Magic and Morality: Defining Moral Scales

Defining Morality
mo·ral·i·ty
/məˈralədē/

noun – principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior.

  • a particular system of values and principles of conduct, especially one held by a specified person or society.
  • plural noun: moralities
  • “a bourgeois morality”
  • the extent to which an action is right or wrong.
  • “behind all the arguments lies the issue of the morality of the possession of nuclear weapons”

There is, unfortunately, a big stigma around magic, cursing and witchcraft in general, despite how popularized it has become in different cultures and especially in the media. Magic is generally viewed, in christianized areas of the world, through eyes that see it as evil only, which is of course flat out not the case. This lense through which witchcraft is viewed has led to a division even within the witchcraft communities themselves, saying that cursing magics are just flat out wrong and should not be done or that doing magics for personal gain are wrong as well.

Magic, be it for our own personal benefit or to the bane of someone else, is nothing more than a balancing or re-balancing of the scales. We all have our own moral compasses, no matter what guides them, or where they are directed, and we all sway back and forth along that compass depending on a great many variables.

Where do we find morality?

Some would say that morals come from religion. Others say morality is intrinsic in everyone. Our own experiences build our moral compass, and continue to change it every day. But when it comes to our definitions of right and wrong, we draw those from many sources as well. Is it wrong to kill someone? Yes, I believe so. Are there cases where I think death for death balances the scales? Absolutely. But that comes from the way I was raised.

Some spiritualities and religions will use fear of damnation to ‘scare’ people into doing what is right as defined within that religion’s rules and laws. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, though with any set of rules and checks and balances, they can be and are often misquoted and abused.

Legality and Morality

These don’t always go hand in hand. Sometimes, as with all things, breaking rules (small ones mostly) is necessary. There are some laws that cover witchcraft in an umbrella of legality that are played off as moral justifications. Some I agree with, some I do not. I understand that teaching minors without parental consent in its illegality is justified, but I also disagree with it on some fronts. If a child wants to learn about a subject, who are we to tell them no, simply because we disagree with it?

I believe that there should be free and easy access to any information a person wishes to study (with obvious holds on information that could prove dangerous i.e. how to make a bomb and such). But when it comes to magic, history, deities, religion and spirituality in general, these should be easy and free to access. The fact that they so often aren’t is why minors curious about these different topics and subjects they aren’t thrown into due to their family’s beliefs and practices come to us to learn in the first place.

But we will get deeper into this subject in a later post. Just know that some aspects of witchcraft are still looked upon through eyes that see it as something that should be illegal.

So what is your moral scale?

This series of posts is not about trying to change anyone’s mind, but simply to put my opinion into words for others to see and think about. We all have our own compass and moral scale to balance, and I hold no ill will for anyone who disagrees with me.

It is a simple enough fact that the intent behind magic is ultimately what drives it. The ‘why’ behind the spell is the force that pushes it into reality. So what is your intent? Simply to make your life better? Or to balance the grand scale a little more in your favor than someone else’s? And is that morally justified?

Think about these concepts: right vs wrong, good vs evil, black vs white and light vs dark. Now wait, focus on that last one. Aren’t there different kinds of light? Different colors? Different gradations? Shadows in infinite shades? Take that idea, that dark and light are not in fact the entire scale in themselves, and think about it like a sliding scale with different levels, and apply that logic to those other two concepts. Because while in those three schemes one end cannot exist without the other, they create together an entire span of variance between them.

Are all good things 100% good? Are all bad things 100% bad? No. When it comes to using magic, this still applies. It is not all black and white. It is the same as any political or social issue that we face. There are different sides, different reasons, different backgrounds, experiences and information to build our personal perceptions of what is inherently right and wrong in all of that in-between, in that grey area between the black and white extremes.

Where does that leave us as witches, then?

Spells, magic, charms, curses, rituals… all of it… is nothing more than a way to empower ourselves. A tool we can use to enact change on the world in so many different ways. Again, I view it as shades of grey, a great scale that constantly needs to be balanced, re-balanced and adjusted. Using magic for our own gain is no more or less moral than using it against another person. Either way, we are tipping the scales. Giving to ourselves, taking from others, vice versa… all it is is a balancing act. One that we perform daily, every time we practice our craft in any way shape or form. We tip the scales one way or the other through magical, mundane, and spiritual exercises.

The following posts will dive deeper into the specific questions posed to me about the morality of different aspects of magic. From cursing, to sacrifice, to teaching magic, and a bevy of other topics. If you’re still reading this, thank you, and I hope you enjoy the rest of the series.

-M.G.-

The Basil Druid

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