Eight Virtues Of The Craft

Eight Virtues Of The Craft

Author:   RuneWolf   

One of the sovereign touchstones of Wicca, one which is rarely disputed or quibbled over – whatever other differences may exist between camps – is the Charge of the Goddess.  Along with the Rede and the Law of Threefold Return, it is as close as Wicca comes to a universal sacred text.

We are not a “revealed” religion, in that we do not adhere to a sacred text or texts said to have been dictated to the faithful by the reigning Deity of the religion.  However, we do recognize the phenomenon of Drawing Down, or invoking Deity into a willing and receptive individual, that Deity might more intimately manifest and participate in our rites, and speak through the chosen vessel, if Deity is so moved.  If we believe in this, then it follows – in my mind at least – that Deity may choose, at times, to communicate certain Truths spontaneously through members of the faith (or simply through the average Joe, as I believe occurred in the case of Bill Wilson and the basic texts of Alcoholics Anonymous).  So I, for one, believe that the Charge of the Goddess is in fact the word of the Goddess, transmitted through the willing and capable instrument of Ms. Valiente, and it deserves careful consideration by those dedicated to this path.

As I do every so often, I am currently overhauling and “buffing up” my routine of prayer and meditation.  The practice of a “lovingkindness” meditation has once again been brought to my attention, and I have re-instituted that as part of my meditative practice.  But this time around, something rather marvelous has happened.  Now, it might seem a bit of a “Duh!” to some of you, but to me it was one of those things that was hiding in plain sight for a long time, and only today was it made clear to me.

In brief, the lovingkindness meditation is – as far as I know – of Buddhist origins, and consists of repeating a mantra of virtues and gifts that one wishes bestowed on oneself, others and, ultimately, the entire world.  For instance, one starts by chanting: “May I be joyful, gentle, calm and loving.”  Once this has taken root, one expands this, to, say, one’s family: “May my family be joyful, gentle, calm and loving.”  When one has worked up to it, one opens the heart and spirit to the totality of our little blue-green marble, chanting: “May all beings in the world be joyful, gentle, calm and loving.”

As with so much of the Buddhist canon – simple, elegant and powerful.

When I incorporate techniques from other paths into my (nominally Wiccan) practice of the Craft, I always try to amend them in some way, to make them more relevant to my experience as a Witch or Warlock.  So as I drove to work today, I cast my mind into the aether, searching for virtues and gifts that I might use in my lovingkindness meditation that were a bit more, well, Crafty.

And a soft, contralto voice whispered in my ear: “And therefore let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you.”

I almost drove into a bridge abutment…

As soon as I got the old Subaru back on the road, I had to try it out, whispering to myself: “May I be beautiful and strong, powerful and compassionate, honorable and humble, mirthful and reverent…”  Wowzers!  I got the chills.  Needless to say, I had found the “Crafty” terms for my lovingkindness meditation that I was seeking. But in considering those virtues and gifts for the remainder of my commute, I realized that I had also opened a door to a broader possibility.

One of the things I have always admired about Asatru is the “Nine Noble Virtues,” a list of values that one may use as touchstones for living an exemplary life.  Many folks I know in the Craft have adopted them, or a version of them (much to the annoyance of certain Asatruar), but I have always thought that we should have “our own,” (although there is certainly nothing wrong with nor lacking in the NNV as they stand).

It struck me this morning, of course, that the blessings wished upon us by the Goddess in Her Charge were a perfect source for the “Virtues of the Craft!”  They may not be a comprehensive list of values that one needs to live, love and thrive in one’s life, but they are obviously points worthy of focus, consideration and cultivation, or the Goddess wouldn’t have mentioned them!

Let’s look briefly at each of these:

Beauty: Not necessarily physical beauty, of course, but the appreciation and expression of balance, wholeness and harmony.  Accepting each moment for what it is, and realizing the inherent beauty in the interplay of light and dark, pleasure and pain, life and death.  In the individual, embracing and expressing the beauty and authenticity of one’s True Self and True Will.

Strength: Not merely physical strength or even “energetic” strength, such as chi or ond, but also strength of Will, belief, conviction and ethics.  The strength to do and say the right thing, even in the face of severe consequences.  The strength to be gentle, loving and calm in the face of tragedy, fear and aggression.

Power: A little out of order, as far as I’m concerned, because to me power is the synthesis and interplay of all the other virtues.  But we’ll leave it where the Goddess put it!

Compassion: True and mature love for oneself and others, including our non-human brothers and sisters and the “inanimate” manifestations of Gaea.  The deep sharing of another’s pain, the desire to relieve it and the willingness to put that desire into action.

Honor: “Say what you mean, mean what you say, do what you say you are going to do.”  We often hear that “A Witch’s word is her bond.”  Upholding that bond is honor.  Being honest with oneself and others is honor.  Living up to our commitments is honor.  Living by the Rede, the Law of Return or whatever ethical system you embrace is honor.  As the Asatruar say, “Reputation is what others say about you.  Honor is what you know to be true about yourself.”

Humility: Being “right sized.”  Humility is very much misunderstood in the West, and has been warped into a kind of neurotic and obligatory self-abasement by the misapplication of Abrahamic philosophy.  Toxic or false humility – “Oh, it’s really nothing.  I have no real talent for art!” – is a slap in the face of the God and Goddess who gave us our gifts!  True humility is recognizing both our strengths and our weaknesses, and working to cultivate the former and transform the latter.  True humility, I have often been told, is looking someone in the eye when they give you a compliment and simply saying, “Thank you.”

Mirth: “Rule 62: Don’t take yourself so seriously.”  Mirth isn’t just about getting a case of “the giggles” in the middle of a ritual, nor about singing bawdy filksongs around a festival fire (although these are certainly aspects of mirth).  Mirth is about finding and joining in the sheer joy of living, of laughing out loud at the way trees dance in the wind or guffawing at oneself when you realize you have just invoked “the Grateful Dead” instead of “the Mighty Dead.”  It’s about realizing that The Joke is on everybody, not just on you, and that it’s a wonderful, blissful, eternal Joke, not a nasty one.

Reverence: Love, awe, respect and veneration for Life, the Gods and ourselves.  Gratitude for all the gifts we have been given, and the heartfelt willingness to pass those gifts on to others.

