"I wasn't just trained to do good, I was trained to fight evil," said Thursday night's guest, Dr. Evelyn Paglini, a self-proclaimed witch. Paglini, an authority on the occult and supernatural, doesn't believe there is such a thing as black or white witchcraft. "There is only power and intent," she said. She described harnessing such powers via rituals and evocations that employ magic and the forces of nature. While there are many that use these powers for the betterment of mankind, Paglini said there are also countless practitioners of the "dark arts."
She outlined methods to fend off curses and malignant intents by creating a protection field around oneself that can bounce these energies back to their sender. How does one know if they have been hexed or if they are just simply having bad luck? Paglini said bad luck runs in cycles and usually just in one area of your life, whereas in the case of a hex, a person might experience a host of problems in every area of their life, for sustained periods.
Sometimes witches can create "familiars" which are sent out to do a bidding said Paglini. She suggested that in some cases that is what people are observing when they report seeing "Shadow People." Paglini also talked about the powerful psychological effects of colors particularly when they are combined with burning candles, which can be used in rituals to manifest desired goals.
Dr. Evelyn Paglini was born into a centuries old family of practitioners of the Occult, and at an early age received training in Natural Magic. Back when I was living in New York City, I had occasion to interview a Manhattan witch. It was the summer of 1999, and Blair Witch Project had just come out and the hype was making some people dredge up very negative associations with witchcraft. At an occult shop called Enchantments, I met with Lexa Roséan, the stores' longtime manager and resident witch.
Lexa was truly a witch for the modern era, complete with her own publicist. (She's the author of a series of popular magical spell books published under the banner of The Supermarket Sorceress.) In recent years, she told me, many have been more informed about Wicca, such as knowing that it's related to goddess worship, "but since Blair Witch Project came out, they are back to this sort of stupid mentality."
Explaining why witches get such a bad rap, Lexa said "there is the tradition of the old lady in the woods who had the knowledge of the herbs. People would come to her when they had problems. She could give them potions to heal their child or heal their cattle. But by the same token, whenever anything went wrong she was the first person they'd point a finger at." But, certainly the power of magic can be used with good or bad intent. "You have the force of wind or air; that wind could be a really wonderful summer breeze to cool you off or be a tornado that will blow your house down," Lexa said.
Appearing on the first half-hour was Dr. Debra Mandel, an expert on brainwashing and the therapeutic approaches for recovery from this kind of trauma. Commenting on the Elizabeth Smart case, she hypothesized that Smart's kidnapper may have used a continuum of manipulations upon her. Such techniques include inducing fear, repetitions that reduce a person's self-worth, isolating the victim and creating a powerful bond, where the aggressor becomes the rescuer.