Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Defining Evil Magic

Yesterday while looking for one of my Living in a Fishbowl posts, I ran across a comment that I forgot to address: the issue of evil magic in Golden Dawn. The truth of the matter is that while Golden Dawn makes an initiate swear that they will not perform evil magic, Golden Dawn never officially came out and defined what evil magic was. In fact, this clause of the oath does not show up in all the Golden Dawn branches despite Regardie's publication of this particular version of the obligation.

Looking at concept of evil from a historic viewpoint, one discovers that the definition of evil is a changable concept. Sacrificing your firstborn child was considered a holy act in certain ages and cultures; lynch mobs were considered a viable form of justice in some historical periods; slavery was considered the proper way to pad the labor market by some societies. All these acts today would be frowned upon by most people.

Now I was thinking about this the other day while talking to someone about Reiki. The discussion turned to the fact that sometimes a Reiki session seems to ease the passage of someone suffering by allowing them to die easier (aka speeds up the process of dying). Given our culture's aversion to death, this use of Reiki would be labeled evil by some people.

And it is because of this extreme bias (and there are tons of other examples) that make me advise anyone who is worried about performing evil magic that perhaps they should not be involved in magic and Golden Dawn in the first place. Sooner or later, if you do magic, someone is going to claim that some magic you did was evil. It will not matter how much you thought it though, or how you worded the spell, you will be judged as a doer of evil by someone who disagrees with your final decision to warm up the cauldron.

{And if you want my opinion about the specific complaint that sparked this post: Police has procedures to try to prevent punishing the innocent---does magic targeted at the "guilty" really need the same set of precautions? Are Maat and the other gods/goddesses of justice as faultly in their judgments as ordinary human beings are?}


Frater said...

What is “evil” changes from person to person depending on their worldview.

The ideals of ethics and morals are completely intertwined, so people use the terms interchangeable. I use “ethics” to mean (laws, customs, taboo, societies conditioning and religions values) and “morals” to mean my personal code I live by. My “personal morals” contain many “society ethics”, otherwise it would be impossible for me to exist in society.

But for example, its unethical of me to watched a pirated movie. However morally, I have no problem with it.

In many places in the world its accepted practice to execute a convicted murder, but morally this is unacceptable to me.

So would be considered “evil magic” is entirely subjective and changes depending where you live and who you are.

My Neophyte oath did have the clause undertake to “avoid evil” as well as “forgo from harming or damaging others”. All of which, I’m very happy to live by.

Ain Soph said...

I think the need for "evil" magick completely deletes itself once a person becomes mature enough to realize that most people who really warrant an astral butt-kicking often curse themselves by their own miserable existence. However, I do believe in execration in certain circumstances (i.e. incidents where you or your family are harmed in a particularly scarring way whether physical or emotional), if only to help the magician heal by purging toxic emotions. I believe the Wiccan Rede even allows for magick to be used in self-defense. To me none of that is evil. But to many others - execration in any form is considered bad form. It's too bad, too, because even in our practice of magick we are taught to hold in toxic emotions and allow them to eat away at us. Personally - I prefer to get them out and move on.