These then, are my nominees for the “Eight Virtues of the Craft;” the short list, if you will.  There are obviously other virtues and values that are important in living a decent and fulfilling life in the service of the Lord and Lady, but I can’t help but think, once again, that She wouldn’t have pointed these particular virtues out if She didn’t want us to consider them carefully.  I shall be doing that very thing in the days to come.

May you always be beautiful and strong, powerful and compassionate, honorable and humble, mirthful and reverent.

Living Life As The Witch – The Living Rede

The Living Rede

A lifetime of learning I’ve set to these pages,
Some learned from fools, and some learned from sages.

This tomb contains musings: some wisdom, some rant.
Some will find truth here, some won’t and some can’t.

If your eyes fall upon this page, it’s meant for you,
For the Universe offers what you’re meant to do.

The Secret of Magic quite often astounds:
There isn’t a Secret! Just look all around!

The Trees teach you lessons – the Willow that bends.
The challenge for you: learn the message it sends.

By Example and Symbol the Universe speaks.
It may happen quickly or take many weeks.

Be aware what you notice – it needs your attention
If you’re going to hear what it’s trying to mention.

For the Universe rarely speaks loudly and clearly,
But it speaks all the time if you listen sincerely.

You’re here for a reason – to heal, teach and learn.
The better you listen, the more growth you’ll earn.

The goal, it would seem, is reunion with Spirit.
Learn lessons while here, don’t run from, don’t fear it.

Though we travel our own paths, our lives interlace.
We must all grow together – this isn’t a race.

So be mindful of others, and help when you can,
A bird, tree or pebble, a woman or man.

Material, Ether and Astral involved,
Work them correctly, your problems be solved.

Magic is simple, has rules, like Mundane,
Push or pull with your Heart and direct with your Brain.

The Emotions you raise will determine its power.
The more you project, that much sooner its hour.

The Thoughts that you hold in your mind as you cast
Tell the power its job – where to go and its task.

If your thoughts falter or change while you work,
Your focus is lessened – your power will fork.

Dual aspects to work with, the God and the Goddess,
Called Yang and called Yin – the names matter not, honest!

Yang feels like anger – you feel in your chest.
It jumps to the hand and for quick work is best.

Yin is much softer – it’s felt at the womb.
The power of Love and the peace of a tomb.

Yang is aggressive – Male “Get It Done Now!”
If you’re in a hurry, Yang does it, and how!

Yin is more subtle, for delicate tasks.
If you’re working with love, it’s the one you should ask.

All genders have both, their intensities varied,
And strong you will be with both energies married.

Be Humble and True, though, whatever your power. Sometimes you’re the lightning, sometimes you’re The Tower.

The Cards hold no magic, the Runes have no secret
That’s not found within you – if only you’ll seek it.

Negative or Positive? Sometimes you must give.
The Antelope dies so the Lion may live.

Remember, when tragedy breaks down your door:
Whatever you lose, you will gain so much more.

I know it sounds hard, when loss brings pain and sorrow,
But you will know joy again – next year, or tomorrow.

One thing that I’ve found, and I hope you will heed:
Ask not what you want from life. Ask what you need.

Ask what you want and it may come to you,
But ask what you need: What you came here to do.

This far through my Rede you have stayed and have read.
Down paths much like mine you are likely to tread.

I welcome you, joyful, a companion to walk,
For someone to listen to, someone to talk.

These pages are yours to accept or critique.
May your road straight to Spirit unfold at your feet.

Stay if you will, here, or leave if you must.
Blessed Be, One and All. Perfect Love. Perfect Trust.

– Brian Gallagher – author of this rede

Spellcrafting 101

Spellcrafting 101

Contrary to popular belief, witches do not spend most of their time casting spells. Most of us have full-time jobs, busy social lives, families, and other demands on our times. A spell, properly cast, can be a tremendous drain on a witch’s physic resources. It’s not a task to be undertaken lightly.

Spellcraft does have its place the life of a witch, but not nearly as major a one as many people suppose. In fact, a wise witch is very sparing in her use of spellcraft. Pagans practice first and foremost a religion — a religion quite unlike many others, in that beliefs and practices vary, but a religion nonetheless. We have many different conceptions of what the Divine might be, but we do all believe that One exists. By definition, God/dess is more powerful and wiser than us. So before we jump in and try changing things according to our own limited understanding, we consider the situation carefully.

Remember the Wiccan Rede

, a basic ethical guideline that Wiccans – and many other pagans – follow: An it harm none, do what you will. As has been discussed elsewhere, the Rede is deceptively simple. Obviously, physical harm, emotional harm, slander, theft, and other crimes are verboten according to the Rede. But what about other, more subtle forms of harm?

Most witches agree that curses, hexes, and other harmful spellcraft is more trouble than it’s worth. Hand in hand with the Wiccan Rede goes something called the Law of Returns. In general terms, this Law states that all energy you send out into the Universe comes back to you. It may not come back right away, and it may not come back in the form you’re expecting, but it does come back. Different traditions put their own twist on the Law of Returns, saying that the energy comes back threefold or fivefold. I’m not so picky about the math, but I have seen the Law in action, and respect it highly.

Interpreting the Rede

Witches continue to disagree over other grey areas. For instance, does casting a spell on another person without consulting them first constitute harm, even if the intentions are good? What about actions taken in self-defense?

Personally, I avoid all actions – whether mundane or magickal – that can cause harm to another being. In my experience, acts of hatred and vengeance are best countered with actions of love and kindness.

Working my will on another person without their consent constitutes harm. To that end, I never cast a spell on another person without obtaining permission first. Manipulative spells designed to make someone else fall in love – whether with me or with a third party – to move away, or to leave a job ultimately backfire on the person who casts them. This policy also extends to more beneficial spells, such as spells for healing, prosperity, or other kinds of blessings. Only the Goddess has the power to know what is best for another person. No matter how noble my own intentions, it is presumptuous and ultimately harmful for me to meddle in someone else’s affairs.

That’s not to say that I haven’t done a little juju for my friends. Far from it; I’ve prepared charmed sachets for newlywed couples, given suggestions on how to attract jobs, held a healing circle for my lover, and even suggested a ritual to help a friend open herself up to the possibility of a love affair. But the main ingredient in all that magick was consent. Before I drag out my herbs and my athame, I get the permission of the person whom the spell is meant to benefit.

