WOTC Extra – The Magick of Everyday Things
Our notions of what traditionally constituted black, white, and gray were incorrect. The practitioners of ancient magick were not necessarily working on a specific ethical basis at all. What was once under the guise of “white” magick (like herbalism) is now being usurped by technology, science, and medicine. In many areas of daily life, we find ourselves turning to a reliable procedure and trusting in it, while we overlook the spiritual portion of the equation. For example, a dam might help direct a mighty river, but without putting a spiritual covenant in place with that river, the spirits of that place might break that dam. We can call our technology “good,” and we can call our magick “white,” but unless we honor all aspects of the equation to which we’re applying our power, we will fall short and feel that lingering resonance (kind of like an itch you can’t scratch).
Historical references aside, it would be naïve to say that evil does not exist. The law of balance requires that for there to be “good,” there must also be the proverbial “bad.” Today we say that a person who uses black magick or walks the left-hand path is considered to be working from a selfish or malevolent vantage point. In Lewis Spence’s Encyclopedia of the Occult we read:
To gain limitless power of god, demon, and man; for personal aggrandizement and glorification; to cheat, trick and mock; to gratify base appetites; to aid religious jealousies and bigotries; to satisfy public and private enmities; to further political intrigue; to encompass disease, calamity and death—these were the ends and aims of black magic.
For a person to exhibit this type of behavior externally in any realm of life, he or she would have to have that darkness as part of their makeup (the within) according to this concept. However, the question remains as to what is truly “black” and what’s required necessary to raise that kind of energy. Some practitioners, for example, categorize working with entropy (the tendency of an energy system toward inertness through the breakdown of organized structure and pattern) or chaos energies as “black.” It receives this designation because, superficially, this so-called magick has the opposite effect from white (destroying or decreasing instead of creating). Yet the forces of nature perform these same functions. This makes us ask: if a form of energy exists in nature, can we call it “black”? Nature’s pattern is eat or be eaten, which can seem very cruel. But, again, it is only illustrating balance. Some “black” magicians would reply that they, too, are illustrating the law of nature in becoming the predator instead of the prey, or in being protectively proactive (doing everything possible mundanely and magickally to safeguard that which they hold dear).
Since we are also animals, humans exhibit similar instincts. Yet, somehow we expect that our reasoning nature will suddenly take that instinct and put it neatly away like some toy that we’ve outgrown when we work magick. I’m not sure that’s a wholly reasonable expectation, let alone a truly healthy one. Instead, a holistic approach would be to balance helpful instincts with rational thought and spiritual guidance.
Let’s take this one step further, out of nature and into the divine realms. In the world’s mythologies, we see images of gods and goddesses that take revenge against those who harm their followers (or children). We also see gods and goddesses that destroy to create. Kali (the Hindu Creatrix/Destroyer) comes immediately to mind. If the external divine uses the energy of reversal or diminishing, can that truly be called “black,” or is it merely the universe’s checks and balances? These are not easy ethical questions to consider or answer, but an honest examination of two things may help us gain some perspective—namely, intent (the internal motivating source) and the situation (the externals).
Let’s say someone chooses to cast spells aimed specifically at exacting revenge because their family had been targeted by a person or a group. This would be considered gray magick, because it is a situation when an ill has been done and has not been balanced.
Now, the sender may not enjoy the feeling of that magick. There’s a natural lingering temptation to lash out with unbridled anger and lose all focus. However, if similar circumstances occurred again, many people would be hard pressed not to do likewise. We simply want to protect those we love. Also, it is possible that people would feel inaction on their part would dishonor a sense of inner sacredness, and that sometimes we are the hand of karma (just as anything in life’s network might be).
This is where the lines of black and white get blurred. You’re not alone in facing a struggle between personal and spiritual ethics, potential karmic repercussions, and the natural desire to act . . . to do something, anything, to return the situation to a more equitable equation. It’s part of human nature. If you find yourself in such a place consider the following advice:
Always step back and cool off. Any magickal working is going to go better when you’re thinking clearly.
Ask yourself if there is a mundane alternative that could fix things. You can often use the energy generated by a bad situation to turn things around in your favor.
Always make sure you know (beyond any doubt) the focus of the spell. Otherwise you could harm an innocent person.
Consider using a “universal clause” (like “for the greatest good” or “and it harm none”) so that no one on the edges of the situation gets harmed by the energy you’re creating.
Pattern your response to only visit like for like (no embellishing—think balance).
Continue personal efforts on the mundane level to rectify things and put your life in order. This gives the universe more opportunities to open doors, heal wounds, and provide closure.
For a good book that discusses this subject in more detail than this book’s space allows, try How to Be a Wicked Witch. Let’s talk a bit about action and inaction and situational ethics.
A Witch’s 10 Commandments: Magickal Guidelines for Everyday Life