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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

Psychic Self-Defence Psychic Self-Defence
Non-fiction book
by Dion Fortune
Originally published in 1935


Practical instructions for the detection of psychic attacks and the defence against them.


Read the full book in pdf format at the Internet Archive


Didja Know?


Psychic Self-Defence is a non-fiction occult book that was one of the books that inspired Mark Frost and David Lynch in their creation of the supernatural elements of Twin Peaks, along with the 1926 novel The Devil's Guard by Talbot Mundy (and the writings of Theosophist Alice Bailey {1880-1949}). These two books make mention of White and Black Lodges and the dugpas. This will be a sort of mini-study of Psychic Self-Defence. I will only be noting topics from the book that appear-to-be or may-have-been items of inspiration for elements of Twin Peaks.


Didja Notice?




Fortune remarks that she has "taken part in psychic feuds, and stood my watch on the roster of the occult police force which, under the Masters of the Great White Lodge, keeps guard over the nations, each according to its race..." This is the only mention of a "Great White Lodge" as a single, powerful group of elevated entities. She makes a couple later mentions of "White Lodges" that seem to be more Earth-bound, for individuals on the mortal plane who wish to learn and practice white magic. 


The following paragraph from the preface is interesting in examining, as a viewer, what is really happening in regards to various aspects of Twin Peaks, such as the mental state of Leland Palmer. Are the murders he committed truly the act of a supernatural being who has inhabited his body? Is it merely human insanity?
"...we have to distinguish very carefully between psychic experience and subjective hallucination; we
have to be sure that the person who complains of a psychic assault is not hearing the reverberation of his own
dissociated complexes. The differential diagnosis between hysteria, insanity and psychic attack is an exceedingly
delicate and difficult operation, for so frequently a case is not clear-cut, more than one element being present; a severe
psychic attack causing a mental breakdown, and a mental breakdown laying its victim open to invasion from the
Unseen. All these factors have to be borne in mind when investigating an alleged occult attack, and it shall be my task
in these pages not only to indicate the methods of occult defence, but also to show the methods of differential


Fortune's definition of the left-hand path (LHP) of occultism is of the same nature as that used in The Devil's Guard, alleged malicious black magic, as opposed to practitioners of the right-hand path (RHP) of benevolent white magic. Definitions of LHP and RHP that go back to the origins of the terms in Indian Tantra suggest a more middle-of-the-road approach for each, RHP being based on ethical codes and social convention and LHP being based on the breaking of taboos and desire for individual freedom.


Fortune remarks, "My chief to open the eyes of men and women to the nature of the forces that are at work below the surface of everyday life." The concept of "forces at work below the surface of everyday life" could almost be a pitch line for the Twin Peaks TV series.


Chapter 1


The following paragraph from Chapter 1 is another example of one that almost describes many of the events in Twin Peaks.
  "The driving forces of the universe, the framework upon which it is built up in all its parts, belong to another phase of
manifestation than our physical plane, having other dimensions than the three to which we are habituated, and perceived
by other modes of consciousness than those to which we are accustomed.

"We live in the midst of invisible forces whose effects alone we perceive. We move among invisible forms whose
actions we very often do not perceive at all, though we may be profoundly affected by them.

"In this mind-side of nature, invisible to our senses, intangible to our instruments of precision, many things can happen
that are not without their echo on the physical plane. There are beings that live in this invisible world as fish live in the
sea. There are men and women with trained minds, or special aptitudes, who can enter into this invisible world as a
diver descends to the ocean-bed. There are also times when, as happens to a land when the sea-dykes break, the
invisible forces flow in upon us and swamp our lives."


Fortune informs us that there are four conditions that may cause the veil between worlds to be rent so that we meet the Unseen:

1. We may find ourselves in a place where these forces are concentrated. (Twin Peaks)

2. We may meet people who are handling these forces. (Leland Palmer, Agent Cooper)

3. We may ourselves go out to meet the Unseen, led by our interest in it, and get out of our depth before we know where we are. (Windom Earle, Agent Cooper)

4. We may fall victim to certain pathological conditions which rend the veil. (Leland Palmer, Windom Earle)


Fortune makes reference to water and fire, two prominent memes in Twin Peaks.
"The Threshold of the Unseen is a treacherous coast on which to bathe. There are potholes and currents and quicksands.
The strong swimmer, who knows the coast, may venture in comparative safety. The non-swimmer, who takes counsel
of nothing but his own impulses, may pay for his temerity with his life. But we must not make the mistake of thinking
that these invisible forces are necessarily evil and inimical to humanity. They are no more inimical in themselves than
are water or fire, but they are potent. If we run counter to them, the result is disastrous for us, for we have broken a
natural law; but they are not out to attack us, any more than we are out to attack them. We must face the fact, however,
that men and women with knowledge of these things, have, both in the past and in the present, used that knowledge
unscrupulously, and that we may find our selves involved in the results of their actions. It may safely be said that the
Unseen is only evil and inimical to humanity when it has been corrupted and perverted by the activities of these
unscrupulous men and women, whom initiates call adepts of the Left-hand Path."