Often times people ask me if I have spells. Yes, I have spells. Some have worked, some haven’t. What a witch must keep in mind is that what works for me, may not work for another witch. Magick is within everything. How it is perceived is different from witch to witch. Some think patchouli oil is the best oil for a prosperity spell. I prefer clove oil and have had success in using it. One of the wonders of magick is that there is normally a wide variety of correspondences to choose from for any one desired result. There must be about a hundred different herbs listed for love and at least thirty for wealth and money (a few of which I have listed).I prefer to perform candle magick. Candle spells are simple, they are not time consuming (very important to a witch with little time) and they work. When I do a candle spell, I carefully choose an appropriate color for the candle, a stone, an oil, and three herbs, one for the physical realm, one for the mental realm and one for the spiritual realm, plus one more as a type of catalyst (normally these catalysts are either Dragon’s blood, Mandrake or Mistletoe).

How do I pick my correspondences? First, I must know what I’m doing the spell for. Is it a prosperity spell, a healing spell, a spell to find a new job or maybe to improve communication with a loved one? Once I determine what I’m trying to accomplish, I hit the books. Within my library, I have several books that index what various colors, herbs, oils and stones correspond with various desired results. I try to be as specific as I can and try to blend my choice of correspondences to better “describe” my desired result. If I’m going to perform a prosperity spell, what attributes are going to be needed to reach the final goal? Creativity, physical strength, courage? I try to chose some herb or the oil to correspond with those added aspects and keep in mind that most herbs and oils have several attributes. Its is very possible to have an herb with the attributes of both wealth and, say, strength. With one herb you can accomplish two ends. I leave the color of the candle to the core of the spell. For a prosperity spell, green, a banishing spell, black. The same applies to the stone I use. I leave it to the core of the spell.

Having said all that, now I must also add, use what you have! One of the first spells I did I literally raided my spice cabinet for the herbs I needed. Okay, so maybe fennel would not have been my first choice, but it worked! I am fortunate to have an orange tree in my back yard. Yes, I use the leaves, blossoms, fruit, and bark in place of other possibly more popular herbs. Use what you have!

Once I’ve gathered my correspondences, I then charge them with the purpose of the spell. How is this done? There are a few techniques that must be utilized for this part of spellworking.

Ability to Meditate

This is the art of clearing the mind of all mundane thoughts and feelings. It is a state of relaxation and peace, the goal to reach a state of non-thought. This is not easy and I still haven’t mastered the technique yet, but do the best you can. There are several very good books on the subject and even in many of the books on Wicca and witchcraft there are simple techniques to help in mastering meditation. This is essential to spellwork. Your mind must be at peace so that you can focus on what you’re trying to accomplish.

Ability to Visualize

This is the ability to see with your mind, not with your senses. Although it is called visualization, remember, use all your senses! Close your eyes. Within your mind’s eye, see a tree, whatever kind of tree you want or are familiar with. Let your mind see its limbs, its leaves or needles (depending on the type of tree), the trunk, etc. Let your mind feel the bark. Is it smooth, rough, spongy? Does the tree have a fragrance? Let your mind smell that fragrance. Let your mind hear the wind as it rustles the leaves. Visualization is not easy for some, but with practice you can visualize anything. (Taste also falls into this category, but for our little discussion, tasting a tree may not be prudent.) During spellwork you will visualize your goal (and be specific and detailed!) before directing it into the item you’re charging.

Ability to Direct Energy

This is the ability to take the energies of the correspondences and your own energy and directing it towards your goal. When you charge an object, that energy is initially coming from you. From within yourself imagine (visualize) a bright light, maybe white or the color that corresponds with your goal, forming within yourself centered between your chest and stomach. Let that light grow and expand. Then direct that light up through your body, down your projective arm, out your fingertips (or through your athame or wand) and into whatever your trying to charge. While you direct that light, that energy, you will be visualizing your intent with as many specifics as you can.

It is important to realize that magick is energy flow. It is not power. All spells create a tangible connection between the objects used and yourself. When you work magick, be specific, but be careful! If you do a spell for a new job, remember to be specific in that your new job doesn’t come at the expense of another! “An Ye Harm None” Remember these words when you work magick. As you finish your spell, (for me after I light the candle), I add something to the affect of “May the energy of this magick harm none and take a path that is for the good of all involved.”

For candle spells remember that the flame must be allowed to continue to burn until it goes out on its own. I use three and seven day candles that are in glass jars. You can sprinkle your herbs on the top of them and they are safer. Remember not to leave a burning candle near drapes or where something flammable may fall into the flame. Keep in mind that the glass jars get hot, so handle with care and as the candle reaches the bottom of the jar, make sure the candle is not sitting on something that might burn from the heat. I suggest getting a ceramic dish and put some sand in the bottom to act as insulation. When I leave my home, I place the candle in my bath tub, just in case. If for some reason it gets knocked over, there is nothing in my tub that could catch on fire.

For positive spells, once the candle is out, use the stone as a talisman. Carry it with you or put it someplace where its presence will have an affect. For banishing spells, very carefully remove all remnants, of the candle, especially the stone, without touching it. Wrap the remnants in white paper and bury it outside, preferably some distance away.

Remember to write down your spells! You can either keep these spells in your Book of Shadows or elsewhere. My Book of Shadows is riddled with pieces of paper, napkins, whatever I happen to jot notes and spells down on. Some choose to use their computers as their BoS. Regardless, with the spells written down, can keep track of what works and what doesn’t and you can also keep track of what you are doing while you’re doing it.

A few words about magick and ethics. Most magick, at least initially, is done for yourself. There will be times when spellwork will be used to benefit other people. Any ethical witch WILL NOT do a spell that will affect someone else specifically without that person’s permission. A witch must respect another person’s soul path. What if you can’t ask them (i.e. you can’t reach them, the person is unable to communicate, etc)? Then you must honestly consider if that person would object. If your favorite aunt were deathly ill and could not communicate, and you wanted to do a healing spell for her, you would need to consider if she would agree to the spell if she could. If she were a devout Fundamentalist Christian, chances are pretty good she’d say no. You must respect her choices and her soul path.

No witch in their right mind will perform magick that is intended to manipulate, control or harm another. Remember, what you send out will come back to you threefold.

A witch should never sell a spell. If someone asks you to do a spell for them, it is not unreasonable to ask them to cover the expenses of the materials used, but other then that, no money should be received for the magick you do. That is counter productive and can cloud the intent of the magick.

