by NADINE BUCHHOLZ
You know the comics - the ones where the evil magician wants more and more power... and by the end of the story you discover she just wants to be loved. Some of you may have had the experience of observing a fellow magician suddenly launch into a process which only puts her further from an apparent objective of appearing to be a powerful and wise magus. Of course, she may be having a bad day, but she could be under the influence of a particular mental illness: a condition insidious and virulent in the scope of its affliction.
Magusitis can be seen under many guises and it can be placed in the corner (where it belongs) along with other personality disorders when viewed under the precepts of a a psycho-analytical paradigm.
I personally tend to view Magusitis as a dynamic entity, because I have seen it act like a magical vector, a meme and a behaviorism. additionally, it appears to act as a transmissible agent of mental illness amongst magicians.
A CLINICAL DISEASE OVERVIEW
There are a number of indications that are diagnostic of Magusitis: paranoia, obstinacy, an inability to be flexible, an inability to empathise with opposing ideas, ungroundedness or uncenterdness, self-delusion, gloating, power-hunger, competitiveness, status-seeking/degree-chasing, lying/deceit, inability to trust others, insincerity...
Some of these symptoms alone are not indicative of the disease. Chances are that if you do have a late stage of the disease, you are very unlikely to recognise it in yourself (even if you are reading this article) due to self-denial, so no need for hypochondriacism, although self-analysis is usually a good thing (armpits - check, ego - check, attitude - check).
Commonly amongst magicians, symptoms may manifest behaviorally with the afflicted individual acting defensively by cursing perceived enemies or anything that has the severe misfortune to get in her way: corporations, supermarket check-out operators (poor bastards - aren't these people cursed enough?), traffic cops (even though she deserved that ticket).
Sporadically documented among experienced magicians (with whom I have collected accounts and information over the years) the observation is of a development of symptoms; the disease appears to proceed through several stages from mild paranoias into full blown magusitis.
There are a number of recognised types among magusitis infected individuals:
Obvious causes might be be any type of childhood trauma, where the child has experiences which cause major insecurity: bullying, teasing, parental divorce are all common causes of insecurity. They can give rise to the type of magickal persona where the magician uses magickal power as a crutch for his insecurity and lack of self confidence. In addition to this, practicing magick can bring with it a fair amount of perceived self power. How much of this self power is actual and how much is imagined is dependent on the magician. Unfortunately, not all of us realise that magick should be used to heal unbeneficial behaviorisms and psychoses, rather than exasperate them.
Insecurity is usually a psychosis that everybody experiences to different extents, and everyone deals with in different ways. Compensation for insecurity may manifest as paranoia or escapism (perhaps through transcendental states).
Over confidence - the sort that manifests as arrogance or gloating; defense mechanisms that justify and cause one to feel one is increasing one's sense of standing in a magickal community (which can often be competitive), are strong signs of a manifesting magusistis. These symptoms are usually the first indication that a magician is unbalanced and that something is wrong. They also have the potential to bloom choronzonically into the major personality psychosis Magusitis.
Paranoia is again a offshoot of the insecurity demon. Having a overdeveloped sense of paranoia may seem to be the obverse of having a bit of a big ego, but it can actually be a symptom of it. As Dave Lee points out in a chapter on conflict and excorsism, the primary reason for thinking you're being magickally attacked is because 'you're paranoid.' The logic here is that the magician must be such an important source of woe to others that she must be important enough to be attacked by them. A magician that thinks she is being magickally attacked may be stroking her own ego as it gives her the attention she craves, whether it is from herself or others.
Those magicians who are accomplished and receive a lot of attention, or are famous (as famous as one can be in this profession) are in a high risk group. A magician of this caliber receives very little negative feedback versus a high volume of ego - inflating adulation. As a side note here: one doesn't have to be a magus in order to catch magusitis. In fact - the reason it's called magusitis is because the magician (or guru) who carries the disease aspires to be a Magus. Not that there is anything wrong with the aspiration to achieve.
RECREATIONAL DRUG USE AND ABUSE
some drugs, when used beyond moderation, cause the magician to be more vulnerable to infection by magusitis. Stimulants such as coke and speed easily cause paranoia and psychosis to varying degrees. (Amphetamine Psychosis is a textbook mental illness among speed addicts). Many hallucinogens can cause psychosis if frequently used. They also provide the physiological conditions required for imprinting. Bad trips can result in the individual being imprinted with an anxiety disorder. Cannabiods can cause short term paranoia (physiologically this largely is due to the lowering of the blood glucose levels after ingestion) and with long term use cannabis has an increased incidence of psychoses, all of this leaves the magician open to infection.
THE PITFALLS OF TRANSCENDANCE
The type of personality disorder evident during transcendental states is interesting. When entities / deities are transvoked (invoked or evoked) they have the potential to involve the transfer from the magician to the entity or deity. An invoked form of transcendence may give the magician airs to the deity she invokes - this is a very easy trap to fall into - especially if the deity is not banished after the magick is done. Some individuals transcend the mundane by channeling the sacred texts of alien entities (and claiming it to be truth) This would be an evoked form of transcendence - akin to projection or displacement (in behavioral psychology).
Magusitis seems to be like inhabiting the bodies of magicians who employ and rely on certain modes of being, and the disease seems to use the psychopathy in order to justify the magicians behavior. Whilst invokation in this case maybe useful (such as a mercurial invokation in order to increase ones mental abilities) it is incredibly important to banish!
Some very common examples of archetypal intoxication are: the wiccan who thinks he is the martyr of the goddess, or the thelmite who thinks she is the reincarnation of Aleister Crowley. Whilst transcendental states are useful, enjoyable and provide experience of the Numinons, they too have their baggage.
transmissablity can be measured by determining how communicable the virus is, and how many individuals it has infected. Some years ago I observed the transmission of a virus through a group of individuals. The virus was even given a name. Each person infected by the virus developed strong feelings of paranoia and exhibited the same. mild manifestation of magusutis. At times I felt very vulnerable to it and could even feel it trying to posses me. Most of the individuals involved are now 'ok' as far as I know...
Additionally to small groups of people, magusitis can also impact organizations in a very damaging fashion, especially if the infected magicians are popular or significantly important to its functioning. Transfer and proliferation throughout an organization or parts of it can also ensue.
PHASES OF INFECTION & MODES OF ACTION
Three stages of disease progression are posited: