Photo by Magenta
If pop culture tells us anything, it’s that using magick for personal gain is wrong. For example, in one episode of Classic Charmed (not the reboot) it lands Phoebe in jail (and then dead) and in Buffy, Willow pretty much uses magick almost entirely for personal reasons. She ends up bringing about the apocalypse until she winds up in a 12 step programme run by Giles. So, is magick selfish?
Using magick for personal gain
A lot of magick is focused on personal, social, material and spiritual development of the individual practitioner. What can we say? People want stuff, all the time. Always. It’s just what we do. If something is stopping us from getting a thing, let’s magick our way around it. Hey, if it’s good enough for Cinderella, surely we can bibbity bobbity our way to some free tickets to a fancy night out? (No glass shoes though. That’s just silly).
Psychologists Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers also believed that people are always trying to ‘get stuff’ and that ultimately humans are always reaching for self-actualisation. Thing is, to be the best version of ourselves we often have to go through some self preservation and self protection before we can have enough capacity to think about others.
With these guys their methods were about removing or reducing the blocks to another person’s fulfilment or potential. Would Maslow or Rogers have come out and said humans are selfish, and that striving for self-actualisation is wrong? Hmmmmm…doubtful. The overlap here is what first interested us in humanistic magick.
As actual human people, collectively we always want something for ourselves and whether we are using therapy, mission statements, plans, lists or magick……We’ll do what we can to get the things we want.
Which is where we need to get under the skin of magick for personal gain. If we’re all just out for ourselves, is that the bit that’s selfish and wrong? Shouldn’t we share a bit more?
Is magick selfish or selfless?
Nobody questions whether going to college, university or work-based training is selfish. Is it because as humans we accept that by expanding one person’s mind we can one day as a society benefit from that person’s training?
How about something else…how about personal smarts. Is using your own life experience to navigate social or financial problems a selfish act? How about using a unique gift such as craftwork to build yourself something you need, is that selfish? It’s just not thought of in the same way as using magick is.
Understanding how magick works is a thing that can be learned. Just like going to college teaches students, magick school can also teach. It isn’t selfish to want to learn and it’s entirely up to the student how to put all that learning into practice. Whether that is just to improve one’s own life or to help others.
There are aspects of magick that lend themselves to the service of others. These might be divination through tarot readings or astrology. They could include complementary therapies. If, as a practitioner, you have these gifts and you want to share them…that’s cool. But you don’t have to. And you certainly don’t have to share them for free!
It isn’t selfish to be good at magick and then use that to improve things for yourself. Both Maslow and Rogers believed that we are all just trying to be the best versions of ourselves, and when we are….all of the people around us will ultimately benefit.
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