When someone asks you to do a spell for them, if possible, instead of you doing the spell, teach them how to do it. The spell will have a better chance at success and they will have a better understanding of how the magick works

Morality Of Wicca

Morality Of Wicca

Wiccan morality is ruled according to the Wiccan Rede, which (in part) states “An it harm none, do what thou wilt.” (“An” is an archaic word meaning “if”.) Others follow the slightly adapted Rede of “An it harm none, do what ye will; if harm it does, do what ye must.” Either way, the Rede is central to the understanding that personal responsibility, rather than a religious authority, is where moral structure resides.One of the major differences between Wiccans and other types of witchcraft is the Rede.

Many “traditional” witches or witches that follow other paths do not believe in the Rede. This is a major topic of controversy within the Wiccan and Pagan communities.Many Wiccans also promote the Law of Threefold Return, or the idea that anything that one does may be returned to them threefold. In other words, good deeds are magnified back to the doer, but so are ill deeds.

Gerina Dunwich, an American author whose books (particularly Wicca Craft) were instrumental in the increase in popularity of Wicca in the late 1980s and 1990s, disagrees with the Wiccan concept of threefold return on the grounds that it is inconsistent with the Laws of Physics.

Pointing out that the origin of the Law of Threefold Return is traceable to Raymond Buckland in the 20th century, Dunwich is of the opinion that “There is little backing to support it as anything other than a psychological law.” Her own personal belief, which differs from the usual interpretation of the Threefold Law, is that whatever we do on a physical, mental, or spiritual level will sooner or later affect us, in either a positive or negative way, on all three levels of being.

A few Wiccans also follow, or at least consider, a set of 161 laws often referred to as Lady Sheba’s Laws. Some find these rules to be outdated and counterproductive.Most Wiccans also seek to cultivate the Eight Wiccan Virtues. These may have been derived from earlier Virtue ethics, but were first formulated by Doreen Valiente in the Charge of the Goddess. They are Mirth, Reverence, Honour, Humility, Strength, Beauty, Power, and Compassion. They are in paired opposites which are perceived as balancing each other.

Many Wiccans also believe that no magic (or magick) can be performed on any other person without that person’s direct permission (excepting pets and young children who can be protected by parents and owners). Sometimes when permission is expected but not yet attained magical energy will be placed on the astral plane for the receiver to gather if and when he/she is ready.

The Wiccan ReDe

Bide the Wiccan laws ye must
In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust
Live and let live
Freely take and freely give
Cast the circle thrice about
To keep all evil spirits out
To bind the spell every time
Let the spell be spake in rhyme
Soft of eye and light of touch
Speak little, listen much
Deosil go by the waxing moon
Sing and dance the Wiccan rune
Widdershins go when the moon doth wane
And the werewolf howls by the dread wolfsbane
When the Lady’s moon is new
Kiss thy hand to her times two
When the moon rides at her peak
Then your heart’s desire seek
Heed the northwind’s mighty gale
Lock the door and drop the sail
When the wind comes from the south
Love will kiss thee on the mouth
When the wind blows from the east
Expect the new and set the feast
When the west wind blows o’er thee
Departed spirits restless be
Nine woods in the cauldron go
Burn them fast and burn them slow
Elder be ye Lady’s tree
Burn it not or cursed ye’ll be
When the wheel begins to turn
Let the Beltaine fires burn
When the wheel has turned to Yule
Light the log and let Pan rule
Heed ye flower, bush and tree
By the Lady, Blessed be
Where the rippling waters go
Cast a stone and truth ye’ll know The Rede of the Wicca
When ye have a need
Hearken not to others’ greed
With the fool no season spend
Nor be counted as his friend
Merry meet and merry part
Bright the cheeks and warm the heart
Mind the Threefold Law ye should
Three times bad and three times good
When misfortune is enow
Wear the blue star on thy brow
True in love ever be
Unless thy lover’s false to thee
Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill
An’ it harm none, do what ye will

Beyond the Ethics of the Wiccan Rede

Beyond the Ethics of the Wiccan Rede

Author: Bill BluWolf

The Rede is known to many of Wiccan practitioners as the ethical underpinnings to be followed. While different versions exist, a common form is “An it harm none, do what ye will.” Most of the attribution for the Rede goes to Doreen Valiente, Alexander Crowley, Gardner and according to some, King Pausol. Regardless of the source, we are told we are free to do what we want as long as no harm results. It is important to note that the Rede includes admonishment against doing harm to oneself.

Another important consideration for ethics is the Rule of Three (Three-fold Law or Law of Return) . It states that whatever one puts out, it will return threefold. This is an attempt to warn the practitioner to do good works because it will come back to them three-fold. As an ethical consideration, it is not much different than the Christian’s “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12) . These ethical sayings also ring with the idea of Karma; (to use the Christian saying) what you sow, so shall you reap.

Notice that the ethics so far are prohibitive. They tell us what NOT to do. I get a chuckle from Google’s company motto that echoes what we’ve seen: “Don’t be evil.”

For Wiccans, there is a few last important ethical guides, one is well known to many especially Gardnerians: The Charge of the Goddess. A Charge of the God exists, as well as countless variations of both. Wiccan Laws exist as well, in Gardnerian and Alexanrian forms. I’ll spare you the gory details about the in-fighting regarding the Laws. Needless to say, many disagreed with them.

While the Rede and the Three-fold Law are largely prohibitive, they do so by also telling us we are urged to do positive works. I personally like the Charge from an ethical standpoint because it tells what we should do. In this way it is proscriptive and not prohibitive.

Paraphrasing the Charge of the Goddess, Doreen Valiente tells us we should:

Listen to the words of the Great Mother.
Be naked in your rites.
Meet once a month under a full moon.
Sing, feast, dance, make music and make love.
Have beauty, strength, power, compassion, honor, humility, mirth and reverence within you.

Many have taken her words and adapted them to make them suitable for different audiences and to fit other purposes.

My chief complaint with all of these ethical viewpoints is that they are largely useless in practical secular daily life. It is what we call applied ethics. For example, I am driving down the road and a deer jumps in front of my car. I have seconds to decide; do I hit the deer or do I drive into a ditch or hit a tree? Ethically, I don’t want to kill a defenseless animal. Nor do I want to harm my car, a tree or myself.

As an improvement, there is an international program (which Boy Scouts of America and Cub Scouts use) have a saying; “Leave no trace.” It is used when outdoors and the intent is to leave the place how it was found.

Leave no trace could cover a multitude of other situations, such as greenhouse gases, carbon footprints, new roads and development in protected ecosystems to ocean ecology. It also tells us what to do. Lets think of a short list.

