Some witches use the terms “white magic” and “black magic” to describe magical workings. I can understand the need to determine “good” from “bad,” but everyone’s point of view on which is which differs wildly. This article isn’t about what you call your magic, though. Instead, I will try to address some issues associated with one’s own perception of “good and bad” “right and wrong” or “white and black.”

Look around you
In every day life, are things simply narrowed down to a “black or white” perspective? To some people that is very much the case. Ideally, on the other hand, real life doesn’t work like that. Nothing is simply black or white. So why should witchcraft be any different? While many witches refer to magic as black or white, another school of thought simply declares that all magic is “grey,” or simply dependent on the intent of the individual caster. The latter idea makes much more logical sense, but that still leaves the question: Does intent really even matter? 

A witch’s intent
Wiccans and other white light pagans adamantly speak against any type of magic which could presumably alter someone’s willpower or otherwise put someone in harm’s way. Unfortunately, this advice is taken so superficially, that it’s easy to wonder what kind of intent goes into a white lighter’s spell casting. For instance, if you ask for spell advice to get an ex lover back into your life, a number of these love-and-light witches will tell you that you should never so such a thing. Instead, they say, you should simply cast a spell which attracts love into your life. If your former lover is meant to be in your arms, your spell will bring him back. Otherwise, you will meet someone new, etc etc and so on and so forth. The advice in this scenario is for you to focus your intent on attracting general love and romance with no intent on bending the will of another person. That seems benign enough, right?

Cause and Effect
Cause and Effect is a natural law that illustrates that every action causes a reaction. Wiccans and white light pagans believe in karma and threefold laws and other divine consequences, much like Christians believe that you’ll go to hell for doing wrong. What few fail to address is the natural law of cause and effect, which makes me wonder if their white magic or “love and light intent” is really even useful in the big scheme of things.

To create a new example scenario, let’s say that you’re having difficulties with a neighbor. Maybe they’re too nosy, or perhaps they talk badly about you to your other neighbors, causing you to live under the tensity of judgmental stares. Or maybe this person steals from you and others. You may want to curse that person, but any Wiccan will tell you to simply do a binding spell to prevent them from doing any more harm, or better yet — a banishing spell to cause them to move away from you so they’re not harassing you or your other neighbors. On the surface these alternatives seem great — you get to cast a spell and affect the energies around you. You get to manipulate an outcome using witchcraft and you don’t get your hands dirty with that mean old “black magic.”

However, cause and effect could completely take your intent and do whatever the hell it wants with it. Remember that old saying: The road to hell is paved with good intentions. So simply having the innocent intent of wanting your neighbor to go away and leave you alone doesn’t mean you’re not going to indirectly bring any harm or negativity to another person. While that ages-old proverb is more about inaction, I’m applying it to the white light concept of casting spells with the idea that they’re not really going to see any type of ripple effect.

To go back to our example: Let’s say you cast that totally innocent spell with the totally innocent intent of wanting your mean neighbor to go away and stop being a jerk. Well, one day you see a big moving truck outside your neighbor’s house, and you see movers packing it full of the jerk’s belongings. He (or she) is moving. Yay, you did it! But what action did “the universe” take for your success?  While it’s completely possible that this person found a better paying job and relocated, it’s also possible that a loved one fell ill, or died. It’s possible that his or her home went into foreclosure. It’s possible that they became too ill to take care of them selves. Did your totally innocent spell cause that? An experienced white light witch will tell you to bless your enemies with good fortune so that they leave your life under positive circumstances — but really, let’s be honest, how many people actually bless their enemies?

Does it matter?
If you’re a witch, you’re a witch. Don’t get too caught up in all the labels and all the shaming that goes on in the pagan community. If you’re practicing witchcraft you are practicing the art (and science) of bending energy at your will. You are already causing ripple effects in every magical work you apply. We can’t be 100% in control of where those ripples go, how turbulent those ripples are, or what kind of damage they cause (if any). That’s not to say you should throw all moral fiber to the wind, though. If anything, keeping these ideas in mind can train you to be more succinct and direct in focusing your intent. Being specific is always a good thing.