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A Witch Who Cannot Hex, Cannot Heal: One Wiccan's Perspective on this Controversial Claim

Updated on August 12, 2017
WiccanSage profile image

A Wiccan of 25 years, Sage likes to put her background as a writer and teacher to use by helping people learn about this NeoPagan path.

Can't Hex, Can't Heal

A common saying that is hotly debated is the philosophy that “A witch who cannot hex, cannot heal.” This is especially true of the Wiccan Witch community, in which our religious ethics dictate what appears (on the surface, at least) to be very clear directives about our behavior and intents when working magic.

Some people get very defensive about this, arguing that hexing is never necessary, and certainly not a requirement to study magic. They invoke the Threefold Law* and the Wiccan Rede* as evidence that we couldn’t possibly resort to ‘dark magic’. I think so many Witches—particularly Wiccan Witches—are so afraid of being associated with ‘evil’ that talking about hexing or cursing causes a knee-jerk reaction in protest.

I myself agree with the statement, though I don’t think it means effective spell casting requires malevolence or unethical behavior. Allow me to explain.

Wiccan Witchcraft Ethics Argument


Magic is Neutral

We are all too often are conditioned to think of magic being divided into ‘good’ and ‘evil’. Many use the terms ‘black’ and ‘white’ magic, which have gotten too tangled up in history as euphemisms for evil and good forces, respectively. These terms imply that magic comes from one of two sources: helpful, or harmful. I don’t see magic as being from a force of good or evil, but from nature. I believe it’s totally neutral—like fire, like electricity, like heat—it’s energy, and has no alignment of its own. It’s simply a resource to tap.

Rather than calling magic good/white or evil/bad, which perpetuates this notion that magic is either from gods or devils, I started searching for different terms that I felt were more applicable. At first I used the terms ‘positive’ and ‘negative’—which, to me, was more like the different charges of a battery. Even though it’s applicable, it seems the word ‘negative’ is too tied with negative connotations to be effective here.

I’ve come to embrace the terms ‘constructive’ and ‘destructive’ now. Constructive is not always benevolent (I can construct something to help you, or something to harm you) and destructive is not always malevolent (I can destroy you, or destroy something that’s hurting you).

Rather than being separate, or from separate sources, they are two sides of the same coin. Neither one of them are inherently benevolent or malevolent. Both can be used to help or to harm.

Balanced Forces

Neither good nor bad, both useful.
Neither good nor bad, both useful. | Source

Mother of Modern Witchcraft

Witchcraft for Tomorrow
Witchcraft for Tomorrow

Valiente was such a influential figure in Wicca/Witchcraft of the 20th century, but her perspective might surprise a lot of Wiccans who came to our faith post-1990.


Hexing Doesn’t Always Mean Harming

The word ‘hex’ often has negative connotations. The word dates back to the early 1800’s and simply meant ‘doing Witchcraft on someone’. It didn’t make any distinctions between good or bad magic. As Witchcraft was largely associated with malevolent magic at the time, the word took on negative connotations. Cursing is often seen like hexing—it’s associated with evil intentions. But if you look at hexing and/or cursing as means of destructive magic, you can see that you can use them for good as well as for bad.

After all, destruction isn’t always automatically bad, is it? Is it bad to destroy an old, crumbling, dangerous building to make way for a new one? Is it wrong to destroy the cancer cells running around in someone’s body? Is it wrong to thwart the efforts of someone trying to harm you, and act in self-defense? And let’s not forget one of the most valuable uses of hexing or cursing: breaking other hexes and curses! Without studying magic completely, it leaves people totally defenseless against those who would use magic for dark, evil, unethical and immoral reasons—you cannot effectively fight what you don’t understand.

Public Domain
Public Domain | Source

My Take on “Can’t Hex/Can’t Heal”

The notion that if you can’t hex you can’t heal does not say to me that I must go out and perform some kind of spells on people with mal-intent. I don’t have to hurt anyone to learn hexing and destructive magic, just like learning to defend yourself in karate doesn't mean you must hurt someone.

Someone who refuses to learn to work with destructive magic will have an incomplete base of knowledge and experience. This would be like a doctor who only wants to study preventative medicine, but did not want to learn how to cure and treat diseases. It’s like a police officer who only wanted to learn how to save and rescue people in trouble, but did not want to learn how to fight or defend against criminals. People who are afraid to explore the darker and more destructive forces of magic are, in my opinion, imbalanced, and thus less effective.

The creative force of magic, as we've seen, can be just as dangerous if someone would choose to misuse it. Likewise, destructive magic doesn't necessarily need to be harnessed for ill intent, it can also be used for beneficial purposes.

Whether you’re using magic for good intent or bad intent, it all operates on the same principles. If you want to learn it properly you need to learn it thoroughly. How you use it then is based on your own choices. Learning it through and through is not going to make you an evil Witch, it’s going to make you a better Witch. Whether you’re a good person or a bad person will depend on what you choose to do with it.

  1. Keep in mind, Witchcraft and Wicca are not interchangeable. Many Witches who are not Wiccan have entirely different opinions on magic and ethics than Wiccans do.

© 2013 Mackenzie Sage Wright


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    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 4 years ago

      Thank you Mysticmoonlight, I think a lot of people fear magic unnecessarily when a friend or family member studies it, or even if a person is interested but all those horror movies and rumors scare them off. It's definitely just a tool-- the outcome depends on how a person uses it. Thanks for commenting!

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 4 years ago

      That's a great point, Benjamin. Thanks for sharing, appreciate your comment!

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      MysticMoonlight 4 years ago

      Excellent explanations here, WiccanSage! You really hit the nail on the head describing and explaining how magic really has no "label", that it is the practitioner's intent, not the magic itself that makes the magical result what it is/will be. Your explanation of magic being neutral energy is dead on. Very informative and you explained things so well and in a way that is uncomplicated, great work!

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      Benjamin Chege 4 years ago

      Nice hub Sage. They say if you want o know a humble person give them power and money. If they will still be humble after that, then they are really humble. The same with magic, if it really exists, what you choose to do with it is what is right or wrong rather than the magic itself.