1.Recycle. Our world’s resources are not infinite. We should be doing good management of what resources we do have and not waste them. We should re-plant the trees that we do take for our future generations.

2.Leave what you find. While walking in the woods, we don’t take things like rocks or animals. What is with our preoccupation at collecting massive amounts of material things? Like leaving only footprints, we should only collect what we need.

3.Be considerate of others. Not only this applies to local wildlife, it applies to other people.

4.Clean up after yourself. In the physical sense, it means trash management. In the spiritual sense, it means know your craft and behave responsibly. In the mental sense, it means don’t dump on others, and have a healthy outlook and healthy relationships.

What other things could you add to the list?

Leave no trace is attractive as an ethical proposition because it tells us what to do and what not to do at the same time.

As Pagans, we should look for a more responsible ethical framework. We were here before the other world religions. Shouldn’t we lead the way in ethics?

There are other ethical sayings we could use. “Be my best” comes to mind. The big flaw I see is that my best becomes a crutch when people do bad things. For example, “Well I was just doing my best.” might be a common excuse when a pedophile molests a child. If honestly applied, I do think it works, but maybe we can do better.

The one I like best is “Leave the world a better place than you found it.” It is all encompassing. It is a positive way to say that we should strive to do good works. It covers things from acid rain to gun laws to abortion. It is very simple. A kindergartner should understand this concept.

In applied ethics, it becomes fairly easy to do the right thing. In the example of the deer jumping in front of the car, we can rationalize some choices. The car may hit the deer. The car can end up in the ditch. But it is the more general context that makes it an improvement. Why did the deer do that? Are the local deer crossing roads due to over-crowding? Perhaps we should install fences and control where the deer cross the road. Maybe we should allocate more forestland for deer populations.

“Leave the world a better place” allows us to explore options, and become better stewards of our environment. It creates possibilities that did not previously exist and makes us better humans.


Footnotes:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiccan_Rede

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiccan_morality

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_Three_ (Wiccan)

http://doreenvaliente.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don’t_be_evil

http://www.reclaiming.org/about/witchfaq/charge.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leave_No_Trace

Ethics and Etiquette

Ethics and Etiquette

By Morgaine

When we speak of ethics and etiquette in relation to pagansim what are we referring to? Are we speaking of outdated rules and actions that no longer have meaning and we only give lip service to? I don’t believe so. Ethics and etiquette are living, breathing codes of life, shaping our actions in relation to each other, and ourselves. They are a guiding force in the way we live our lives.

Let us first look at ethics. Ethics are defined as –a set of principles; moral philosophy; rules or standards governing the conduct of a person or the members of a profession; human duty; a particular system of principles and rules concerning duty, whether true or false; rules of practice in respect to a single class of human actions; motivation based on ideas of right and wrong; the philosophical study of moral values and rules.

When we begin to speak of ethics, we need to realize that this can be a very touchy subject. We are human after all, and we want to think our ethics are the correct ones. While there are generally accepted community ethics, it is personal ethics that make up who we are. And these are not the same for each person.

Before we begin to discuss in depth community and person ethics let us first look at the Rede, the most common code of conduct among Wiccans.

Bide the Wiccan law ye must, in perfect love and perfect trust;

Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill;

‘An ye harm none, do as ye will’;

Lest in self-defense it be, ever mind the rule of three;

Follow this with mind and heart;

And merry ye meet and merry ye part.

Every Wiccan knows the Rede. Our passwords into the sacred circle are in here. Our major rule of ethic is here. And the reason for breaking this ethic, as well as the consequences of breaking it foolishly. When we extract the line most popular –An ye harm none, do as ye will’ and begin to dissect it, we have to wonder “Is this an ethic we can every achieve?”

I believe the Rede is a standard of living, like all ethics, and one that is an impossibility to achieve. The goal is to live as closely to the Rede as possible. In the attempt to do this, we begin to analyze our actions. We follow the path of LEAST harm. Thus, we begin to live conscious of our actions, and how they effect the world around us. And here comes the REAL lesson of the Rede. It forces us to have personal responsibility. Once you have acknowledged that the Rede is a goal to work for and not a given situation, and have taken of the blinders that let you go around smug and happy that your religion is so sweet it makes your teeth itch, you can get down to the work of making your life an ethical one. What this involves is considering each decision in the light of the Rede before you decide upon a course of action. You do this by looking at all the possible consequences of that action and whether that will cause harm to any, choosing the path that causes the least harm and, (THIS IS THE KEY) accepting the responsibility for the consequences of your actions whether intentional or unintentional. -Lark, HPS of Tangled Moon Coven.

Wicca, as well as most Pagansim, is a religion and spiritual path of personal responsibility. We strive to live in an aware state. When we do this, we recognize our free will, and the free will of others. If we ignore the lesson of personal responsibility, we fail to realize our true spiritual potential and our true spiritual will.

As we begin our path, we must develop a set of personal ethics, while maintaining a respect for the ethics of the community we are becoming a part of. Some community ethics are very well defined.

-Don’t practice black magick, or follow the left-hand path.

-Don’t attempt to harm another or interfere with their free will.

-Always act in a way that will reflect well upon your path. Never do anything that will bring harm to the Craft.

Since Wicca, and pagansim, are very open paths and for the most part do not seek to make anyone follow ‘ONE RIGHT WAY’, most of the ethics defined by community are concerning harm to others, and harm to the Craft.

But to begin a spiritual path, and to follow it every day of your life, you must develop your own set of personal ethics that define the way you live. No one can tell you what your personal ethics should be. Your teachers, mentors, HPS, HP can all recommend both in word and deed, ethics that work for them. You may be given a ‘Book of the Law’ that governs your group or tradition. If you are a solitary, you may read on the net, or in a book, acceptable codes of conduct, or ideals. But you cannot take someone else’s ethics and make them your own. You must do some soul searching, and decide how you feel about things. Now I am NOT suggesting that you ignore your HPS or HP, or your teachers and mentors. I am suggesting that you should always temper wisdom with personal experience. You must come to a point that you are willing to question what you are taught, to grow in your own self. Through this, your own sense of ethics and morals will come.

