Tag Archives: magic

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

Advertisements

From the Trees

This is sort of a meditation, sort of a practice of mindfulness, one I do as often as I can whenever I am in the presence of a tree, specifically the oak tree in front of my house.

When you find a tree you wish to perform this little activity with, simply observe the tree. What kind is it? How wide is it? How tall is it? How old do you think it could be? What condition is it in? How many branches does it have? Is it bearing blossoms or fruits? Gather as much of this information as you can (feel free to journal and sketch or take notes).

Once you’ve gathered as much about the tree’s appearance as you can, sit in front of it and lean back against it or simply face away from it. Take in everything around the tree. What other plants are nearby? Animals? Where is the tree located? In a yard or in a park? How close/ far is it from a water source? How close is it to other trees? Again, gather as much information as you can.

Now, look around. What does the tree see? What events might have taken place at the locations around the tree? What memories does the tree itself have? What has the tree had to do to survive? (Did it have to grow into concrete? Around electrical wires? Around a house or fence?). Take in as much as you can.

What lessons can you learn from this tree? Grow despite adverse conditions? Change with the seasons? Bend but don’t break during storms? There is a near endless possibility of lessons to learn. This mindfulness can be applied to anything within nature, then shifted to apply it to ourselves. We are, after all, a part of nature.

To me, this is one of the biggest lessons druidry has taught me. Take wisdom, find knowledge, find ways to learn from everyone and everything around me. I performed this meditation with the old oak tree (named Acornelius) in my front yard, and I find I relate very much to that tree.

I hope you all find some lessons from this act of mindfulness! Feel free to share feedback about what you’ve learned.

M.G.

The Basil Druid

The Magic of Metal: Gold

Natural History and Folklore

The Latin name for gold is Aurum, explaining the symbol. Gold was perhaps the first metal worked by humans. It’s purity, rarity and luster have made it the most sought after of all precious metals.

Throughout history alchemists have been attempting to turn other metals into gold, without success.

Chemical Information/ Toxicity
Chemical Symbol: Au           Melting Point: 1064*C / 1947*F
Atomic Number: 79                Boiling Point: 2856*C / 5137*F

Non-toxic with no known biological roles in the body.

Physical Properties

Gold is very ductile and a fine conductor of both heat and electrical currents. It also strongly reflects infrared radiation. It is one of the four metals not silver or grey in color, holding to its reddish yellow tint. It is highly malleable, not very reactive and decently resists corrosion. Gold is greatly insoluble and only solutions of sodium, potassium cyanide and nitro-hydrochloric acid can dissolve it. Gold is extremely dense.

Practical Uses

Since ancient times, gold has been coveted for jewelry, coinage and other arts and to this day its main use remains in the making of jewelry. It is widely used in the making of corrosion free electrical connectors, especially in computers. Some gold is even used in gold salts in medicines for anti-inflammatory properties.

Magical Associations/ Uses

Gold is commonly used in making magical amulets, owing to its protective properties. It is an ideal metal to use in magic pertaining to a change in one’s status or to bring money into one’s life. Its physical properties make it a metal to use for magic of change and longevity as well. Magic for confidence, authority, creativity, hope and rituals or spells involving sun deities.

Golds weight and density could also allow it to be used in a manner of magic designed to weigh someone down, or hold them back, or bind them. It can also be used in fertility magics or added to magical or ritual workings to increase the power behind them. Due to its beauty and traditional uses, gold can be used in magic related to appearances, and glamour magic in general. Gold rings are supposedly very helpful in healing magic.

Correspondences

  • The sun
  • Money
  • Intelligence
  • Purity
  • Courage
  • Confidence
  • Power
  • Zodiac: Leo
  • Element: Fire

Alchemical Symbol

Image result for gold alchemical symbol
Fun Facts

Gold is so malleable it can be hammered into a nearly transparent thin sheet.

Gold on earth, all of it, came from meteorites 200 million years ago.

Gold and Mercury readily form an amalgam even at room temperature.

Iron Pyrite is what is known as ‘fool’s gold’

Gold has been discovered on every continent on earth.

Gold medals at the Olympics in 1912 were entirely made of gold.

The Magic of Metal: Silver

Natural History and Folklore

The chemical symbol for Silver comes from the Greek name arguros and its Latin name argentum, both of which mean grey or shining. Silver is one of the metals long associated with magic, especially healing and warding against evil. Due to its beauty, this metal has been used for jewelry and finery since its discovery.  Slag heaps in Turkey and Greece show that silver was mined as early as 3000 BC.

Chemical Information/ Toxicity
Chemical Symbol: Ag            Melting Point: 961*C / 1763*F
Atomic Number: 47                Boiling Point: 2162*C / 3924*F

Silver is considered safe for general and regular use, even internally. But regular ingestion of silver over long periods can lead to argyria, a causing a bluish-grey coloration of various parts of the body. Though some do have a natural allergy to silver.
Physical Properties

This metal is soft, grey, and reflective. It has the highest electrical conductivity of all elements and highest thermal conductivity of all metals. It is also known to have antibacterial properties. Silver is a very ductile and malleable metal. Silver does not react with air or moisture regularly, though if either of these contains sulfur, it will react.

