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    Dragons Valley :: View topic - To Cast or Not to Cast? A Question of Magical Ethics

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    To Cast or Not to Cast? A Question of Magical Ethics

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    Allaban Druegan

    Joined: May 03, 2008
    Posts: 132

    PostPosted: Sun May 09, 2010 9:45 pm    Post subject: To Cast or Not to Cast? A Question of Magical Ethics Reply with quote

    This is sort of a discussion on the ethics of magic in the modern Pagan community. It was prompted by a comment from someone about having driven by an accident scene involving a couple of cars and a concrete road barrier. There were ambulances, fire rescue, and police. Blood evidenced all over the road and she could see people being loaded into an ambulance. The storyteller, a Pagan friend of mine, said her first impulse was to say a prayer to the Goddess and send healing energy to the injured but then she stopped because that would have been black magic since she did not have permission from the people who were hurt.

    Huh? How can offering a prayer or sending healing energy to an injured person ever be considered black magic?

    Many people have mistakenly come to believe that the Wiccan Rede applies to everyone who identifies themselves as some variation of Pagan, and many people also believe that the Wiccan definition of black magic is THE definition of black magic. Black magic is not merely doing magic to deliberately cause harm or to screw someone over, to bend them to your will and force them to act contrary to their own better nature. Those things I can wholeheartedly agree with would fall under the definition of baneful magic. But Wicca, as dictated by the vast majority of books I have read and by the vast majority of Wiccans I have spoken to, also classes ANY magic done without the express permission and consent of the person you are doing the magic for as being "black magic." That includes magic for health and healing, prosperity, to help them find a job, to help them overcome heartache, physical limitation, etc. These things could actually bring beneficial and comforting results to the person.

    The idea behind this prohibition is that you are "interfering with their free will" or you are somehow circumventing their destiny or "higher purpose." That somehow leaving a person to suffer, to endure pain and uncertainty when you believe you could help is somehow less evil than actually helping. Personally, I could not disagree more. If you would be compelled to render physical assistance to someone who was suffering or in trouble in an emergency, how could it possibly be considered evil to render magical assistance?

    But you could be interfering with their destiny! You could be preventing them from learning an important life lesson and ruining the course of their life as dictated by their "higher self!!" You are magically taking away their free will!!! That's EVIL!!!!

    Or how about this one: they may be Christian and view even beneficial magic as "satanic" and by sending them healing magic you are causing them harm! Well, if you believe that everyone has a "higher self" that knows all and directs the course of our lives then wouldn't that higher self have the ability to reject the energy you sent to them? Doesn't being a decent human being and a child of the Lady and Lord mean you do whatever you can to at least offer help to someone in need, leaving it up to them (or their higher self) to accept or reject that help?

    I have even heard the excuse of "well, you don't know if that person is an evil person themselves like a rapist or child molester. By helping them magically you could be enabling their next rape making you just as karmically responsible as they are (no I'm not kidding)."

    So' if you come across someone lying on the ground writhing in pain from a compound leg fracture you should just walk on by rather than trying to help. Because how do you know that suffering the pain of a broken limb and risking potentially lethal infection which could lead to the amputation of that limb is not part of their destiny? How do you know that's it's not all part of some sacred plan set in motion by their higher self so that they could learn some valuable live lesson? Or how do you know that it's not their own bad karma punishing them for their own wrongs and/or evil acts?

    By rendering assistance "even by so little as calling 911 for an ambulance" you could inadvertently be committing an act of evil simply because you "interfered." (If I had the magical guns to forcibly change a person's destiny, to knock them off the path set before them by their higher self doesn't that make me a god?) You should also ask them about their religious background (don't want to insult their Christian sensitivities with our filthy Pagan assistance) and inquire about their criminal background (don't want to risk helping someone and getting their bad karma all over our own clean aura!)

    Personally, I think there are a few possible sources for this "no magic without permission" business, each more self-serving than the last:

    1) In the early days of Paganism, Wicca, and magic going public was a need to reassure the mainstream, "God fearing" population that we weren't running around casting manipulative spells willy-nilly to gain power over our neighbors. Basically saying we were not a magical threat to anyone.

    2) It avoids having to take any responsibility, no matter how small, for the well being of our fellow human beings. Better safe than sorry, right? Cover your own magical ass in all things!

    3) Casting beneficial magic for people quietly and anonymously garners to recognition, no "gratitude," no praise. It affords no opportunity to say "See! I told you it would work!" Let's face it, we're as subject to a little ego stroking as the next guy.

    In many Pagan circles you still hear the very Christian admonishment that "the road to hell is paved with good intentions." Too many Pagans use this as an excuse not to act magically to help those directly in need. While it is apparently okay to work general magic to "heal the world" and change the "destructive attitudes" of the entire human race, to work magic to help heal a specific individual in need without first gaining permission is taking the first step down the primrose path directly to hell.


    I would like to propose an alternative way of thinking. Instead of thinking of the negatives, of potentially making an act of evil, why not think of the positives? What if the magic you cast to help actually' well, helped? What if that little bit of healing energy, that little act of anonymous magical kindness was just the thing that person needed to turn their life around? What if instead of working against the plan set forth by their higher self, you were actually helping it? What if the touch of your magic was actually an integral of their destiny without which that destiny could never be fully realized?

    I think it's high time we, as magical people, stopped being afraid to use our magic to help people directly. I think it's time we stopped worrying about "scaring the straights." If they really want to believe that "evil witches" are secretly running around using magic to create an army of bespelled slaves to do our bidding there is nothing we can say or do that will change their minds. I think it's time we stopped hiding behind the excuse of "permission," to do what is right and offer help to those who need help if we feel compelled to do so.