Now, here comes the biggie. What do you do when your personal ethics are in direct conflict with accepted community ethics? For example-it has become a phenomenon in the pagan community to love everything white and full of light, and shun everything dark and full of shadow. It has become unacceptable to speak of negative emotions like anger and envy. It has become unacceptable to feel hate towards another person, wish that a murderer would get the death penalty, which that rapist would get castrated by a bunch of angry women. Some of us fondly refer to this a fluffy, bunny Wicca, no offense to anything fluffy, or bunnies. We are taught to love unconditionally because we are all brothers and sisters, connected to each other and every living thing. We are taught that if we experience these emotions, maybe we aren’t all that spiritual, and especially not as much as Miss crystal love and light. We are often looked down upon if we say something like ‘I am so damn mad at my ex husband I could smack him’. The response I myself have heard to such comment is ‘my my, now THAT wasn’t very positive’. Well, guess what. It WASN’T. Now I am not saying that you should indulge in these emotions. They can be deterrents to developing a sound spiritual identity because they are ‘negative’ in the sense that they are base emotions that do not vibrate on the spiritual plane. But they also teach us lessons that can lead to spiritual epiphanies.

Life is a balance between light and dark. Nature is both beautifully creative and frighteningly destructive. Inside of a single human there is light and shadow, and to be totally balanced we must learn to face both, experience both and therefore learn from both. So back to the original question. Let’s say you don’t feel that you are evil if you feel anger at another person or what have you. What do you do when community ethics conflict with your personal ethics? In my opinion, as long as what you are doing does not come into direct conflict with the good of the general community, or does not manipulate or purposefully harm another person, then your personal ethics should come first. You should not do something maliciously to another person. When you do this, you are not only harming yourself, but you are harming that person, AND the whole of the community. It is very important that our community not be sullied, and the reasons are obvious. But beyond this, your personal ethics should prevail.

Do ethics change over time? Do you think that the ethics of our ancestors of 100, 200 or even 1000 or more years ago are the same as what they are now? I believe that ethics are a revolving and ever changing system. Some become outdated, and some we should always keep. For instance, it has only been in the recent resurgence of Pagansim in the last 50-60 years or so that the belief of ‘An ye harm none, do as ye will came about’. In times past, a witch who could not curse, could not heal. Societies have not always believed that you should not harm another person, or that interfering with someone life was a bad thing. The old wise woman of a village was sought out for every reason from fertility, to love, to revenge. It has been in our time only, with the resurgence of beliefs and the discrimination that we face, that we have adopted some of the common ethics we now have. I am NOT saying this is wrong, or that we should go back to the ‘Old Ways’. In a society that we now living in, and the information is available for spiritual purposes, there is no longer a need to seek out the crone of the village and ask her to grant you revenge on your enemy. But this is the perfect example of how ethics change with time. At one time it was ethical for old men to mate with young girls. In our culture, it is no longer ethical. So ethics change, and so they should. Change is the only constant in the universe, and without it, we grow stagnate and our lives become filled with rot and decay. Change blows in new life to help recreate our lives, our beliefs and yes, even out ethics.

The other common code of conduct that we hear of in the Pagan community is ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the Law, love under will.’ This comes from Aleister Crowley, from his book entitled ‘The Book of the Law’. Now knowing some of the things that we do about Crowley, it’s almost humorous to think of him in a discussion of ethics, except to point to what not to do maybe! But, this is a very powerful outlook on developing your own set of personal ethics.

In my understanding ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the law, love under will’ does not mean you may do as you wish and that is it. It is speaking of your TRUE will, your TRUE purpose in life. And if you are following your true or higher will and purpose you will not come into conflict with another’s will so therefore you do not have to worry about stepping on anyone else’s toes. So you don’t have to worry about harming another, because you are in touch with the divine and you are following your own spiritual path and will, which will not cause harm or conflict with another. Of course, we still have conflicts with people. One way to look at this is as a spiritual lesson for either you or the other person. But if you are seeking to control another or harm another, this is not your true will. This is based upon the belief that every person is an individual, and as an individual you should be true to your own nature or consciousness. You must find your true will and make all of your actions subservient to the one great purpose. This again leads to conscious living.

If ethics are codes of personal and community conduct, then etiquette is a code of social conduct. Etiquette is defined as –the practices and forms prescribed by social convention or by authority; forms of conduct prescribed by polite society; code of correct conduct; also decorum denotes conformity with established standards of manners or behavior; the forms required by good breeding, or prescribed by authority, to be observed in social or official life; observance of the proprieties of rank and occasion; conventional decorum; ceremonial code of polite society; rules governing acceptable behavior.

Just like Emily Post and polite society, we in the Pagan community have behavior that is expected from us in how we interact with that community. In my opinion, etiquette is something sorely lacking in many Pagans. They are not taught certain things about how we interact with each other. This could be because maybe you didn’t have a teacher, or your teacher didn’t know them either. Or it could be because you or those who taught you just didn’t care, it wasn’t important to them. But I feel that etiquette is VERY important. It keeps us civilized, it aids us in how we interact and it shows the outside world that we know how to act.

Beyond the mundane world and it’s social etiquette, lets take a look at some things that are common among Pagan paths, especially the Wiccan path.

