The Ills of the Age

by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle

pill capsules filled with golden and pink glitter

Photo by Alena Shekhovtcova from Pexels

If the occultists perceive patterns of consciousness beneath all manifestations in our life, what do we think is happening when everything becomes chaos? What is the pattern? Why can’t we easily fix it with our magickal intentions, spells, and meditations? Why can’t we create our reality as so many teachings tell us we do? The answer is understanding the occult mechanisms behind the current ills of our age and how they work on individuals and groups.

I say current ills because they seem so exacerbated now, but they pervade all times and places in various proportions. What we face is nothing new, but it manifests in new ways in our own time. Rather than looking at it as an external force to manage and control, we must look at it as corresponding with our internal experience, a healing journey that we are in both as individuals and as a people, nation, and world.

If we want to be effective magicians and healers, we need to understand some of the dynamics at play underlying the visible manifestations we experience in the world. We first have to correct the balance of these mechanisms in ourselves by becoming conscious of them. Only then will we have greater effect in the outer world, but I fear it’s a slow process because on some level, everyone must do the same. Here are some ideas to frame the ills of our age at this time.

Autoimmune Inflammation—While many are suffering from physical autoimmune disorders (which can be related), I’m particularly talking about the spiritual immune system being in overdrive because of overstimulation. Many are having a trauma response psychologically, and our energy systems react in a similar manner. Even without obvious trauma, the constant barrage of conflicting information, rapid emotional responses to diverse stimuli, and a persistent flow of everyone telling everyone what they should do, say, or think puts the energy system on the defensive and it overreacts to things, making large problems out of smaller situations. We respond as if they are life or death, with the fight or flight (and now the additional understanding of freeze and fawn) response. It becomes difficult to override these mechanisms to respond consciously, and even when we do, overreaction simmers under the surface awaiting a time to burst forth.

Thought Viruses—“Thoughts are things” is the old occult adage. Our thoughts carry force, perhaps not the same force as our actions, but they are operating profoundly on more subtle levels. Thoughtforms are purposely created by magicians to do specific work. Thoughtforms are also unconsciously created and can run rampant in individuals and groups. Thought can become contagious. Sometimes that is good. Cheer and humor can be infectious, but most often it is anger, fear, prejudice, jealousy and hate that become infectious. Thoughts can become like a virus, infecting and spreading. We see it overtly in our mentality, but also subtly in social dynamics, groups, and cliques that develop in groups. Today we have a lot of viral narratives that are proposed by seeming experts, but which lack context, nuance, or history. They can appeal to our ego, however, or our previously held beliefs, so we accept them as fact, not realizing they are viral. We see it overtly in social media, hoping a post or meme becomes viral and increases the power of an influencer. Take a moment to reflect on those words and that process. It’s pathological, but we have bought into that construction of how the new media works and how we must all navigate it. We use the same word for malicious programs on our computer: a virus. Think of your social media, despite the fun and connection we can have, as a psychic biohazard risk. It parallels the physical pandemic environment, but we think that when we are alone on our phone, we are safe from infection, but we are open to another form of infection. We always have been, physically and psychically; that is not new. The mechanism of delivery is more subtle now, but we have to find ways to navigate our psychic and electronic environments as we do our physical.

Inverted Energy Dynamics—The pandemic has upended our normal social energy dynamics, and regardless of our specific location’s recovery process, things are still topsy-turvy. Some unhealthy but expected patterns have been distrusted, and many healthy patterns of connection have been disrupted. There are those who are aided by online contact versus in-person who are thriving and those who are debilitated by the same mechanism. The energy exchanges for introverts and extroverts are upended. And those who are renewed by places, culture, and land have been challenged with travel restrictions. Lack of facial expressions with masks has diminished the normal human energy exchange through a reassuring smile. (I’m not advocating against masks in areas where the pandemic danger is higher, just noting the energetic dynamic.) When we don’t know where and how we are renewing our psychic and social energy, we enter into a scarcity mentality. It becomes the mindset of an energy famine. We do and say strange things to provoke responses that we think will feed our energy dynamic, but often they are unhelpful or unpleasant for the others engaged in the process, and we don’t even know we are doing it, as we have never learned about such psychic starvation.

