Good Witch, Bad Witch

Are there “bad” witches who use their knowledge and power for personal gain and ill will? Yes, of course, just as there are “bad” Christians, “bad” Muslims, and so on. People are people. If you shake any figurative tree hard enough, a couple of rotten apples are liable to fall off. That's just human nature. The good news is that these rotten apples are the exception, not the rule.

Just like everyone else, witches confront issues that require them to make ethical choices. For instance, should magick be used as a weapon, even if it's only to fight back?

Some witches believe that you cannot effectively bless if you do not know how to curse. The reasoning behind this belief is quite simple: If you don't recognize the cause of a hex and fully comprehend the magickal processes used to enact it, how can you possibly hope to disarm it?

Wiccans and witches alike see magick as ethically neutral, even as electricity is neutral. Both magick and electricity can be used to help or to harm. Magick is simply the intentional use of energy. The witch directs energy by willpower toward a goal. How a person uses magick — the witch's intention — is what colors it white, black, or gray. To complicate matters, people's perceptions of what constitutes white, black, and gray aren't the same. Followers of any religion or belief system face a similar conundrum. Defining anything in concrete terms is nearly impossible.

Black, White, and Gray Magick

Your motive for doing a spell determines whether it's “white” or “black” magick, or somewhere in between. Magick spells can be grouped into three basic categories:

  • Any spell done to harm someone else is black magick.

  • Spells and rituals performed for the purpose of connecting with the Divine or to obtain higher knowledge are considered white magick.

  • Everything else falls into the gray area.

As you might imagine, most magick that witches perform fits in the gray category. This doesn't mean it's wrong to do gray magick. Tapping your magickal skills to get a better job or improve your love life is like using any other talent to enhance your situation. As long as you don't harm someone else in the process, you're operating in safe territory.

Some people call themselves “white witches,” meaning they abide by a simple code that instructs them to work for the good of all. White witches believe it's highly unethical to attempt to manipulate another person or to use magick to interfere with his free will. This kind of manipulation occurs most commonly in love magick, when one person tries to force another's attentions.

Many witches end a spell or ritual with the words, “This is done for the greatest good and may it harm none.” Because it's sometimes hard to determine whether what you're doing is for the good of all concerned, this phrase invites the universe to step in and guide energy to keep it from being misdirected.

Magicians recognize that they may not be able to foresee all possible outcomes of their magick. Human beings are not omniscient, and sometimes good intentions lead to terrible results. By requesting that higher (and wiser) powers direct their magick toward the best possible outcome, witches remove any selfish attachments and desires from their spellworking.

The phrase “harm none” also pertains to the person doing the spell and protects the magician from any unwanted ramifications of a spell. This brief overview is a broad generalization at best. Each witch relies on her inner voice (or conscience, if you will) in determining how she wields magick. There is no cut-and-dried answer to whether anyone is a good or a bad witch. Most witches hope and try to be the best witches — and the best people — they can be.

The Wiccan Rede

“The Wiccan Rede” is a guide for practitioners of Wicca. This short rhyme sums up the basic code of ethics Wiccans try to follow, in their magickal work and in their everyday lives.

The Wiccan Rede

Bide the Wiccan law ye must In perfect love, in perfect trust, Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill: An' ye harm none, do what ye will. What ye send forth comes back to thee, So ever mind the Rule of Three. Follow this with mind and heart, And merry ye meet, and merry ye part.

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