The importance of accepting darkness and light.
Witchcraft is on the rise. I know. Old news, right? This upward motion has been the case for a long time now. I love this because this means there are more Witches out there to share and grow with. Newbie Witches (and I say that lovingly) from all walks of life are discovering the freedom Witchcraft offers, from the spiritual and metaphysical to the mundane. I am also noticing that there is a growing need for new Witches to define their craft. As you can expect, with all good things there are also some unexpected side-effects or ripples to consider.
As we look around to see new faces and perspectives in an already diverse community, we can see a trend forming. This trend is one based on having a higher moral stance or the concept of the “higher good” becoming more prevalent. Are you a White Witch or a Dark Witch? Are you a Good Witch or a Bad Witch? Dark or Back = Evil? I believe that these terms are misleading and harmful. When we take a broad look at the sensitive climate in which we live, the segregation of black meaning evil and white meaning good can be considered racist; even if this is not your intention.
Witchcraft has always been an earthy-deep roots sort of path, but not in the sense that Christianity has decided it to be. Witches work with blood and bone, stone and dirt, feather and claw; this is for sure. But a trend is forming that seems to want to hide the truth about Witchcraft. There are many new Witches out there who believe that Witches should only engage in acts of light and kindness. They think that the “yucky” or as they view it, “the dark” aspects of the craft should be abolished and denied. In my circle, we call this “Fluffy Bunny Witchcraft.” I think as we consider light and dark viewpoints, we should understand why both are critical.
I am a Master Herbalist. I worked to gain this skill because I wanted to help people. How White Witch of me, right? Not really. Let me explain. In my training to become a Master Herbalist, I was taught a couple of precious lessons. Lesson one is this: “There are no toxic plants, only toxic doses.” The second lesson is: “An Herbalist must know how to kill to heal.” This knowledge is crucial to becoming an effective herbalist and healer. Some healing must be aggressive and messy to be effective. If I did not understand the baneful side of my skill, I could never truly understand the best methods and doses for healing ailments. If I did not know what could kill, I would never know what would heal. The balance of safety and toxicity needs to be right, or there is no use in trying. The medicine must be toxic enough to remove the issue while remaining beneficial enough to restore what was damaged. Naturally, this knowledge created a connection which bled over into my practice as a Witch.
In my circle of friends, many of us have been practicing for decades; some of us, our entire lives. From this collective knowledge, we all agree that balance is necessary for one to be effective in the craft. We have also come to understand that a Witch who cannot curse, also cannot heal.
Cursing and hexing have become buzzwords from which many Witches recoil. The trend seems to be love and light, and only love and light. This is a great concept. I agree it’s something we all should strive to have more of in our lives, but it is one–sided. When we are energetically lop-sided, we are imbalanced. When we are imbalanced, we are ineffective. When we are incapable, we can hold a very narrow perspective of Witchcraft. This leaves us with a stagnant practice that really does nothing for anyone. Like having one side of your head blow up to twice its size because someone said that with a bigger ear you can hear better and a bigger eye you can see better… Really all it gives you is half a swollen head and a false sense of reality.
Now, before some of you get your panties in a twist, take a moment to realize the truth in what I say. There is a weird need in our culture to have moral superiority. And YES, for centuries Monotheistic religions have worked very hard to portray Witchcraft as evil through distorting its darkness. Naturally, those who love the craft will want only its beauty to shine through. I understand this, but when we only allow the most desirable parts of our craft to shine, we are allowing those who spread propaganda to win. When we remodel the craft to fit a more palatable mold, we are no longer practicing Witchcraft. Instead, we are practicing something someone else defined for us, and that is not Witchcraft.
