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The Ethics of the Three Expressions of Power in Spellwork

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The Ethics of the Three Expressions of Power in Spellwork

Postby Xiao Rong » Mon Jul 14, 2014 9:52 am

One of the most important stages of creating a spell is in deciding the intent of the spell. Specifically, you must answer two questions:

1. What is your goal?
2. How will your spell accomplish that goal?

Your goal might be anything from luck, or prosperity, or romance. But when thinking about how to achieve that goal, you should always be thinking about the ethics of how you accomplish that goal. Witchcraft and magic is power (not the only kind of power, and it is not an absolute power), and the mark of a seasoned witch is knowing how to use that power responsibly.

In feminist spirituality, there are four ways to express power, and I think they are useful concepts to consider when crafting a spell, and I will discuss how each one might be crafted into the intent of a spell, and how ethical it is. They are:

1. Power Over
2. Power Within
3. Power With


This is the most commonly understood kind of power -- it is the power to force and to coerce someone or something to do what you like. There is only so much power in the world, and for you to have power, someone else must have less power. As you can imagine, this kind of "zero-sum" power is the most easily abused. I'm sure you can think of many times in your life when someone or something had Power Over you. In a larger context, Power Over can become discrimination, violence, and tyranny.

Power Over is usually a very direct kind of power that we see in everyday life -- most people who have plenty of Power Over others don't need to resort to witchcraft in order to achieve their means. However, sometimes we see this expression of power in witchcraft. For example, there are plenty of people who want to love spells to make the object of their affections fall head over heels in love with them, whether they want to or not. Pretty much all curses and hexes fall into this category. Power Over spells have the highest likelihood of being used for unethical purposes and are most likely to be considered "black magic" or "dark magic".

This isn't to say that all Power Over spells are automatically evil in nature. For example, you might have to exercise Power Over by, say, casting a binding spell on an abuser to prevent him from hurting others. You are exercising your power and diminishing his/hers, but not necessarily for a bad cause. However, Power Over spells ARE the most susceptible to being used for corrupt ends (and may very well backfire on you -- ever mind the Rule of Three!).

So before you cast a spell that uses Power Over others, ask yourself:

1. What is my true motivation for this spell? Is it to help protect the innocent, or to hurt others? Am I acting out of spite or malice?
2. Would I want others to cast this spell on me? How would I feel if I were the recipient of the spell?
3. Am I prepared to accept any repercussions that might come from harmful intentions rebounding back to me?
4. Are there other ways that I can achieve the same goal using Power Within or Power With? (see below)


The second kind of power is invoking the Power Within. Power Within has to do with expressing the full potential within oneself, and expanding our own capabilities, self-dignity, and sense of self-worth. We exist in an interconnected web with everything around us. When we understand and believe in ourselves, we have much greater influence over the web and the world around us, to bring the gifts that are uniquely ours.

Magic is often very helpful for invoking the Power Within (one very simple form of Power Within magic is reciting affirmations, for example). There are rarely, if ever, ethical problems with spells that are designed to invoke the Power Within, are almost always “white magic”, and are often preferable to Power Over spells (not to mention more likely to succeed).

What are ways in which you can substitute a Power Within spell for a Power Over spell? For instance, the most common idea of a love spell is forcing someone to fall in love with you, without their consent. That requires subjecting their will to your own. Witches will often tell you that some ethical alternatives include spells to open your heart to romance, spells to increase your confidence, spells to make yourself more love-able, even spells to increase your own beauty. What these all have in common is that the target of these spells is yourself, and they help you increase your ability to be in a loving relationship, without actually coercing other people.


The third kind of power that can be used in spells is Power With. Power With has to do with working together with others and using your collective wills to bring about positive change. It is about mutual support and teamwork, and draws from friendship and love to help empower one another. You can probably imagine times in your life working with your friends and family and supporting one another, or learning with classmates (“two heads are better than one”), or working with another artist to create something beautiful -- that’s Power With. Most importantly, Power With operates from respect between equals. Power With spells are often healing in nature; for example, you can use Power With to cast a spell to help heal your friend, sharing your positive energy between the both of you. One thing to remember is that Power With should generally be done with the consent of the people you’re working with -- when you’re healing, for instance, your “patient” should know and consent to the spell.


Power Analysis: Types & Sources of Power

The Three Types of Power

Expressions of Power
~ Xiao Rong ~ 小蓉 ~ Little Lotus ~
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