MAGICK & WICCA
The Wicca Handbook by Eileen Holland
Magick is love. All magick should be performed out of love. The moment anger or hatred tinges your magick you have crossed the border into a dangerous world, one that will ultimately consume you.
– Scott Cunningham
Magick itself is neutral, a tool: like a hammer, it can be used to smash or to
build. Intent is what colors it. White magick is a term to describe that which
is positive, constructive or helpful; black magick that which is negative,
destructive or harmful. If you have a business and you work spells to make it
prosper, that’s white magick. Doing spells to destroy your competition would be
black magick. These are not racial terms: good and evil, dark and light, are
other words which can be used to express this same concept.
Why black and white, not some other colors? To answer this you have to go back
into prehistory and imagine how terrifying the night was for humans before we
learned to use fire. The black of night was full of unseen threats, a dangerous
time you might not survive. The white light of day brought illumination and
safety, welcome relief.
White magick is the right-hand path, black magick the left-hand one. The
symbolism of right and left is also very ancient: the right hand was used for
eating, the left hand for bathroom functions. Imagine life without toilet paper
and you’ll understand why it’s customary to shake right hands. This has nothing
to do with being right- or left- handed, but it does explain why left handed
people were often forced in the past to learn to write with their right hands.
There are several theories of gray magick, but I think gray magick is what
Hindus call maya – illusion.
One theory holds that since good and evil both exist, some people need to do
black magick in order to balance the white magick. I don’t buy that for a
minute. Do murderers balance nice people, or child abusers balance loving
parents? If they create balance, does this excuse their crimes? Try telling that
one to a judge! “Well your honor, I only stole that car to create balance in the
universe.” There is another polarity theory, where if you do two hexes and two
healings they balance one another or cancel each other out. There is some logic
to this one but its still just a self-serving excuse, a way to delude yourself
you are a white witch when you practice black magick. Some traditions hold that
which you cast on yourself as white magick, that which you cast on others gray
magick. The wordsmith in me quibbles with this one on semantic grounds. I think a spell that harms yourself or anyone else is black magick; one that helps or heals anyone, including yourself, is white magick. Being of service to people in
need or distress is one of the things witches do best, so I see nothing “wrong”
in casting spells that help others – with their permission, of course.
Some witches argue there are evils too great, situations too grave for white
magick to deal with; that the end justifies the means, makes black magick
necessary for the greater good. That is the best argument of the lot, but I have
never encountered a situation I couldn’t handle with white magick. Binding,
banishing and transformation are the powerful tools of a white witch. The term
green witchcraft is sometimes used to describe Celtic magick, fairy magick,
earth magick or any combination of those.
Seekers and novices sometimes ask me how they can avoid being seduced by the
dark side of magick, avoid the temptation to hex or harm others. The answer is
to have an ethical framework in which you practice magick. Seduction by the dark side is not a concern for Wiccans. We have our Goddess and our Law to guide us:
an it harm none, do as ye will.
Every Wiccan is a witch, and every one of us voluntarily agrees to do no harm.
We walk in the Light and serve the Goddess. Magick is just one part of our
There are excellent moral and ethical arguments against practicing black magick,
but if you don’t buy those here is a practical one:
what goes around comes around
Everything we put forth is eventually returned to us. Wicca recognizes the Law
of Three, believes this return is triple. Black magick might provide instant
gratification, but it ultimately does more harm to you than to anyone else. Many
white witches learned this lesson the hard way.