I was listening to a podcast episode dealing with hexing and cursing. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the ethics of magic and how I feel about it. Since I’ve sort of stumbled upon this path, 5 years ago or whatever, I’ve been hesitant to perform spells. My feelings about all of this get wrapped up in the complexities of how magic works, so bear with me. It’s my personal belief and understanding that magic happens all the time, whether we are aware of it happening or not. Magic is, at its most basic level, manipulation, conscious or unconscious, of reality and circumstances to create change. As someone gets skilled in dealing with magic, and its nebulous, yet at the same time, very specific “rules”, they can fine-tune accuracy with what change they are trying to manifest. The more you can focus your mind, the more effective your spells will be. Because people perform unconscious spells all the time, the world shapes itself based on haphazard thoughts and unfocused outcomes. Kind of like hitting a golf ball: if you don’t have the skills to swing the clubs, your ball will go sailing where ever, but if you work on building up your swing and practice, you can get that ball to fly with amazing accuracy. So, the first part of magic is BELIEVING and KNOWING your outcome. It is not about wistful wishing. It is all about strong intention. Figure out what your goal is, and then focus all of your energy on that goal.
The second part of magic, as I understand it, is part physical, part psychological. You use or create something in the physical world to symbolize your goal, and then you tell it what to do by using words, repetitive actions, chanting in rhyme. The reason rhyme works so well is because you’re really manipulating YOUR world to make this change in YOUR life. I like to think of it as auto-suggestion, which is a psychological tool that I was taught by a psychotherapist which I use all the time. And it works. If you are committed to it, it works. So, in short: focus your will on your goal, use something in the physical world to represent that goal, and using auto-suggestion (preferably out loud verbally, as if you’re putting your stamp on the Universe) say your chant or something repetitive to solidify that goal into your physical space.
The third part of magic is ethics. What are your personal ethics? How do your actions and thoughts shape the world? How do your thoughts and actions shape the world for others? This is where it gets complicated for me. The best way for me to start is to describe something that I experienced: I worked with a woman in an institutional investment firm who was stuck in the same rut as many professional women find themselves, in a sexist, derogatory environment that was taking her nowhere. There were many good things about working there, but there were also many awful things about working there, sexism being very underhanded and ever-present. Like a slow, gaining wave rolling under the surface of the sea, it was strong and powerful, yet sometimes hard to discern with the naked eye. That kind of environment creates hostile feelings and thoughts all the time. ALL THE TIME. This woman was so tired and angry of this behavior that she just permeated negative feelings all over the place, she couldn’t help it. You’d feel the air bristle just walking up to her. Then one day she vocalized something which, to me, was absolutely unacceptable and, from my perspective, an outright curse upon someone who had nothing to do with the situation. She said with a dark intention and fury, “I hope B—‘s wife gets breast cancer so he knows what it’s like for the woman he loves to suffer. I want him to suffer.” I was shocked. I am very superstitious about uttering thoughts of even accidental death or illness, and that goes double for uttering a death wish upon another human being, or any creature. We need death to eat and survive, not for vengeance. We need to be very careful when we start fooling around in matters of doling out death. The woman she wished this upon soon went in for lumps in her breasts and they discovered she had two kinds of rare tumors in each breast. She was lucky to have been in such fantastic health and was able to avoid long courses of chemotherapy. This experience made me wonder for a long time about it.
Now, these two things may be unrelated and a complete coincidence, but not in my book. I no longer believe in pure circumstance. After other experiences of my own, I now believe that that kind of directed, vehement intention CREATES a direct result. I think it’s also why negative thoughts seem to manifest so strongly, as our rage and hatred are often that much more focused than pure, simple love. Love (and I’m talking about freely given and freely received love here, not obsessive love) is powerful, but I think it’s often less pointed like rage can be. When we’re mad, we focus directly on what’s making us angry and, usually, think of some scenario in which we are victorious. And a lot of times, we’re not shy about vocalizing our anger. So we’ve got the focused intention, the vocalization, and I’m sure repetitive slamming of doors or stomping around would qualify as a sympathetic, physical act. It just adds up to dangerous territory for me.