  1. You should never touch someone else’s magickal tools and items without their express permission. If you see something you like and want to touch, then ASK. Don’t just hold out your hand for it, or just pick it up. A person leaves an imprint of their energy on what they touch, and they may not want someone else’s energy on their magickal items. This includes athames all the way to stones and jewelery. And do not take offense if you ask and are told no.
  2. The way you live reflects on our whole community. You should always respect others, no matter their path. Inside your own religion thee is a certain higher respect given each other, as Children of the Goddess. This comes from a basic understanding of the hardships of the path, and the process we all go through in some way to evolve. It can be equated to any secret society and it’s initiation process and path of self-discovery. This path is not for everyone, and if you take it seriously, will change your life in ways you could never imagine. Any path that causes growth can be difficult. And we link with others that are going through the same thing we are and take strength from and learn from them.
  3. We endeavor to hold ourselves to a high standard of living our spiritual lives that the mundane world does not. Therefor we support each other, lending a hand when the pitfalls of the world come about.
  4. When someone gives of themselves to teach or guide, we recognize that person’s giving, and respect it. Not all of us are called to teach, and those who are offer a valuable service that should not be taken for granted.
  5. When you are called to teach or guide, you have been given a very serious part to play in your community. You should never abuse it in any way. It also does not mean that you may use it as a way to gain power over, or look down upon any other person. We are all where we should be onour path, and it does not mean a thing that you have 10 or 20 years of service and someone else has 1. We are all equal in the eyes of the Gods. And if you are a teacher, you are held to an even higher state of conduct. You must never involve yourself in anything that could cause harm to your students or to the Craft. You should never do anything that would bring a bad light on us. For instance, you should never become romantically involved with one of your students. You should not condone the use of illegal drugs, or alcohol if the person is not of age. You should not use your position to control your students, or make them dependent on you. The goal is to aid a person on this path. You supply the seed as a teacher. You cannot take them by the hand and learn from them, or be easy on them when you should be honest.
  6. In that same light, those who would be considered an elder in our faith are given a large amount of respect. The wisdom that is gained from following this path for 10, 20 or 30 years is an asset to our community, and we should respect the Elders of the community for what they have learned and what they teach us.
  7. Due to the advent of the internet, there is a phenomenon growing among new seekers that is very disturbing. It involves not understanding the hard work it takes to learn the Old Ways, or the dedication and self sacrifice those who follow, and especially those who teach and guide give to the path. From this lack of understanding, new seekers think they can go to any page on the net, learn what they can and be done with it. It also leads them to think that they can ask for what they want, and someone will just hand it over. For example, I have been asked to send someone a copy of my BOS. This shows me that the person requesting this has no idea of what a BOS is, what it stands for and the process that is gone through to acquire it. This is flat out rude to begin with. This person is wanting their religion hand fed to them. They want to skip the hard work, the dedication, the pitfalls and the trials, and get right to the reward. This is simply not how it’s done. This person wants the secrets and mysteries handed to them on a silver platter, without having to leave the comfort of the computer chair and work for them. This isn’t possible. And I am here to say STOP. Be mindful of what you are asking. You can’t go to the net, read a page or two, then go ask someone for their BOS, or even ask them to teach you. There must be effort on your part. You are not an adept after reading a page, or a book, or even ten books. The mysteries cannot be handed to you on a silver platter and you are a master of the universe. This is what I call lazy Wicca, and through lazy Wicca you will never come to experience the mysteries, because they come through dedication, hard work and a personal dedication to the Gods.
  8. Those who are out of the closet must NEVER give away the secrets of their brothers and sisters. You should never give any personal information. You should never tell the secrets of a coven, who it’s leaders are, who the members are or any other information. We must honor our vows and protect those who for whatever reason have chosen to remain hidden from the eyes of the world.
  9. For those who are out of the closet, your life and your actions must be above reproach in the eyes of the world. As an open pagan, you may be the only one that a non pagan every sees. They will see every Pagan in you. So in all things you must be truthful. You must live with dignity and honor.

In our discussion of ethics and etiquette the point I was trying to impress upon you is this. We have become a society who thinks that we may do as we please, act as we please and there are no consequences. We fight with the Christians. We complain about how they fight amongst themselves. We sneer at them when they point to another of them and say how that person is wrong and they way they practice is wrong. And yet, WE DO THE SAME THING.

When I meet a fellow priestess, I treat her with respect as a person, and doubly so as a priestess, since I know how hard that path can be, to have dedicated your life and your service to the Gods and the Old Ways. If I meet someone who has been walking the path for 20 or 30 years, I respect that person because of the knowledge they have obtained in that time. That is not to say my 10 years is less, or they are ‘more spiritual’ than me. It is saying that this path is not an easy one all the time, and to have lived it every day for that amount of time is deserving of respect. I was taught as a child to respect my elders, and I believe that is still a valid lesson. The elders of this path can teach us things that we have never even thought of. At the same time, as an elder, you should always remember what it was like to take your first stumbling steps on this path, and how you may have longed for some guidance. It is just as wrong to be an elder, and act as if you know everything, or someone who is only 20 or whatever age could never be a spiritual person. We all must remember our ethics and etiquette, and encourage each other every day.

We have forgotten to practice our personal ethics, and have thrown etiquette out the window. We have forgotten Emily Post and Miss Manners, and have went on about our merry little way to fight like cats and dogs, without even offering basic human respect for those with diverging views, and this troubles me. It is a plague that is infecting our community. The Witch Wars continue. We struggle to make our way the right way, even if we don’t realize we are doing this. We forget the very basic teaching that we are all connected, and that all paths are valid, as long as they fulfill our spiritual needs.

Let us remember our ethics. Let us live our lives with honor, treating all of life with respect. Follow your own path, without interference into another’s. Work hard, study hard and receive the blessings of a life well lived.

The Rede Does Not Say “Harm None”

The Rede Does Not Say “Harm None”

Author: Praxiteles

I have always been puzzled over the general notion that the Wiccan Rede can be reduced to “harm none”, but it wasn’t until recently that the significance of this dawned on me. Ethics and morality in Western culture are almost always the ethics of denial, restriction, and rules, instead of the ethics of opportunity.

Think of the 10 Commandments: thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not commit adultery; keep holy the Sabbath, honor thy mother and father. They define a negative space you simply shall not enter, and a positive space you simply must occupy. In the realm of morality, we’re just not used to positive ethics, to the ethics of opportunity. So it’s not surprising that what most people seem to take away from the Rede is the negative component, “harm none”. Yet, in my opinion, this reduction of the Rede misses the whole point, and does great damage to its essential nature!

If we move things from the realm of morality into another realm, this will become clearer. Suppose that your lover says to you “My darling, just as long as there isn’t any bondage-discipline or sado-masochism, we can make love in whatever way the mood and inspiration comes to us! We can let our imaginations and passions run free and enjoy each other!”

Suppose that he or she says this to you, and then you start talking about how you both must ensure that nothing that you do will lead to BDSM, and start going on about how important it is to consider the smallest implications of every action in your lovemaking, and whether or not it might not someday lead to BDSM. Wouldn’t that be missing the whole point? Wouldn’t you be focusing in exactly the wrong area? The whole point of mentioning the negative space was to say that everything else was the positive space—such a large space, such room for growth and flowering! That was the point, not the other!

Or suppose that a mother says to her children: “My dears, you can play and run and do whatever you want, and wear whatever clothes you want, so long as you stay on our property between the road and the stream.” And suppose that one child sits down and draws a map and focuses intently on the road and stream, and then walks around noting the boundary lines and continually talks to the other children about how they must not cross these boundaries. Yet, the other children are busy making up fun games to play, running around, climbing trees, and enjoying themselves.

