The ethics of spellcasting has a great deal to do with personal accountability. Your own personal beliefs and internal moral compass also guide your decision-making process, which, in turn, guides your choices in spellcasting. To discuss my notions of spellcasting ethics, I first need to share some of my personal beliefs.
I am a firm believer in Intelligent Design, that a Divine intelligence set everything in the universe in motion, and that the universe follows a cosmic pattern (like a crocheted blanket). This cosmic pattern spans the entire universe and throughout time. Things from the past are still part of the over all pattern (past-lives effects current time), and things from the future are already somewhat mapped out (which is how divination works). Things can vary within this framework one way or another without too much disturbance to the overall pattern (evolution, life & death are all included). When a disturbance in the pattern occurs that indicates it may put things a little too out of sorts, the universe looks for ways to right itself (the movie “Final Destination” is an interesting, though extreme, demonstration of this).
The universe uses Karmic Consequence as a way to set the pattern straight by employing 2 basic scenarios;
1. The universe sees that something is far more extraordinary than fits its current location in the cosmic framework and seeks to promote this thing in such a way to move it into a place in the pattern where it fits better. This is through promotion, reward, lottery winnings, 3 times good, etc.
2. The universe sees that something is somehow maliciously affecting the cosmic framework in a negative way and reeking havoc to the overall pattern, it will seek to “smack” it back into place, or eliminate it all together.
How does the universe accomplish this? This correcting of the cosmic framework takes place by the implementation of everything within that part of the framework to repair that part of the pattern. This is the Quiktrip clerk who grabs just the right lottery ticket so that a specific person’s financial situation improves and places them where they need to be in the pattern. Or, it is the person who quits their job to take on another job and prevents someone else from being fired and jobless. Every rock, tree, person, animal and telephone pole is an instrument of Karmic Consequence, including you.
Example: The Story of Oedipus
“After having been married some time without children, Laius, King of Thebes, consulted the Oracle of Apollo at Delphi. The Oracle prophesied that any son born to Laius would kill him. In an attempt to prevent this prophecy's fulfillment, when Queen Jocasta indeed bore a son, Oedipus, Laius had his ankles pinned together so that he could not crawl. Jocasta gave the boy to a servant to abandon on the nearby mountain. However, rather than leave the child to die of exposure, as Laius intended, the sympathetic servant passed the baby onto a shepherd from Corinth and then to another shepherd, until the baby came to be adopted by Polybus, King of Corinth and his queen, Merope.
Some years passed, and Oedipus began to hear rumors that he was adopted. His parents denied it, but he didn’t believe them. Oedipus sent for answers from the Oracle in Delphi, the same his birth parents had consulted. The Oracle didn't tell him he was actually the son of the king and queen of Thebes, but instead informed him he was destined to murder his father and marry his mother. In his attempt to avoid this fate predicted by the Oracle, he decided to not return home to adopted parents in Corinth, but rather decided to travel all the way to Thebes, which was near Delphi.
Oedipus came to Davlia, where three roads crossed each other. Here he encountered a chariot driven by, unknown to him, his birth-father, King Laius. They fought over who had the right to go first and Oedipus killed Laius in self defense, unwittingly fulfilling part of the prophecy.
Continuing his journey to Thebes, Oedipus encountered a Sphinx, who stopped all travelers to Thebes and asks them a riddle. If the travelers were unable to answer correctly, they would be killed and eaten; if they were successful, they would be free to continue on their journey. The riddle was: "What walks on four feet in the morning, two in the afternoon and three at night?" Oedipus answered: "Man: as an infant, he crawls on all fours; as an adult, he walks on two legs and; in old age, he uses a walking stick". Oedipus was the first to answer the riddle correctly and, having heard Oedipus' answer, the Sphinx was astounded and inexplicably killed herself by throwing herself into the sea, freeing Thebes from her harsh rule.
Gratefully the people of Thebes appointed Oedipus as their king and gave him the recently widowed Queen Jocasta's hand in marriage. (The people of Thebes were unknown to the fact Oedipus was the killer of King Laius, they believed he was killed by the Sphinx). The marriage of Oedipus and Jocasta fulfilled the rest of the prophecy.”
The prophesy was already part of the cosmic framework. Things were set in motion to make the prophesy come true, and therefore fulfill that part of the universal pattern.
