Check your ethics

Over the past several months, I have seen calls to join in spellwork to mitigate the damage that the current regime seems intent on inflicting on minorities and the environment. I gave a nod to this subject in an earlier post but I didn’t talk about it specifically. Indeed, here I’m not going to talk about the specific spells and calls to spell work either. What I’d like to talk about is the reaction by the magickal community at large, which has been varied and vocal. And what it reveals about our community is very interesting, and also troubling. I’ve been thinking about this awhile and have decided to address several of the more common criticisms.

True Witches™ Don’t Do that Sort of Thing

In truth, Witches come from many different backgrounds. Witches do all sorts of things. Just because YOU wouldn’t personally do a thing, doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t. I bet there’s a lot of things you do that won’t too- Like throw shade on other Witches for doing what they think is right. (Oh wait, this may count as throwing shade, never mind.) While it’s very popular to assume that Witches have to be Wiccan and thus bound by Wicca’s laws (i.e. The Ardanes and the Wiccan Rede), Wicca is not the only flavor of Witchcraft, just the most well-marketed. In truth, any Witch can serve any God/dess/es or none, if it please them, and is bound by the rules governing their own religion and the commands of their own Gods. And yes, my starry-eyed darlings, some worship Satan, some worship Kali, some worship Lucifer (although in all cases, it’s probably not what you think) and they each have their own code.

Now I’m not saying that it’s okay to go around killing, raping, looting, etc., even if your God says it’s okay or even demands it. I still believe we should follow the law of the land before we follow our religion because that is part of the price of living in a secular society and I really like living in a secular society. So much, that I feel it is worth fighting for.

I also think it’s really interesting that whenever anyone talks about doing magick to counter someone’s damaging actions, the Magick-police automatically jump to the curse conclusion. That rather denotes a lack of imagination.

“Karma” will Sort it Out

Not it won’t.

First, we really need to get this word out of our vocabulary. It is a culturally appropriated word which we as a community have bastardized beyond all recognition, much to our shame. The original idea doesn’t go into effect until after someone dies, and that is too late for their victims. Among New Age folks, karma seems to be equated to the Law of Return and people seem to think that the Law of Return is some sort of Natural Law. It’s not. It’s not even a thing.

The idea that bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to good people is demonstrably false. What is true is that the energy you put out is the energy that affects your life. It is true that if you live by the gun, you’re likely to die by the gun. This is why people cultivate that sort of lifestyle and have the means to afford them walk around with bodyguards and, thus fortified, might live to a comfortable, ripe old age. Rich people who are greedy and walk all over people in order to become more wealthy are not going to get poverty for punishment because they have cultivated energy that keeps money flowing to them because they believe they are entitled. It’s true that they are also cultivating hatred for themselves in other people- that’s what the bodyguards are for.

I believe that this “Karma” idea is a combination of the Principle of Vibration and the Principle of Causality. When you cultivate a certain type of energy, it becomes yours- part of your own personal vibration and affects you accordingly. So if you send out energy, for example, to bind someone, it goes to them, neutralizes into their energy, thus changing their vibration and hopefully having the desired effect, but the energy in question was yours first and remains yours and continues to affect you until you neutralize it with something else.

As for Causality- if you do a thing it will result in an effect and it will likely affect you. This is demonstrably true. It is not because the energy rebounds off the subject to ruin your day, it’s because everything that happens happens because something made it happen. Any time you make a change, it’s going to have an effect. Go to school, you’re affected. Buy a house, affected. Eat dinner, affected. Nobody’s out there handing out consequences, it just happens. There is no point system.

It Will Come Back to You

Things don’t “come back” to you. They affect you. And that’s the whole point, isn’t it? Why do you do magick if not trying to get an effect?

Part of a Witch’s job is to take the long view, to decide if every possible effect is worth it and to decide accordingly. And to decide if the risk of unintended consequences is worth it. Is it worth it for a love spell? Maybe not. Is it worth it to break a drought or heal a disease? Possibly. Is it worth it to limit the reach of a genocidal maniac? I should think so.

If something really dangerous is going on, is it ethical to just stand by and let it happen if you have the means to mitigate it? Is the idea that something bad might happen to you really a good enough reason to not address a situation that is hurting more people than you? Is that ethical? No. It’s selfish is what it is.

And even if you’re not really sure that it will work- because let’s face it, that’s what a lot of this is about- isn’t it worth trying? Isn’t it better to have tried than to have sat on your hands? If you believe someone is keeping score, wouldn’t they take that into account? That you tried?

