What is “black magic”? Is there even such a thing?
How do you feel about using it?
When I saw the name of the prompt my first thought was; yes, of course there is black magic, just as there is yellow magic, red magic, green magic, brown magic and even white magic. I’m convinced that Isaac Bonewits was right when he wrote Real Magic. Then my eyes drifted down to see the picture that I recognized from Uncle Bucky’s Big Blue Book; aka Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft. Then I wondered if what was meant by “black magic” was as if from the book The Black Arts by Richard Cavendish. It’s a very good book by the way. Don’t let the title scare you. *wink* Just pay attention to which world view it presents.
At this point I’m at a lost to where to point as what black magic is. Do I delve into the historical references to black magic, The Malleus Maleficarum, the Inquisition and the witchcraft trials? Do I point at other unfamiliar religions as black magic practitioners? Do I proclaim that any and all religions not my own as being a part of black magic?
I’m not going to answer those questions; purely rhetorical.
I’m going to break this down a bit. I do believe in magic. I believe magic is a tool, that it can be used by anyone and for any reason and purpose. As a tool I believe that magic is without morality.
Because magic can be used for any reason, what is it that is labeled “black magic”? By labeling it “black” are we talking about curses? Yes, I think curses are real but what are curses? Binding and preventing someone from doing harm? Or are curses causing harm due to previous actions? How is that any different from cause and effect? Just what makes a curse a curse? It’s something to think deeply on.
Are we talking about magic that deals with death? Yes, I think death magic is real. But what would death magic be? Preventing death? Causing death? Healing the grief over death? Severing an addiction? Consecrating a graveyard? Blessing a person about to cross over? Talking to spirits of the deceased? Keeping an ancestors altar? I believe all that is considered ‘death magic.’
Just what is meant by “black”? There is one axiom in healing; you cannot heal without harm. You cannot handle safe herbs without knowing which herbs cause harm. You can not handle “safe” herbs without knowing at what level or circumstances they do cause harm. A surgeon has to ‘kill’ the cancer to ‘save’ the patient. A broken bone cannot be set without causing some pain.
Destruction and creation are intertwined; a perpetual cosmic dance.
My biggest problem with the idea of ‘black magic’ is the world view in which it often resides; the black and white duality, the endless battle of good versus evil, the us versus them and the all or nothing mindset. I find that assigning morality to magic and viewing the world in a dualistic mindset dangerous no matter which side; black or white is claimed.
The automatic setup of an adversary invites warfare and infighting, always trying to determine who has it ‘right’ and who is ‘with us’ and who is ‘against us.’ It is this black and white world view that I walked away from when I walked away from the religion of my birth. I feel that the draw of this dualistic world view is fear. Fear permeates it, creates it and fear it feeds on. This is a very primal fear, stoked unchecked can grow to a level that nothing is safe and everything must be guarded against or ‘else’ untold horror, pain and terror will happen.
I feel it is this very fear that most talk of ‘black magic” refers to. This very fear evokes images deep in the primal subconscious according the culture of person. But closer examination reveals that what is feared, is.. that which is foreign, different, and unknown.