White Magic and Black Magic
The idea of black magic, this specific term, as the dark arts centered around summoning and working with demons and other evil entities is at least as old as the Middle Ages. Certainly, it has taken on more elaborate meaning and context since the 1800s, probably with most of its modern fashion coming into form over the past 50 years.
I’m honestly not sure white magic, the term, was really a thing prior to the self-righteous and virtue signaling pedants of the 19th-century magical lodges made it so. Like it colorless counterpart, white magic has enjoyed a surge of interest and reference in recent decades. White magic is generally believed to be good or selfless magic, and I know these two words are not direct interchanges of one-another; I put them together so you could spot the lack of uniformity for yourself.
It’s childish, the idea of evil magicians or purely good magic-users. We aren’t usually made that way, and generally have some of both in the mix. Being a living and dynamic entity in its own right, how then can magic be designated in these extreme polar terms?
A Deeper Look
The question of good and evil is often presented as some complex matter that requires this or that perspective. I’m saying…. bullshit.
True moral conundrums are not that common on the individual level or the small scale. Most of us know instantly if we are right or wrong in our actions. Even when we eloquently talk ourselves into taking a different view, our initial knowing remains, however deep it may be buried. Despite our best ethical somersaults and philosophical maneuvering, we are rarely able to shake the initial feeling and that’s because we know without needing to be told what is wrong, evil, etc. from what is right, good, and so forth.
Kicking a puppy is wrong, period. You can’t claim self-defense against an 8-week-old baby dog.
Side-kicking a rapist from a bridge when you catch him in the act is fine, and probably even a good thing to do. You might argue against this being all-out good but can you tell me it was wrong? The victim was saved, so is it not at least “ok” to old-school style, Chuck Norris the pervert off the side of the bridge?
I vote yes, and I doubt I needed to affirm that for any but the most dedicated contrarian reader, the person who cannot help himself or herself and who must always go against whoever or whatever is in front of them,
With all that said, a contemporary view of black and white magic that works better than the good and evil paradigm, though I still don’t care for it, is the following dichotomy:
- White magic is that magic one performs mainly for purposes of personal, spiritual development and to a lesser extent for healing oneself or aiding oneself in minor ways excluding spells for love, money, or power. The magic must never directly impact another living creature or even alter the weather.
- Black magic is any magical operation that targets another living being directly, no matter if the intent is to help or harm. Meddling with the weather or employing magic for profit, love, or power is also black magic according to this paradigm.
This view of black vs white magic is definitely presented in its most rigid and strict version. There are less fanatic angles represented in the public space.
For example some schools of thought are not put off by the idea of healing another person so long as you get their permission first. Presumably everyone is ok with the healing of domestic critters and if they aren’t I don’t want to even know.
The theme in this modernized and fashionable ideology – which again I do not espouse seems innocuous, even reasonable: Your goal should be (love it when this is specified for me by another don’t you?) the refinement of your soul/spirit and you have no right to meddle in the spiritual affairs of another.
I could probably be cool with this general statement of values, but when you look at what proponents of this religious attitude towards magic actually mean (shown above), to me it just becomes untenable.
By this measure I am, without a doubt and with no apology, a black magician.
To be more precise…
This blog isn’t about my ethics or moral code, it’s about sharing content with other magicians so we can all advance our prowess in the art. However, new practitioners are very interested in the black or white thing, hence this post.
The reasons I am a black magician, as measured by the preceding “code” are numerous.
- First, magic is not inherently about spiritual development, or it wasn’t until the late 1800s. Grimoires from the Middle Ages were often and oddly couched in excessive Christian language, but this always seemed more like an apology or some sort of linguistic insurance policy against the penalties for being involved with magic. (There’s actually little in the Bible to discourage magic but the mainstream church definitely prohibits it.) Only within the last century and change has the notion developed that magic and spiritual development in the light” or whatever are one and same. THEY AIN’T, DAMMIT!
- Magic is a method or means to X. It can be used for refining the spirit, have at it, but it’s not inherently meant for just that.
- I laugh out loud at suggestions that money, power, and love/sex are somehow off limits to the “good magician”.
- Yep, just the stuff people want and need the most, let’s all boycott those things and just get better at casting spells to tickle fairy giggles or whatever. I can’t call BULLSHIT loudly enough. I’m reminded of the gross little diddy that tells us: The purpose of learning magic is to realize that you don’t need it. (gagging sound) No, um… (wretching noise) No the point of learning magic is to be able to perform magical acts and get shit done, for yourself and others, that might otherwise be too difficult or out of reach.
- If I want to heal someone without their consent (which may not be possible if they actually don’t want to be healed or get better.), I will have a go at it. Actually, I’ll throw magic out and put some spin on that ball for whatever my objective may be. Again, I learned it to use it and I have/do work magic for money and prosperity, for healing, to thwart or damage those who would see me harmed (rarely ever necessary in my life), to discern future events, when possible, even to shift the weather if I choose to make that effort. I will not use the art to try and force someone to love me.
Unintended at the start of this post, readers now have a good window into the morality of little ol’ Ash L’har. Think of or do with this what you will.
What Gives Me, or You, the Right?
What gives the magician the right to do things like heal others, screw around with weather, and put the whoop-ass on his enemies through the unseen hand? Depending on where you live, you may not have the “right”, which is of course a legal term often used here in the U.S and abroad.
In my home state Tennessee I don’t have a legal right to practice the art and it is certainly unlawful to use magic in self-defense or to win the state lottery. Ask me if I care? There are MANY laws on today’s books that provide government over-reach and that support corruption – feel free to ignore those is my advice but to each their own.
The human being may or may not do as he or she pleases and has the capability to support. Everyone who wants to own and carry a gun is doing so regardless of any law or anti-gun attitude. Everyone who wants to use cocaine is so engaged at this time regardless of the laws in place. Everyone who wants to pray will pray whether anyone else likes it or not, as it should be.
It’s not my business what others do a s long as they don’t threaten me or take freedom from me or do either of these to my family. However if they are able to violate my wishes and succeed at attacking or taking from me, then it is done. Of course I’ll consult the police and/or take my own reciprocal actions if I survive the initial offense. The true rights are always determined by the Victory.
I believe most of us are good and have no harm for others in mind. I also believe that if we as individuals or collectively can do a thing, it’s probably got a place somewhere in the continuum of life and reality.
If we can heal, let us heal. If we can harm, there are those in need of our attention, but focus wisely. If we can prosper let’s do that, too and share as we go. If science can someday stop the sun from going supernova they should totally go for it. If the gods get pissed let them bitch, but perhaps they should have done a better job of it all and we wouldn’t have needed to intervene.
I recognized at the end of this post that an entire, separate post is needed about the ethics of weather management, combative magic, etc. Coming soon.