Spellcasting No Different From Everyday Life?
Spellcasting is really no different from living your everyday life. You make decisions, you act on them, and you live with the consequences. For some reason, however, the use of spells sometimes tempts people to throw their established ethical systems out the window. Perhaps it’s connected to the realization that spellwork creates a different point of view, and empowers the caster to work “behind the scenes” in secrecy. Perhaps it derives from the bad press spellcasters have suffered over the ages, or the accusations of manipulation, or misuse of power.
Wherever it comes from, it’s a serious issue. Knowing that you can use energy for pretty much any goal you choose can be empowering, but it can also tempt you to use it for less ethical goals. Imagine if you discovered you had superpowers. Would you use your powers to protect others and preserve peace, or would you be tempted to loot a bank?
Trust me, it crosses everyone’s mind at some point. Thinking about it doesn’t make you a bad person. In Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, the protagonist Jean Valjean steals a loaf of bread to feed his sister’s starving family. In a desperate situation, you’re often forced to choose between the various values that you uphold. How you choose to proceed is a result of your values operating within your system of ethics.
A value is a quality that you cherish, such as honesty, freedom, peace, charity, justice, and so forth. A cultural ethical system is a structure of common values within which a community operates in order to maintain some sort of civilized society. Within that cultural system, every individual also has a slightly different system of personal ethics, because everyone has a slightly different point of view regarding how the world works, and what constitutes right and wrong. A choice is rarely purely right, or purely wrong. Instead, we’re forced to choose between what is more right or less wrong. Sometimes it seems as if there is no correct answer, only answers which differ in their degree of incorrectness.
Every religion has some sort of moral structure guiding its adherents, although ethics function independently of religion as well. The basic guideline found in most religions is some version of what is known as the Golden Rule: do unto others, as you would have them do unto you . This rule functions on the basic belief that what goes around comes around, and that we reap what we sow. If we put goodness and positive energy out into the world, goodness and positive energy is what will come back to us. Remember the analogy of the spider web that I used in the first chapter? That web of energy is one of the ways in which spells function. If that web is how we can affect our lives and environments by use of willpower and spellcraft, then everything and everyone connected by it are affected by what we do. If we perform a thoughtless action, then everything connected by that web suffers, including ourselves. If we perform an unethical action, then the repercussions travel throughout the web as well.
Don’t mistake “goodness and positive energy” for weakness . Love and light can be expressed with a good sharp wake-up call, or a colossal life-changing event. If you’re angry, or seeking to harm others because it makes you feel better or justified in your own actions, then what you’re doing is reacting instead of acting. You’re striking back at someone or something because you feel hurt or wronged. If you’re looking to intentionally hurt someone, then your ethical system had better support it in spades, and you’d better not come crying when someone intentionally harms you. You’ll still have to deal with all the harm coming back to you in some way, shape, or form, thanks to that cosmic web of energy.
What it comes down to is that ethics determine what you consider morally right and wrong. An ethical system has to have consistency; otherwise it isn’t reliable. If you oppose murder one day and condone it the next, that’s an inconsistency that weakens your system of ethics. An unreliable or fluctuating system of ethics isn’t a system; it’s convenience. Hypocrisy is introduced when you are morally angered if someone else performs the same actions that you yourself perform. Make sure your ethical system is consistent; otherwise you’re adrift without a rudder upon the sea of life.
Situational ethics are unavoidable due to the fact that sometimes you’re choosing what’s less wrong. Sometimes the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
Ultimately, however, your ethical system exists in order to make you think about your actions, and to take responsibility for them.
How does this relate to working with spells? It can be tempting to use spellcasting to obtain goals that aren’t very ethical. An example used to illustrate this point is casting love spells. If Michaela has a crush on Jake, crafting a spell to make him fall in love with her is considered unethical, whereas crafting a spell to increase her attractiveness or draw a new love to her is ethically acceptable. Why?
In life, everyone has free will. Sometimes we are given the responsibility of making decisions for others, such as children or someone who has assigned us power of attorney. When we make decisions in those cases, we attempt to make the best decision for the individual in our care, to the best of our ability. If someone has not granted us that right , then ethically we have no right to interfere in how they choose to live their life. Michaela might believe that Jake would be happy with her, but using a spell to cause him to fall in love with her robs him of his free will. And, honestly , do you think you’d be happy with someone who loved you simply because you’d forced them to? Frankly, love is more magical when it happens without being forced. On the other hand, if Michaela works spells to increase her attractiveness and to draw new love into her life, the only person she is directly influencing is herself. She’s creating the opportunity for Jake to notice her and think about her in a romantic fashion.
As discussed previously, acting in the physical world to reinforce your spells is the best way to help things along. If you do as Michaela does and craft a spell to enhance your attractiveness , then ask the object of your affection out for coffee or dinner. Spells work best when you give them the opportunity to function.
A good rule of thumb is to not use spells for anything that you wouldn’t try for in person in the physical world. Spellcasting isn’t a way to cut down on work, or to avoid responsibility; that’s far from the truth. By now you’ve discovered that spellwork is as successful as you allow it to be, and that spells work with the natural order, not against it. Now, you’re probably already living an ethical life; you presumably value concepts such as honesty, freedom, and compassion, so the ethics applied to your spells aren’t likely to be very different. Just be sure that you take the time to consider what you’re doing so that you can make the best moral judgment possible under the circumstances.
The ethics of spellcrafting involve two very basic ideas: the use of common sense, and pausing to think twice. Both these concepts exist to reduce the possibility of error or bad judgment.
Power Spellcraft For Life: The Art Of Crafting And Casting For Positive Change