Ask a Witch to do a love spell and the majority of us will give the same or similar answer. Usually the answer begins with NO! No, because it is wrong to force another to feel something they would not normally feel. No, because it won’t work anyway, we cannot force such changes in others. No.
People love to question these two answers. If it isn’t going to work anyway, why worry about the ethics of the situation? Why? Because it’s the trying that matters, it’s the intent that can harm us in the long run. And then, some Witches do believe that such a spell can work.
Well then, why are there love spells in every book available? Ever read one of those spells? The majority of the time, the love spells found in books and magazines are not the ones you find in movies and grand fantasies. The love spells you usually find in books are those that bring love to you, make it easier for you to find love, so rather than forcing love on someone else, it attracts the natural love that does or will exist. Other love spells are more about self-love, fixing our own hearts, making ourselves more open and more aware, of ourselves and then of others.
The reason for all of this is pretty simple on the surface. Most Witches are introduced to the Craft through Wiccan style books, those that tell us of the Rede and therefore follow the Rede. Harm none! Though not all of us follow the Rede still some of us are influenced by the morals inherent within the Rede. We follow such morals for a simple reason, it feels right to us. Whilst I will harm others if necessary, still I find the very idea of dominating the mind, will, heart and soul of another to be absolutely abhorrent. A forced love spell on another person would be exactly that, domination of someones will and heart. And, if it works, it is also a domination of their body, a form of rape if you look at all of the results.
This is the best example we have of domination with the Craft, the strongest and it is the best because it is also the most sought after by the unknowing. It does extend so much further, there is so much more that we must consider and in the end we walk a very fine line, within our own morals as well as the morals of others.
What is generally considered wrong within magic? Forcing anything on someone else, or from someone else. A spell to get revenge on another by making them lose their love, lose their job, lose their wallet even. A spell to give us what another has, so making them lose what they have. A spell to transfer our problems onto another, give them our illness or our stress. You could say that pretty much any spell that directly influences another, that is directly aimed at another is, in the eyes of the majority, unethical and immoral.
How far can we take this though? What quite a few fail to recognise is the opposite of all of this. Yes, most of us can agree that it is not right to force these wrongs upon another, but what of the good things?
What of a spell to help another gain a job? What of a spell to heal another? What of something like Reiki, hands on healing? Can we use these to help other people? Sure we can, if the recipient is willing, knowing and consents. The problem here is we forget that consent is or should be necessary. If you believe it is wrong to force the bad on people, then you should probably consider the ethics of forcing the good on them as well.
What of the spiritual consequences of such things? Some people are totally against things like Reiki, their religion says it is evil or wrong, to have Reiki used on them would be damaging to them on a religious and spiritual level. If done to them without their even knowing about it, you may think that it would not affect them, but what if it is true that they can no longer connect with their deity or other higher power because the deity knows they are “tainted”?
And then there are those who have adverse reactions to things like Reiki. Some people have a type of allergic reaction to consensual use of Reiki, it damages them physically in some way. I cannot imagine the affect it may have if the Reiki is used unknowingly on them. They would have no idea how it happened and so have no idea how to fix the problem.
So is healing someone without their knowledge, against their will a good thing? When you consider the consequences, the damage that is possible? And this can extend to far more than healing. Anything you do to or for another person can have an adverse affect, if you do it to them without their knowledge or consent, then you could bear responsibility for any adverse affect that occurs.
Then there is the other line that we walk. What of residual affect? What of those spells we do that are for our gain, not directly aimed at anyone else, but in the long run can still affect others? We can do spells to help us get a job, but in doing so our gain of the job means someone else does not get the job. So, we have adversely affected someone else. Where do we draw the line?
It’s not an easy question and this is where we all have different answers. Some Witches will say that because of such ideas they will do nothing that has physical world affects, they will only do internal spells and work. Any spell that can heal ourselves, open our minds or hearts, increase our knowledge or happiness, decrease our stress, anything that helps our own emotions, body, soul, heart and mind, these are okay. But anything that affects things outside of ourselves is not okay.
Others draw the line. In anything we do in life there will be residual affects, with magic or without, when we get a job, someone else does not get that job. It is a fact of life. The line is simple, if the spell is aimed at yourself, then it is okay. If it is in any way aimed at someone else, directly or indirectly, then it is not okay.
This line is different from one person to the next of course. Not all of us will agree on which spells are okay and which are not. It isn’t really important for us to all agree on such things. It is only important for us to think about it and work out our own morals and ethics in such things. I think, personally, that we all must draw our own line, whatever that line is. We all need to look at the issues and thoughts above and figure out what we believe, what we agree with and what we can’t let affect us and our practice. We shouldn’t just act without knowing and thinking through the consequences of our actions. Whatever choice you make, whatever line you draw, that is up to you. Just make sure that you have a line.