Later, in Chapter 7, Fortune also remarks, "...the elemental contacts, with the exception of Fire, cannot be worked successfully in a city." Might this bear any relation to the oft-heard phrase among the town of Twin Peaks' supernaturally-attuned, "Fire walk with me"?


Fortune states that many attacks are not deliberate, but accidental by individuals interacting with the Unseen world. "The person from whom [the attack] emanates may not have originated it. Therefore we should never respond to attack by attack, thus bringing ourselves down to the moral level of our attackers, but rely upon more humane methods, which are, in reality, equally effectual and far less dangerous to handle." Leland?


Places of concentrated Unseen energy can lead the sensitive to subliminal observations: "People also come into touch with the Unseen through the influence of places. Someone who is not actually psychic, but who is sufficiently sensitive to perceive the invisible forces subconsciously, may go to a place where they are concentrated at a high tension. Normally, although we move in the midst of these forces (for they sustain our universe), we are oblivious of them. Where they are concentrated, however, unless we are very dense-minded, we begin to be dimly conscious of something that is affecting us and stirring our subliminal self." Cooper and the dreams he has while in Twin Peaks? "More commonly, however, if there is a definite psychic attack of sufficient force to make itself noticeable at all, there will soon begin to appear characteristic dreams."


After the One-Armed Man harasses Leland and Laura at the intersection in Fire Walk With Me, Leland pulls the car off the road at a service station and says, "What the hell was all that about? Why doesn't somebody do something about this? A man comes out of the blue like that, starts screaming at you like a crazy person and harassing my daughter." Might Leland's use of the phrase "out of the blue" be significant? Fortune uses it in describing how there is usually a subliminal foreshadowing of psychic attack: "A sense of fear and oppression is very characteristic of occult attack, and one of the surest signs that herald it. It is extremely rare for an attack to make itself manifest out of the blue, as it were." There are a number of other references to blue in the film as well: the blue rose, Julee Cruise's song "Questions in a World of Blue", and Laura's blue sweater (and in the script of the film, Blue Diamond City Motel, called Red Diamond in the actual film).


Fortune states there are records of cases of psychic attack where "the victim has died of pure fright." Might this statement in the book have been inspiration for Josie's seemingly inexplicable death in Episode 23: "The Condemned Woman"?


"Evil odours are another manifestation of an astral attack." Although Fortune goes on to say that the odours are usually characteristic of decomposing flesh, perhaps this statement was the origin of the scorched engine oil smell that accompanies manifestations of BOB.


Chapter 2:


Several times in the book, Fortune uses the Latin term modus operandi (method of operation) to describe the workings of telepathic suggestion. In Fire Walk With Me, Gordon Cole tells Agent Stanley that Agent Desmond has his own modus operandi. Though the term can be used in regards to the method of operation of any number of subjects, might its use by Gordon in the film be a hint that Desmond has psychic abilities? Although there's no clear indication of Desmond making use of such abilities, it could be why Gordon wanted him in particular to be assigned to the Blue Rose case of Teresa Banks' murder.


Fortune states: "There are two gates, and two only, by which the attacker can gain entrance to [a person's soul], and these are the Self-preservation Instinct and the Sex Instinct." Might these be how BOB gained access to Leland (self-preservation) and Laura (sex)?


Chapter 6:


Fortune makes reference to the Dugpa sect, which she implies is a debased form of Buddhism practicing black magic. She calls the Dugpas "depraved" in Chapter 8.


Chapter 7:


Fortune describes a moment when she and some sympathetic friends are in a wilderness area when "...all of us, without any suggestion of leadership, began the Dance of the Elements, whirling like dancing dervishes upon that hill-top...all this occurred spontaneously, the tide of the elements catching us up and away." There was a lot of spontaneous dancing in episodes of Twin Peaks among Leland Palmer, Audrey Horne, and the Man From Another Place.


