Saturday, September 29, 2012

Magicians Accept No Blame

This is  follow-up to the post, Should Magick Be Taught?

I have encountered all sorts of people that have accepted that their magick worked, a few that said their magick had gone wrong, but aside from myself, I have never heard a magician, witch or other practitioner say that s/he hurt someone with magick accidentally, due to negligence, the fates or something else. I have seen people even deny the possibility that their magick could have possibly impacted a third party negatively. This disturbs me.

How is it possible that only magick is devoid of the possibility of error, negative impact and even accidental death when industries like automobile manufacturers, construction companies and the medical establishment cannot manage the same? Oh, no, I see, it is only your magick that can't hurt anyone. Really?

If I negligently drive an automobile and hit a child, people would blame me. I would blame me. Yet, if I saw a dangerous intersection that the city wouldn't fix and I did magick to inspire them to do so and that magick caused a fatal accident and that accident inspired the change, most magick users would say I probably wasn't responsible. It would have happened anyway. If it was their magick, it definitely would have happened anyway.


Because you really can't see magick working. It isn't as if you see a giant hand pluck the kid from a safe place and stick in him in the road to be hit. No way to tell really, is there?

Then how is it we can tell when our magick worked? Hmmm? We take all of the credit and none of the responsibility.

I see three problems here.

1. The universe we are working in is too big. Magick flows down the channel of least resistance like water running behind a wall in your bathroom. You may never see it until the damage is done. The difference is you can't deny the water caused the damage. The possible paths of magickal flow is really too big trace cause and effect reliably. In short, no one really sees magick work The giant hand never appears. This allows for plausible deniability. It doesn't sound any better for us than politicians does it?

2. Given the nature of humans, we take credit for what works, and live in denial about the rest. To me, denial is by far the worst trait of the magician bar none. You cannot grow spirituality or as a practitioner if you are in denial about what you have done.

3. A fundamental belief that magick flows where it ought to and thus any result is right and just. There are spiritual truths, thereby, to be gained. I can't argue with this. I can simply place in it another context. No one says that man cheating on his spouse is ok because, well, there are spiritual lessons to be learned from the situation, even though there are spiritual lessons for all involved. Is an act that harms another acceptable because of medium of action?

I have no conclusions to this one either. I am just pointing something out.


Jason Miller, said...

Here again I think that uou are making some incorrect assumtions.

I for ome have accidentally hurt people with magic. One instance i even wrote about in my first book.

That said the intersection example you give above is a bad example. If you hit someone with your car directly, it is on no way comprable to the blame on someone that lobbied to have an intersection made safer whether they used magic or not.

Also with magic we do have the ability to divine some outcomes ahead of time And to specify a lack of harm.

Robert said...

"One instance i even wrote about in my first book." Good for you! I don't remember that as it has been a while since it came out.

I disagree with you comment on the example. I do not think lobbying would be the cause of any accident. Magick that would motivate to a city counsel to act is likely to cause an accident like that. How many times have you seen people be willing to act only after a tragedy? It is a common human pattern and a path wild magick could *conceivably* take.

Yes, we have the ability to divine but I have got lazy and not done that. I have been lucky so far but divinations can be misread especially when about oneself. No one is perfect, accidents happen even with due diligence.

Specify lack of harm...yeah we seems to work that but I also think you have to deeply mean what you say. Our egos can override that.

Scott Stenwick said...

It seems to me that like the previous article this is still drawing an unwarranted distinction between magical and mundane actions in terms of assigning "blame."

We take all sorts of mundane actions every day that are completely reasonable in context but which if followed to their logical conclusion could wind up harming someone else. If you dress nicely for a job interview you're more likely to get the job, and if you get it somebody else doesn't. Driving this route versus that route to work will change traffic patterns, and it's not inconceivable that an accident could be caused by that simple choice. I don't see how anybody who really operates from that paradigm could be anything but paralyzed with regard to the world around them.

I don't know who you're running into who claims that magick is somehow automatically infallible, but those people simply are wrong. Magick will generally follow the path of least probabilistic resistance that meets the requirements of the spell, which I think is the root of many stories about spirits fulfilling the letter but not the spirit of the magician's charge. If I had cast the spell in your example and it worked as described, you're damn right it would be my fault for not specifying my charge properly. Just about every other magician I know would feel the same way.

Personally I find that "lack of harm" is a little too vague, but Jason has the right idea there. Whenever I cast a spell I make sure the charge includes two main sections - injunctions and limitations. The injunctions are what you want the spell to do, and the limitations are what you do not want the spell to do. I will add that I'm pretty emphatic that magicians should use limitations in Mastering the Mystical Heptarchy to prevent exactly the sort of thing you're talking about here.