Unconscious Invocations—Magickal people consciously evoke powerful psychic forces in our lives through ritual. But we also unconsciously evoke forces by other means. Everyone does. We do it through the things we overtly identify with: professions, sports teams, fandoms, group membership, astrological signs, minority statuses, nationalities, and more. I identify with being a Witch first, but then a comic book nerd, Star Wars fan, Taurus, queer man, polyamorous, High Priest in the Cabot Tradition and the Temple of Witchcraft, the Italian side of my heritage, and a writer. All of those have archetypes with a lot of potential patterns I may or may not also identify with. Within the context of a magickal practice, the magician’s every action outside of the formal rituals soon becomes an act of Magick, and seemingly mundane things like how we dress and speak evoke psychic forces beyond the voltage of an average person. Conflicts in the magickal world seem so intense, often over things that seem trivial to those in the non-magickal communities, because of these forces. We can’t stop this process and shouldn’t try as it would hinder other spiritual processes, but we must be aware of it.

Astrological Weather—I joked with a friend that since I’ve started studying astrology in the mid-1990s, I don’t think I’ve heard an astrologer say that the astrological weather is great/easy/fun/prosperous for the next month since maybe 1998. We tend to go to astrologers for the warning of what to look for so that we can be prepared, not to affirm what is going great. Yet the astrological weather over the last years and coming years has been intense. We can look to the past patterns to see how it might manifest, but in the longer cycles, the world is in a very different place, so we might not always see specifics. Looking to see your sensitive points, global sensitive points, and the patterns and themes within both can help you make better decisions.

I remember being part of a small informal Pagan Leadership gathering to focus on a set of problems we thought we could help with by putting together the resources of our organizations. I remember mentioning the astrology of the situation and factoring that into our process. It was an obvious bit of wisdom to me for a group of Witches to use. There was a faction of the group that was appalled at my suggestion. They were uncomfortable using any magickal or divinatory information for social decisions. I was stunned, but soon realized we were operating from very different places in that paradigm, and I soon withdrew, as I felt my authentic presence wasn’t helpful. I did find out that the group soon disbanded without moving forward on any goals. If energy, patterns of consciousness, underlie all phenomena, I’ll use all tools available to help me best navigate it. Even a simple phone app that tells you your daily transits can be an invaluable aid to being aware of sensitive days. Awareness doesn’t mean you can change it, but it can help you process and frame it, deepening what it means to you. Recently I had a major upset, and I realized it was within two days of Pluto opposing my ascendant, on the full Moon that was nearly conjunct with my ascendant, and during Mercury retrograde. So that information helped me look at issues of self-identity, emotional sensitivity, partnerships, transformation towards my higher will, and how to clearly respond.

Understanding these occult patterns are occurring can help us navigate them. For a practice to help better engage with them, try this or something similar.


Light a candle dedicated to balance and well-being, or simply use your altar spirit candle.

Repeatedly “tap” your thymus, the part of your chest between the lower sternum but beneath the throat. Say:

“I balance my immune system on all levels—physical, emotional, mental, and psychic.”

Take a horseshoe, ideally, or another piece of metal. I started with a small iron rod, but found I preferred the horseshoe. Before doing this the first time, take a magnet and simply stroke the magnet down the arc of the horseshoe in the manner some learn to consecrate their athame or an inner wire for their wand. Or you could use an actual horseshoe magnet. Charge the metal to draw forth and magnetize all viruses. Pass the metal around your body and say:

“I draw forth all viruses from all my bodies—physical, emotional, mental, and psychic.”

Pass the metal through the candle flame three times to dissipate the viral energy.

Next connect to an energy that is helpful and good for you to exchange. A simple method is to connect to the ground beneath you, draw up energy through your body to the heavens, and then draw the heavens down through your body into the Earth, creating a natural reciprocal flow. For others, the exchange might be with a god or spirit. Whatever works best for your energy, then say:

“I balance the flow of my energy in all levels—physical, emotional, mental, and psychic.”

To balance all the invocation of identity, focus on the higher, wider soul. For those who might make a practice of some variation of the Bornless Rite invocation as a daily prayer, use that. For those unfamiliar with that ritual, these words work well:

“I invoke my highest, deepest, wisest self to be present in my every thought, word, and deed.”

And lastly harmonize with the current conditions, whatever they may be. Realize the psychic environment is a part of you and something you can manage, like the four points above. You simply need to flow with the process, but be aware of the process. Say:

“I am in harmony with the world within me and the world all around me. Blessed be.”

Take this awareness out into your day as you seek to heal the imbalances we all carry and the ills of our age.

Temple of Witchcraft