It took me a moment to work out why this question might be relevant to anyone interested in learning about Witches and Witchcraft because I had always viewed hypnosis as a useful psychological tool without any other complicating factors. But that was before I put my Christian Filter on.
It appears that some fundamentalist Christians rank hypnosis alongside yoga, Tai Chi and meditation as a route to demonic possession. Apparently there are those who don’t even approve of anti-psychotic medication and psychology for similar reasons. I don’t know how wide spread this belief is, and it does seem to be something held by the more extreme groups, but it does explain why this question may occur to someone wanting to learn about Witchcraft.
Why don’t some Christians approve of Hypnosis?
As with many things this disapproval of hypnosis hinges on the translation of certain words in the Bible. For example the words chabar/ lachash(meaning “to charm or bind with magic”) and nachash, meaning “enchanting” “to whisper/hiss” referring to the practice of snake charming all appear in various biblical denunciations of witchcraft/magic/sorcery. Some view these to be referring to practices which are analogous of mdern day hypnosis, particularly nachash where they apparent hypnosis.
For example Deuteronomy 18:10-11 (NIV)
10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.
Whether or not these interpretations of these Old Testament paasages are correct there is no immediate reason to suppose that they can be related to the non-religious use of hypnosis as a tool of medicine and psychology however it appears that some Christians oppose the use of hypnosis outright. This is due to the belief that the state of mind achieved during hypnosis leaves the true believer at risk from unwanted influence from the hypnotist or, worse still, demonic possession. Taking this further it isn’t too much of a “logical” leap to therefore associate hypnosis with Witchcraft.
For a taste of some thoughts from Christian minds I offer this Watchman Profile as an example of one group’s thoughts on the matter. For others; Google is your friend.
Hypnosis and Witchcraft
Hypnosis is a relatively modern practice, initially envisaged as “animal magnetism” by physician Fraz Anton Mesmer(as in mesmerise) before being refined into the practice we would recognise today by men such as James Braid and Milton Erickson. At first glance it is difficult to see the use and benefit of hypnosis in Witchcraft until you realise that the lines between Meditation and Hypnosis are actually quite blurred. Few Witches would acknowledge that they use hypnotic (self or otherwise) techniques in their personal practice but most would meditate on a regular basis.
Meditation and Hypnosis utilise similar states of mind to help control stress, anxiety and achieve states of relaxation. The processes used to enter states of hypnotic suggestion and guided meditation are very similar in terms of methods used. The main difference lies in the end purpose and result of the process. Meditation, even guided meditation, is not always done with an end purpose which will manifest itself in to waking life. For example, the purpose of a given meditation may be to reduce anxiety at that time and for a period of time in the future but this feeling is not expected to exist indefinitely or be achievable with a moments notice. Hypnosis on the other hand will create the a state of relaxation whilst at the same time opening the mind to messages and suggestions which can have a positive impact on the subjects waking life.
This isn’t a “quack like a duck when you hear someone sneeze” kind of post hypnotic suggestion. It can be a word or phrase which would allow the person receiving the suggestion to return to that relaxed state simply by staying the word or phrase at a time of need. It may be worded to aid in combating addiction or help someone feel confidentin social situations.
This kind of suggestion does not take root in a single session, like meditation self-hypnosis requires time and practice and even when visiting a professional hypnotherapist a minimum of 6 sessions may be needed to reinforce the post hypnotic suggestion. Once the suggestion has taken it can be used to bring the individual to a feeling of calm and relaxation, ready for ritual work ahead.
As well as the example outlined above self-hypnosis can benefit the Witch in other ways as well. The most common way is in establishing confidence and visualising positive outcomes for life such as succeeding in the work place or in social situations. For the Witch the benefit comes in being able to strongly visualise the goals of spell or ritual as they may manifest themselves in the real world. Once a hypnotic state of mind is achieved it is possible to develop key words and phrases which will strengthen the belief in the ultimate manifestation of the goal and the resolve of the Witch to ensure that it is brought about in the mundane world.
Simple Self Hypnosis for a Witch
There are a multitude of websites describing ways that one can achieve self-hypnosis. I am including these two in my post because the second link refers to the “Hand Levitation” method which is one I find particularly effective (though I visualise balloons attached to my wrist which is how it was described to me).
Once you have achieved your state of hypnosis you can work on deepening the state and work on your own personal goals, including setting post hypnotic suggestions.
Getting Back to the Question
Do Witches use Hypnosis? Well the answer is posdibly maybe. The hypnotic state of mind can be achieved both by intent and by accident and it is likely that anyone who regularly meditates has achieved a similar state of mind and may have even set themselves goals and triggers akin to post hypnotic suggestion. They may have even helped someone else achieve this state of mind by guiding them through meditation and other relaxation techniques.
What Witches don’t do is set out with the intention of hypnotising you in their day to day lives. You can’t be hypnotised with a single glance, nor can you be hypnotised against your will. The hypnotic state of mind is one where we are more susceptible to suggestion however we cannot be compelled to believe things or act in ways that are contrary to our morals and beliefs. Conversely, no Witch is going to convert someone to Witchcraft through the power of hypnosis and will not be opening the minds of others to demonic possession.
I have only recently started to use self-hypnosis in my personal practice, purely with the intention of reducing stress and leaving me with the tools to enter a relaxed space at will. Previously I have attended led sessions and found that going through the process with someone else first made the process of self-hypnosis a little easier.