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Wicca and Ethics: Is Magic for Personal Gain Wrong?

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.

Magic for Personal Gain

Is it wrong to do magic for personal gain? There are those who would have you believe it is. To be honest, I don’t know where this notion came from—I don’t remember it being around 30 years ago, and I don’t remember reading it in any older books on Wicca, or Witchcraft for that matter. Near as I can tell, the first time I ever really heard it was from the television show Charmed.

Yet it’s not an uncommon claim today— that magic for personal gain is somehow unethical, immoral, selfish and an abuse of power.

Pardon me, but to that all I have to say is, poppycock.

Mistake? Or Fair Game?

Money Magic

Money Magic

Why suffer and struggle?

Your Gods and nature has given you the tools to help yourself in this life-- why not use them?

Your Gods and nature has given you the tools to help yourself in this life-- why not use them?

Ethics in Wicca

Wicca is a religion of strong ethics. We’re supposed to take responsibility for our choices and our actions. We’re supposed to do things with forethought of the consequences and how our actions affect others. We’re supposed to avoid harming anyone and anything unnecessarily.

How does that translates into it being wrong to help ourselves, or do things to improve our own lives? Getting what you need, or even getting what you want, is not necessarily unethical. What ethics asks us to consider is how we get stuff.

It’s not wrong to want a better job or a promotion, though it would be wrong to hurt an innocent person who is your competition. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to pass a test, though it would be wrong to cheat. There is nothing wrong with wanting something, there would be something wrong with stealing it. So using magic to help you get ahead, to be alert and on your game, to get things you want— there's wrong with that. As long as you’re not trying to go about it by mowing down innocents, cheating and stealing, there’s no ethical dilemma here.

What Else is Magic For?

I think back to our ancient ancestors who used magic in their daily lives. They blessed the cattle and cast spells for the rains to nourish the crops. They made herbal remedies and potions to heal everything from a fever to a sore back to heart problems. They cast spells on the home and the children for protection.

The idea of not using magic for personal gain would probably make them laugh. Our Witchy-inclined ancestors were very practical people. This is why and how they discovered magic, it’s uses, it’s applications and all the knowledge they had—because they had needs, and nowhere else to turn to fill those needs. This is what magic was for—not parlor tricks, not to impress your friends or scare your enemies, or martyr yourself to help others while you wasted away, but mainly to help yourself—to bring health, prosperity, fertility and happiness.

Magic Is Not For Entertainment

At least, not our kind.

At least, not our kind.

Money Isn't Evil

There's nothing wrong with being compensated for services.

There's nothing wrong with being compensated for services.

No 'Real Witch' Accepts Pay—Really?

Another argument in the ‘personal gain’ clause is that real Witches won’t take money. Once again I can hear my ancient ancestors—those wise women who helped their villages—chuckling.

Magic is certainly not to be used as a con job or to take advantage of people. No one should use Witchcraft to promise “100% guaranteed results for just $29.95”, because we all know that’s bogus. Likewise, it’s wrong to ‘hook’ someone and get them addicted to magic, urging them to pay for service after service, threatening them with all kinds of hardship and misfortunes.

It’s unethical to swindle people, it’s not unethical to accept money for services. There’s nothing wrong with asking for money to at least cover your own expenses, if not a little more to compensate you for your time and efforts. A fair amount for honest services rendered is far from unethical.

Of course you don’t have to charge friends and family—but if you’re going to offer your services to acquaintances and strangers, either part-time or full-time, you surely deserve something for your troubles. If it makes you feel any better, use a sliding scale fee or charge for supplies and allow the seeker to donate what they feel is fair. But don’t feel guilty for being paid or trading for services—this is how it has always been.

What's Your Opinion?

Personal Gain

Every day we do things for personal gain. We work to earn money to pay rent (money has replaced livestock and crops in sustaining life for most of us); we cook to enjoy a nourishing meal; we have children so we can enjoy them and watch them grow up. We even do nice things for other people so we can feel good about ourselves.

Life (and nature) is a give and take. Whether we live in an old society in which people are inter-dependent, they trade or barter, or in which little green pieces of paper become credits passed back and forth in exchange, it all balances out to the same thing: give and take. By participating in this cycle, everyone benefits. There is nothing wrong with taking fairly as long as you are also giving fairly.

I personally think Wiccan ethics are a far deeper consideration than many books will have you believe. To say we never hex (which I address in this article) or saying we 'harm none' is oversimplifying things with absolutes. What our ethical liturgy seems to really be pointing to is using your head in any given situation.

