The Dark Side of Witchcraft: Does It Exist?

There’s a lot of controversy in our community over the topic of “black magick” and “curses”.

I’ve wanted to discuss this for a while, but haven’t had the time to get into it as deeply as I’d like. I have a couple spells that I’d like to write about, and thought that this needed to come first to explain my own opinion about the “big, bad side of witchcraft”.

Is there a Dark Side of Magick?

Firstly, let’s discuss the definitions of magick and witch. Magick, for me, is the manipulation of energy through intent. A Witch is a person who uses magick purposefully. I’ve said this before, I know (here and here).

I’ve seen many over-complicated and semantically argued definitions, but I like to keep things as simple and encompassing as possible. Witches come in all different shapes, sizes, capacities, and practices- but boiled down, we all practice a purposeful manipulation of energy through intent. Magick, in itself, exists without purposeful manipulation- hence the idea that we are all capable of being witches (without need of ceremony or initiation).

We, as humans, have a wonderful but deliberate habit of categorizing and separating all things into neat little labels; this more than likely stems from our primal ancestors needing to know what was and wasn’t dangerous to their survival in order to make it to the next sunrise. In the modern era, as survival has become less an independent task and more a societal one, we’ve begun labeling each other- using categories to deny and demoralize others for the sake of our own superiority. In the witchy community, the words “black magick” have surfaced over the years. Lately, I’ve heard this term over and over, along with “white magick” and “bunny magick” to describe those who don’t participate in cursing- and in my opinion, both are always done to argue the legitimacy of ones practice over another’s.

If you’ve learned anything about me over the months here at The Spiritual Garden, I’m sure you’ll know that I detest when people feel the need to criticize others for not participating in life the way they do. There is enough room in this universe for all our ideas to co-exist, without needing to trivialize one over the other.

So, let’s begin with the labels, shall we? Is there such thing as black magick, white magick, and what the hell is bunny magick?

In the modern post-Puritan Christian era that we live, we have an inherent and conditioned need to see things as polar opposites. Good versus Evil, Black versus White, Night versus Day, Life versus Death, so on and so forth. Even those of us who’ve strayed far away from the Christian Right have these ideas implanted and indoctrinated into us from an early age. Movies, TV Shows, Comic Books, even the News, create stigmas of Good Guys versus Bad Guys, and we grow up believing that opposites are a natural and occurring principle of the universe.

But, nature and the universe don’t work that way. The Sea, seen as the opposite of Land, still has sand and living vegetation beneath its surface. The Land, opposite of the Sea, still has rivers, lakes, and streams coursing through its exterior. Night is but a continuation of day, as the sun does not disappear but shines its rays as the world turns. Even death is another step in the existence of life, for many, as there are numerous tales and myths of what happens after we die. While every villain in every story, when given the opportunity, has a back story that tugs at the hearts of their audience, and we understand that they just want to be loved and understood- same as we.

“In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang is a concept of dualism in ancient Chinese philosophy, describing how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.” -Wikipedia

However, as a society, we fail to see these gray areas- the continuations and understandings that all things come from one- and we create opposites to explain our places in relation to others. We’re good, so we can distinguish those people as bad. When, in reality, we’re all the same but for a bit of superficial and surface differences.

So, Black Magick, and White Magick- they’re opposites. Labels created by others to lend superiority to their own practices while standing on the backs of those who are different than they are. It’s not something I subscribe to, nor do I believe in it.

I don’t label my magick. I am neither good nor bad, as no matter how well intentioned I wish to be, I will instinctually put my family’s and my own needs before someone else’s. I will instinctually put my family’s and my own protection before someone else’s. It is built into my DNA, as it is with each and every one of us in the Human Species; our instinctual hubris is written in the fine print of our Primal Shadows. Therefore, since I cannot foresee all actions and consequences, I can never know whether the wings of the butterfly flapped today will cause a tsunami on the other side of the world next decade- even if I didn’t mean it to. Only hindsight and history has the advantage of being able to label the past- not us living in it.

The only “color magick” I believe in is that of actual color- not label specific. There is no such thing as black magick, or white magick, just magick.

Which leads me to the term Bunny Magick. Nothing infuriates me more than toxic people projecting their Shadow onto others for the sake of demeaning, and that’s what “Bunny Magick” is. Like in Harry Potter, when Malfoy called Hermione a Mud-Blood, “Bunny Magick” is a foul and pretentious name used by insecure people to condescend. It means “fake witch” or in more recent times, a witch who doesn’t curse (or practice some ancient lineage of witchcraft). I’ve never had anyone call me, to my face anyway, a Bunny Witch, but I’ve heard it passed around about others- and I’m no less vocal about it in their defense than I would be in my own. It’s disgusting to bite our own, when others are chomping at the bit to tear us down from the outside.

