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Akashiel

The morality of magic

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It's not even natures way to be selfless, each and every plant will attempt to thrive, pushing out other plants from its resources and the plants around it do the same. This why the demons paradox comes up regularly whether we touch the natural world, a decorative plant in its habitat maybe rare or not particularly abundant but move it to a garden where it has a an edge as the other plants and ecology of the garden is not used to it and watch it take over.

 

Mind you, we are protective of our young, yes I know other mammals are too but we take up a level, maybe that is society?

Exactly what I meant in the too short beginning of my post, referring very briefly to nature. I suppose I could have expanded more on that thought but I think you have done that quite well and I really like your analogy, thank you. :)

I do think it's society that could cause one to question selfish/selflessness in witchcraft. I agree it's not natural to be completely selfless. My point (and please bear with me) is... which (witch?) society? I feel like it's a dichotomy, a disunion between mundane society that we all live in that says everything we do is selfish (leftover dogma much?) and the more rarefied society of witchcraft that for me says, as we've heard already, why would you/who would practice witchcraft if you felt it was selfish? As I have dual citizenship between both societies, I separate the bullshit from the ice cream and leave the dogma and societal hang-ups at the door to more effectively engage in those things that allow me to learn and follow my path. It's not at the peril of all else, by far, but it's there. And that's ok!

That said, I'm not sure if I'm picking up what you're putting down when you wrote, "Mind you, we are protective of our young, yes I know other mammals are too but we take up a level, maybe that is society?" Are you saying that socity causes us to feel the need to up the levels of protection of our young, where other mammals wouldn't?

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. . . I feel like it's a dichotomy, a disunion between mundane society that we all live in that says everything we do is selfish (leftover dogma much?) and the more rarefied society of witchcraft that for me says, as we've heard already, why would you/who would practice witchcraft if you felt it was selfish? . . .

 

I realize that it may be out of context, but this comment, especially the last part, has me thinking . . . why do some folks assume, claim or desire some loftier purpose for their Craft? I have began to wonder about this "super hero" mentality, like Witches are supposed to be ready and willing to save the world, right the wrongs, etc. Granted, some Witches are really nice people. They help. They heal. They care. They do good work.

 

The idea that Witches always work for or even should be working for the greater good (be more moral than others) confuses me, though. Those folks that I know and work with, who have real power, . . . well, they do good things, helpful, happy, healing things, but I don't see or sense in many of them any guilt or regret, when they remove someone or something on their way to getting what they want. I think this goes along, for example, with the image of the little, wise man/woman, as always the poor, country bumpkin, who scraped out a meager living in some shed. That is a very real picture. But, so is the image of the practitioner, who uses magical power to achieve financial, social, or personal goals. The fact is that the truly powerful tend to wield that power, giving them a much different moral compass.

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I guess most spells are self serving, but considering that most people are too, that makes spells self preserving. I have focused a lot on prosperity which might be selfish considering the clients that bring me money could be giving it to someone else. However, I'm still working for that money, so I don't think it's immoral for me to ask for the opportunity.

 

And by the same token, the money you get will (in its own small way) "boost" the economy because you aren't going to just burn it in a campfire, you're going to spend it (and thereby "give" it to someone else)... the whole economy depends on people getting money, then trading the money for goods or services (including a savings account where the person gets interest and the bank gets to invest). So it may seem self-serving but it also is not, becuase no one exists in a vacuum :-)

 

M

Edited by Michele

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I realize that it may be out of context, but this comment, especially the last part, has me thinking . . . why do some folks assume, claim or desire some loftier purpose for their Craft? I have began to wonder about this "super hero" mentality, like Witches are supposed to be ready and willing to save the world, right the wrongs, etc. Granted, some Witches are really nice people. They help. They heal. They care. They do good work.

 

The idea that Witches always work for or even should be working for the greater good (be more moral than others) confuses me, though. Those folks that I know and work with, who have real power, . . . well, they do good things, helpful, happy, healing things, but I don't see or sense in many of them any guilt or regret, when they remove someone or something on their way to getting what they want. I think this goes along, for example, with the image of the little, wise man/woman, as always the poor, country bumpkin, who scraped out a meager living in some shed. That is a very real picture. But, so is the image of the practitioner, who uses magical power to achieve financial, social, or personal goals. The fact is that the truly powerful tend to wield that power, giving them a much different moral compass.

