Is magic inherently moral?

Posted on January 7, 2013
Filed Under Ethics, Magic | 2 Comments



The other day I got into a conversation about magic and morality. I mentioned that one of the systems of magic I’d learned was chaos magic and the person mentioned that s/he had heard that chaos magic didn’t have a system of morals attached to it, which is accurate, but as I pointed out to her, it’s how a person chooses to use magic that matters. I don’t think there’s a given moral force that polices magic, nor do I think a person gets 3 times the outcome of what s/he chooses to do.

Magic isn’t an inherently moral force. It is something that anyone can work with, and there are limitations to what a person can do with it, but those limitations have more to do with the laws of this universe than any moral polarity. Any such moral polarity is human made, derived more as a statement of the values of the person as well as his/her culture. Each person must decide what his/her own morals are, both in terms of magical work, and mundane actions.

When we ascribe morality to a system or practice, we need to do it carefully and question the underlying values. Even if it seems like a “good” morality, there is always human agency behind the assumption of that morality and its application to other people’s actions. When we recognize this we can look carefully at whether or not we should take on the morals of a given spirituality and/or determine if we should apply our own instead.

Naturally there are consequences for what a person chooses to do. Each person has to decide if the consequences are worth the desired result, but just as importantly we need to decide if the moral codes we ascribe to are ones we really agree with or ones we hold to reflexively because others have told us to. The latter choice is a disservice to ourselves, and ironically an amoral choice, for we are ducking out of our responsibility to determine for ourselves what our morality really should be, as well as how it should inform our actions.



I consider my magic to be moral, but not in any conventional sense. I consider that when my action creates a situation that maximizes harmoniousness, not in just in my life, but in those around me, I've made a choice that creates a better situation for all - and I'm part of that all.  It's one part selfish, one part altruistic.  Thankfully, rare is the choice I have to make that could potentially negatively affect others, and if so, I can minimize the damage. 

My rule of thumb for this is such: if it creates a more favorable future situation not just for yourself, but for others too (or, at least, has a completely neutral impact), it's probably a good way to go.  If it negatively affects the world around you, then you have what you want, but now the soil you're in is a bit tainted and now you have to fix that. It's inefficient. It's a waste of energy.

When it comes to strife with people, I prefer to keep it purely intellectual, and enjoy a good debate over it.

Magicexperiment moderator

@thesilverspiral I like your rule of thumb and agree with it. I think it's better to shoot for an optimum outcome where everyone wins as opposed to an outcome which may favor you in the short terms, but hurts you in the long run.