by Jake Block
Many otherwise brilliant people in the world are limited by their inability to grasp concepts that fall outside their scope of consciousness. They resist attempts to shake up the tranquility of their world, for to do so would eat away at their psychic foundations. When Galileo postulated that the moon was covered with mountains and that Jupiter possessed several moons of its own, the control, the Catholic power structure of the day, was quick to condemn him as a heretic.
To suggest that there was any means of comprehending physical order in the majesty of the universe was to contemplate suicide. This was often the rule, rather than the exception. We now know that the great thinkers of history were of course correct in their assumptions of natural order, but have we as a civilization become more enlightened because of their sacrifices? Sad to say, I think not.
We now recognize the reality of the Five Pythagorean Solids… they can be proven mathematically. But should one suggest that the great Pythagoras was incorrect or incomplete in his computations, there would be a hew and cry throughout the “enlightened world.” Time would prove the mathematics either faulty or true, but the resultant schism in the scientific community would continue for decades.
The schism that has divided the “occult community” for thousands of years is the black and white division of good and evil. While there is of course, no strict delineation between “good” and “evil,” most refuse to admit the shades of gray that allow them to practice “magic” in any of its forms. When one successfully manipulates the path of one’s destiny through force of Will, the result is seen as “good.” But in the final analysis, there must be an equal and opposite reaction for every action.
In an oversimplification, let us use the example of John Q. Magician. John needs a job. So does Joe. John uses his magical abilities, (either through ritual or manipulation) to get the job. He gets a pay raise and life is beautiful again. It is good. Joe, on the other hand, does not advance. His bills press, he can’t make the payments on his credit cards. Joe see’s John’s advancement as “evil.” While this may be an exercise in perceptions, it indicates the grayness of “good and evil” on a small scale. Joe is of the firm belief that “God will provide.” To accept the fact that the scales against him could be tipped in John’s favor by magic would be as foreign to him as Galileo’s theories were to the Catholic Church, hundreds of years ago.
The idea that magic is neither good nor evil is generally at odds with the cultural concensus. It eliminates the expectation of the eternal conflict of malevolence vs benevolence, and relegates them to the status of mere tools in the magician’s belt. Formidable tools, to be sure… the “power of the gods” in the hands of man. To eliminate the supposed universality of “good and evil” suggests that all other “universal laws” might be subject to the arbitrations of the magically gifted, ultimately giving man the power of veto over God.
There are those who condemn the works of magicians seen as “Left Hand Path,” such as Crowley, Spare and LaVey, as self-serving and manipulative, while glorifying the “Right Hand Path.” Anything done in the name of “magic” on the left is interpreted as “evil,” while the same practices are labeled “good,” when done by a magical practitioner from the right. If a theory has validity, is it any more credible when written by the right hand or the left? The healthy mind makes no such distinctions and works in ambidexterity, seeing concepts such as “magic” not in a supernatural light, but simply natural tools that can be utilized as a psychological edge.
Whether in cooking or in magic, the most effective plans call for a combining of the ingredients that will benefit and sustain the user. It matters not that the original concept is formed by any individual or group, for their direction may or may not be that of the magician using them at any given time. Provided that the magical operation harms no animal or individual, the magical essence is the only issue. This concept forces one to reconsider the preconceived notions of “good and evil,” abandoning them for the “need of the moment.” Good and evil, in the magical jargon, are irrelevant to the practice of magic.
It is a mark of hypocrisy that a “competent magician” performs a ritual cursing of an enemy, all the while proclaiming “white light and joy.” All the universe is a study in balance. Just as there is love and trust and goodness, there is a dark side to every soul. To recognize this balance and to control it is the beginning of power as a magician. If one is to offer one’s services and perform such rites for personal gain, it is a thing to be done. Good, evil, or indifferent, he who would accept the magician’s mantel, must also accept responsibility for the reaction wrought by action.