Recently, I read up on hygienic macros in functional programming languages. (Unless you are into very geeky details of computer science, you do not have to follow that link.) Thought processes diverged and branched out and recombined, and I present you with the resulting definition of Hygienic Magic:
Hygienic Magic is magic whose working is guaranteed not to cause the accidental capture of mental identifications.
To further parody the Wikipedia article I linked: The general problem of accidental capture is well known within the magical community. Magicians will use banishing rituals and dedicated temple spaces to define the location and duration of a ritual, and to remove any residual, unwanted identifications, for example after invoking an entity.
In other words, most formal, ceremonial magical acts are hygienic.
So what about the everyday intentional, magical acts where we do not set up a temple and banish thoroughly before and after? Should we be worried about contracting astral diseases off door handles? Should we expect demons behind every street corner ready to possess us? Will we ourselves become vehicles of contagion?
No. But there is a class of intentional acts which carry a high possibility of capturing mental identifications: reading or otherwise accessing or interacting with information. To a degree, the new identifications are desired and expected: by reading a book on Chaos Magic, I want to identify with being someone who knows more about the subject.
What if the book carries other, less overt information suitable for identification? By reading a text by Julius Evola for example, I will also be exposed to his latent fascism and appreciation of the nazi “order” of the SS. Will this turn me into a reactionary genocidal black brother? Not immediately, I am sure. And maybe not in the long term either, depending on my other identifications and preferences. I already know that the author had ideological affiliations which I reject, so I will be alert and my magical act of intentionally reading Evola will likely be a hygienic one.
How about reading Peter Carroll’s blog, an influential writer who is very competent in magic but whose political leanings were not previously on my mental radar? Are the identitarian overtones which I encounter there worthy of my consideration because I am so used to having my preconceived notions about reality challenged by this magician, or are they just more of the murky banality of the dark enlightenment? Or did Peter Carroll himself neglect hygiene by picking up this stray right-wing identification? And of course, questions like these should arise in me not only when accessing texts by magical writers, but when interacting with any information in general.
Unfortunately, I know of no simple banishing ritual that will wipe away all traces of accidentally captured identifications. It is tempting to believe that wearing a suitable sigil or chanting a certain mantra will give me the magical equivalent of a condom protecting me from the exchange of fluids and energies during intellectual intercourse, but I am convinced that nothing short of a personal transformation into being more watchful and critical – and hygienic – in the everyday magical act of consuming information is necessary.