Mastering Witchcraft posts part one and part deux generated some commentary and a posting that I noticed. These deserve some special attention. If you haven't read the comments section of those posts, you may want to. That I didn't include them here does not mean they are not worthy of review. People made some very good points for and against my point of view.
I am pulling out three of note.
First is Jack's post on the issue, Love Philtres a Few Questions. Jack makes an excellent point of seeing the magickal technology and using it for purposes other than its originally reported use.
I have made this same argument after attending the darkest lecture on magick I have ever seen or heard of to some friends that were deeply offended. I saw very experienced people very nervous after that one. For me, I learned about the other viewpoints that are out there in the magickal community. Think of this quote, "Unfortunately, with this spell I can only get the person confined to a mental institution for three days."
I learned how to use a technique purported to do great harm and reversed engineered it as a method of healing a person so targeted. Most of spells shared could easily be reversed engineered. I learned a great deal from his lecture. He was a very studied fellow. I liked his personality. Normally, I'd hit up someone with the kind of talent he had for a conversation after the presentation. He was simply too dark for me.
The second coment came from Brother Christopher of Runeworker (my underline):
I like your approach to ethics and I agree with you. If something is unethical in doing it through ordinary means, then why is it ethical to do it with magic? I know people who would never pick up a gun or a knife and kill someone, but yet they seemed okay with doing magic that would bring about the same result. It's kind of like people who say they are pro-life and yet for the death penalty and encouraging killing terrorists. However, I think comparing a magical concoction made with edible herbs and spices which have very little physiological effects (unless your allergic) to a powerful narcotic that will put anyone out to where they cannot make their own decisions is not the same at all. If you did make a concoction that had powerful narcotic effects (which there are herbs that can be done with that) then yes, I do see a problem with that. I can also see a parallel with using an excess of alcohol to achieve the same effect. But a tea (barely even that using Huson's method)
The rub here is what each of us feels the impact of magick can be. Christopher is quite correct in that the the physical ingredients are harmless. I fully understand his point and would agree with him had I not had some profound life experiences that lead me to the opposite conclusion.
Expertly done magick, can co-opt ones faculties in ways much more extensive than many would be comfortable knowing.
I was once at a public event. A speaker was just introduced. At that moment, I noticed a man thirty to fifty feet away. This man was part of a group that everyone assumed was evangelical Christian. They had been singing hymns around the event and picking up every piece of literature they could find. He had a very military bearing. The man took a deep breath as he was about to vomit forth some Christian message to all the pagans.
I looked at the speaker and saw something I can only describe as a yellow snake-like being fly from the area of his head. It moved fast. For reasons I don't know, my eyes darted back to the speaker and then tried to find the snake and the man it was obviously moving toward. All this occured in the a space of a heartbeat.
The man was gone.
This was on an open plain in a park. There is no way this man could have physically hid himself. He did not shout his message. He wasn't there.
Was he suddenly made so uninteresting that even in looking for him I couldn't see him? Even if I couldn't see him, why did he not shout his message? Was he physically moved someplace else like on I Dream of Jeannie? That sounds far fetched to me but I will swear on a box full of kittens to what I saw and didn't see that day. I have no idea what happened to the man.
Magick can do much more than most of us realize. I stand by my assertion that in the right hands, the philters we discussed could get someone between the sheets that in any other circumstances would never have gone there. Most folks do not have that skill but I know it does exist in some of the most talented of our peers.
This is why my perspective is different from Brother Christopher's.
The final comment is Jason Miller.
Your opinion is well noted, and speaking for myself have no problem with it. I also do not do, or endorse, all the things Huson talks about in his book. The difference is that you condemn the whole work for the bits you disagree with. I do not. You however are entitled to your opinion, and to express it. When I talk about malifica and curses, I talk about some rituals that I would never do. Still I talk about them because it IS part of magic AND it is important to know about. Huson was writing in an overly dramatic style, and leaning a bit towards the diabolical when he wrote his work, but do be it. Now as to philtres - I see no difference between a magical philtre for influence and an influencing spell of other kinds.
My response a was as follows. I have added a very disturbing question at the end.
It is true what you say. When I hear you speak, you clearly state what is within your ethical boundaries. This is why I trust you as a human being, buy your books and recommend your work to others. I do that because not only do you say it, I believe you when you say it. I have a very sensitive bullshit meter and while we disagree on some very emotional topics, my bullshit meter has never gone off with you.
Huson, on the other hand, while never saying so, seems to indicate that these methods are indeed acceptable. This, in my opinion, taints his teachings and people have to be very careful and thoughtful when reading him.
I think you are such a person that is more than capable of doing so. Of course, you are not the only one. I think there are many young people out there, whose personalities may not be as well-formed as of yet, solely due to age, that may make serious errors after reading him. Hormones are powerful. There may be others that read his work at face value.
I have had more than one surprisingly young readers email privately asking for advice that are more book-educated than I in the realms of magick. They tend to remind me of a young Jack Flash.
Therefore, I take a harsh stand against his work. If for no other reason, so others stop and think. Once they do that, my job as a public writer is done.
Here I have to add a bit that was not part of my original reply.
Jason also made me think of why I find this type of spell more disturbing than other influencing spells. It could be because the method looks too much like dropping a roofie. It may also be that Jason has taught me much about links and their effective use. To me this makes the magick done in this way much more powerful. I also wonder, if you feed someone a link like that and digestion makes it part of the body, do you have a link that lasts quite a long time? If so, what is the impact of such a thing?
I do not know the answer to that question but asking them gives me pause. I would not be happy if such a link was created within me. Nor, would I want to create that link with someone else. The resulting feedback may be very very difficult to deal with.