Light Magick vs. Dark
Not too long ago, I wrote an article about Fluffy Bunny idealisms. You can read all about it here. I thought I would continue the conversation on magickal perspectives with a topic on ethical and moral ideals. Specifically, White Magick vs. Dark Magick. In my experience, it is always a good idea to consider our perspectives on various topics, especially in areas related to ethics, morals, and core values.
The beauty of this path is the freedom we have in choosing what is right and wrong for our journey. Most of us seem to value morality and balance on our paths. Our freedom gives us the ability to decide for ourselves exactly how our individual path will look and feel. Your flavor of magick and the style of your craft will be largely influenced by the type of witchcraft you choose to follow. Also, what you tolerate and what you will not tolerate will help define the overall health of your path.
If you are Wiccan, the Wiccan Rede, Charge of the Goddess, and other similar texts will dictate your moral and ethical stances. If you follow a modern traditional witchcraft path (or similar), it is likely you will have no dogma dictating your every move. If you are a member of a coven in both cases, the guidelines and by-laws of this organization will influence your views of what is considered right and wrong. These differences are very important when debating, considering, and discussing ethics in magick, and the idea that magick is good or bad. The reality of this path is that the concept of right and wrong is idiosyncratic.
What it boils down to is that there is no place in the greater witchcraft community for dichotomous thinking. Your path is not mine. My path is not yours, nor does it belong to the person next to me. I make this point very clear because I see too many other Witches and Pagans chastising one another without the realization that each of us is unique. Not everyone believes in the idea of Karma. Not everyone follows the Rede. There are few exceptions where we have the right to judge and chastise another for their theology and actions.
Before we get too far, first, I want to discuss the terms Black Magick and White Magick. I believe that these terms are misleading and harmful. When we take a broad look at the delicate 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. It also pigeonholes us into dichotomous mindsets, instead of having an open mind. If you are going to classify certain acts, rituals, and spells as evil, then call them what you think they are; evil. You can also use baneful, unethical, harmful, etc.
Another issue with these terms is the seemingly never-ending need to use the terms dark or black magick for the shock value they create. If you are using any part of your spiritual and religious practice to instill a sense of shock and horror onto your family, co-workers, and friends, then in my book you are not a serious practitioner. Witchcraft is not about inflating your sense of worthiness or creating a temporary and false sense of power over another. This sacred path is much more than that and should be respected as such. If you cannot and will not respect the craft, please find another form of shock and horror to use.
Using Witchcraft for the shock value poses a great insult to my beliefs and practices, as well as countless others. There are far too many people out there using this ancient and holy path to gain a sense of superiority, or as a lower form of rebellion. Using the craft in false ways makes you the fool. Without a doubt, it will backfire on you. There are many other ways you can channel your immaturity and punish your zealot parents (or whomever). Yes, I said it. No, I will not hold my punches when discussing this subject. I am not here to humor you when you are misusing this beloved and sacred path.
Over the centuries, monotheism and patriarchal belief systems have worked very hard to make witches look evil. Many of the sacred tasks witches have long used have been defiled and altered to mean something other than intended. Sadly, these ideals have saturated cultures worldwide, which has created a long-standing division defining the type of magick one should and should not use. As a result, our culture has become obsessed with what kind of witch you are. This often seems to pop up in memes and discussions, asking, “Are you a good witch or a bad witch.” Or “Are you a white witch?” “White magick or black?”
Yes, my eyes are rolling. It’s like passing the note in class with “Do you like me? Circle Yes or No.”
Don’t get me wrong, I am not totally against labels when they help accurately describe the work someone does. I am not against them when they help us better relate to one another. When they do their job, they are useful. I am, however, against labels when they force a role on to someone, and that role is misleading. This is made very apparent when we label magick and witches as black or white. If you are using the title for the shock value, it’s time to stop. The love of false labels only perpetuates misunderstandings about the whole, which is the root of my irritation.
Alright, I got that rant out of my system, now back to our topic.
Darkness (as in places void of light) is not evil. In fact, it is sacred and necessary. The idea that darkness or blackness is evil, voids practitioners of the value darkness provides. Part of what I teach my coven is the necessity of going within. Where do we go when we go within? We go into the darkness, of course. We retreat into the womb, the cave, the forest, and other dark places void of light. This is where we do deep healing work. This is where we heal long-rooted illnesses, ancestral wounds, and even new trauma. From these dark places, we are rebirthed into a new mindset, consciousness, and into a new way of existing in the world. This is where darkness becomes more than a term for defining a style of magick poised for ethical or moral debate. It is a theology and a tool for becoming whole and nourished. The places void of light are the places we go to gain understanding, healing, and restoration.
