The Truth About So-Called ‘Banishing’
Author: Talitha Dragonfly
Some mundane definitions of “banish”:
1. To expel from a community or group. Ban, ostracize, shun, cast out, blackball.
2. Ban from a place of residence, as for punishment.
3. Expel, as if by official decree.
4. Drive away.
In whole, it is a form of rejection and exclusion.
In some Neo-Pagan traditions of ceremonial magick, banishing refers to rituals that are performed to remove non-physical influences that are considered to be “negative”.
Let it be said for the record that I am positively opposed to banishing of any sort, especially in a magickal context. I am aware that this is my opinion; but it is a highly informed opinion, and I’d like to share my intelligent reasons behind my thoughts.
Life is full of syzygies. Many spiritual traditions speak of them; they are necessary for life, as we know it to exist.
There is light and dark, heavy and light, alive and dead, hard and soft, male and female, up and down, right and wrong, truth and lies, God and Goddess, knowledge and ignorance, past and present, love and hate, and every other opposite pairing that you can come up with. They are two sides of the same coin. And as the Frank Sinatra song once said, “You can’t have one without the other.”
Sure, there are various shades of grey…or fuchsia, or chartreuse, or magenta, depending on your fancy. But the two opposites are always ultimately referred back to as a way of explaining these middle states.
So naturally, mankind has invented the terms of “good” and “evil”, or “positive” and “negative”, to explain the dualistic side of his own state of being. As with most descriptions in the spoken or written human language, these terms fall woefully short of accurately hitting the target. These words are far too broad in meaning to effectively be employed when describing the state of things as they truly are.
A successful person may be called “good”. But how did he or she become successful?
A delicious meal may be called “good”. But what is the food’s calorie content? Is it saturated with fat and cholesterol? Will it mess with a diabetic’s blood sugar and make him or her sick from eating it?
Fire may be said to be “good”. But what if this fire is destroying an irreplaceable antique? What if it is burning down someone’s home? What if it has been the cause of death of children or other loved ones?
Love is said to be “good”. But does love always turn out for the best? Doesn’t love cause so much pain when it is inappropriately expressed?
Charity may be said to be “good”. But what if the motivation of the giver is merely for attention driven reasons?
Anger is said to be “evil”. But what if someone chooses to hurt my children? Anger is a tool that I would definitely need in my arsenal.
Guns may be said to be “evil”. But what if a police officer used a gun to stop a criminal from committing a violent act?
Death may be considered to be “evil”. But what if someone died who was suffering from a grave illness that caused intolerable suffering?
Knowledge was once said to be “evil” by the Catholic Church. Thinking for one’s own self was considered to be heretical and sinful. Any opinions that clashed with approved scripture were the work of the Devil, and were discouraged at any and all costs.
The obvious point I am trying to make is that something, which is “good” to one person, may or may not be good to many others. Looked at from only one particular angle, a certain thing may be “good”, but not from another. Behavior, which is considered as “good” in one culture, may be considered “evil” in another.
So when trying to define “good” and “evil”, or “positive” and “negative”, there is definitely a great deal of disparity. The reason for this disparity is simply a matter of cultural values, moral standards of a particular era, religious beliefs, family upbringing, personal opinions, artistic sense, economic benefits, and so on. The words “good” and “evil” can be used in so many different value systems according to human language that their meanings become extremely broad and difficult to truly define.
In essence these words are mere illusion. They are horribly distracting.
I’ve heard so many Neo-Pagans refer to the act of “banishing”. I really wish that they would put away those awful books that instruct them to ostracize, shun, expel, and drive away energies that they simply do not have the capacity to understand. It’s a laughable comedy that reminds me way too much of the movie The Exorcist. “The power of Christ compels you!” All that’s missing is the holy water, the spinning heads, and the vomited pea soup. Ridiculous.
Energy — and for that matter, ALL creation — is neither “good” or “evil”, or “positive” or “negative”, unless of course you’re talking about the ends of a battery! Energy simply IS. It continuously exists in a state of perfection as decreed by our Divine Creator, the Eternal Source. Yes, things have slit off into a syzygy just as the God and Goddess did when the Source first became aware of Itself. This duality is the true nature of life.
I would much rather hear people speak of things as being “useful” or “non-useful”. And instead of speaking about “banishing” things they don’t particularly like or are afraid of, I would much rather see people respectfully asking these energies to be returned and absorbed back into the Earth so that they may be utilized in circumstances where they are needed. A friend of mine once called this “energy composting”, and I adore this analogy.
I have to confess that it makes me nauseous to hear people speak about banishing. To me, it is a pompous act. What human being has any right to command energies how to behave? What human being has any right to dismiss any source of energy as if It were only so much dog poo on the bottom of his or her shoe?
I personally will connect with these energy sources with the utmost respect and dignity. I will address Them with sincerity and honor. I will inform this energy source that I find It non-useful to my particular situation, and I will ask It to be returned to the Earth to be utilized somewhere else. Even modern physics agrees that energy can never be destroyed; it simply is recycled.
I accept all forms of energy, whether they are useful or not. I am never offended by the presence of any energy forms. I understand that they are simply catalysts for each other. They have many lessons to teach me, and they help me to grow and learn.
I couldn’t possibly understand freedom if I had never known imprisonment. I couldn’t possible understand joy if I had never known sorrow. I couldn’t possibly understand pleasure if I had never known pain.
And I would never understand Enlightenment if I had never suffered through attachment.