 

I have often wondered if the "witch in the poor cottage" thing comes from the fact that (post-industry) most witches were "heathens" - the farmers, the ones who worked and lived on the land. So much of the craft evolved (including magic) from a relationship with the land - especially if one considers that the craft most likely had shamanic origins. Going back - way, way, way back - groups of cavemen and/or nomadic peoples lived in groups/clans - they had to. Safety in numbers from the elements and from attack. There were no police or governments. As such the "contentment" of the clan would have been paramount to survival both as an individual and as a species. And this would have been felt much more strongly than it is felt in today's "private home" society. So there most likely developed a "clan" shaman who would work the magic seen within the land itself for the good of the clan (including the bane of other threatening clans). In that respect the shaman served his or her people/clan, not just him/her self. And as the world industrialized the witch/shaman was still of the poorer class who worked the land, for the land was their connection. I, personally, believe that this changed with ceremonialism as the lifestyle of the human races changed.

 

So there are still some "shamanic" collective-consciousness types out there, and there are also some who want to save the world becuase it makes them feel "special" or "powerful." The true shamanic practitioner I believe is a highly skilled, highly trained, specific tradition - not something most people can just adopt through desire. And the problem with saving the world is the very in-depth psychology behind saving people. It's not always the right thing to do. It may be meant well, but it often causes more problems and greater "un-empowerment" for the person who gets saved rather than gaining maturity and knowledge and psychological growth.

 

I see no problem with one who chooses to use their magic to make their personal life enjoyable and safe. It does help the family of those people (usually) as well, and it keeps people from living off the government... it's just an evolution of the sociological situation from serving the clan to serving the family... and honestly is there much difference between a family and a clan/tribe?

 

M

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I have often wondered if the "witch in the poor cottage" thing comes from the fact that (post-industry) most witches were "heathens" - the farmers, the ones who worked and lived on the land. So much of the craft evolved (including magic) from a relationship with the land - especially if one considers that the craft most likely had shamanic origins. . . .

M

 

I understand. I have a great many farmers in my ancestry, as likely do many others here, though I do not necessarily automatically associated that fact with Craft, as I also have business peoples, skilled trades people, politicians, military, artists, and even clergy. Of course, not all of those people were (or would ever outright claim) the title of Witch, they did share some common traits, like resourcefulness, adaptability, independent nature, maybe even a slightly arrogant, stubborn streak (shrugs :wink: ), etc.

 

I agree that having a relationship with the land is vital, not just to Craft practice, but to the long-term, sustainability of humans. Farmers, thank goodness, have a healthy respect for, and more importantly, understanding of how nature works (both physically and spiritually), which makes it possible for me to be eating this banana. I am very grateful.

Edited by Jevne

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Well then, I've been coerced into posting a topic on my opinion that most magic is in essence "selfish". This started on the topic of curses that I said were in fact selfish in nature. After all, who does the suffering of your foe benefit other than yourself? One might argue that If you use a curse to take out a common threat it would benefit others as well. That would be an exception to the rule in my opinion. Then there is healing which would be beneficial to others. However usually one takes payment for the the cure or at least thats how it often worked in the old days. Magic in my experience usually is imposing your own will upon creation, which in itself might be considered selfish. as it changes " the divine plan". Which I dont believe in.... The point is that these changes always benefit yourself in some level, good luck, money, health etc. So how can one label them anything other than selfish, at least on some level. However I dont believe being selfish is a bad thing necessarily. Is it bad when a hunter eats his/her brave to survive? I think not though it primarily benefits the hunter in that he/she survives to live another day. Perhaps he/she even benefits the tribe eventually.... I apologize that this post is pretty much ranting and propably makes no sense :cauldron:

 

Hello Akashiel

Being selfish is taking care of the self and there’s nothing wrong in that.

 

Using witchcraft or the ways of Witch to change a situation is something I wouldn’t do without considering all possible consequences, only when I am sure I can and will deal with said consequences do I go ahead and do it. There is nothing selfish about doing this, I take care of me and mine using abilities I have.

 

I don’t do work for anyone who asks me to unless I consider they are worthy of my help, in which case I don’t ask for payment but leave it to the individual to give back if and when they are ready.

 

I do use witchcrafts to heal myself and to keep myself safe. If I’m not whole or in the best possible condition I can be then I can’t help the purpose I do, again this isn’t being selfish its a way of using ability to do purpose.