This is the only acceptable form of the term bunny magick- one that involves adorable little bunnies

Which brings me to cursing…

In Modern Witchery, curses are usually seen as the opposite of healing, and many bloggers and witchy influencers, have started perpetuating the idea that opposites cannot exists without one another. As you can see, the need to categorize things is strong and alive in our culture, even in our own small community.

Cursing has a long and sordid history in witchcraft, and unfortunately for most Modern Witches, it doesn’t come on the side of our witchy ancestors, but in the tales and histories of Christians Imperialists wishing to expunge the earth of our ancestors’ existence. Even the etymology of the word curse is Old English, and didn’t exist prior to the 13th Century (during the end of the Crusades).

Christianity, in its history, has always needed a fall-guy to make itself seem the better choice. The Church, in its sanctimonious need to be the only institution of worship, created The Devil, and imposed the idea that without constant adoration and visitation of its services, Christians everywhere would rot in eternal pits of hellfire and brimstone. The Devil, ironically, doesn’t exist in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), but was created as the Ultimate Evil for the New Testament.

When the Church came to destroy the Pagans, which meant common- or country- folk and later became known as Heathens, they had a lengthy battle on their hands. The intimate nature of the Common-Folks’ beliefs led to secret gatherings and practices, which meant that even though many were practicing Christianity outwardly- they were bastardizing it with their true Pagan beliefs. This couldn’t stand in the eyes of the The Church, as so, they needed another Devil. Witch became a synonym for evil, and their weapon was…you guessed it, cursing.

Witches were the bad guys…

Innocent followers of the old religions, newly converted, were now terrified that their old priests and priestesses were bewitching and bespelling them, and this lie led them toward the open arms of the Church. Since most were illiterate during this time, ignorance and fear ran rampant. The Church, with its confident manner, became an authority to the people through fear and manipulation. Many were murdered in the name of this tale, and many more were tortured for it.

So, to find that modern witches are embracing this idea that cursing is necessary in an effort to crucify their fellow witches as “fake” or “too-soft” is astounding to me. Before the Crusades, and the burning of our ancestors (as in witches, not blood relations), witches were natural healers. Sages, healers, wise ones, they were the doctors of their times. Intimate in their knowledge of herbs, medicinal remedies, and metaphysical spells, these people were manipulating energies for the sake of purposeful intent long before they were murdered for it.

The idea that cursing is the opposite of healing isn’t a new idea, but it’s not one that I’d have thought we’d perpetuate- especially outside of Christianity. I’ve seen the argument that we hex diseases, and therefore we use cursing while healing- but that to me is semantics (used to prove their bigotry against other witches). I don’t hex a disease, I cure it. In modern times, and in Crusade times, cursing and hexing came with a malicious intent to do harm- and since diseases, scientifically, are not sentient beings, why the hell would I waste my time causing them harm? I want it gone, like I want the dirt I vacuum from my floor gone- I don’t need to curse the dirt to remove it, I just do.

We all have a path we must walk…

Which will lead me into the next argument, Patriarchal Conditioning in Modern Witches.

In my experience, though I don’t have statistics to back this up, I’ve seen more women openly practicing witchcraft than men. I don’t think this is by accident, and on both levels speaks to the condition we, as a society, have been made to live through.

Patriarchal Conditioning is a term defined as the indoctrination of our society into the belief that men are superior to women. It’s so subtly laced into our every thought that until we’re made aware of it, we don’t even know it’s there- sort of like breathing. (If you’re interested, read A Skeptical Feminist by Barbara G. Walker- her work does more for this topic than I could ever attempt to.)

Such a good book…

Even in a free country like America, we represent a Patriarchal Society that tells women, or femininity, that it’s inferior to men, or masculinity. In this conditioning, we’re led to believe that women are the only ones effected, as we’re the ones constantly in danger. However, men or the masculine, are also affected- as any semblance of femininity is shunned, creating monsters out of humans that refuse the basic instincts to nurture and commune with one another.

Again, it’s our need to define things as opposites. Masculine versus Feminine in this case, and as such, we’ve allowed one to be held as superior to the other. When, in fact, they are both one and the same. A continuation, or fluid agreement, between one and the other- not two sides of the same coin, as many would like us to believe.

There are great books on this topic, and since I’m but an amateur in the science of Patriarchal conditioning, I’ll let you do your own research, but I will use the premise here in my limited capacity.

