety per cent of the essence of archaic witch work and curses that made people ill was made up of the same kind of activity. In my book on projection, I talk at length about projectiles that make one ill. In the oldest and most universal form of witch work, the illnesses were produced by either needlelike thorns or pointed stones or anything shaped so that it could be used for pricking. Through these needlelike objects illnesses were sent by evil demons or evil people to other people. And most archaic medical cures amount to finding out the place where the person was pricked or needled, and then having the medicine man suck it out. . . .
So there are needles that make one ill, needles that make one sleep, and there are needles which prick one into confusion. When you make personal remarks aimed at a person's complex, you can completely knock them out. In a way, that is also giving them a sleeping needle, for they are no longer composed mentally. They can't answer your questions. They are confused. They are pushed, for the moment, into the unconscious and made helpless. . . . Some use it unconsciously and some use it consciously, but always this bringing out of a needling remark at a certain moment is the thing that throws the other off balance. Some people are real wizards in that way. But they are only putting to work the same forces that spring up by themselves in the unconscious.
We've all met people - usually woman or gay men - who have this poisonous ability to wound with words, and that kind of woman was what I think I came up against over the weekend. Either that, or it was a shadow projection from within me that got me with it's poison.
For introverted thinking types like me, our nemeses are extroverted thinking types (like Judy). And they're experts at this kind of "witchcraft." The last time I went out with her I noticed myself starting to feel bad about myself - like I was a hopeless failure - and I wondered where on earth those feelings had come from. I went back in my mind and realized it was when she made a horrible, demeaning remark so casually while we were waiting to use the bathroom. And I thought back and realized she'd made another one before that. And that she has a habit of doing this... I thought back to all the times she had said things, cruelly casually, that destroyed my sense of self. And I thought about how none of the friends I chose treated me like that.
Our opposite type is the one who carries our shadow, and not only does she carry my shadow... I carry hers. When my gauche, over-enthusiastic inner lioness comes out she responds with a witch needle. I don't know if she does it to stop something that's making her feel uncomfortable, or it's an automatic reaction to seeing someone she can prey on, like when a dog sees a squirrel it instinctively chases it down and kills it. Right now, I'd go with the latter - it seems that unconscious extroverted thinking types instinctively act in such a way as to raise up themselves, including by pushing those around them down. Then again, it should be remembered that my shadow is still pretty dark, so my ability to be objective is poor.
From her appearance and manner I'm pretty sure this woman was also an extroverted feeling type. And she just had to toss one extra needling comment before leaving, for no other reason that I could see but to wound. My response to this (or maybe it's more accurate to say my Animus' response) was to think of cutting remarks at her, sending my own needle right back at her. Fighting fire with fire, so to speak. But remembering what von Fanz had written, I realized what I needed was to deal with this as a shaman, not a witch. I'm still thinking about this whole topic but my impression is that trying to fight witchcraft with witchcraft just gets you mired in hate and power tripping, the things of an unbalanced ego. What I needed was to get that needle out and heal from the wound. Maybe destroy her image within me, but not in such a way as to affect the real woman, only to destroy whatever it was inside me that made me vulnerable, both to being wounded and to reacting with witchcraft.
What I ended up doing was a mental ritual, again using the dead black sphere so that everything happened inside of me and there was no chance of any of this getting out and going to the woman or anyone else. I saw the woman, small enough for me to hold on my hand. Then I surrounded her with a mirrored sphere. She spat out her poisonous arrows and they went ricocheting around the inside of the bubble, passing through her again and again, until there was nothing left but blood and rags of flesh and bone. Then I purified the remains with water, air, earth and finally fire until there was nothing left. After that, I created a mirrored bubble around myself, but with the mirror on the outside of the sphere, so that any other attacks bounce off me. I'm not one hundred percent sure this is the best thing to do - maybe I'm cutting myself off from life. And I can heal myself now, so maybe I should remove it. I'm not sure right now so I have to think about it.
One thing was that I didn't actually need to take any needles out of myself or heal myself. I had already healed myself last night. The difference in affect after the meditation where I destroyed the image of the woman inside the dead sphere was so different from all of my previous attempts, which were just trying to shoot her back, or trying to comfort the lioness inside, who was growling and roaring in pain and confusion. When I did that, I never healed - it was like there was an unhealed wound in my chest that kept bleeding. But when I consciously did it within - and made sure to avoid affecting the woman herself, keeping everything inside of me - the pain went away and I didn't think about it so obsessively any more. The wound had healed.
*Footnote on terminology
The words "witch" or "magic" are used here in the sense that Jungian analysts like Marie-Louise von Franz use them, as ways of using the subconscious to manipulate other people or reality. Witches, in the sense of practitioners of Wicca, are completely different, and have little or nothing to do with the terms in the Jungian sense. The same goes for other words, like "magic."
Books referred to in post
- von Franz, Marie-Louise, Psychotherapy.
- von Franz, Marie-Louise, Archetypal Patterns in Fairy Tales.