Is magick good or evil?

Demons have often been described as the embodiment of evil. But is magick good or evil? by Magenta School of Magick

Deck shown is The Daemon Tarot. Published by Sterlng Ethos. Author Ariana Osborne. Photos by Magenta

The question of whether magick is good or evil has been rumbling for centuries. Everyone will have their own perspectives of course. To understand if magick is good or evil, we probably have to wind the clock back several thousand years. Back to where it all began.

Where does magick come from?

What we think of as “magick” today has been around in many cultures across the world for as long as there have been records. For example, it is suggested that an early form of magick is when humans would imagine a hunt ending successfully by painting the hunt on the wall before it took place. This type of magick certainly wasn’t evil. It was used as a way of attracting a good result for the community, food and clothing for example. 

Other ancient cultures often believed magick was the only viable defence against demons, ghosts, and other negative forces and events. We know this because amulets and statues to ward off bad spirits have been found. It appeared to be that humans accepted the presence of ‘evil’ in the world but that this was somehow external, and that magick was needed to protect themselves from evil, but that magick was not in and of itself evil. 

Ancient Greek literature proposed that magickal practice consisted of three elements. A magickal tool such as a wand, the use of magickal herbs and a divine figure to reveal the magickal act. For ancient Egyptians ‘heka’ (magick) was a huge part of the culture, practised openly and amulets such as the Eye of Horus brought the wearer protection.

So we know that way back when, magick was assumed to be part of the natural fabric of life. So much so that there was no separation between science, medicine, worship or magick. One couldn’t assume magick was evil on its own, science would also have to be evil and medicine and so on.

Is magick good or evil?

Then during the early middle ages there was a time of great change, certainly across Europe. Famine, disease and war created, shaped, and destroyed empires and led to reforms of all sections of society. Spiritual and religious culture was no exception. Monotheism was doing a helluva marketing campaign and as monothesic religions became popular, polythesic deities were naturally ‘rebranded’ as demons and spirits. 

In England, it was during the middle ages that we began to see much clearer distinctions between magick to harm and magick to help. New labels by those in power were used to reclassify “low” magick and eventually the people who practised it. Labels such as demon worship and sorcery made it clear that these practices were the ones that were harmful, or evil. Magick in England hadn’t changed, only how it was viewed through the eyes of those in power.

The Malleus Maleficarum

It was around the 15th Century that theories found in a book called the Malleus Maleficarum elevated the practice of magick to the level of heresy, which meant it was punishable by death. Despite opposition by some religious leaders to the text’s assertions, the invention of the printing press meant Malleus Maleficarum found its way into the hands of like-minded people quite easily. 

If we apply an analogy using today’s methods, the Malleus Maleficarum went viral and lots of people in echo chambers shared it amongst themselves, whipping up a storm.

Is magick good or evil?

About a hundred years after Malleus Maleficarum , King James VI of Scotland (and I of England) wrote a philosophical dissertation about the comparisons between magick and witchcraft and a classification of demons, e.g. those rebranded pagan deities. This book was called Daemonologie.

Well, thanks to the books and these ideas circulating for a couple of centuries, magick had been successfully rebranded as evil, heresy and punishable by death. Even those with religious power and who wanted to promote their own religion had lost control of the message. This left everyone open to being accused of anything that even only half looked like magick of heresy. This went on for hundreds of years, and most of the time it was the hysteria that made a non-issue into a massive problem.

As people left Europe for the New World, they took these ideas with them, and their own methods of interpreting the rules spread too.

Magick has a brand problem

Fast forward hundreds of years later and eventually everyone just calmed the F down. Well, at least stopped arresting people. New laws were put in place that meant nobody could accuse anyone else of magickal practice.

This ended up being a bit of an over correction, as it had the effect of ensuring ‘magick didn’t exist’ became the new mantra. There are still laws today in many countries that require owners of magickal businesses to include disclaimers informing consumers that their services are ‘for entertainment purposes only’. Even if the owners of these businesses feel that their services are primarily for spiritual purposes. *

So is magick good or evil? It is neither ‘good’ or ‘evil’. It possibly just has a branding problem. At best, magick is dismissed as not real and at worst, it is still thought of in religious terms as being evil. 

* even us. Are you not entertained? We do try to entertain you.

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Published by Magenta School of Magick

We are a school for people who want to learn the 'philosophy and art of affecting change through (so far at least) unseen causes', also known as 'magick'.

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