Witchcraft has gained popularity over the years, and when asked why, in my opinion, it boils down to a swinging of a pendulum. The Feminine Aspects of our race are tired of living under the oppressive thumb of their Masculine counterparts. This doesn’t just apply toward women, or those who identify as women, but to men, and those who identify as men, as well. It is us, as a whole. The Masculine, in its extremism, has no place for the Feminine, yet, we all contain equal parts of both. To deny a piece of ourselves for so long, can only end in two ways- explosion or implosion.

Balance, not opposites…

Explosion is the Masculine who projects the Feminine onto everyone and everything, hating with such rage and menace that no one is safe. It is the Man who rapes, taking the power of others away in his desperate attempt to gain his own. It is the Woman who judges others for their sexuality and individuality because she herself was denied those things- slut and body-shaming her sisters in an effort to reclaim her own stolen energy. Without being able to express the Feminine, both- though extreme and different in their grasps of power- explode outwardly at others’ expressions of feminine.

The Implosion is self hatred, and usually turns into projection and Explosion if not dealt with. It is the Man who is afraid to cry and cannot stand his own son to cry, ridiculing him and calling him sissy- projecting his own self-hatred of his feminine onto his child. It is the Woman who is afraid to be seen as weak and cannot bond with her own daughter, causing a disconnect and coldness between the two- projecting her own self-hatred of her feminine onto her child.

Luckily, as we’ve grown as a society, both in connection and intelligence, we’ve started to see these conditions in ourselves and in others- and we’ve begun to rectify them. In doing so, we’ve craved a new and different view- and for a lot of us, the freedom of Witchcraft has provided it.

Witches in just the generation before me had to hide their practices, in fear of ridicule or worse, whereas we- now- can flaunt them wide open and live (mostly) without fear. However, that conditioning, the Patriarchal thumb, is so strong in our lives, that we’re now projecting it onto each other without even realizing it.

The Feminine aspect of witchery is healing and love. That doesn’t mean that the Masculine is cursing and hate- that’s conditioning telling you that it must be opposite to prove one superior to the other! They are not opposites, they are flowing continuations of one another. If Feminine is healing and love, Masculine is protection and passion. If Feminine is pregnancy and the moon, Masculine is strength and the sun.

It is the pregnant Feminine being held by her loving Masculine, it is the Feminine who cares for the sick child as the Masculine makes sure the bills are paid. It is the Masculine who goes to work while the Feminine stays home to clean, and all of the wonderful grays in between. There are no genders to these roles but the ones we’ve been conditioned to believe exist. We are all equally capable of both, but only one is touted as superior in our society.

Interconnected energies of masculine and feminine create balance…

Calling a witch a “Bunny Witch”, or a “Black Witch”, for practicing differently than you is the same as a another woman judging what you wear and calling you a “Slut”. Slut is a patriarchal term used to keep women pure for men- as it doesn’t apply to the masculine archetype at all. Any woman who uses the word slut as a bad word is perpetuating an idea that isn’t even her own, simply because she’s been indoctrinated to hate the feminine aspect of herself. The same concept applies to any derogatory term used to negate another witch’s practice.

Why, then, would we create that stigma in our own community? Why indoctrinate future generations of witches to believe something that isn’t a truth, but an opinion, and one that is probably based on a conditioning we aren’t even aware of. We do it out of hubris and arrogance- and, in reality, fear. We’re so scared we’re wrong, that our path isn’t the one that will lead to salvation, that we project that fear onto others. As if the numbers of followers we convert will lead to validation of our inner beliefs… (sound familiar??)

I don’t curse. I believe that curses exist, and I believe that every witch has the power to harm, but I don’t believe I should. That doesn’t mean I’ll ever label another witch something they haven’t labeled themselves simply because they practice differently than I do. There’s enough people doing that outside our community, no need to make it a thing inside.

Which leads me to my final point: Why I Don’t Curse- We are All Shadow and Karma.

“If you knew that every ill action against you came from a place of pain, and not hate, would you react with healing or anger?”

This question was asked of me a long time ago by someone who is no longer in this life. Back then, I was young and naive and I answered with some smart ass comment about how in a perfect world I would know every intention of every person and act accordingly, but until then it didn’t matter- I treated people exactly as I thought they deserved.

I don’t feel that way any more.

In my Shadow Work, I’ve come to realize that even those who’ve hurt us the worst aren’t without their own demons. I’ve also come to realize that we’re all one mass consciousness underneath the surface- connect by more than will ever separate us.

