A Wiccan of 25 years, Sage likes to put her background as a writer and teacher to use by helping people learn about this NeoPagan path.
Can't Hex, Can't Heal
A common hotly-debated philosophy among Witches is, "A Witch who cannot hex, cannot heal." The debate is especially true of the Wiccan Witch community. Our religious ethics dictate what appears (on the surface, at least) to be clear directives about our behavior and intents when working magic.
Some people get very defensive about this, arguing that hexing is never necessary, and certainly not required to study magic. They invoke the Threefold Law* and the Wiccan Rede* as evidence that we couldn't possibly resort to "dark magic." I think so many Witches—particularly Wiccan Witches—are so afraid of being associated with "evil" that talking about hexing or cursing causes a knee-jerk reaction in protest.
I agree with the idea that if you can't hex, you can't heal, though I don't think it means effective spell casting requires malevolence or unethical behavior. Allow me to explain.
Wiccan Witchcraft Ethics Argument
Magic is Neutral
different are all too often are conditioned to think of magic as divided into "good" or "evil." Many use the terms "black" and "white" magic, which have gotten too tangled up in history as euphemisms for evil and good forces, respectively. These terms imply that magic comes from one of two sources: helpful or harmful. I don't see magic as being from a force of good or evil, but nature. I believe it's neutral—like fire, like electricity, like heat—it's energy, and has no alignment of its own. It's merely a resource to tap.
Rather than calling magic good/white or evil/bad, which perpetuates this notion that magic is either from gods or devils, I started searching for different terms that I felt were more applicable. At first, I used the terms "positive" and "negative"—which, to me, was more like the different charges of a battery. Even though it's applicable, it seems the word "negative" is too tied with negative connotations to be practical here.
I've come to embrace the terms "constructive" and "destructive" now. Constructive is not always benevolent (I can construct something to help you or something to harm you) and destructive is not always malevolent (I can destroy you, or destroy something that's hurting you).
Rather than being different, or from separate sources, they are two sides of the same coin. Neither one of them are inherently benevolent or malevolent. Both can be used to help or to harm.
Mother of Modern Witchcraft
Hexing Doesn’t Always Mean Harming
The word "hex" often has negative connotations. The word dates back to the early 1800s and simply meant "doing Witchcraft on someone." It didn't make any distinctions between good or bad magic. As Witchcraft was primarily associated with malevolent magic at the time, the word took on negative connotations. Cursing is often used synonymously with hexing—it's associated with evil intentions. But if you look at hexing and/or cursing as means of destructive magic, you can see that you can use them for good as well as for bad.
After all, destruction isn't always automatically bad. Is it bad to destroy an old, crumbling, dangerous building to make way for a new one? Is it wrong to destroy the cancer cells running around in someone's body? Is it wrong to thwart the efforts of someone trying to harm you, and act in self-defense? And let's not forget one of the most valuable uses of hexing or cursing: breaking other hexes and curses! Without studying magic completely, it leaves people defenseless against those who would use magic for dark, evil, unethical, and immoral reasons—you cannot effectively fight what you don't understand.
My Take on “Can’t Hex/Can’t Heal”
The notion that if you can’t hex, you can’t heal does not say to me that I must go out and perform spells on people with mal-intent. I don’t have to hurt anyone to learn hexing and destructive magic, just like learning to defend yourself in karate doesn’t mean you must hurt someone.
Someone who refuses to learn to work with destructive magic will have an incomplete base of knowledge and experience. It would be like a doctor who only wants to study preventative medicine but not learn how to cure diseases. It’s like a police officer who only wanted to know how to rescue people in trouble, but did not want to learn how to fight or defend against criminals. People who are afraid to explore the darker and more destructive forces of magic are, in my opinion, imbalanced, and thus less effective.
The creative force of magic, as we’ve seen, can be just as dangerous if someone would choose to misuse it. Likewise, destructive magic doesn’t necessarily need to be harnessed for ill intent; it can also be used for beneficial purposes.
