I was on Patheos the other day and found this post in the pagan blogs about black magic.
The author brings up six points, which I will take on; if this isn’t your cup of tea, then I suggest going no further. Everyone else can follow me past the jump.
The very first point our author makes is about not even joking about hurting someone else, because thoughts are things. (This is a belief in the pagan community.) For example:
The first time I worked black magic was a complete accident. In high school, a guy I was interested in (let’s call him Tony) had a basketball rival. When Tony asked me to break his rival’s leg with my ‘magic,’ I laughed. He thought I was witchy, even though I wasn’t so sure at the time. I was more into meditation and affirmations.
But I smiled and blushed. “Okay, sure.”
Our conversation changed to something more normal, and I didn’t think about it again.
Then, it seems that the very next day, the rival in question broke his leg. The author claims that this was too much of a coincidence to ignore.
But that’s what it was: a coincidence.
The rival in question played basketball, which can cause injury. Some of those injuries can be extremely severe and include a trip to a hospital for treatment. This is a risk of the sport, just like head traumas can happen while riding a bike.
Now, our brains want order and predictability. So naturally, if something like this happens to a high schooler, they want an explanation. The idea that “Oh no, I thought about it, so it actually happened” seems plausible in this case so the mind will run with it. But that’s pretty much what happened here. Unless the author walked out onto the basketball court and tripped the player in question, she did absolutely nothing to cause this. This was just a coincidence; nothing more and nothing less.
Then we move on to the second point, which is not to call anything up that you really can’t handle. Supposedly, something like this happened to the author, where her roomies decided to call “all of the spirits” into a warehouse that they were sharing. She goes on:
What happened in the next couple of weeks was beyond my comprehension. The energy in the warehouse changed. An other-worldly wind was constantly blowing from nowhere, and the shadows seemed sinister, as if they had claws that reached out to grab my shoulders. One of my friends who had raised the spirits literally went crazy. He sobbed almost constantly and couldn’t leave the warehouse to work.
They had raised chaos spirits, not benevolent spirits.
Okay, so if one of your friends went “literally crazy”, how about checking him into a hospital? He might have some undiagnosed mental issues and oh, I don’t know, NEED SOME ACTUAL REAL WORLD HELP. Jeez. But I fucking digress here.
Now, after this little “spirit raising” thing, everything seemed to go straight to hell. Could it be that she was just seeing things? That seems like the most likely answer here. Yes, shadows can look weird in certain lights. Yes, sometimes we feel things that we think we should but there turns out to be a logical explanation. (If this was an abandoned warehouse, then it is very possible that there were/are gaps in the walls, which is probably where that wind came from.) But there are actual reasons behind what is happening and they are grounded in the real world, not the supernatural.
The third point deals with pissing off the trickster gods:
This didn’t happen to me, but it happened to a close friend, Mike. He was on the west coast, high up on a rocky cliff, watching the ocean waves roll in. We’d been talking about Irish and Celtic deities lately, and I suppose he got a little ballsy.
Mike faced the ocean and raised his hands up high. “Come on, Manannán mac Lir! Show me what you’ve got!”
A wave rose up from the ocean and knocked him down. Mike hit his head on the rock. Then, the water started to drag him into the ocean.
Mike clung to the rock as the wave eventually washed out back to sea. He was soaking wet and bleeding from a three-inch cut on his head. He had to get stitches.
Mike realized he’d been foolish, tempting a trickster god of the sea like that. From this, I learned never to make demands of the gods, or make fun of them. You never know how they’re going to take it, and it’s best not to anger them.
Actually, the point of that story is not to stand so damn close to the edge of a cliff facing a raging ocean.
Again, there wasn’t anything supernatural about this. I’ve gotten knocked on my ass by waves before; sometimes it was after getting pissed off at my parents. Does that mean that my parents did some sort of magickal dance and say “Boo boo jee bee! Go knock her on her ass-y!” Nope. Not even the slightest. Waves do this. Ocean currents do this. But it isn’t the work of a trickster anymore than I can turn lead into gold.
On the fourth point, we’re dealing with not ignoring those same trickster gods. This involves the author trying to write a journal entry:
One day, while journaling in the temple, my favorite pen ran dry. I licked the tip, trying to get the ink to flow more. It was that precise moment that the pen broke, sending a mass of black ink into my mouth. I spit and stared at the pool of ink on my journal page, stunned.
My friend, an initiate there, laughed at my black tongue and gray teeth. “Papa Legba likes you.”
Papa Legba had been reaching out to me for weeks, and I hadn’t been paying attention. I saw this as his very direct way of getting my attention, especially with my friend nearby, who could interpret it.
So basically, you had a crappy pen that decided to break at an inopportune–or was it an opportune?–moment and you’re saying that it was magickal? Am I getting this right here? Because I’ve had pens that have skipped writing on journal pages in the same spot each page; it’s either because the pen is crap or the pages are coated and the ink won’t stick. But the reasons are mundane and not magickal.
Pens break. Constantly. I remember reaching into my vest pocket while cashiering at Walmart and pulling out a blue pen that had ruptured, hemorrhaging its blue tint everywhere. But that was because it was broken; this wasn’t a message to suddenly start a Smurf worshiping cult or anything.
Also, your friend might have been joking, because that sounds like something I would say in jest. It’s a thought.
The fifth point is dealing with ghosts and creating boundaries when working with them. There’s only one problem with that:
I ain’t afraid of no ghost ghosts aren’t real. They don’t exist. Again, what we think might be a ghost is something mundane as hell and no, you don’t need to shoot at it with a Proton Pack. (Yeah, I admit: sometimes being a skeptic can suck. So much for me ever joining the Ghostbusters…)
The last point is dealing with hexing and why it may not be a great idea. In this, the author does say something that makes some damn sense:
I have suspicions that some revenge magic ties the spell caster to the castee. It’s really ironic, too, because it’s the last thing they want.
This is true, but in the physical and not metaphysical sense.
If all you’re thinking about is how you’re going to get revenge on your ex, then you’re effectively tying yourself to him/her. Your ex become the center of your thoughts and that isn’t mentally healthy at all. The best revenge? Forgetting about them. I know that from experience.
However, that comes from dealing with the reality of the situation, rather than thinking that some wishing and fay dust will make things right again. I get it: the idea of magick appeals because, let’s face it, the world is tough and we have little to no control over what goes on here. It would be great if we could snap our fingers and get whatever we desired.
Reality doesn’t work that way. It never has and it probably never really will without some help from science. There is no black or white magick, there are no trickster gods–unless you count Tom Hiddleston–and reality won’t bend to your desires because you think it should. That’s what I’ve learned in my life.
It didn’t take any magickal training to finally see all of that.