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On the Dangers of Magick

The prevalent caveat from both people who knew nothing about magick and people who knew everything about magick, warning the novice about unleashing some demonic epoch on the universe through ignorance was a dichotomy that always amused Mother. Magick is D-A-N-G-E-R-O-U-S! It's like nitro-glycerin, don't sneeze or - BOOM! A new Grand Canyon in your garage.

The concept that magick can unleash Armageddon makes for Hollywood larger than life myths, but it has little basis in reality. Why has the myth never been challenged? Is it possible that impulsive and accidental magick is the reason the oceans are dying, there is chaos in the streets and global warming is reaching critical mass? Do we actually believe that earth-shattering magick is happening in the clumsy hands of the ignorant dabblers? With the increase in the numbers of new witchlings, there must be chaos in the streets! To believe in this chaos, one must assume a number of principles as a given. The first is that magick is an easy craft to master. All you have to do is get the right ingredients, say the right words - wear the hat, do the dance, kill the chicken and Shazzam! Magick. Every time.

But as a teacher, I can't count the number of times have I've been asked, "How come my magick doesn't work?" Let me just say I have heard it considerably more often than I have heard, “I played this record backwards and unleashed hell!” Secondly, the whole demonic concept seems historically, fundamentally and intellectually foolish.

And fear is a demon all its own. We fear the unknown, we fear failure, fear exposure, fear judgment, fear ridicule, fear truth, fear the dark, the light, pain, love, responsibility, the terror alert, mad cow disease, SARS, coffee, carbohydrates, cholesterol and sugar, just to name a few. People were buying water and loading their shotguns bracing for Y2K, for gods sake! Sometimes, I think we are the most fearful culture on the planet. We are afraid of everything.

In thirty years, I have never heard anyone outside my own family tradition address what an extreme or negative emotion could do to one’s magick. Until I met a Christian Mage. (A CHRISTIAN mage - you say? There can be no such thing! you say. But that's another essay, another time.) I was taught that impulsive or extreme emotions cut the power of magick. Mother asserted that excessive emotions muddy the works - rage, fear, passion, greed, all that clouds good mundane judgment, certainly clouds good magickal judgment. Common sense should tell us that if magick could be made into a bomb, someone would have done it by now. And with fear being one of the biggest ones, why has no one stated that out loud? Because we like our dark myths and they are useful to keep little children in line.

We are not little children.

So, it is unlikely that a novice will unleash anything at all. Can you screw up? Yes. Can you hurt yourself? Yes. Can you hurt someone else? Yes. (But, one doesn't need magick to do that!)

The other thing that witches need to remember is that the persecution and propaganda against magick is a relatively new concept. Every ancient religion had mysticism and magick as part of their philosophy. The etymological connection between the words magic and miracle - in Latin it is an adjective, mirabilis = wonderous, miraculous, magical. And in Greek a similar term which is the origin of thaumaturge as in St. Gregorious the thaumaturge. = wonder maker, miracle worker.

Anthropologists will tell us that ideas which refuse to go away, usually have some substance to them. If magick was so powerfully evil and world threatening, we would have known it by now. The truth is that what will not go away regarding the dangers of magick are the warnings regarding the dangers of magick. Magickal belief so common in every culture, in every nation, in every religion because on the small scale, for the patient and the persistent, we have proven repeatedly, beyond the odds of coincidence, self-fulfilling prophesy, wide-eyed idealism and self-delusion - that magick works. Magick can be used to better oneself and one's environment without the fear of the magician being punished for treading into the sacred realms once reserved for priests, kings and gods, who claim divine rights. Magick is a divine right, a gift from the gods, to us all; or we commoners wouldn't be able to do it. Magick is our birthright and one's sacred duty to be used wisely, responsibly, and joyously.

© 2004 - 2010 Ardriana Cahill

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