    Does this mean I think we should go out and throw healing spells and good luck spells at random people walking down the street? Of course not. What I do think is that we need to stop being afraid of sending healing energy to the sick and injured when we come across a car accident. I think we should stop being afraid to offer a prayer for good luck and a little spell for renewed prosperity to the family on the news who just lost everything they owned in a house fire. I think we should stop being afraid to work magic to help ensure the serial rapist attacking women in the local park is caught and brought to justice.

    If you wouldn't hesitate to physically help someone in need or worry that you were somehow unintentionally committing an evil act by helping them, then don't withhold magical help at the same time for fear that you are committing "black magic" when you know your intentions are to help not harm. Trust the universe to know if the offer of magical help and healing we are sending out to someone we see in need actually will help them or not and to gently send it back to us if it won't.
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    Benevolent Dictator

    Joined: Apr 08, 2008
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    PostPosted: Mon May 10, 2010 1:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Very good, myself, I do not follow any particular path, but I have been involved in energy work and general metaphysics for over a decade. Given a situation in which you described, somebody in need, I would not hesitate to help in any spiritual method at my disposal, it can easily be stated that the very synchronicity that I was there to witness the situation could be a calling from spirit to act.

    As you said the universe is capable of sorting itself out, it is arrogant to believe otherwise, if our individual acts of assistance are not desired, the powers that be, deity, the victims higher self, etcetera will, as you implied deflect the energy back to us.

    With that said, I do not personally believe I have sufficient understanding of wiccan theology, nor do I have more then a basic comprehension of the countless sects blanketed under paganism, to comment much further, simply from a compassionate perspective it would seem obvious that what you are saying is accurate.

    As well, I would like to add that if we have the power to improve upon a situation it is conscionable to ask ourselves this, is it perhaps possible that we were placed there at that point, at that time, at that scene to make a difference in the victims life, if so would it not be prudent to provide assistance and let the universe dictate the effect rather then ignore the scene and move on under questionable logic?

    Is not some effort better then no effort? Does it truly harm none to leave one harmed under principle that it was there path or destiny to be harmed? Does not the individual who has been harmed in turn inflict emotional pain on those influenced by the victims life? As stated above, I am inexperienced in the doctrines of wicca and most sects of paganism, and my opinion is only my own, but obviously the logic seems flawed on a humanitarian level. Just my two cents.
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    Allaban Druegan

    Joined: May 03, 2008
    Posts: 132

    PostPosted: Mon May 10, 2010 8:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Jafira Said:
    With that said, I do not personally believe I have sufficient understanding of wiccan theology, nor do I have more then a basic comprehension of the countless sects blanketed under paganism, to comment much further, simply from a compassionate perspective it would seem obvious that what you are saying is accurate.

    That's part of the problem, I think... the idea of Wiccan theology.

    Wicca is by far the most prevalent and, strangely enough, the most understood by "mainstream" society. In a way it's a good thing when trying to explain non-JudeoChristian beliefs to a non-Pagan. The problem is with the notion of the Wiccan Rede (annotated version of "If it harms none, do as you will") and the popular Wiccan premise that any magic worked for or against another person equals "manipulation" or subjugation of the other person's free will and thus is a bad thing. Read damn near any book on Pagan magic and you will find this notion being espoused as if it was a Universal Law. It's not. It's a human invention as is the idea of the 3-fold law (what you send out comes back 3 times as strong.) Far too many people think that the religious rules that apply to Wiccans apply to anyone who works magic.

    Basically, what both entail is a means of control to take the place of the concept of sin and divine punishment. Do bad things and God/Goddess/ The Universe will nail you for it. It negates the idea that people are generally nice and will refrain from doing harm simply because harm and intentional conflict are detrimental to social harmony.

    I do not personally believe that the only way to get people to do the right thing is with a threat of punishment. The oldest "moral law" that every culture has a version of is "the Golden Rule" of do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It doesn't say anything about sin or divine/universal punishment. Just basically be nice to people and people will generally be nice to you in return. Be consistently nasty and people will be nasty to you in return.

    Now there is another side to this whole "to cast or not to cast" question that I have also heard people professing a course of non-action based on the idea that you are committing an act of "black magic" and that is when it comes to stopping someone from doing harm. The interesting thing is that with this whole "If it harm none" notion is that people tend to forget a very specific exception to the Wiccan Rede and the 3-Fold Law: "Lest in self defense it be..."

    Self defense. And in my opinion, in defense of others. What do I mean by that?

    I have read several Wiccan and Pagan authors, and listen to a great many "elders" from a wide range of traditions who state that even working magic to bind another from doing harm is just as evil because you are taking away their free will. To which I say if someone is doing harm to me or mine you're damned straight I am going to defend myself and my community by taking away their free will if at all possible!

    Rapists, abusers (of people or animals), child molesters, drug dealers, home invaders, greedy assholes who place making a buck over the health and well being of the community... those assholes NEED to have their free will curtailed. If I find out there is a rapist or serial burglar operating in my neighborhood you can bet your bottom dollar I'm going to work magic to stop them by any means necessary. This goes to the same principle discussed before: if your conscious would direct you to take physical action to stop someone from doing harm and you don't believe THAT is evil, then you shouldn't worry that also taking magical action is evil.
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    PostPosted: Fri Jun 28, 2013 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Don't use it you'll lose lost, a moto I live by. Attacking another isn't always a bad action, nor is passiveness always the better way..... If the need arises to protect or bring to your own sense of justice then do something about it. If it isn't worth a snort it then let it go and move on.

    Look inside for the answer then ask for help from the deities. My chosen is a deity of love and war (can't lay'em, slay'em) and I have had a good run with her at my side along with two other love deities I cherish.

    As I see it, better to do something then nothing at all. That includes weaving spells and making talismans.

    Yes, I speak from experience.
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