Black Magic, Evil and Dreams
Although thorough investigation of claimed injury or death attributed to black magic has shown the real cause to be malicious aggression or murder, scientific research into the deaths of people who were said to have died as the result of a curse or a voodoo ritual, has shown the victims to have died of fear.
Death through fear is fairly common, and is reported by some doctors in connection with surgical operations, especially in the past. In 1887 Dr. Crile had watched helpless as his friend, William Lyndman died of shock after amputation of both legs. My uncle also died of the shock of losing his arm. My uncle, like William had lost little blood, and no vital organs were injured. Crile went on to develop anaesthesia and blood transfusion to counteract death through shock. But some forms of shock appeared to be outside any physical cause. In 1898 Crile was on an army transporter off Cuba and examined a young officer who was delirious with fear due to facing his first battle. He was as deep in shock as if his legs had been crushed by a wagon as William Lyndman’s had. This led Crile to become interested in exopthalmic goitre, an illness which produces a similar type of anxiety condition. Despite the use of anaesthetics, no one had successfully operated on such a goitre condition. Every patient died. Crile discovered why when he attempted such an operation in 1905.
While under anaesthesia the patients heart rate rose to 218 and the body temperature rose to a dangerous level. Despite no physical injury or infection, the patient died that night with a temperature of 109.6 F. Crile realised from his previous observations that it was fear which had killed the patient. Therefore he told his next patient, a young woman who needed the goitre operation, that he was going to give her a simple inhalation treatment. When she breathed in the anaesthetic, she therefore thought she was having a ‘treatment’ not an operation. She was the first person to survive the operation for exopthalmic goitre. Crile called it “stealing the goitre”, and was so impressed by the influence of emotion on the body he constantly stressed the importance of self control, and taught that calmness is strength.
Crile’s experience illustrates what can occur through threat of a curse or black magic. In our dreams we often portray something we deeply fear as an evil influence or person, or as an awful monster or ghost. Such fears usually relate to our own urges, such as anger or sexuality, but can be about any urge or thought that we have been led to feel is not permissible, or downright evil. A demonic figure or environment might also be connected with very early babyhood experiences. The pain of birth is often depicted as hell or demonic influence in our dream symbolism. On exploring dreams that have a very evident evil force or devil in them, what is discovered is that the ‘evil’ is actually the person’s own repressed or hurt sexuality or urges. See: evil; witchcraft; The Con About Evil.
Because the unconscious will use any belief system or cultural symbols we have absorbed to express a theme, the powerful images of witches or evil characters we see on films or in fiction are often used to depict important experiences. For example a dream in which a spell or curse is placed on one can portray the influence a painful experience has left on ones emotions. If you had been deeply hurt while in your mother’s arms, your unconscious would equate pain with being held close by a woman. This ‘cross wiring’ of associations could meaningfully be portrayed as a ‘spell’ which makes one feel frightened in the apparently loving situation. See Victims; Dream Like a Computer Game; spell.