Chapter 10:


Fortune discusses the Black Lodges, stating that they follow the left-hand path, use blackmail, practice abuse of the sex-force, and use black magic to achieve wealth and power, etc. As with the White Lodges, she discusses them as Earth-bound sects for those on the mortal plane.


Chapter 11:


In Fire Walk With Me, the Log Lady approaches Laura before she enters the Roadhouse and puts her hand to Laura's forehead, saying, "When this kind of fire starts it is very hard to put out." Fortune makes a similar statement: "Once the fire is started, the cosmic forces of the appropriate type will stoke it," also adding, "The subjective self only has the kindling, the Cosmos supplies the fuel."


Chapter 14:


Fortune describes an astral journey she once made to face her enemy. She describes her journey beginning "...with a curtain of the symbolic colour through whose folds I pass." This sounds similar to the red curtains at the entrance of the Black Lodge in Glastonbury Grove in Twin Peaks.


Chapter 17:


Fortune remarks on an old superstition that a witch can be thrown off the trail by crossing running water and describes a time that she seemed to throw off a negative magnetism that had been following her by inadvertently crossing an underground conduit which takes the overflow from the Serpentine (a lake in London). She also remarks that water is the vehicle of purification. Are these the reasons for the recurring images of flowing water in Twin Peaks?


Fortune states "We have very little exact knowledge concerning these subtle forces which are the basis of both occult attack and spiritual healing, but we have good reason to believe that in their nature they are closely analogous to electricity." Electrical effects are seen throughout the Twin Peaks series.


Chapter 18:


Fortune discusses magnetic fields emanating from objects and places, specifically mentioning the revered sites of Glastonbury and Lourdes, which she says have bigger magnetic fields, "...extending possibly to a couple of miles; they are also inter-connected among themselves by lines of force." Glastonbury (England) and Lourdes (France) are both mentioned in Twin Peaks: Glastonbury Grove near Twin Peaks is compared by Cooper to Glastonbury Tor, the legendary burial place of King Arthur (Episode 29: "Beyond Life and Death"); Lourdes, known for its alleged miraculous healings, was mentioned by Dr. Hayward in Episode 10: "The Man Behind Glass". It could be that Twin Peaks also has a larger than usual magnetic field, maybe even connected to those of Glastonbury and Lourdes. In an interview that appeared in Wrapped in Plastic #9 (February 1994), Mark Frost says he had once considered doing a follow-up novel: " idea was to do a Twin Peaks book a la James Michener--go back and start with the geological formation of the peaks and the strange electromagnetic force that grew up between the mountains and how it oddly affected all the people in the area." (He never got around to that particular book, but his Secret History of Twin Peaks book, published in October 2016, has some similarities to these early ideas of his.)


Chapter 19:


Fortune makes mention of constructs called Watchers and artificial elementals (also touching on the subject in Chapter 14). These could be related to "The owls are not what they seem." Notice also the statement of water dissolving a thought-form.
  "...the Watchers, that curious section of the Occult Hierarchy which is concerned with the welfare of nations. A certain section of their work is apparently concerned with the policing of the Astral Plane. Very little is actually known about them. One comes across their work sporadically and pieces the bits together. I have crossed their trail on several occasions...Whenever black magic is afoot, they set to work to put a spoke in its wheels. Be that as it may, I came to the conclusion that, in view of what had now transpired, the impulse I had had [to write a series of articles on the abuses prevalent in occult fraternities] might have emanated from the Watchers."
  "To astral vision, the telepathic link appears as a ray of light, a shining cord, or some similar thought-form, because it is in this form that it is usually formulated by the person who is making the magnetic link. It sometimes happens, however, if the operator has a high grade of initiation, that instead of connecting the ray direct to the person with whom he desires to be in touch, he will formulate an astral animal at the end of it to which he transfers a modicum of his own consciousness. This animal-form is called a Watcher; it does not act on its own initiative unless attacked, when it defends itself according to the nature of the species in whose likeness it is made. The use of a Watcher is to obtain a record of what is transpiring without the necessity of focussing consciousness thereon. When the psychic substance of the Watcher is reabsorbed by the adept, he becomes aware of the content of the Watcher's consciousness. The disadvantage of this method lies in the vulnerableness of the Watcher to psychic attack, and the fact that its projector is affected if it is injured or disintegrated.

