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Simplifying Magical Ethics (Part 2)

Thursday’s blog post discussed ethical considerations such as the power of intent and working for others without their permission. Today, we move further into the subject, beginning with Karma and Three-Fold Law…

Karma and Three-Fold Law

Newton’s Third Law of Motion says, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” What you do turns around and comes back, at least in equal portion.

Some believe Three-Fold Law means that what you put out into the world will come back to you with three times the power. Others theorize that rather than multiplying the power, Three-Fold Law addresses that what we do affects us on three different levels: Mind, Body, and Spirit.

Regardless of what you believe or how you interpret the idea, there seems to be substance to the schoolyard thought that what you do bounces off me and sticks to you. This being the case, owning our emotions and intentions and maintaining accountability for our magical actions are key components to acting as a responsible magical practitioner.

Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. We know if the energy we send out into the world is good or baneful. As ethical practitioners, we are responsible for the actions we choose and must stay accountable. If we consider a potentially harmful action, we must ask ourselves, “Is it worth the hit?”

Here, we flash back to a premise from Thursday’s post on this subject: “Don’t be an ass.”

A practice that was popular in the 1990s was the calling in of the karma of another person in which a practitioner invokes karmic return upon another person in order to speed up a punishment they consider due for crimes real or imagined. An early mentor of mine changed my magical perspective when she said, “Karma splatters,” meaning that when you invoke karma or justice, you yourself must be beyond reproach. Karma gets messy when we call it into play.

The other consideration we must consider is that without the panoramic view of The Divine, we may be misinformed or not have all of the information about a situation. Regardless of whether we are there to watch the show, it is my experience that Karma is efficient all on its own without us there to help it along. We never know what happens behind closed doors and I am confident in telling you that things do all tend to balance out in the end and I mean in this life, not spread over future lives.

Harms None

This deceptively simple premise, like the Law of Return, is a common thread through many faiths and even in the Hippocratic Oath sworn by physicians. “Harm none” becomes a tall order considering you can inflict harm on someone physically, emotionally, mentally, sexually, spiritually, and even socially.

The Butterfly Effect predicts that even the most innocent act could bring long-reaching, profound effects that we do not anticipate. Alternatively, it is easy to over think our magic and fall into the trap of “analysis is paralysis.” If I use simple magic to create a parking place near the front of the grocery store, do I then force an overdue pregnant woman to walk from the back of the lot?

To avoid this quagmire, we return to the original message of intention. If we do not willfully intend to inflict harm with our magical work, we are likely safe from karmic retribution or “blow black.” The Universe does not lurk about, waiting to trick us into causing harm to others. If our intention is pure and in no way baneful, our outcome will likely be positive.

Working Against Free Will

Almost universal in Pagan perspective is the idea that we should not use magic to control others. It is possible, but exhausting and the effects are normally not sustainable. The only people for whom I bend this rule are my children. Will I light a blue candle to get rowdy kids to calm down? Absolutely.

Using Magic for Personal Gain

Some traditions and practitioners believe it is unethical to use magical energy to create a better life for yourself, by manifesting wealth and prosperity, or bringing good things in your direction, such as romantic relationships, recreational experiences, or even adequate rest. This mindset seems to have waned as more people find themselves in disadvantaged circumstances. Still, the thought persists and is up for ethical debate.

Whatever process brought us into being hard-wired us for pleasure. This is evident from the presence of opioid receptors in the brain, which require regular stimulation from pleasurable experiences. Ongoing lack of stimulation of these receptors compromises both physical and mental health. Our creators, whatever they may be, want us to experience pleasure.

When we are unable to extract sufficient pleasurable experiences from the life around us, we compensate through unhealthy alternatives creating a false stimulation of those sensors, such as alcohol and drug abuse, overeating, overspending, gambling, hypersexuality, and other compulsive overindulgences.

Using magic for personal gain is ethical if it opens the door to a higher appreciation of the life that you have. If you use magical assistance to escape poverty, you may find that you are more open to the joys inherent in life. If you are not lonely and sad, it is easier to feel good about yourself and to contribute to the aggregate joy in the human macrocosm. This helps us all and turns the tide of collective consciousness, which right now is overwhelmed with another emotion that is counter to productive magic: fear. If ever the world needed a predominance of confident, capable, and positive magical practitioners, it is now.

We can use magic compulsively to overcompensate for what we lack within us. If we rely on magic exclusively rather than as a tool to assist our own endeavors, then magic becomes the cop-out rather than a beautiful compliment to our human life. We must be willing to do the work required to better our lives, using magic as a wonderful boost to our own efforts.

The Universe/God/Goddess/The Divine/Whatever You Consider Sacred wants us to be happy and joyful. WE want us to be happy and joyful. With that kind of teamwork, success is assured so long as we do the work.

These two blogs cover some of the more critical ethical talking points. What are some your own favorites? (Respectful conversation only, please. All others will be deleted.)