Magic, ethics, common sense and all that jazz   7 comments

I was really struck by something I heard on a pagan podcast the other day.  It’s a good podcast, actually.  I haven’t listened to it exhaustively but I find the hosts to be generally reasonable.  However, the discussion of magic and ethics came up and it got me thinking (and muttering a little to myself) about how magic and ethics go together and how this subject  is being taught to new people.  I was further stunned by how readily people just believe in certain “rules” because someone told them they were “the rules.”

I have never yet read a 101 book from any pagan author that doesn’t address ethics and magic and they almost all say the same thing, which is that your work will return to you threefold (for good or ill), and that you can’t do this and you can’t do that, to the point where I have met some witches who are just about paralyzed to do anything magical at all for fear that their world will implode.  There’s also a big thing about never doing anything magical for another person that might take away their free will. (And if anyone is really powerful enough to truly dominate someone’s free will with a spell, I will be deeply surprised….)  This includes not even doing any “nice” magic for someone without their permission. Really?

Then I started exploring older folk traditions like Hoodoo and old world European magic, and I am not finding anything at all about spells “rebounding” on people, or the law of three or any of that stuff.  For that matter, Hoodoo root workers even prescribe actual domination spells and don’t seem to lose a lot of sleep over it.  So what’s up with that?  As a new person, I  originally bought into the whole “it will return to you threefold” until I had been doing this long enough to say, “who says so?” and “why?” and “explain, please.”  The only answers I get are “because so and so author says  and so do all of the other authors… it must be true.”    If I wanted answers like “because it says so in the book,” I could just go back to Christianity, couldn’t I?

Now back to the podcast and two very good hosts who I find to be generally reasonable people.  The male is talking about ethics , but that he would see nothing wrong with it if a group of magical people got together to send love and light and healing energy to someone in need.  The female host says she disagrees and would find it to be “presumptuous”.  Really?  She says, but what if the person doesn’t want to be loved or healed?  I hung my head with a deep sigh. 

Do Christians stop and say “I forgot to ask Millie if I can pray for her gall bladder problem…so I better not pray for her.”  Not any Christian I ever met.  I am also Reiki instructed and they do discuss such issues.  Even the seriously white light-ish new agey Reiki folks will say that if you send healing energy to someone and it’s “not in the interest of the person’s highest good” that the healing energy will just go somewhere else that it is needed. They’re not really worried about it.  So why are the 20th- century-founded neopagans (read:Wiccans) so worried?

I think that common sense ought to come into play and that this is the mark of a mature witch.  Discernment.  I should not be willing to do anything with magic that I don’t feel  justified to do by other means and be accountable for.  I am responsible for all of my actions in the entire world, so why not the spiritual world as well?  I am an adult.  Would I do something nice in the “mundane world”  for someone without asking?  Yes, within the boundaries of common sense.  I see no difference between this and magical common sense.  Would I be willing to physically  harm someone if they tried to hurt my children?  Yes.  Then why, therefore, would I be unwilling to act against someone spiritually for a similar  reason?   I find it laughable that some people think  I will have less backlash from punching someone in the face than I would from a spell.

I hear from people now and then who are blaming “backlash” from a spell for the problems of their lives when the truth is that they are making very poor decisions in life.  When you make poor decisions, have terrible boundaries and don’t do what you’ve got to do, things aren’t going to go well.   This is not the backlash of magic.  Blaming some kind of mystical punishment for one’s own life errors (and we all make them) is just a continued failure to take responsibility for one’s life. ….which will probably lead to even more misery.  It’s also a little delusional.  Or so says I.  But then again, I haven’t written a book!

I found a quote that is attributed to the Buddha (and sounds like something he would have said) so hopefully it is his.  Regardless, it is good, and speaks right to such topics:

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.  Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.  Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.  Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.  Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.  But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it, and live up to it.”


Posted May 3, 2011 by Jessica in Uncategorized

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7 responses to “Magic, ethics, common sense and all that jazz

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  1. Preach it, sister! 😀 It seems we are annoyed by the same thing. The question I ask is…what is the point of being a witch if you can do absolutely NOTHING? Seriously?

    Common sense is, unfortunately, not that common. It’s one of the biggest problems with the world we live in, isn’t it?

    BTW, thanks for the link! 😀 Great minds and all that!

    • Thanks for reading and the feedback! I love reading your posts because I’m always saying “Yes, yes! Oh, thank all the gods, someone out there makes sense.” I’m more than happy to link you up. I want as many people to read your blog as possible.

  2. First of all let me just stand in awe of this for a moment!
    *standing in awe*
    I love it when someone brings up common sense! Magic is practical and so is common sense. For some reason very few link the two…
    I love this post as it is a valuable addition to anyone seeking information.

    • Thanks so much for reading! Sometimes I wonder, is it me? Am I just nuts or does some of what I am reading in those books make no sense whatsoever? I think that magic used to be part of everyday life for people a very long time ago, so it intermingled with practical life. In fact, the practical and the magical probably couldn’t be divided, and I don’t think they should be now, either! I appreciate the comment. Thanks!

      • There are many, many, many, books on magic that make very little sense. Honestly, magic is meant to be practical, but that gets lost in translation. For example the 3 fold law thing is total bunk, because honestly, it derived from Crowley’s “Do as thou wilt”, which the Wiccan’s stole and added the “harm ye none”. First of all Crowley was a sociopath and did not exactly believe the “harm ye none”. So anything that was stolen from a sociopath I think I will just toss out the window. LOL
        Magic (to me atleast) is something that is apart of everyday life, again making it practical. If for some reason my roads are closed, you better believe I’m leaving offerings at a crossroads. If someone is attacking me , you will see me getting some reversible candles and sending all that back to my known and unkown enemies. And if I’m playing the lottery, you will see me lighting candkes to every spirit I can. 😀

      • Thank you so much for your comment! I agree so much. I loved your comment about Crowley. I don’t have anything to do with anything he ever said because I agree, he was just a menace. I just recently heard a podcast with some people who are leaders in an Order of Thelemic something or other. I have heard of it before and I could look it up but I don’t feel like it….anyway, a lot of their “laws” are based on Crowley’s writings about “Do as thou wilt”. The priest was talking about the fact that not only is a person permitted to do what they “wilt” or follow their “true will” but they have an obligation to do so. He read the laws on the broadcast and one of them was “You have a right to kill anyone who interferes with your pursuit of your true will.” Really? Really??? And then the Wiccans pasted “harm none” on to the end of that kind of concept? The fact that some pagans treat it like “a law” just makes my head explode. People should read and study and understand the foundations of what they are taught before they decide whether to get on board with it or not. I agree with you; magic is to be used, it is for improvement of our lives and those we care about. If we don’t use it, it is purposeless to learn it or talk about it or anything else.

  3. It most certainly isn’t just you, Jessica. Although I’ll grant you, there doesn’t seem to be that many of us…*sigh*

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