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John Terrel on October 28, 2019:

Actually If I remember it correctly. Sabrina, the teenage witch(tv show from 96-03) and the movie Teen Witch(1989) also suggested that magic has consequences long before charmed came along. It makes for an entertaining story, but it also spreads misinformation.

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on October 30, 2014:

Oh, what a scam. There are many people like that. I think of it as personal as well, and I feel it works best when personal. But then there are also those who don't practice or have access to someone who practices who really might need the help.

Aralys on October 23, 2014:

Weird, I never think of magic as somethings for others. It's always something personal, that's my way to see it.

The money part makes me remember when a gipsy said I was cursed and wanted my money to"cure me" then she curse me because I don't give it to her...

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on August 15, 2013:

That's true. Negative thoughts just lower our vibrations and it becomes a vicious cycle. Again, your experience and wisdom are most appreciated. Thanks for your comments!

Jean Bakula from New Jersey on August 15, 2013:

I understand the attitudes people have because I read tarot out of what some would call a New Age store, but the owner calls it Metaphysical, and most of the people that frequent the place are Wiccans. I've learned a lot about natural cures, and the power that a circle of people casting a--I hate to say spell--because normally they are good wishes to help another person or people. In my metaphysics classes, I learned any thoughts we have go into the All, which means the Universe. If we all had more positive thoughts, the world would be a better place. Think about times in your life when you felt really good and positive about yourself. What happens? You draw more positive energy and good things to yourself and those around you. It's not scary, bad witch stuff. I guess people are just too fearful. Take care.

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on August 15, 2013:

Thank you so much Jean for all your input with your experience. That's exactly my point, it can take hours to do a chart, a reading, prepare for and cast a spell, prepare some kind of potion or charm, etc., that it is unrealistic to always expect people to offer to do it for free. What will happen is that people who do have these valuable skills will not offer them because they will not have the time to take away from work and other responsibilities.

I agree, if someone is accepting payment for a service, it all needs to be clearly outlined up front-- and I always warn people that if they are prepared to work for donation only, don't be disgruntled when the person you work for has a vastly different idea of your worth than you do. It's the risk you run; this is why I only recommend taking donations if you truly do not care about being paid at all and are truly just helping others as a public service.

I appreciate your comments!

Jean Bakula from New Jersey on August 14, 2013:

Hello WiccanSage,

I have noticed that people have been calling Tarot Cards "evil" and "black magic" as well. I'm not sure if it is the political climate in the US now, which has become so overly conservative that it's taken us back into the 1950's.

I had my first Tarot Reading at 16, and read both Tarot and cast Astrology horoscopes. People refuse to understand that Astrology is so much more than just where your Sun was on your day of birth. I've written about it here and on other sites, including my own, many times. I've described the math takes about a half hour, and even a basic interpretation takes at least 5 hours. So I'm supposed to take 5 1/2 hours of my time to get this info for somebody, then either discuss it in person or write an email, and do it for free? What about all the seminars I paid for, and all the reference books, all the workshops?

In the 1980's I used to get $100.00 for a chart. Then people expect you to update it for free too, which of course I don't.

I have found that sometimes when money comes into it, it causes problems. You need to be very clear up front that doing any kind of readings costs money, because it's work, and very time consuming. I have Wiccan friends and don't see any harm in a group meditating or trying different natural herbs to try to cure an illness for somebody. If witches didn't cure people before there were so many drugs on the market, how do people think they were cured from illness? It had to be by women who knew the medicinal qualities of herbs.

Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on August 14, 2013:

Thank you Karthikkash, I am flattered. I honestly believe that between fiction trying to drill it into people's heads you have to be a 'good witch' or a 'bad witch', and with the knee-jerk reaction of trying to prove Wiccans are not evil/Satanic, people are trying to paint a very unrealistic, impractical image. And it's just not necessary. Magic is indeed a tool to be utilized, and as with most tools using it responsibly is a choice you can make. I appreciate your comments!

Karthik Kashyap from India on August 14, 2013:

You are one witch who is practical and talks sense. I have come across various wicca related forums and all I hear is people talking about the 3-fold law, or not to use magick for personal gains, which makes me smirk sometimes.

I believe that magick should be learnt for the purpose of making life better, not only for someone else, but also for ourselves. What is the point of learning magick if a person doesn't want to take its advantage for oneself? I think people who talk about not using it for personal use are either misinformed or have absolutely no idea about magick.

Thanks for posting this article. I hope people change certain wrong opinions after reading your article.

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