Where magic starts to give me a headache is when people start taking about the threefold law. Now, this principle essentially says that what you put into the Universe returns to you. This I do believe, because if you’re putting out anger, that anger is living in the world. It starts to build up in your life and the lives of others. So not only are you affected by it, so is everyone else. The anger stays in the world, and furthermore, it stays in your heart and grows (multiplies) if you don’t learn to let go of it. Now there are times we need to be angry, but I think being angry at someone for something they’ve done needs to be dealt with directly so you’re not misdirecting your anger at someone not involved with the situation. And I think the type of anger, how you manage your anger, that’s very important here. I know people who are just angry, hateful people. This type of anger is inappropriate and misdirected. You can’t just fly off the handle for every little thing, you can’t let little things get you riled up. This is for things that are justified….
Justified. I’m going to pause there are talk about this. When is something justified? Often, that depends on our personal ethics and beliefs. I don’t believe it’s justified to get angry over small stuff. But someone else, and I know MANY people who fall into this category, may think that you should “call people out” for every misstep. This is something that I believe is far too pervasive in our society. People just need to chill. And I have my own issues with anger and rage, although it’s usually because I almost NEVER show it. I hold onto it and that’s not good either. So I’ve been trying to deal with things as they arise, but not in an angry way. I try to just state plainly what it is that’s bothering me, why, and what I expect to happen so it doesn’t happen again. There are times this approach isn’t feasible, either, though. And those times, I just need to wrestle inside about it, but ultimately figure out how I can let go of the anger and not let it fester. And this brings up what I think happens when things fester inside a person…
Illness. When we hang onto our bullshit, it festers within us and makes us sick, either mentally, emotionally or physically. Or all three. This is what I believed happened to me working in jobs I hated and going to night school for so long. I hung onto too much angst and stress and didn’t take care of my physical needs and illness festered. For so many years, I’ve hung onto a lot of pain, shame, guilt, anger, rage…and it grew. And my defenses were exhausted. These things grow into bad habits, depression, escapism, physical tumors. So I know very well what my thoughts and actions cause me. Do you know what yours cause you?
I know the word “magic” has become a kind of loaded word. I’m not talking about slight-of-hand illusory magic. Magic in this context means using your will to manipulate your reality. Now, when you manipulate anything, you create a change. This change directly affects you, but also others. I don’t think there’s any way around this fact. But there’s no way around this fact whether or not your directing your intention purposefully or not. If the things I do in my life affect me, they will affect those around me, too. This is why we need to be careful with outcomes. One good way to think about this is money. When people perform money spells, (and ‘spell’ is kind of like a prayer, but it’s not about asking or wishing something will happen, it’s about making it happen) they may inadvertently cause something else to happen that they didn’t intend, and this is why the Wiccan rule of “harming none” has become very popular. You want money for yourself, but you may not want to receive that money via an inheritance where someone has died, for instance. Now, I’m not Wiccan, and I don’t always think that “harming none” is as simple as all that, but the principle is an honorable one. And I think generally it is a good policy to adopt when performing magic.
Like I said, I’ve been very hesitant to perform spells. Your will, focus and imagination have to be very strong to be successful in this, and I have difficulty with imagining things. I think you also better be sure of what you want and why you want it. To will yourself wisdom may just buy you a whole lot of hard knocks that you didn’t think you intended. Wisdom is usually not referring to book learnin’, it’s referring to life lessons. So be careful if this is what you’re intending. But that said, because I believe we’re really performing spells all the time, just in a haphazard sort of way, this brings me to now, and my beliefs that are ever-changing. Now I think I may try more spells because ultimately a focused intention is more effective that watery intention. I’ve been working on developing my imagination, my ability to believe in something, because belief IS important here, too. I guess I think of it like this: you have to see the outcome in your mind, focus on that, and believe that the Universe will assist you in making it a reality.
But, I’m no expert. I’m just a Padawan.