This metal is the best natural reflector of all metals.
Practical Uses

Used mostly for coinage, jewelry and utensils. It’s electrical conductivity makes it useful in various electronics. It’s anti bacterial properties make it useful for surgical devices. Its uses in making flutes comes from the way the wind moves across its surface. Sterling silver is an alloy of 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper, making it harder than regular silver, and some are plated with a finer silver to make it appear more beautiful.

Silver coated band-aids are believed to reduce the liklihood of infection. Colloidal silver, or a liquid suspension with silver particulates in it, is sometimes marketed as a panacea. It is also used in the production of solar power equipment, air conditioning, photography, dentistry and water purification.
Magical Associations/ Uses

Silver has long been associated with healing magic and warding against evil. Protection magic often uses silver, and many mythical creatures seen as impure (werewolves, vampires, etc) have always been said to have a great weakness to silver.

This metal has a long standing use as a purifying element, traditionally used in treating illnesses, contagions, and wounds. Water kept in a silver container or with silver coins in it was often given to patients or used to wash their wounds. Wearing silver jewelry heals the body and calms the mind as well as to draw negative energy away from a person, making way for positive energies.

Some traditions connect silver to the sixth chakra. It is considered a reflective metal magically, just as it is in appearance. Its conductivity makes it a good metal to use in any sort of channeling magic. It can also be use in offensive magic, i.e. a silver bullet ideology.  Its beauty makes it a good metal for glamour magic.

Correspondences

  • Intuition
  • Wisdom
  • Purification
  • Balance
  • Beauty
  • Truth and trust
  • Psychic abilities
  • The moon
  • Element: Water
  • Zodiac: Cancer & Aquarius
  • Deity: any moon goddess

Alchemical Symbol

Image result for silver alchemical symbol
Fun Facts

Pound Sterling, the currency of the UK, was once equal in value to one pound of silver.

Before digital photography, 30% of all silver produced was used in photography

In the US, an alloy can only be called silver if it has at least 90% silver

It is believed to be one of the oldest metals, discovered around 5000 BC

At least 14 languages share a word for silver and money

The Magic of Metal: Lead

Natural History and Folklore

It is the heaviest of the base metals. Lead items found in archaeology are often entirely unbroken and many of the pipes in some European cities are the same lead pipes put in place by the ancient Romans. Alchemists once believed they could turn lead into gold.

The Latin word for lead is Plumbum, which is where the symbol for lead (Pb) came from. The Greeks mined it and it has been used for more than 6000 years.

Chemical Information/ Toxicity
Chemical Symbol: Pb              Melting Point: 327.5*C / 621.5*F
Atomic Number: 82                 Boiling Point: 1749*C / 3180.2*F

Wearing anything made of lead over a long period of time will cause it to react with oils in the skin and will be absorbed into your body. It is not toxic to hold for short periods of time, however.

Physical Properties

Lead is not a pretty metal, and tends to block out light and sound. It is a poor conductor of both heat and electricity. Lead is soft and ductile. Melts easily over open flame. Lead has a bluish white color but will tarnish to grey when exposed to air. Lead is very corrosion resistant. Lead is also used on occasion to store corrosive liquids. It has no known biological role, but if it builds up in the body it can be lethal and cause serious health problems.

Practical Uses

The largest use of lead today is in lead acid batteries. It is also used in various consturction industries, and in the manufacture of ammunition, the use of solder in electronics. In machining, it is mixed with brass to reduce the wear on the material.

Magical Associations/ Uses

Lead can be used in magic for connecting with oneself, protection, meditation, stability and grounding. It can be used in binding magic as well, specifically for binding and controlling negative behaviors and thoughts. Lead is also good for communicating with spirits and the underworld.

This metal is also good for magical workings involving learning, and safe travel. Lead is also a great metal for divination, especially in pendulums. As it blocks out sound and light, this metal is good for making barriers against all kinds of energy. Due to its toxic nature, it can be used in curses and other maledictions as well as the inverse, the reversal of such magics.

Correspondences

  • Transformation
  • Resurrection
  • Protection
  • Steadiness
  • Element: Fire
  • Planet: Saturn
  • Deity: Saturn / Chronos
  • Zodiac: Capricorn and Aquarius
  • Element: Earth
  • Grounding

Alchemical Symbol

Image result for lead alchemical symbol

Fun Facts

The ancient Romans made pipes from lead

Plumbum is also the source of the word Plumber

Once used widely in paint, its toxicity has long since stopped that

Half the lead produced is used for automobile batteries

There is no lead in lead pencils, it is actually graphite