Black Dog Blues

Most magickians fall afoul of depression at some point in their lives. It comes with the territory for individuals who consistently push the boundaries of consensus reality, descending like a numbing cloak to paralyse otherwise brilliant minds past the point of complete inertia. Perhaps it is a direct result of living lifestyles which enhance our isolation from the average human herd, a reaction to constant conflict with people who through either dogma or stupidity like to point the bone at those who stand apart.

Regardless, many a great sorcerer has been broken by the weight of the lies in which we all drown, sinking to the depths of insanity in the process. That said, the very fact that occultists see the world differently can be your greatest asset when combating depression in all its myriad forms. The most important thing to remember is that our reaction to incoming stimuli can be better faced if it is first personified.

Samuel Johnson coined the term black dog to anthropomorphise these feelings in the Eighteenth Century, while Winston Churchill would cement the convention in the Western mindset once his mental state became more widely discussed after the end of World War Two. Such has been the mundane method of coping with this cannibalistic angst, and the overtly canine results fill the pages of numerous pop psychology texts around the world.

Of course those supposedly great men could never have foreseen just how useful this damnable Shuck could be if put to work by an occultist who had no other option but to try and do so. The beauty of the underlying methodology involved in lifting your spirits is that it requires very little in the way of physical accessories, instead relying on the self same strength of will which is being constantly buffeted by the winds of banality.

A feeling of helplessness will feed the black dog like no other emotion, until misery renders even the most pleasurable experiences moot. No love, no lust, nothing can fill the aching void at the centre of your soul. You simply become a slave to emptiness. Worse, once the ego is compromised in such a way successful spellcraft becomes noticeably harder to achieve, further fuelling the endless cycle of self recrimination.

This is especially pronounced in those who do not rely on external godforms for their practice, instead preferring to hack reality by sheer ingenuity alone. But the very action of anthropomorphising and externalising this otherwise nebulous feeling of self loathing can create a powerful, and in many cases deadly, servant to fling at your enemies like a trained Molossus. And best of all, this creature will remain true to its destructive nature with very little programming at all.

It is widely accepted that tulpas fed on negative emotions are dangerous. Etherial beings created from bundled information, these unreal homunculi are reflections of the mindset of their creator, all too easily becoming scrying mirrors into the depths of a damaged psyche if given even half the chance. Thus many occultists may caution against undertaking such a birth while suffering from any form of mental aberration, let alone that caused by the black dog. 

Yet as any true sorcerer will attest, there is great treasure to be found in desperation, while personal anguish can become its own initiation under the right circumstances too. The concept of crisis magick is as relevant now as it was when the term was originally coined back in the early days of the internet, leading those who are willing to dance on the razor’s edge towards greatness one splash of blood at a time. Dirty and unpolished, such sloppy and quickfire casting perfectly suits the depressed frame of mind.

Thus the black dog is imagined, sigilised, evoked and then either expelled towards a chosen target or given agency to be held close like an age old friend as the caster sees fit. The only limitation on how large and aggressive your personal Shuck will become lies in the amount of negative energy you are able to channel into it without losing grip on its leash.

While depression can cling like fleas to the average psyche, it is the magickian who has the force of will to scour these parasitic feelings free before putting them to work. Meditation, visualisation, all the skills usually required to become an adept will allow the practitioner to divest themselves of their chains. As for where these disembodied emotions go, that is where the black dog comes in. Ultimately the idea of a four legged canine looming over your shoulder may not necessarily be a bad thing, especially if you can teach it to play fetch.