As hard as it is for us to fathom, every single human being on this planet is living as vivid and complex a life as we are. They have feelings, rooted and vast, that mimic the oceans of our own, and those feelings are just as fragile and easily broken as our’s.

And, no matter how intentional we live our lives, and how kind we are purposefully, we will end up hurting someone’s heart. We will cause scars, invisible to the naked eye, on someone else’s life- and even if we don’t notice them, for them- they may run deep and never heal.

In Shadow Work, I’ve begun accepting a glaringly obvious truth about myself- I am not perfect. There are times when I’ve been rude, arrogant, dismissive, unfriendly, and many other negative emotions, due to my own mood and circumstances- even if I’ve not been intentional in those actions.

I am both light and dark all the time

All those times I’ve been less than a perfectly empathetic human, I’ve caused harm. I can’t even begin to judge the depths of that harm, because it didn’t happen to me. The time I was short with the cashier, because I was cranky, could have been the icing on the cake of a very bad day for her. Those terrible words I spouted to my husband during a manic episode might still burn when he thinks of them. The person I cut out of my life, due to their toxic behavior, might be in desperate need of unconditional love.

That’s not to mention our impacts on our planet, and society as a whole. Any time we judge, we’re causing harm. Any time we choose not to help, we’re causing harm. Even if we do each one of those unintentionally, it still can affect someone else- and it’s not our call as to how much or how little it’s allowed to bother them.

We’ve become this narcissistic society that believes in an US versus THEM mentality (again with the opposites), and we don’t usually see our own roles in the damages our race has inflicted on the world. We’re not the individual or corporation deforesting the Amazon Rainforest, so we see ourselves as better. Yet, our consumerism, greed, and neglect of our planet has allowed corporations and individuals to see the potential dollar signs in deforesting a place like the Amazon.

We’re all guilty indirectly, just as much as we believe others are directly guilty.

If we were to imagine our entire life on a scale, judged by a third party, would it always tip in favor of good?

We’d like to think so, but as someone who is very self-aware of her shortcomings, I know where mine would fall.

I intentionally try to be a good person. However, even in doing so, I can and have hurt people. In my dedication to my husband and son, I’ve neglected friendships. In my enjoyment of quiet time, I’ve declined invitations. In my haste to accomplish goals, I’ve ignored others.

An example that still haunts me: I’d been in a search party for a four year old boy with autism a few years ago. His body was found less than 100ft from where I’d been searching. He drowned while we were looking elsewhere. As helpful as I’d intended to be, a little boy lost his life. A family was forever changed, and I’d been within grasp of him for several minutes before moving in another direction. It wasn’t my fault, I know this- but that doesn’t change the harm I unintentionally caused that family. If only I’d gone left instead of right that night…

Those are just things I’ve done unintentionally. I’ve still committed “pains” intentionally. Judging and gossiping, anger and spite, etc.

I am not a terrible person, but I am not a ball of freaking sunshine either. I am not black and white, but a muddy mix of gray that tries its best to live in acceptance of both sides.

As we all are, when we’re honest with ourselves.

Therefore, if we are all Shadow- we are all mistakes, whether intentional or not, what right do we have to curse another for their “sins”. I use the term sin, not in the biblical sense, but more in an ironic sense. Sins were punishable, and we’ve chosen- individually and socially- to act as judge, jury, and executioner in many instances of our every day.

Everyone has a story, and most intentional and unintentional harm is sent by way of pain.

It’s a hard reality to accept, but if I look at myself and my own actions- I can see how true it must be for others. I might be more aware of myself than some people, but I don’t deem myself special- I am like others, and others are like me.

If you were to think back to a time you had a miscommunication with someone, and even if you weren’t to blame, would you consider the feelings it caused the other person to be invalid? Our entire lives are not made up of truths and lies, or black and white facts, but experiences viewed through lenses. And if we’re not seeing what we’re meant to see, in the way it was meant to be seen, it matters not what the intentions of the person who put it before us was.

And that’s why I don’t curse. When judged by the Feather of Truth, I want my heart to be lighter because I accepted that we are all one and the same. Until I completely understand someone, and have viewed everything through their eyes and experiences, I cannot presume to know why they do what they do.

For me, I do not have the hubris or arrogance to believe I’m in any way better than they, or that I cause less harm than they simply because I walk with intention.

And it’s also why you’ll never hear me use the terms “white magick”, “black magick”, or anything in between. My magick comes with my intention, not a label of good or bad.

It is me, and I am it.

There are no opposites, only the whole.

Until next time, my friends…