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I'm not sure which thread this originated in, so I cannot comment on that. Like I said above, I think that most things we do are self serving, because they benefit us, but I don't think that makes curses, in general, immoral. I think there is a big difference between seeking to harm someone just because they pissed you off and cursing someone who has actually done something against you or someone else that causes real harm. I think cursing people who just piss you off is more childish than selfish. If someone harms my family, pets, or other people that I care about then I don't think cursing them is selfish, I think it's just. I think that is what they get. It's kind of like how I've heard of cases where a person robbing a home gets hurt and then tries to sue the occupants of the home for shooting them. If you go into a home with intent to rob and harm, you deserve to be shot. If you seek to harm a witch or something/someone they care about, you deserve to be cursed.

My dog mysteriously died yesterday. We have a neighbor that we suspect. Now, does it make me selfish if I curse them? I don't think so. I think it's selfish for someone to kill my dog and expect nothing to be done about it.

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My dog mysteriously died yesterday. We have a neighbor that we suspect. Now, does it make me selfish if I curse them? I don't think so. I think it's selfish for someone to kill my dog and expect nothing to be done about it.

 

My condolences on the death of your dog. And if your neighbor did indeed do the dirty deed, go get him!

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So sorry to read about your dog, Phoenix...and I think you are making some good points.

Edited by Anara

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I guess there's a few things to address here, so I'll try my best to give it a go....

 

Well, if it were the case that I decided to hang out a witch shingle, and start offering my services to the public, yes I would charge for it, as my skills are worth money. I wouldn't call up a plumber with two decades of experience and expect him to do repairs for free, so why should the same be expected of me? Is that really selfish? Is caring for my own needs selfish? If I gave away everything I had of value for nothing, I would have nothing left to give, and hence wouldn't be able to help anyone at all. I suppose if using magic was messing up the damn divine plan, I wouldn't have been given the ability to do so, would I?

 

As for 'morality,' well I've never been given reason to regret a curse or whatnot that I've done, only the ones I haven't performed seem to bite me in the ass. That's a moral for you. If you think you're taking the high road by allowing nasty, horrible people to walk around and continue to harm others, that's certainly...interesting. I just don't agree. To each their own I guess, and if you haven't confronted your shadow to any extent and are worried that causing harm will harm you, it just might, and what you call up will nail you to the wall. Seems sensible to me to avoid creating such a problem. Just don't try to impose that particular moral structure on me or mine, and don't be surprised if I swing a full conniption if you do.

 

I've never claimed to be wise or anything like it, these are just my particular opinions and thoughts on the subjects at hand. Each of us has led a different life, and will end up in different places, so I don't expect everyone to agree....I'm just being honest.

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I understand the word selfish has negative connotations and when taken to an extreme can be quite unpleasant to encounter but...

 

 

 
Merriam Webster defines selfish as:
1: concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself : seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others
 
2: arising from concern with one's own welfare or advantage in disregard of others <a selfish act>

____________________________________________________________________________

 
 
What's wrong with being selfish?  I want what I want.  What's mine is mine.  I take care of my own.  My little corner of the world is the most important to me.  I just don't see a problem with it.

 

When it comes to taking care of our own how much regard do we really have for others? 

 

If that's selfish then I'm not embarrassed to claim that title.

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I understand the word selfish has negative connotations and when taken to an extreme can be quite unpleasant to encounter but...

 

 

 
 
 
What's wrong with being selfish? 

 

I must admit that to an extent I agree with this. Basically society views the word "selfish" negatively, but at some point in time it was (and still may be) a necessity for survival. Him or me... I think I'll go with selfish, lol.

 

M

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Just bumping this up . . . Not sure where the convo will go, but I think it is interesting.

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I look to do the right thing. Sometimes this is selfish, sometimes it isn't. Morality can only ever be subjective so no doubt there are many times that I believe I am doing the right thing but other people would disagree with me. I act within the confines of my own moral conscience. This embraces most aspects of magic - I'm certainly not suggesting I only look to heal and help -there are times when inflicting harm is the right thing to do. But there is always a morality governing my actions and I will consider this before acting. It isn't enough for me to say I want - I get, I need to bvelieve that using magic to bring it to me is not only what I want but morally acceptable within my own subjective viewpoint.

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I understand the word selfish has negative connotations and when taken to an extreme can be quite unpleasant to encounter but...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What's wrong with being selfish?  I want what I want.  What's mine is mine.  I take care of my own.  My little corner of the world is the most important to me.  I just don't see a problem with it.

 

 

When it comes to taking care of our own how much regard do we really have for others? 

