Love Spells – Circa 2007

Love SpellsOne subject that never seems to go away in our community is that of the illicit and horrible Love Spell.  It has been likened to forcible rape and emotional manipulation of the highest degree.  But are they really so dangerous that to even contemplate the casting is to court disgrace and shame?

Modern Paganism has many moral codes in place that serve to pave a more or less safe way to bring old and occasionally ancient practises into the modern world.  Many warnings against dangerous or unethical practises have been passed between so many over the years that they have become twisted into a type of fundamentalist dogma for a set of religions that claim to have none.

As our community has grown, urban legends have developed around what started out as common sense and useful advice.  Specific to this subject is the tale of the girl who wanted a boy she knew to like her (and she is always the friend of a friend of the teller, as it is with all urban legends, I imagine).  She casts a love spell on him and he becomes obsessed.  He chases after her night and day until finally she is cornered and raped for her trouble.

This story bears a striking similarity to part of the movie The Craft.  It also incorporates some concepts and liturgy of Religious Witchcraft that are often misunderstood by those who are new to the path.

The concept of Threefold Return is a big one in this story.  Messing with ‘selfish’ magic gets one slapped down by the angry hand of karma (which is also misunderstood to be the Pagan deity who deals in the parental ‘teaching of lessons’).  The idea that selfishness is always bad or that your spells will backfire if you cast for anything but a ‘true need’ is something that stems from the writers of the television show Charmed.

And while some will cling to the claim that any magic used not in the defense or healing of others is doomed, there are just as many who see exceptions to the rule of ‘No Love Spells’.  Among these exceptions are the spells that cause no manipulation of others.

This seems straightforward enough.  Folklore of old is filled with tales and spells about how young girls would  ‘discover the identity of their future husband’.  Many survive to this day.  I can still remember the old wives tales about peeling an apple all in one piece and tossing it over your should so that it would shape the first initial of your soul mate’s first name.  Or, similarly, chanting the alphabet while twisting the stem of an apple.  Whatever letter it broke on was the first letter in your future love’s name.  I could go on and on.

More direct spells that don’t involve manipulation would be those that work by changing the caster.  A boost of self-confidence never hurts when looking for your ideal mate.  Nor does changing your circumstances so that you are more receptive to the love that may be trying to find you.

But always the idea of casting at a specific person is right out and about as morally desirable as kicking a kitten through a spinning fan.  My way of seeing this is much the same as with any other ethical question.  I take the magic out of the equation.

There are plenty of ways to manipulate someone without casting a spell.  Lies are usually the most favoured.  Dropping hints to lead someone to believe that a situation will turn out the way you want them to think it will, is another.  For example, ‘Oh, your girlfriend certainly spends a great deal of time with Bob, doesn’t she?  And you’re here all alone.  I wonder what they could have to talk about so often that they can’t talk here in front of the rest of us.’

Take it a step further and let’s get our fellow drunk, and see what happens.  Perhaps a one night encounter would have been inevitable, but intoxication can and has been used in allegations of date rape.  Men are just less likely to make that claim.

Getting your way through manipulative means, even though mundane, may not be criminal, but it certainly isn’t honorable either.  That would be much my call on magic that is designed to subvert of inhibit someone else’s conscious will.  I don’t use the term ‘free will’ because I have yet to see any spell that can make someone into an automaton, and I doubt that that would happen, no matter how powerful the magus.

It is easy for me to sit here in the comfort of my home, secure in the eight year relationship I have with my partner, and pronounce what I believe to be right and wrong for someone who is alone to do.  I am not blind to the fact that when a person is lonely, sometimes desperately so, their perceptions can be easily coloured by a soul deep desire to find that special someone.

The fear of being alone is something that thousands, even millions, of people deal with everyday.  That is when you can start to over look and rationalize things that would stick out in your mind under regular circumstances.  ‘It’s not so bad that John is a violent alcoholic.  He is such a good father’.  Or perhaps, ‘It’s not such a big deal that Sam is married.  His wife doesn’t treat him all that well anyway’.  Or even, ‘Josh is so wonderful in every way!  All he needs is the right woman to motivate him and he is sure to get a job’.  Or any number of other issues that can cripple a relationship before it even starts.

Manipulating situations and ruining relationships and friendships bring their own drama and consequences, be they mundane or magical.  More heartache and hurt feelings seem punishment enough without the dogmatic fear of a karmic boogeyman or threefold backlash.

There is one love spell that I think just about everyone could benefit from, however, and that is the ‘Love Yourself Better’ spell.  The divine has a world of love just waiting to be experienced.  Romantic love is only one kind.

One thought on “Love Spells – Circa 2007”

  1. ‘Love yourself better’ covers the bases more than amply. We could all do with being less tough on ourselves at times – and indeed, with being more tough, honest, open with ourselves also. There’s a time for tough love, expecially if we’re not living up to our own high standards.

    I don’t think there’s an inherent danger in casting spells intended to bring about selfish ends; to me the point of not doing magic like this is that you learn more, become more, benefit more, by doing the work the hard way. If spellwork is seen as the easy way out, then people have no impetus to change, learn, take the hard lesson and grow.

    Magic directed against others, or even cast for without their knowledge, probably won’t turn them into automatons, but it is at the very least impolite, and contains an assumption about how they are and what they need which doesn’t refer back to them personally.

    Everyone has to manage the moral aspects of magic for themselves, and the ease with which they do it says more about them than the medium of magic itself.

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