Whatever you “put out there” will return to you threefold

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Out of the Broomcloset for August 2011August-September – Out of the Broomcloset.

Looking over old columns, while sipping daiquiris from the poolside tiki bar, I said to myself, “Self, while you’ve written about all sorts of magic, the how-to and when, you’ve never discussed one of the most important considerations, except in passing.” Which is, we are confronted daily in the media about the ethical lapses of the great (and not so great), yet we haven’t discussed the conundrums faced when deciding to engage in various magical activities. Far be it from me to lay down any prohibitions, but I will lay out some of the considerations and concerns that you, a rational agent, should take into account.

The general tenets offered by many pagan groups these days are some variation/combination of, “and it harm none, do what thou wilt,” and the threefold law, which, baldly stated, opines that whatever you “put out” will return to you threefold, for good or ill. These are both fine propositions, one supposes, but really don’t offer much assistance in deciding whether what you might wish to attempt should, in fact, be attempted, or what the actual consequences might be, or not be.

The real issues are, what are the consequences of the actions you propose to take or set into motion, and how will you and others cope with the results of your success or failure? There are consequences to most any action, conscious or not. Say you are under a great deal of stress, and make some snarky comment to a complete stranger who crosses your path and irks you; for you, it’s over in a moment, and you give no more thought to it. The recipient of your rapier wit may have just heard they have been denied extended benefits, or have received some other stressor, and your comment, satisfying to you, pushes them over the edge. They then run over a child on a bicycle, or go home and beat their spouse. What is your “moral” culpability, and would you feel in some way responsible for these events if they were made known to you?

Here’s another example. A major discount electronics firm has a new gadget on sale, which you have coveted all year. You score the big deal, get it home, and enjoy ownership. Would you feel the same way if you were aware that this new toy of yours contains materials from a war-torn country, which have been wrested from the ground by enslaved non-combatants, at gunpoint, their families having been killed to acquire this workforce?  These materials are then shipped to a second country, where the toxic residues from the manufacturing process are allowed to pollute the groundwater, sickening thousands. Knowing this, would you still buy that MP3 player?

I only bring up these not-so-hypothetical examples to illustrate the big point.  Everything we do or say has consequences at some level, of which we may or not be aware–or if so, not terribly concerned.  Even your existence, or nonexistence, has an impact–as explored most notably in It’s a Wonderful Life.  So, non-action isn’t really an option either.

What a good magician (or any other sort of good person, for that matter) needs, it would seem, is not a few easy platitudes, but to develop the following qualities.  First, be aware, as far as possible, of your desires and those of others, and how they affect your perspective and actions. Be humble enough to realize that no one can possibly foresee the events that follow from everything they do. The outcome may not be what you or anyone else expected. Finally, don’t initiate a magical act if you don’t feel capable of coping with a successful outcome. Welcome to the wonderful world of performing magic, where more rests on your shoulders than you might have expected.  But then, that seems to be the case with most things in life.

Rethinking that spellwork now? Good.  You’ll be the better magician for it.

 

Out of the Broomcloset for August 2011August-September – Out of the Broomcloset.

Looking over old columns, while sipping daiquiris from the poolside tiki bar, I said to myself, “Self, while you’ve written about all sorts of magic, the how-to and when, you’ve never discussed one of the most important considerations, except in passing.” Which is, we are confronted daily in the media about the ethical lapses of the great (and not so great), yet we haven’t discussed the conundrums faced when deciding to engage in various magical activities. Far be it from me to lay down any prohibitions, but I will lay out some of the considerations and concerns that you, a rational agent, should take into account.