 

If that's selfish then I'm not embarrassed to claim that title.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yep,ditto

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Yeah, what I wrote above and this:

 

 

As for 'morality,' well I've never been given reason to regret a curse or whatnot that I've done, only the ones I haven't performed seem to bite me in the ass. That's a moral for you. If you think you're taking the high road by allowing nasty, horrible people to walk around and continue to harm others, that's certainly...interesting. I just don't agree  ...   Just don't try to impose that particular moral structure on me or mine, and don't be surprised if I swing a full conniption if you do.

 

 

Except for Phoenix talking about his dog dying most of this thread has been about everyday stuff and taking care of our own.

 

I find that extreme situations and emotions are where we truly define our moral boundaries.  It's easy to talk about morals when we're not in a situation where we're about to cross those lines. 

 

But I also find myself giving serious thought to a lot of Michele's posts where she discusses our own personal responsibility in allowing certain situations to happen or continue.

 

Thanx for bumping these, J.  And the timing is perfect.  I have a day where I can sit with my own thoughts and these threads add a different perspective.

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.

I find that extreme situations and emotions are where we truly define our moral boundaries.  It's easy to talk about morals when we're not in a situation where we're about to cross those lines. 

 

 

 

I can see what you are saying here but I don't believe that morality is derived entirely from experience. I don't believe I personally could come across an "extreme" situation that would cause me to act again the blueprint of my own personality and my own subjective morality. It's a bit like the argument (that someone tried on me the other day) - you'd believe in the death penalty if somebody close to you was brutally murdered. Well no, I wouldn't, the personal experience is irrelevant - I have fixed moral viewpoints on the matter and no amount of reactionary emotion will sway me from what is a personal moral imperative - my own definition of what I believe to be right and wrong. My personal  beliefs go beyond what I may or may not have experienced in my everyday life.

 

This incidentally is why I make the distinction between subjective and objective morality. It would be wrong for me to kill because I believe it to be an immoral act. It may well not be wrong for another witch to kill because he/she may not believe it to be an immoral act. The specifics of the act are irrelevant - we both believe we are doing the "right thing" - we are both of us acting in accord with our personal morality. I do not believe in this example either witch is more right/wrong than the other.

 

I don't think extreme situations shape morality, I think introspection into the self shapes morality. You don't look outward into the world and decide what you think to be right/wrong, you look inward to the self and understand your own values from within.

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Really good points to consider. 

 

That's what I'm doing right now.  Thank you.

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I followed this topic when it was heating up back in March & intended to reply. 

These responses are all so well-said that I am now reading it again & again before I do so.

I suppose it depends on what I am doing that it could be termed self-serving. As someone said above, "There's nothing wrong with trying to make one's life amazing" & "Who wouldn't want to defend their own, get what they want, etc.?".  

There's a lot more to explore, as my opinion on this subject isn't so fixed. What is moral to one may not be to another. 

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Bump. Stumbled upon this thread while looking for another, thought it interesting and relevant and perhaps someone else will as well!

Edited by Solanaceae

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Thanks for bumping it!I've recently been confronted with the idea that most of my work is extremely selfish. But along with so many interesting points made, it stood out to me that serving myself isn't necessarily an evil thing. Oh, morality such a fickle thing!

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I look at magic the same way I look at my hands. They're just hands. If I were to knock on your door, and you open it, I could do many things with my hands. I could hug you, punch you, shake your hand, pass you a gift, or keep them by my sides. It's not the fact that I'm using my hands that makes my actions in that moment selfish; they're just hands. It's my choices that determine whether or not I'm being selfish. To me, it's the same with magic.

 

And there are different degrees of selfishness, and in my mind, sometimes it's ok, and sometimes it's not. But I don't necessarily think helping yourself is selfish. I eat everyday to stay alive. But I don't think that is selfish. Do I constantly steal food from someone else so I can live, while they starve to death? Yeah, that's selfish. I'd prefer we both split the food :P We could honestly take any behaviour from our lives and question whether or not we do those things out of selfishness or not. And yet, we don't with any other behaviour, and we do with our magic. I don't feel anymore selfish or guilty or whatever about my magic than I do with anything else in my life. When I first started, I did feel guilty and a bit scared, but I think that was more to do with all the hype about magic being evil, etc. I trust my judgement, 99% of the time, and I'm sure if you opened the door to me, you're showing that you trust me enough to know what to do with my hands.

 

That's my thing with magic; we need to trust each others' judgement more when people have proven themselves in other areas to be trustworthy.

Edited by Tricycle

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