Whether you’re using magic for good intent or bad intent, it all operates on the same principles. If you want to learn it properly, you need to learn it thoroughly. How you use it then is based on your own choices. Learning it through and through is not going to make you an evil Witch; it’s going to make you a better Witch. Whether you’re a good person or a bad person will depend on what you choose to do with it.
- Keep in mind, Witchcraft and Wicca are not interchangeable. Many Witches who are not Wiccan have entirely different opinions on magic and ethics than Wiccans do.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 Mackenzie Sage Wright
David Brimson on April 23, 2020:
This has really helped level up my thoughts on this subject
Alexis on May 04, 2019:
I really enjoyed your article. I've been a practicing witch on the LHP for over 20 years, so I habe quite a bit of knowledge onj what many call "acts of dark/black magick". Just like everything in life witches have some skills that they are simply better as that anothers. Emotion and intent is key when casting any spell to come to fruition, and some are better at harnessing certain emptions than others makig those spells stronger. Some witches need focal objects to get in a certain headspace; such as, candles, incense, bells, wands, crystals, talsimans/amulets, etc. Others don't need to have those items, can use the power of pure will and discipline of their mind through deep trance meditation to obtain the same reaults.
I really liked your look on magick as being neutral. While there are things that are good and evil, social constructs, the media, and relgious beliefs (including some pagan beliefs) for the last few centuries have imposed what witchcraft practuces are good and evil. Everybpath of the pccult has been perverted in some way or another over the years. For example, Gerald Gardner and Wiccans believe in "The Rule of Three". Qhen you talk to new wtches and old who belive kn this "law" javea twisted version of it's original form. Media such as the movie, "The Craft" have helped to twist it even farther. Gardner incorporated this law onto the wiccan rede, but like so many wiccan beliefs it is a twisted from from another culture and path. TROT comes from an ancient belief in Hindu we all know very well, Karma. However, it's in Hinduism it means nothing like the "consequences" TROT says they will be. In Hinduism it has morenl to do with affect on your past, present, and future existence in this life, you last life, and your future life, but here's the kciker...only if its deserving ox a megative reprocussion. According to Wicca ANYhing you do to someone no matter what theu did will come back on you. The craft comes from nature; evil and good, black or white, dark/black and light magick is a box witches put themselves into. Being a grey witch is the only "netural ground" that is accepted by the RHP. We've allowed society's beleiefs to impede on our practices for too long. Now many of the RHP practioners deem anyone who walks the LHP automatically as a Satanist and evil, which couldn't be farther from the truth. And to many on the LHP, thise whonwalk the RHP will never know true magick because they dont accept the evil with good. That they believe in so many deities, but refuse to accept that Satan (which is a Christian given name, I call him Lucifer texts older than the bible mention His name) and therefore will never truly have wisdom of what is hidden.
I also loved how you said wicca and witchcraft are jot interchangeable. I've had many a heated debate over that, because so many Wiccans are taught its traditional and the oldest fork of magick when in reality its only coming up on 70 years. Druids worshipped nature as Wiccans due, but they had some prettu darn "dark magick". Anyway, i have a saying that usually starts getting me tons of comments and that, "All Wiccans are witches, but not all witches are Wiccan".
With that Ill say again you have an excellant article.
Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on September 19, 2013:
Thank you Mysticmoonlight, I think a lot of people fear magic unnecessarily when a friend or family member studies it, or even if a person is interested but all those horror movies and rumors scare them off. It's definitely just a tool-- the outcome depends on how a person uses it. Thanks for commenting!
Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on September 19, 2013:
That's a great point, Benjamin. Thanks for sharing, appreciate your comment!
MysticMoonlight on September 19, 2013:
Excellent explanations here, WiccanSage! You really hit the nail on the head describing and explaining how magic really has no "label", that it is the practitioner's intent, not the magic itself that makes the magical result what it is/will be. Your explanation of magic being neutral energy is dead on. Very informative and you explained things so well and in a way that is uncomplicated, great work!
Benjamin Chege on September 19, 2013:
Nice hub Sage. They say if you want o know a humble person give them power and money. If they will still be humble after that, then they are really humble. The same with magic, if it really exists, what you choose to do with it is what is right or wrong rather than the magic itself.