The Ethics Of Magick
Article ID: 8684
Age Group: Adult
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Posted: August 21st. 2004
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Some people are of the belief that when it comes to the practice of magick that anything goes. Magick is after all, simply that - magick. It is not caught up in ethics or morals. While this is correct, magick is actually shaped by the inner beliefs, ethics and morals of the person who uses it.
In all orthodox religions there are certain laws and regulations of how a follower of that faith should conduct themselves - in Christianity, for example, there are the Ten Commandments. In many Pagan traditions, however, it is believed that there is actually little need for such dogma as each person is ultimately responsible for their actions. Such responsibility can be overwhelming for someone new to Paganism, especially if they come from a more orthodox background, so they find the need to create boundaries in the form of guidelines. Within Wiccan belief there are a number of guidelines such as the Wiccan Rede and the Threefold Law of Return which are designed to help the newcomer understand the essence of that belief.
The Wiccan Rede is a beautiful piece of poetry whose author is believed to have been the late Doreen Valiente. Within this poem many aspects of Wiccan beliefs and practices are outlined, such as the seasonal wheel of the year, honoring the Goddess and the God, and sacred trees to name a few. The poem ends with eight specific words that many Wiccans consider to be the main guideline as to how they are to live their lives: "If it harms none, do what you will." Some critics of Wicca see this as an indication for followers to do anything they wish. However, when the statement is given due thought, its true meaning is understood - that as long as your actions do not harm anyone, then you are free to live your life as you please. Some Wiccans take this statement further, relating the "none" to animals and the environment as well.
The Wiccan Rede is a version of the Golden Rule, which can be found in most other religions, the earliest dating back to Confucianism, where a 6th century BCE statement, "What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others," can be found. Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity and even Sikhism also have variations of the Golden Rule.
The second ethical guideline which many Wiccans follow is that of the Threefold Law of Return, where it is believed that every deed done will return to the doer three times greater. This means that a good deed will return three times stronger, but so will any bad deed that is performed.
Many Wiccans also hold either a belief in the Eastern philosophy of Karma, or the Universal Law of Cause and Effect, where every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Karma is often viewed on a more personal level, that the deeds of one's life are counteracted in the next life, while the Law of Cause and Effect can be viewed on a more global scale. A good example of the latter is seen in our environment. People in the past have done what they like without concern or respect for the environment or the creatures that live in it. The effects of this lack of regard and respect are the depletion of the ozone layer, rising salt levels due to large scale land clearing, droughts and floods brought on by erratic temperature fluctuations, and so on, that are witnessed today.
Taking Responsibility For Your Actions
As not every person who uses magick follows a Wiccan path and therefore is not necessarily guided by the Wiccan Rede, magick itself does tend to have its own guidelines. What some people do not realize when they first desire to perform magick is that magick is based on energy. When you cast a spell, you are sending out energy. The Universe magnifies this energy and returns it to you. Therefore it is vitally important that, before a person performs any form of magickal act, they are fully aware of the energy exchange and are prepared to take full responsibility for their actions. In magick there is no such thing as coincidences - everything happens for a reason, and when you perform a spell you are creating the reason.
Taking responsibility means being honest with yourself about what you are doing and why. You also need to be able to acknowledge your mistakes and their consequences. Mistakes are often the greatest lessons we can learn in life. To learn from your mistakes, you must closely examine what went wrong and to find a way to rectify the error. However, mistakes when performing magick can have dire consequences, especially if your energy is directed at a particular person.
Magick should never be done on a whim. Before you perform any form of magickal rite you need to look careful at the reasons why you want to use magick to obtain something. You also need to be very clear about what you want to achieve. Some people find it useful to consult one form of divination or another, such as runes or the tarot, prior to casting a spell or magickal rite to determine all possible outcomes. Only when you are sure about what you are doing, should you perform magick.
Due to the amount of "spell books" around it is understandable why some people are of the view that magick is an easy and safe means to get whatever they want. However this is a misconception, for magick is not all that safe if you do not know what you are doing. Things can happen that you did not intend. Those readers who have seen the movie The Craft will be able to relate to the dangers of casting love spells - in the movie, the victim of such a spell became obsessed with the caster of the spell to the stage where he was stalking her. There are also numerous stories about people who have cast money spells and while they did end up with a monetary sum, this was obtained through some kind of personal disaster or upheaval, such as an insurance claim or even a death. Therefore it is vitally important to be very careful about what you ask for, because, as the saying goes, you could very well receive it, but not necessarily through the means you had anticipated.
Magick is serious business and should never be taken lightly. It can be dangerous for those who are unprepared and there are consequences if it is used carelessly or with malicious intent. However, if you abide by a few simple guidelines (such as the Wiccan Rede), take the time to properly understand what you are doing and use it responsibly, magick can help you can achieve positive and rewarding changes in your life.
Location: Adelaide, South Australia
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Bio: Frances has been studying the occult arts for over 15 years and is trained as a ceremonial magickian as well as being initiated into Alexandrian Wicca. These days she finds herself drawn to pre-Gardnerian Craft, as well as experimenting with various magickal techniques. She resides in Adelaide, South Australia where she writes for various mainstream magazines as well as Pagan publications.
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