Thursday, January 31, 2008

Magickal Ethics

Before delving further into the principles and ideas of magick, it is critical to begin our exploration of the subject of magickal ethics. The foundation of this discussion will be that YOU are responsible for YOUR actions. Everything that you do has influence or effect on something else.

Magickal ethics follow the same principles as physical and mental ethics. Ethics can be broken into three broad categories:

Ethical Objectivism holds that there are moral and ethical absolutes that can be known.

Ethical Relativism holds that the ethics of a situation depend on the situation, the time, and the culture in which the event occurs.

There is a third system that combines the two beliefs, saying that there are some fundamental ethical truths, but that they must be applied in consideration to the situation in which the event occurs.

Magickal Ethics is based on standard ethics. Magick is an ability that everyone possesses; everyone has the potential to use it, but few rarely learn to use it. You must consider magick to be another skill, like martial arts or cooking, that can be developed by any individual.

Many ethical situations will resolve themselves to the question of, "Would I want someone to take this action without my permission?" and "What actions would I consider appropriate for someone to take on my behalf?"

We must be cautious of attempting to rationalize our actions by claiming that we would really want someone to do something for us if we were in a situation.

Let’s look at a few examples of magickal ethics and "regular" ethics.

Can I cast a spell to make John Smith want to sleep with me?
Can I cast a spell to make John Smith fall in love with me?

These questions are often rationalized by the following types of ideas:
But I just "know" that we are soul-mates.
But I just "know" that if he realized his true feelings he would want this.
But I just "know" that I could make him the happiest person in the world if he would let me.

And the list goes on!

Can I physically force John Smith to have sex with me?
Can I coerce John Smith to have sex with me?
Could I put something in John Smith’s drink so that I could have sex with him?

These situations are clear-cut examples of an action that will cause harm to another individual.

Can I ask someone to attack me magickally?

This could be a useful learning tool if the people know what they are doing.

Can I ask a friend to spar with me in some contact sport?

Notice that this situation involves mutual consent between two individuals. Mutual consent changes the ethical picture. While it is possible that bad things can happen as a result of the actions, both participants understand the risk before the actions are begun.

There appears to be a conflict with the basic Wiccan belief of, "An it harm none, do as you will." The actions could result in harm being doing to one or more people by the action; the important thing to remember here is that it is a risk that is mutually agreed upon. In this type of situation, I believe that the concept of mutual consent should be applied. I also believe that this idea should be applied in situations involving pain as part of the sexual act—if the action is mutually agreed upon by both parties, then the basic belief is not violated.

Many forms of magick work on influencing other people.

Can I put up a ward or shield around my property to deter thieves?

Can I put up signs that say, "Thieves keep out!"

Depending on the construction of the ward or shield, a certain idea can be projected to those crossing the boundary. This idea does influence another individual. This becomes a two-fold question: "Would you want someone to try to influence you?" and "Since the individual has made a conscious choice to interfere with my free will, then am I allowed to try to keep him from taking an action?"

Can I put up a ward or shield around my property to cause a thief’s heart to stop when he crosses intending to steal my property?

Can I shoot someone who is stealing my property?

Most people will agree that they should have the right to defend themselves and their property. However, the taking of a life in any situation will have Karmic repercussions that must be faced—even in the instance of self-preservation. Is a piece of property really worth the taking of a life? A similar issue is whether you could incorporate a "death action" into a ward to be triggered on the occurrence of an event such as someone’s breaking into your house to kill you. How far will you go, and where will you draw the lines?

Can I work a spell to raise the awareness of a person or group of people regarding a specific subject?

Can I force someone to accept an idea with which they do not agree, even if the idea is considered "wrong" by society?

Every individual must develop at his/her own rate. The spiritual development cannot be rushed or pushed forward. While the idea of raising someone’s awareness may be appealing, would you want someone to force awareness on you? Notice that the issue is really one of consent.

Can I work a spell to raise the awareness of a person or group of people regarding a specific subject, provided that they are willing?

Can I talk to someone on the street who agrees to the discussion, or to someone who asks me about a specific topic?

Notice that the situation has changed such that the other individual now has the choice to be made aware of a situation.

Many situations in magick involve consent and free will.

In most situations, magick should not be worked on or for a person without his/her express permission. Also remember that permission for one action does not imply permission for another. Permission usually must come from the individual. There are, however, exceptions. Before the age of consent, children usually may not give permission for magickal actions, since they may not understand the ramifications of what they desire. In the instance of working on or for children, permission from the parent or guardian is usually required. The same holds true for those who are mentally incompetent or those who cannot communicate for themselves.

In a perfect world, we would have the time to obtain permission before doing any work for others. However, this is not always the case. There are instances where time is of the essence, and there is not time to obtain formal permission.

Can I use my healing abilities to keep someone who has been struck by a car alive until emergency medical teams arrive?

Can I use my knowledge of how to stop bleeding to keep someone who has been struck by a car alive until emergency medical teams arrive?

In these cases, it may be impossible to obtain permission. Some would advocate doing nothing, since, if you take no action, then there would not be any repercussions. Are there repercussions for not taking action to prevent something when you could? That is a good question, and one that is not easily answered. There is no physical law that says that you must help someone in need. Is there a spiritual imperative saying that you must help people in need? That is another good question. If you follow the belief that before you can transcend fully, you must have compassion for all creatures in existence, then the answer is "yes."

Before we rush out and start trying to save people, there are other concerns to address.
What if the individual in question was supposed to die at that time?
What if death by that particular occurrence was supposed to occur to teach that soul a lesson?
Most people would like to believe that "untimely" death couldn’t happen for a specific reason.

This is incorrect. Before a soul incarnates, the major life tasks are decided upon and set in motion. This does not say that everything is predestined, but there are some events that can be prearranged. One of these is "untimely" death. Death itself is a critical experience in the soul’s development.

The question remains, then, do you take action to save the individual? In these situations, we do not have the luxury of consulting the Akashic records to see if this event was supposed to happen. If an event was predetermined, there is no way to change the event. If the person was meant to die in the accident, then they will die. Just as "untimely" death is a possibility, living through a near-death experience is also a possibility.

Before taking any action, especially magickal, you should consider the ramifications of those actions. Also, you must be prepared to accept responsibility for your actions, or your lack of actions. Many situations where the ethics of an action is questioned come about because one or more of the individuals involved does not want to take responsibility for their actions.

The following ideas can help resolve ethical problems:

Always take responsibility for your actions.
Always consider the consequences of your actions.
Always consider the options available to you (if there is time).
Always remember that every individual has free will.
Always remember that you should try not to harm others.
Always remember that every cause has an effect and that every effect has a cause.

There is no quick and easy solution to the problem of magickal or physical ethics. We do not possess a little computer where we can type in a situation and an action to get a reading on whether the action is ethical. The individual must decide the question of whether an action is ethical. The extent to which an individual will go to observe ethics varies with each individual.

(Source of article unknown)

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