Magick is the tool of people without recourse. Throughout history, witches, shamans, and sorcerers have worked on behalf of their communities for their benefit. And they were, indeed, punished for it on occasion. It is our job as Witches to do the hard things, to speak up for those with no voice, to work magick on behalf of those with no power, and to take the punishment if it comes. That is part of being a Witch. If you learned magick only for your own personal benefit, you’re not a Witch, you’re… something else, a Magickian or something. Or, I guess, maybe a witch.

Magick always comes with a price, you say? Everything comes with a price, sweet apples, sour apples and poisoned. You weigh whether the price of inaction is heavier than the price of action and you think about how many people are going to be affected one way or another and whether those people want to be affected, then you decide, keeping in mind that you are no better, no more special, no more valuable than any of those other people.

Whatever Happened to “Be Silent”

Yes… whatever happened to Be Silent?

Because what I hear is one person saying “Hey, let’s do this spell” and whole bunch of other people shouting them down: “That person is stupid for talking about spells, now the Jesus Warriors will pray at them.” And so what if they do; America is a Democracy (sort of). But I don’t see as many Jesus Warriors as I see Magick-users casting aspersions- that is, sending energy that is contrary to the purpose of the spell.

The reason it is wise to Be Silent is so that this sort of energy doesn’t affect your workings- that is the sort of energy that is generated by people saying “This is stupid, this is bad, that’s a dumb spell, that person isn’t a True Witch™.” So that means, if you’re the one saying all this stuff, congratulations, you have joined the ranks of the “Jesus Warriors”, even if they don’t know it- you should know it, because this is Magick 101.

Now that’s all well and good if you disagree with the intent of the spell and actively want to work against the magick, but so many people are saying “I agree with the intent, but going about it this way is bad for all these reasons.” And that energy (because make no mistake, my witches, words have power) is going to work against the spell. In other words, by running your mouth and disparaging your fellow witches, you are actively working against them. Why are you doing that?

The truth is, in order to do magick that is going to have a global effect, or to affect a person who is so well protected both magickally and physically is going to take a lot of intent, a lot of energy, a lot of Witchcraft. In order to make that happen, you have to talk about it, there’s no getting around it. In order to get the cooperation of other Witches to do something so big that you know it’s beyond just you, you must open up yourself. You must be vulnerable. In order for Witches to work together, they must be vulnerable to each other. That is why covens are so often closed and solitary is so popular. Bullies see vulnerability and jump right in the middle in order to smear their garbage all over it. Are you a bully?

Aren’t There More Appropriate Ways to Proceed?

There are lots of ways to proceed here. There are voting and writing and calling your representatives, signing petitions, protesting, showing up at town hall meetings, donating to organizations whose missions oppose the damage that is threatened and… YES, there are all sorts of things you can do to and SHOULD do. Nobody is suggesting we NOT do those things. Nobody who uses magick successfully for any length of time believes that you can just do magick and sit on your butt and let your Will unfold. You do magick to improve your chances of success. So yes, we do all these things, and then we do magick to help make them more effective and when we’ve done all these things to the point of exhaustion and there’s nothing left to do, we do magick to make ourselves feel better. Let us not disparage the fact that magick is wonderfully therapeutic in a world where things that affect us seem completely outside our control. Magick is one thing you can still do when all other options have been exhausted.

The Spell Sucks

In truth, I did not look at the spell. I never do. Why? Because I know that I’m going to look at the spell and think it sucks. There are very few spells that I’ve ever seen written down that don’t suck. Even spells I wrote- they seemed like a good idea at the time and 10 years later I’m looking at them thinking “This is dumb. What was I thinking?”, even if they worked perfectly then. Spells are trite and silly and really only work if they appeal to your own personal experience. If someone asks you to do spellwork with them, unless you’re actually, physically working together, you do not need to do the same spell and if you do, you need to write it together so it works for all of you. If you agree with the intent and you’re not working together, then do your own spell and shut the hell up about theirs. Your negative energy directed at their spellwork will do a lot more damage to their efforts than their crappy rhyme and misguided symbolism ever will to yours. Spells aren’t about props anyway.

What About Ethics?

What about them? Is it ethical to let someone continue hurting people when you might have the power to help? Is it ethical to protect yourself while others, more numerous than you, are getting hurt? Is it ethical to jump all over people when they make themselves vulnerable in an effort to right a wrong and protect the innocent? Is it ethical to actively work against someone not because you disagree with the intent, but because you don’t like their methods or maybe just because you think you’re a better witch than they are? Is it ethical to impose your religious moral compass on other peoples’ religions? (Is it ethical to bitch about Christians and Muslims doing that when you do it too?) Is it ethical to represent that there a one True Witchcraft™ and everyone else are frauds? Seems like there are so many experts on ethics out there, I’m sure someone has an answer.

I think that’s all I have to say on this subject. And if I managed to use “affect” and “effect” properly throughout this entire article, it’s not magick, it’s a miracle.

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