All forms of the craft seem to have one theme in common; Nature. Nature and her natural rhythms are also our own rhythms; no matter how much our culture and societal attitudes try to disconnect us from this. We are cyclical beings, just like the moon. Just as the moon must shine, it must also go dark. We are no different. In denying this, we deny a huge part of ourselves and our path. In denying our rhythms, we leave a gaping void that has great potential for being filled with imbalance.
Let’s look at the idea of so-called “Dark Magick.” When I think of Black or Dark Magick, I immediately think of love spells. Not too many people think a love spell as evil or dark, but they can be. Many love spells seek to over-ride an individual’s ability to choose for himself or herself. Within my tradition, any type of magick that seeks to harm or control another without a proper warrant is harmful magick. I still refrain from calling it dark or black. Baneful? Sure. BUT! Nothing is 100%, nothing in the craft is absolute! On one side of the coin, we really should NOT interfere with anyone’s free will, it’s frankly immoral. BUT on the flip side, there might be a reason to seek out this kind of magick. Again, nothing here is black or white.
Other types of spells that are most often linked to “Dark Magick” are curses/hexes, bindings, jinxes, crossing spells, etc. For me, this is where the idea of “Dark Magick” becomes super murky. Honestly, I don’t associate with any witches who use these kinds of spells just for the hell of it. Usually, these kinds of spells are put into play because someone else has repeatedly attacked and provoked the situation. It is quite likely that the other party had it coming. The witches I hang with (and myself) are mature enough to get the whole story before acting or reacting to someone who has wronged them. We will wait it out and see what is really happening before enlisting baneful magick. Often, when you get down to it, the aggressor is just some fool seeking attention. Ignoring them or blocking them is enough. Depending on what it is, this person will get tired of trying long before any results manifest. After all, witches know how to deflect unwanted energy and protect themselves; it is part of the 101.
Karma and the Wiccan “Three-Fold Law…”
It is important to remember that not all witches fully believe in the idea of karma or the threefold law of return. For many witches, these are manmade rules, where nature offers little to no collaboration. In this case, the theory of cause and effect might be more relatable compared to the idea of karma or the Wiccan law of return. I put myself in this category. Sure, when I first began, I thought the three-fold law made sense. Then I encountered far too many situations where it just didn’t. As I have grown, I more closely related to the idea of cause and effect.
Let’s look at the idea of cause and effect, karma, and the three-fold law as if it were a metaphorical stone. If you throw a stone in the air above your head, the stone will likely fall back down and hit you on the head. Or if you throw a stone at the ground, the stone may ricochet and then hit you or someone else. This is cause and effect. You caused the stone to move, and its trajectory created an effect.
If someone throws a stone at you and you wait (usually an entire lifetime), eventually, the stone will pick itself up off the ground and hit your aggressor. In simple terms, this is karma.
If someone throws a stone at you and you wait for the one stone to turn into three, the stones will then pick themselves up and hit your aggressor. In simple terms, this is the threefold law of return.
Of course, this is not a complete analogy. However, when we take the idea of karma, the three-fold law, and the ageless idea that Witches are action takers, we discover something interesting. As I said before, one set of laws seems to transcend all traditions. These are the laws of Nature. Nature favors those who prepare, take action, and put in the work to ensure their success. Using magick, witches who know what they are doing can speed up the process of repercussion. They will also know how to protect themselves from most attacks. When we choose to fight back, we can influence the energies to favor our needs and values more quickly compared to if we just sat back and waited. But, as I said, few things are black or white. Nature offers no absolutes.
Yes, in fighting back, we have the potential of overdoing it or going too far… but when someone else initiates, this is the risk they accept. I will not stand back and say, “Poor baby” to someone who asked for it. If you attack a witch, expect a response. When you knowingly and purposefully attack someone out of jealousy, in misunderstanding, in a blind rage, because your feelings got hurt, for personal gain, and so on – you deserve the counterattack coming your way.
As witches, we have the right to determine what we will tolerate from others. If you throw a stone at a witch, expect a hailstorm is coming in return. Witches do not sit around waiting and hoping. We take action, especially when we are driven to protect ourselves, the people, and the things we love.