"In dealing with a thought-form, always bear in mind that it is the product of the imagination, and is in no sense self-existent. What the imagination has made the imagination can unmake. If the maker of a thought-form has thought it into existence by picturing it imaginatively, you can equally well think it out of existence by picturing it clearly and imagining it bursting into a thousand fragments, or going up in flames, or dissolving into water and being absorbed by the soil. That which is thought into existence by the imagination can be thought out of existence by the imagination.

"If what was taken for a thought-form resists destruction by this method, it is probably an artificial elemental. Now there are two such elementals, one kind being ensouled by the invocation of elemental essence into a thought-form, and the other by the projection of something of the magician's own nature into it. If it is ensouled by elemental essence, the use of the Pentagram will serve to banish it; but if it is of the kind that is ensouled by the magician's own force, another method must be used, known as absorption."


Chapter 20:


Fortune tells us that there is a Dark Angel that tempts us and a Bright Angel that inspires us and helps us. In Fire Walk With Me, BOB might be considered Laura's Dark Angel and the angel she (and Ronette) see near the end of the film, the Bright Angel(s).
  "Let us again refer to the ancient wisdom of the Qabalah, that storehouse of occult knowledge. We learn
here of the Good Angel and the Evil Angel of the soul of man who stand behind his right and left shoulder,
the one tempting him, and the other inspiring him. Translate the Dark Angel into terms of modern thought
and we have the Freudian subconsciousness.

"But the Freudians fail to realise that there is also a Bright Angel who stands behind the right shoulder of
every man. This is the mystic superconsciousness or, in other words, the Higher Self, the Holy Guardian
Angel whom Abramelin sought with such ardour and effort. We all know that, when caught off our guard,
there comes a dark temptation from the depths of our lower selves, something atavistic stirs, and we think
thoughts, or even do deeds, of which we would never have believed ourselves capable. We have heard the
voice of the Dark Angel speaking.

"Equally in times of dire stress, when we have our backs to the wall and we are fighting for more than our
physical lives, another Voice makes itself heard, the voice of the Bright Angel. I have never known this to
occur when a man was fighting simply for his physical life. To those who see beyond the veil, death is no
great evil; but in times of spiritual crisis, when the very self is being swept away, then it is that the cry of
the soul is heard, and Something manifests out of the mists of the Unseen, manifests in a form that is
comprehensible to the one who calls. Whether intense stress induces a temporary expansion of
consciousness, a fugitive psychism, or whether a Being of its own volition passes through the veil and
manifests, I do not know; there are never any details available of these incidents. They take place only in
times of dire stress and go as swiftly as they came, leaving no trace except upon the soul.

"I maintain that even as the Lower Self can rise up in moments of temptation, so can the Higher Self
descend in moments of spiritual crisis. It is the aim of the mystic to live exclusively in the Higher Self. It
is the aim of the occultist to bring this Higher Self through into manifestation in brain consciousness, "In
my flesh shall I see God." Just as surely as the Lower Self can rise up and betray us to some horrible
deed, so can the Higher Self come to the rescue, 'terrible as an army with banners.'

[...]occasions of stress and strain I have experienced a sudden expansion or shifting of the level of
consciousness. The Higher Self has descended and taken control. From being in the midst of turmoil one is
suddenly raised high above it and sees all the circumstances of one's life spread out like a bird's-eye view,
as one might see the land from a high place, and one knows intuitively the out come of the matter. All
emotional turmoil ceases, and one is like a ship hove-to, securely riding out the storm. When this occurs to
me, the memory of my past incarnations is always vividly present also. It is this simultaneous wakening of
the past which makes me feel that the voice is that of my own Higher Self, and not of another entity.

"It is my belief that in times of spiritual crisis the man that has faith in the law of God can rise up and
invoke its protection and a seeming miracle will be performed for his benefit. Yet there can be no breach
of natural law; there fore such a miracle must simply be an example of the working of a law with which
we are as yet unfamiliar, just as an eclipse appears to the savage as a miracle, but to the astronomer as
a natural phenomenon which he can forecast with accuracy."


Fortune's statement above of "From being in the midst of turmoil one is suddenly raised high above it and sees all the circumstances of one's life spread out like a bird's-eye view, as one might see the land from a high place, and one knows intuitively the out come of the matter," reminds me of the end of Fire Walk With Me, where Laura is in the Waiting Room with Cooper and she sees the angel; she begins to smile and nod, as if it were speaking to her, but we don't hear anything besides music. Then, what seem to be tears of joy stream down Laura's face, she begins to laugh (silently), even outright chortling as if she's just been let in on the greatest joke ever.


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