What many fail to recognize is that even dark magic can be practiced with love and positivity as the driving forces behind it. I tend to think of myself as a gray, or shadow witch, and I think darkness is a place of justice, reflection, and healing, not strictly a place of wrong-doing, and that light can be manipulated only to reveal what the shallow inhabitants of this realm want us to see.
I am writing this on Thursday, the 21st. Up until perhaps twenty minutes ago, I always looked at magic as formless, constantly being drawn into various actions and then recycled. Maybe it is. It seems a contradiction to say that magic is a positive and loving art and at the same time is neutral. My response to that thought was that most people like to have an optimistic outlook, even if it is just for their own gain, and so most of them approach magic with this outlook, and as they draw on the potential of the universe, it shapes itself to this view of the world, even if the practitioner in question views it as neutral. So what I classify as dark, not evil intentions, such as performing a hex to stop corporations from hurting their employees, or a banishing ritual to protect those I love, can be done with positive driving forces, and they do not necessarily indicate some vindictive meanness within yourself. After all, if magic is an expression of the force of life, and magic can have dark expression for positive reasons, then it can be an analogy for other things, like a mother bear attacking a threat to protect her cubs. They are two types of action, driven by positive forces.
Magic is the essence of life, and even in love can be either light or dark. My friend and I, both gray witches, got together last night and did two separate rituals. The first was hers, to cast protection over protesters in Ferguson, Missouri. The second was mine, a feminist ceremonial ritual I wrote to basically speak out, balance out the odds so feminists, LGBT activists, animal rights supporters, environmentalists, and other groups have a chance to preserve what happiness and beauty can still be found, both by protecting them, and by casting banishing energy in the direction of the corrupt. Going into a metaphysical battle has always made me feel incredible, closer to the goddess, truly beautiful, and truly loving. My path is guided by warrior and dark goddesses, but I come to realize it is the same kind of love, not necessarily tainted by evil, that guides someone who harms no one with their magic. Living that kind of life gives many people bliss. They do not harm, and they try not to fear harm. My senses are attuned to threats and danger, my nature too suspicious, for me to live in that state. I have also always been very protective of those I love.
If you are wondering how I finally reached this place of peace and reconciled it with my own defensive nature, it was surprising. It is amazing to realize that I can be aware of pitfalls and hostility in life, and even not be the most forgiving person on Earth, and yet know that I am positive underneath. There’s a sense of wholeness that comes from knowing you are not just a vengeful fortune hunter at your core. This is a good example of what we perceive as dark, versus what is actually a negative action.
I found someone I felt was my other half this summer. An odd thing happened. I developed a solar plexus block. Above this dam in the river was all the love I felt, and below was everything else about myself. Everything. It became impossible to truly relax, truly be quiet and at peace inside. Then we split up, because I knew I still had some things to do before I could commit to a long-term relationship. As I see him less and less often, our interactions mostly being when he stops by to borrow Internet access for a while, I realize I need to truly not see him for a while, because I am having a hard time letting go. I need him not to be there…because I miss him! That missing him overwhelmed me. I had hoped we might have another shot, a long ways down the road. But I just found out he’s moving away. His voice, his deference to what I care about, I will miss for a while. Tomorrow is the last day I am allowing him to use my Internet because I need time to heal, and so does he. This fact, along with his leaving town in a few weeks, slammed into me, and I’m embarrassed to say I broke down. I hate to cry. I think my cat knew something was wrong, because even though she has a strained ligament in one hip, she pulled her little self up on the couch and cuddled up on my blanket. Lucia had grown to love him as well, and I think maybe the grief was mutual.
Before this moment, an old problem had momentarily reared its head. As I sat there, getting closer and closer to breaking down and sobbing, I wished I had a razor in the house.
Through the years, I used to shred scabs to draw blood. During my senior year, the occasional cutting episodes began in earnest. It had never been about self-destruction, though maybe a little self-loathing was there underneath. Why does school have to be so messed up? Why does my ex-girlfriend have to spread lies about me all over town? Why does my family not have the ability to respect my boundaries? Why do they harass me? Why can’t I just be healthy? It was too much stress, too much pressure. The color of blood is so beautiful, and the pain creates a little adrenaline, which would boost my mood for a while. The urges were occasional, though at one point there were three episodes in a month, which is when I looked up the Path Crisis Center number because I just couldn’t deal with things anymore.
That was last December. Since having moved and started over, I’ve done it once, thought about it maybe three or four times. This time, it was a passing thought of how nice the relief would be. But then the cat got up on the couch. Lucia just lay down, and waited me out. And right then, I could sense her link with the goddess. Lucia had chosen me in the animal shelter. Now it was as if Mother had reached out through her to help me deal with things. And I realized that even in dark moments, truly dark ones, not the kind of proactive ones I enjoy, that I’m not on my own.
I came back to the desk in my bedroom to write this and was still kind of reflective. I had given Lucia a few of her salmon cat treats, for putting up with me and, perhaps, trying to reassure her. Normally she is very gentle when taking food from my hand. This time she bit me, completely by accident. And to me, this is what that moment meant: there is pain, even in moments of pure love. Pain is a spice of life, I have always believed that. Relief of cutting for instance, or the anxiety of taking a roller coaster ride. Or the sadness of missing a man you wanted to stay with for years. This was pain born out of complete innocence and good intent. Sometimes pain is necessary to wake us up and help us grow, I realized.
It is ironic. I purposefully cut myself with a shaving razor from time to time for the catharsis it brings. And I also really enjoy blood magic. But the way I use blood for magic is so different. For one thing it’s taken as painlessly as possible. For another, there is reverence. I recognize that my blood is one of the most basic magical tools I have, and one of the most powerful. Even when we don’t purposely use it, it aids our workings. And so as purely powerful as it is, what I do when I self-harm is equally as toxic. It’s a disrespect to myself. And though blood magic is perceived by many as dark, dark as in evil or wrong, I view it as a positive. So I shouldn’t let blood flow unless it is for a positive reason. It can be dark, but positive at the same time. This could be a model for everything I do. Whether an act of peace or war, it should stem from the love of the Mother, as expressed in Lucia’s actions, both as a comfort, and as a messenger.
Pain can be positive, if you choose it to be. Dark magic can be positive if you choose it to be. My core is whole, and filled with the warmth of firelight that shines in a dark wood. Maybe that’s too much metaphor, or too full of prose for some of you, but I cannot make the picture, the message any clearer. What comes from light can cross through the shadows and can even end in light.