The Mother Bear
I don’t believe that when you are defending yourself, you are acting in an evil capacity. When you are reacting to someone else’s wrongdoing, and you are not the instigator, you are not acting or reacting from a place of evil or “darkness.” When someone attacks, you are given a choice. You can choose to be the victim, or you can fight back. I believe Divinity is wise enough to know the difference between foolishness, arrogance, and deceit. Manmade rules demonstrate the short-sightedness of humanity. Often these rules are created to control us. Witchcraft has no rules except for those confirmed within the natural world.
Just as there is a place for safe or kind magick, there is also a place for baneful magick. YES, cast those loving and helpful spells! AND YES, when you find the need, cast the opposite stuff too.
While I do believe that our actions and attitudes flavor our craft, I don’t believe that using the “dark” styles of magick should automatically make you evil. I also don’t feel that these types of magick should be made taboo. Everything has its place in the right context. I say this frequently, “There is a time and a place for everything. Knowing when and where is the key.”
Side note: Our culture tends to lead women into believing that we are not allowed to be angry, much less are we allowed to fight back. This is a mindset I see seeping into the new generation of Witchcraft. Many who are new to this path are not healing the mother line where this toxic belief has taken root. Well, how can they? Most are self-taught using books and through surfing YouTube. They have no elders to teach them, and when we have no reference we will grasp for the nearest and most acceptable truth we can find.
You can be a very good person and occasionally cast a well-deserved curse. You can be of good ethical and moral character and use binding and souring spells. The intention behind the action is critical. Being a Witch means gaining the ability to walk that thin line between right and wrong with your attitude and consciousness in check. Within my tradition, we believe that we walk our path with one foot in the shadow and one in the light. Why? How? Well, you would need to become my student to learn that mystery. But I will say this, balance is everything.
Just as you might wish to cast a healing spell on a very sick friend, you may also find yourself needing to return some negative energy to a very hate-filled individual. Nowhere in the laws of nature are you expected to take the brunt of someone else’s negativity or energetic imbalance. You are not a martyr and should not be expected to act as one. Personally, I will only cast baneful magick when I am (or someone I love is) harmed, or threatened by another. First, I will try everything else to resolve the situation. I will cast protection spells. I will try to resolve the issue on a direct level by talking to the person, and so on. But there are times when an individual’s imbalance cannot be rectified using any form of kindness, reason, or rationality.
When you have tried all other mundane and seemingly logical solutions but find yourself at a loss within a terrible situation, cast the curse that needs to be cast. A mother bear is never expected to turn her back, allowing herself or her cubs to be attacked by another. She is expected to fight back. She will attack without question or the need for reassurance or approval from another. She will come after her assailant with righteous and unwavering rage. This is one of the many glossed over laws of nature. Sometimes you must be the mother bear protecting her livelihood.
You are a powerful Curuni! A Bruja! A Vǫlva! A Hagtesse! A Gwrach! A Divine Creatrix! A Priestess! You are a Witch! Occasionally, as Witches, we must use our teeth and claws.
The point I’m trying to make is this: When we narrow our views too much, we cut ourselves off from important lessons and ideas that can help deepen our journey, experience, and understanding of our path. When we use dichotomous thinking to define our world and beliefs, we miss out on a universe of knowledge and power. Keep an open mind and know that your journey is unique. Sure, it may be similar to another’s path, but none are exactly the same. We cannot all follow the same cookie-cutter version of Witchcraft. When a cookie-cutter version of Witchcraft emerges and becomes the status-quo, it is time to hang up our cauldrons, and only use our brooms for cleaning our kitchen floor. When we try to make Witchcraft completely filled with light and love, we dilute the history and lineage we have at our disposal.
Another side note: Ironically, I see many practitioners, claiming to be followers of certain deities, and yet they deny their rage and ability to fight back. Deities like Kali, The Morrigan, Hecate, and even Brigid. These are only a few examples of deities who are keepers of righteous rage, yet many of their followers will not own it for themselves. I know this is in part because many goddesses have been removed of their perceived dangerous aspects, especially those aspects considered to be threatening to the patriarchy. They and their stories have been made safe by making them one-sided and gentle. Consequently, many fail to dig deeper when adopting a deity as their patron.
Witchcraft has long been a path where blood, bone, earth, and death are significant. Monotheism has spent thousands of years working to make Witches powerless and evil. Continually, secular religions work very hard to tear down the practices of our ancestors. It is time to stop sterilizing our path and walk it without apology.