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Wicca and Ethics: Is Magic for Personal Gain Wrong?
Magic for Personal Gain
Is it wrong to do magic for personal gain? There are those who would have you believe it is. To be honest, I don’t know where this notion came from—I don’t remember it being around 30 years ago, and I don’t remember reading it in any older books on Wicca, or Witchcraft for that matter. Near as I can tell, the first time I ever really heard it was from the television show Charmed.
Yet it’s not an uncommon claim today— that magic for personal gain is somehow unethical, immoral, selfish and an abuse of power.
Pardon me, but to that all I have to say is, poppycock.
Mistake? Or Fair Game?
Why suffer and struggle?
Ethics in Wicca
Wicca is a religion of strong ethics. We’re supposed to take responsibility for our choices and our actions. We’re supposed to do things with forethought of the consequences and how our actions affect others. We’re supposed to avoid harming anyone and anything unnecessarily.
How does that translates into it being wrong to help ourselves, or do things to improve our own lives? Getting what you need, or even getting what you want, is not necessarily unethical. What ethics asks us to consider is how we get stuff.
It’s not wrong to want a better job or a promotion, though it would be wrong to hurt an innocent person who is your competition. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to pass a test, though it would be wrong to cheat. There is nothing wrong with wanting something, there would be something wrong with stealing it. So using magic to help you get ahead, to be alert and on your game, to get things you want— there's wrong with that. As long as you’re not trying to go about it by mowing down innocents, cheating and stealing, there’s no ethical dilemma here.
Recommended Witchcraft Books:
Wiccans spent so much time worrying about negative images that some have fallen into the trap of dogma. Lest we forget, our religion is about finding a healthy balance that serves all. As a community, we might want to re-examine ethics, since so few books go very into detail. This is an excellent resource.
What Else is Magic For?
I think back to our ancient ancestors who used magic in their daily lives. They blessed the cattle and cast spells for the rains to nourish the crops. They made herbal remedies and potions to heal everything from a fever to a sore back to heart problems. They cast spells on the home and the children for protection.
The idea of not using magic for personal gain would probably make them laugh. Our Witchy-inclined ancestors were very practical people. This is why and how they discovered magic, it’s uses, it’s applications and all the knowledge they had—because they had needs, and nowhere else to turn to fill those needs. This is what magic was for—not parlor tricks, not to impress your friends or scare your enemies, or martyr yourself to help others while you wasted away, but mainly to help yourself—to bring health, prosperity, fertility and happiness.
Magic Is Not For Entertainment
Money Isn't Evil
No 'Real Witch' Accepts Pay—Really?
Another argument in the ‘personal gain’ clause is that real Witches won’t take money. Once again I can hear my ancient ancestors—those wise women who helped their villages—chuckling.
Magic is certainly not to be used as a con job or to take advantage of people. No one should use Witchcraft to promise “100% guaranteed results for just $29.95”, because we all know that’s bogus. Likewise, it’s wrong to ‘hook’ someone and get them addicted to magic, urging them to pay for service after service, threatening them with all kinds of hardship and misfortunes.
It’s unethical to swindle people, it’s not unethical to accept money for services. There’s nothing wrong with asking for money to at least cover your own expenses, if not a little more to compensate you for your time and efforts. A fair amount for honest services rendered is far from unethical.
Of course you don’t have to charge friends and family—but if you’re going to offer your services to acquaintances and strangers, either part-time or full-time, you surely deserve something for your troubles. If it makes you feel any better, use a sliding scale fee or charge for supplies and allow the seeker to donate what they feel is fair. But don’t feel guilty for being paid or trading for services—this is how it has always been.
What's Your Opinion?
Where do you stand on the subject of magic for personal gain.
Another examination of Wiccan ethics with a different point of view than I espouse, for a more well rounded base of opinions to draw from. It's really good to hear different perspectives.
Every day we do things for personal gain. We work to earn money to pay rent (money has replaced livestock and crops in sustaining life for most of us); we cook to enjoy a nourishing meal; we have children so we can enjoy them and watch them grow up. We even do nice things for other people so we can feel good about ourselves.
Life (and nature) is a give and take. Whether we live in an old society in which people are inter-dependent, they trade or barter, or in which little green pieces of paper become credits passed back and forth in exchange, it all balances out to the same thing: give and take. By participating in this cycle, everyone benefits. There is nothing wrong with taking fairly as long as you are also giving fairly.
I personally think Wiccan ethics are a far deeper consideration than many books will have you believe. To say we never hex (which I address in this article) or saying we 'harm none' is oversimplifying things with absolutes. What our ethical liturgy seems to really be pointing to is using your head in any given situation.