The thought of the boundary only enters their minds when they come to the road or the stream during a game, and they take some care to turn aside the path of their running, or chose another place to hide. Wouldn’t you think those children were the ones who had gotten the real message intended by the mother? Further, wouldn’t it simply be wrong to say that the mother had told the children “never leave our property; never cross the road or the stream”?

Because, that is not what she said. Essentially she said if you don’t leave the property then you can do whatever you want and wear whatever you want. Perhaps, if questioned, she would say that if the children have on long pants and their good boots and if they don’t run, they could go across the stream.

Getting back to the Rede, it says: An it harm none, do as ye will. Clearly this is not logically equivalent to “harm none”. If we invert it, it says “An it cause harm, don’t will it”—and does not say “an it cause harm, don’t do it.” Thus, in some Traditions, the Rede is amended to read “An it harm none, do as ye will. An it cause harm, do as ye must.” The issue is whether the harm is willed or not, not whether it is done or not.

In my opinion, the part of the Rede that people should be focused on is “do as ye will”. The Rede defines a huge, wonderful, wide-open space in which each of us can figure out what our beings aspire to do, to be. As long as we aren’t harming others or ourselves, we can feel confident that we can aspire towards the flowering and revelation of our True Will.

This is the important part of the Rede, and not the bit about “harm none.” And I find it incredible that so much attention is given to the issue of “harm none”. I’ve seen endless discussion about whether it is even possible to live without harming others, evening bringing plants and bacteria into the term “others.” Some try to elevate it to an ideal, unattainable, but the direction to be followed, like the Buddhist notion of saving all sentient beings. Others use it as the reason they aren’t Wiccan. Such a stupid idea! Obviously one can’t live without harming others!

All of these positions are tangential, because the Rede doesn’t say that we must live without harming anyone or anything. The Rede says that we can do what we will if it isn’t harming anyone. If it is harming someone, then we can’t just do whatever we will—other factors and consideration enter the equation then. What those are, each of us must decide for him or herself. Even here, the Rede offers no rules. Even here, the Rede is of a very different character than the 10 Commandments and general Western morality.

Some people want to be told what to do and what not to do, what to think as good, and what to think as bad or evil. They want rules and regulations—commandments. They believe that without these, no social order is possible. Yet increasingly in this day and age we can see that that assumption is unfounded, and increasingly there are people who want to figure out a way to arrange society and ethics to allow for as much freedom of expression and being as possible; to use ethical formulations to protect and support freedom, instead of to deny and restrict it. And, in my opinion, these people are essentially following the Wiccan Rede, whether they know it or not.

Far from being a liability, I find the Wiccan Rede to be a wonderful asset. It clears away so much muck from morality, and redefines the entire realm in a positive way. Understanding it in a negative way undoes much of the greatness of the Rede. So in my opinion, people should stop reducing the Rede to “harm none” and start trying to have more fun in life!

General Guidelines for Casting Spells

Witchy Comments

General Guidelines for Casting Spells

1.  Set aside a room for your magical work. Decorate it with things that

put you in a magical mood. Remember to use things that stimulate all

five of your physical senses. Some obvious things would be the use of

appropriate colors for sight, incense for scent, music for hearing,

wines for taste, and textures for feel.

2.  If you do not have a room you can set aside exclusively for your

magical work, then choose a room that can be locked while you do your

work. This will allow you to work undisturbed. In any case, you

should clean your work area periodically with a purifying

powder/floorwash to keep away negative vibrations.

3.  Set up an altar to be used as your worktable. It’s size and shape

should be those that appeal to you. Placing candles and other items

that assist you to concentrate on the work at hand is a good

practice. Some people like to cover their altar with a white cloth

and place fresh cut flowers on it every day.

4.  Always use the best candles, oils, and incenses that you can afford,

or make your own, for scrimping on materials has a negative effect on

the subconscious. Don’t forget that the subconscious is very good at

making do with raw materials that it can shape to its own use.

5.  Never cast a spell until you have a clear and concise picture of what

it is you wish to accomplish. This ties in with the saying “Be

careful what you wish for, you just might get it.”

6.  Always ground out any extra energy you raise for the spell, and bind

the spell so that it expires within the pre-determined amount of

time. Once you have cast the spell, do not discuss it with any one

until after it has worked. Most spells peter out because the person

who cast it boasts about it to so many people, that the spell is

robbed of power before it has a chance to work. The ancient bond

placed on the magician was to dare, to know and to keep silent.

7. Above all, at all times, remember the Rede: “An ye harm none, do what

you will.” You do not know all the effects of your spell, therefore,

use magick sparingly, if at all.

    ~Magickal Graphics~

Magical Ethics and Guidelines

Magical Ethics and Guidelines

There’s a lot of spirited discussion about magical ethics within the Wiccan and Pagan communities. What’s okay to do, and what’s not? More importantly, do the rules apply to everyone? Read on to find out the basics of magical ethics, and how you can figure out what’s acceptable within your own magical tradition.

Magic for Personal Gain

There’s an awful lot of speculation about whether or not it’s okay to perform magic for personal gain. Unless your particular tradition forbids it, here’s why you should feel okay about doing magic to benefit yourself.

One of the first cautionary warnings that people new to the magical life seem to stumble upon is the idea that magic shouldn’t be used for personal gain. There doesn’t seem to be any clear-cut precedent for where this mandate came from, and in fact very few Wiccan or Pagan traditions follow it. To do magic is, after, to express your own discontent with the universe and the things in it, and to make changes come about to your satisfaction.

Think of it this way. Let’s say you are particularly skilled at building things. Is there some big Rule of Building that says you’re only allowed to construct things for other people, but never for yourself? What if you have a talent for balancing numbers? Does the Accountant’s Rede permit you only to do someone else’s bookkeeping, but not let you balance your own checkbook? Of course not. That would be ridiculous.

If your tradition says, “Don’t do this,” then don’t do it. Otherwise, what’s holding you back? Your personal code of ethics will help you determine whether or not you can perform an action or not. 

Magic is a skill set just like any other. You can use it alone, or you can use it in tandem with the mundane. Part of developing magical ability is to make your own life better. If you’re sick, you do a healing working on yourself. If you’re financially strapped, you do a working that brings abundance your way. Just like with any other talent, use the skills you have to benefit yourself. If you’d like to use it to help other people as well, that’s awesome, and something to be proud of. In the meantime, unless your tradition specifically forbids you from doing magic for personal gain, don’t ever let anyone tell you that your abilities can’t be used for yourself.