Witchcraft is balanced. It is both light and dark, clean and dirty. It is nature, and nature is never one-sided. If you ever take a step with bare feet onto the grass after a heavy rain, you quickly realize that under that lush green carpet, mud and worms thrive. One cannot exist without the other. The green leaves of the mighty oak must fall. The beautiful flowers must wither and die. Then they must rot. From that rot, the strength of the mighty oak is ensured and new flowers bloom. This is an essential cycle. Nature knows what’s up. She has a rhythm, a system in place that has worked very well since the beginning. Yet, humans as always, seem to think we know better.
Witchcraft and magick are color blind. There is no “Black Magick.” There is no “White Magick.” Perhaps there are shades of grey, both light, and dark, but in the end, there is only magick, and what you intend to do with this power. Is it so baneful to want to remove a toxic person from your life? No. You have every right to abolish the problems others thrust upon you. The ideal I see many now uphold is that to use magick to remove someone without their permission is somehow interfering with their free will. But, what about your free will? What about your right to be happy? Since when did your right to live a well-balanced life, free from those who would take you down get erased? Does their presence in your life combined with their negativity prevent you from living a wonderful, happy life? If the answer is “YES,” then get rid of them!
Others counter this ideal with the stance of constant protection. Many view protection magick as harmless, or white. The theory here is that this way they are not “interfering” with anyone’s free will, and (maybe) preventing the person from causing too much harm. After all, you’re only casting barriers around yourself, right? Problem solved! The trouble here is that even a protective view can be baneful. How dare you just protect yourself. Why are you not protecting everyone? I am sure there are many more judgments that can be offered here. Can you see the rabbit hole now?
Then there is the magickal act of binding. You can choose to bind them so they will not intrude on your happy space. Sure, that’s a good plan too, but think about this for a moment… to what or whom are you binding them? Whose free will are you intruding on now? Constantly casting barriers or binding those who simply don’t listen is unbelievably exhausting. Sure! Use barriers, binding spells, and shields when you must. But when the sun sets and the issue is STILL not solved, you must deal with the problem again tomorrow. Wouldn’t it make more sense to deal with it specifically and directly? Passive magick becomes baneful when it does not deal directly with the problem.
This is when curses, hexes, and serious binding spells are necessary, even if they seem to impose on another’s “free will.” In Witchcraft, there is no room for passive-aggressive attitudes and behaviors. Once the issue is identified, Witches get in there and deal with it, quickly and directly. The truth be told, some issues are best solved without the use of magick. It’s a judgment call. Sure, some people and the problems they bring can only be solved with the use of magick. Whether you deal with it using ordinary means or magick, the issue should always be dealt with directly. Does this mean you have to get in the person’s face? Not really. Again, it’s a judgment call. One you must make while maintaining a sense of dignity. The reason passive magick is baneful is that it does not deal directly with the problem, it only redirects it on to someone else. Just because it no longer bothers you, does not mean the issue is solved. When the issue is not directly dealt with, the cycle is perpetuated. In this, you are only thinking of yourself, and my friend, that is not very “White Witch” of you.
Witches are healers. We have been this since the beginning of time. We take on this role because we are called. We take on this role because it suits us. As Witches, we seamlessly fit like the last puzzle piece that completes the scene. This role also means we must gain the ability to see the larger picture, beyond our own personal needs and desires. After all, there is a universe of knowledge out there to discover and know.
Let’s face it, we are human. We can cause unintended pain. We can also create unintended happiness. As Witches, we must gain the ability to see beyond our immediate and selfish needs, into the deep dark, gritty truth. It means we need to approach our craft with an open mind as we seek a higher perspective. Having the view that the act of cursing is part of the whole does not mean I think you should run around cursing anyone who trespasses against you. Ethical witchcraft requires the consideration of the whole, including any foreseen and unforeseen consequences that could occur. Witchcraft and magick mandate balance and understanding. Denying our authentic self and the reality of witchcraft deprives us of our real power. Energetic imbalances will make you ineffective and short-sighted. How you act or react is what makes the difference. Questioning the reality of the situation helps us gain wisdom. We make a million choices each-and-every day. With each decision comes a defining moment. How will your next defining moment describe you?