This all applies to spellwork because:
1. YOU are a part of the framework of the universe, and as part of the framework of the universe, YOU are subject to Karmic Consequence, not just receiving, but in making them actually happen.
2. If your spell is reasonable and justified, and fits within the framework of the universe, you will not be subject to the negative backlash of Karmic Consequence.
The hardest part of this is to establish what justified means within the context of spellcasting and Karmic Consequence. In the case of positive magic in the forms of spells and charms, this is pretty easy to define. You are justified in wanting a good life, a positive flow of financial wellness and to have a happy home life. Those things would easily be considered justified.
It becomes more complicated when we start discussing spells in the forms of jinxes,hexes and curses. This is where you must take some serious time out to think about what has been done to you, and decide if the reason you are casting these particular spells are actual or perceived.
If someone has actually wronged you, did something with deliberate malice and forethought to affect your life in a negative way, then you are within your rights to exact an equal amount of retribution, equal being the key here. Your jinx/hex/curse should reflect the kind of damages that this person has exacted on your life. It is sort of like a court of law, the law being universal. If you get into a car accident in your ‘88 Ford Escort and you go through the court system to get compensated for the replacement of the car, they are not going to give you enough money to replace it with a Lexus. That would just be ridiculous to ask for. The universe deals with things in the same manner. It seeks to right the cosmic pattern and even the scales, employing your curse/hex/jinx to do so, as long as the person who wronged you worked with deliberate malice and forethought, and the punishment fits the crime.
If you cannot ascertain whether they worked against you with deliberate malice and forethought, then chances are the wrong was either unintentional or something you are only perceiving to be wrong. If the wrong was an accident and completely 100% unintentional, even if the person is always careless and a tornado unto themselves, you should probably just take a deep sigh and get over it. Jinxing, hexing or cursing this person really would not be justified and would probably earn you a cosmic smack just for being spiteful.
If you think someone has done something malicious to you on purpose, but you really can’t prove it, then you need to give your reaction some serious thought. We sometimes see the actions of others in a different light than they may be intended. Maybe they have 8 kids to feed and need that promotion so they may have promoted their own work over yours in an effort to get a better paying position. Yeah, that just sucks because you worked really hard, but their motivation was not malicious but merely a matter of self-preservation. People do things out of self-preservation, or in helping someone they care about, that are not necessarily great things or stellar moments of humanity and fairness. But, does that really mean they deserve their socks cursed off? More than likely not.
And, what about the Wiccan Rede?
“And it Harm None….”
This is the broadest statement imaginable. Eating a cheeseburger is harming a cow. Eating a veggie burger harms the plants that went into making the burger. You cannot live your life without harming something. Even not living your life to its fullest potential is harmful to you.
It is a nice notion to live your life without harming anything in it, but, it is just not logical. There are times when it is imperative to hurt someone for their own protection. Committing a Schizophrenic into a mental institution against their will is causing them harm, but it is also for their absolute best interest. Telling someone the truth about a cheating spouse is causing harm, but it is also for their own good so they can get tested for STD’s.
There is simply no way to truly “Harm None”. That is not to say you should not at least strive to live your life inflicting as little intentional harm as possible. It simply means that you should not go into a fit of panic when your squash a bug, or hurt your friend’s feelings by telling her that she drives like a maniac and she needs to slow the heck down. It also means that you have the right to defend yourself and those you love to the absolute best of your ability.
“Do What You Will…”
Aleister Crowley made this one of the cornerstones of Thelema. He did not intend it to mean that you are now free to act badly (though he did his fair share). What he meant was that whatever you choose to do, you do so because if follows the framework of the universe. If you live your life in tune with the universe, understand its workings and patterns, everything you would choose to do is right because it is right with the working of the universe. And, since you are working within the cosmic framework, you would be free of severe Karmic Consequence.
It all really comes down to what you are willing to live with, your own sense of personal responsibility. All spellcasting, even positive spells, have consequences, the possibility of some sort of collateral damage and unintended effects. Do not cast a spell if you are not will to accept complete responsibility for whatever consequences that may come from your magickal actions. One of the cornerstones of Witchcraft is personal responsibility for your actions, as well as accountability to the those around you or effected by your actions, your Gods, and the Universe as a whole. And, the Universe will remind you of this if you forget.
The Urban Crone