One unfortunately prevalent idea that I see bandied about a lot in witchcraft circles is that it’s not ok to pursue personal gain through your magic. Many people think that it’s somehow morally wrong to use magic for yourself or “an abuse of universal power” as one particularly ardent witch told me it was. As though wanting a nice living situation, enough food to put on your table, and better opportunities were somehow wrong.
As you may have guessed, I’m not a huge fan of this idea. In fact, this concept of doing magic for yourself being morally wrong gets my hackles up pretty quickly for a lot of reasons. Today, we’re going to take a look at exactly why I disagree with this tenet and why I think you should definitely start doing magic that improves your life today.
Why is this idea so prevalent in the first place?
It’s not surprising that this idea is so widespread in our communities. After all, witchcraft is, for the most part, still a community of converts. We all came here from somewhere else. For those of us in the western world, this usually means some flavor of Christianity.
Now, we won’t be going in-depth on the subject of whether or not the moral teachings of Christianity are correct because this isn’t a religion blog, it’s a witchcraft blog. Instead, I just want to take a look at how a little bit of religious muddling has caused an entire generation of new witches to feel shackled in their craft. Think about it, our old religions often taught that selflessness was a good thing, that suffering was a way to get closer to god, and that if you were “greedy” and wanted nice things for yourself that you were a bad person.
Does witchcraft actually have any of these beliefs as a core part of its teachings? No, it doesn’t. And the primary reason it doesn’t is that witchcraft isn’t a religion! For many of us, the craft and religion go hand in hand but there are MANY religions practiced by modern witches, from Kemeticism to Norse Paganism, to Celtic Pagans or modern pop-polytheists, to yes, even some Christianity. Due to this, witchcraft comes with little to no moral teaching out of the box. It’s simply a way to take the energetic forces around us and manipulate them to achieve a desired effect. Religion sold separately.
Now, I’ll admit that witchcraft without religion can be really confusing, especially for those who are still in the transition period out of a previous religious framework. One of the things that I found to be extremely useful when I was going through this process myself was learning as much as I could about Magical Theory. You can essentially think of this as the “rules” of magical mechanics. Magical Theory is all about the HOW of magic. What makes it work, why it works the way it does, how to troubleshoot your magic, etc. If you’re ready to get much deeper into the nitty gritty of your magic and start really understanding it at a much deeper level, my Magical Theory Level I + II classes are the place to start.
For those of you who have a solid religious foundation in your craft already, you probably have your own ideas about how witchcraft should and shouldn’t be used and I’m not here to argue those points with you. Your religion and moral beliefs are your own. Rather, I’m hoping to speak to those who feel like they’re lost without a compass. Maybe you’ve recently jumped ship on a religion and haven’t found your bearings yet. Maybe witchcraft without any religion speaks to you but you’re getting all kinds of conflicting information about what is and isn’t ok. Maybe you’re just trying to figure out your own internal sense of moral direction and would like an opinion to counter the mainstream. Either way, I’m here to tell you that it’s ok to put down those outdated beliefs and pick up something far more empowering, joyful, and vibrant.
Is it really ok to use magic for personal gain?
Short answer: Yes.
At least I certainly think so! Honestly, the idea of magic without personal gain has never made much sense to me. I mean, awesome universal power but I’m not supposed to use it to create an awesome life for myself? What’s the point?! Sure I could use it to help the planet and make the people around me happy but this isn’t an either-or situation. I can have BOTH! It’s not like if I make my own life amazing I’ll run out of magical juice before I can do spells for my loved ones. In fact, I would argue that focusing on improving your own life first gives you vastly MORE resources to work with when you’re trying to help those around you! Wouldn’t you feel more prepared to work some juicy, badass magic if you’re happy, healthy, secure, and not stressed out all the time? I know I do!
Looking at this on a more mundane level, if we’re always neglecting ourselves to focus on the people around us, we’re actually doing them a disservice. By not taking care of ourselves, we’re unwittingly making our well-being the responsibility of the people around us. If you’re not taking care of yourself, the people who love you are going to worry, put in a lot more effort, and drain themselves trying to take care of you. That’s pretty much the opposite of what you were going for. That’s not to say that having people take care of you is bad, it’s definitely not, but it’s also not ideal to be entirely dependent on other people for your well-being. Giving to yourself first and meeting your own needs means that the people who love you can stress less AND you’ll have more to give to other people when you’re not at the end of your rope all the time.
This next idea is something that is not said nearly enough and is believed even less. We do not exist on this planet to be miserable. No, I mean it, that is literally not the point of us existing on this planet. People do not exist to be born, spend their lives miserable, and then die. We come here to create, expand and grow ourselves, to build relationships and experience love, to innovate, and to learn. That’s what nature is all about! And do you know what makes a particularly bad environment to do those things? Being miserable. In fact, I could make a pretty solid case for the fact that by not doing everything in your power to get out of misery and into a life that makes you blindingly happy you’re directly working against your own spiritual progression and your cosmic reason for existing!
We have magic for a reason! It’s no accident that we showed up here on this planet with the ability to change our worlds using intention, thought, and emotion. We’re here to use these abilities! And our happiness is the neon sign pointing the way. Think of it this way, pain and unhappiness are a sign from our bodies or minds that something is wrong. It’s how our minds communicate to us that we are in a situation that is bad for us. Much like touching a hot stove causes you to jerk your hand away, unhappiness is designed to have the same reaction. You are supposed to move away from your unhappiness. This means that your happiness, your joy, is meant to guide you away from the things that are bad for you into greater growth and well-being. You are supposed to follow your joy!
(As a side note, it’s important to mention here that in many cases the best way to get AWAY from pain, particularly mental pain, is not to move directly away from it but through it. This is why therapy is such an excellent option, it guides us through the pain and out the other side to happiness. Please do not think that running away from your pain is the same thing as running toward your happiness. Pursuing growth and happiness as a bonded pair is always healthiest.)
All of this is to say that using magic to make yourself happy and improve your own life is a GOOD thing. Your happiness and well-being can only make the world a happier and more whole place for all of us to live so please don’t relegate yourself to misery simply because someone told you that you couldn’t use magic for your own personal gain. You absolutely can and you should use every tool at your disposal to create the life of your dreams and become the badass, magical, happy-as-hell person that you’re ready to become.