I wanted to write something about the beauty of spring this week, about the colors coming back to a gray world here on the northern hemisphere, and about the chirping birds and what I’ve seen the bunnies do. But alas, a social media conversation, “advice” if you will, caught my eye and I feel compelled to set the record straight. Here is what someone posted on a pagan social media group:
Q: What is the price for using bad magic?
A: It depends on your own personal believes.
Now, what I definitely do not want to do here is convince you to accept, or live by, the notion that magic has its price, that what you do will come back to you three or seven times, that you will harvest what you sowed, or that Karma will get back to you in this or another lifetime. That is up to you and your integrity.
What I do want to talk about is the type of advice given here, and how it is not helpful.
Fact is, we do not know if these laws of return exist. Personally I believe they do, mostly because lore since antiquity tells us of them, and I do not consider myself wiser and more knowledgeable then hundreds if not thousands of people before me who thought that this idea of magic having a price is a thing. But I am still the first one to admit that this is a belief of mine, not knowledge. And, more importantly, I also know that my belief in that respect has no influence whatsoever on the existence of such laws.
Why is that important?
Let’s evaluate the two possibilities. Number one: these laws don’t exist at all, they are just made up. Mine or anyone else’s belief do not bring them into existence. Yet I do not lose anything, or run a risk, if I falsely believe they are real, and align my Magic according to them.
However, possibility number two – the laws of x-fold return do in all actuality exist – is not that simple. Let’s for a moment consider them reality. Similar to what was said in the paragraph above, anyone’s personal belief that they don’t exist would not — and that’s the key point here — make them disappear. One cannot simply believe a law away. You wouldn’t get far telling a police officer that you don’t belief in stop signs either. If the laws of return do exist, they cannot be undone by not believing in them.
To advise a person — especially when they are new to Magic — otherwise, is not sincere.
The way to go is telling them that nobody knows whether or not these laws exist, and that everyone must make a couple of choices. One, if they should believe the laws are real (and best base their believe on something more profound than comments on social media), and two, if they want to adhere to them. Because, let’s face it, even if one believes in these laws, they still can act against them (like some people don’t really come to a halt at stop signs). Taking that risk knowingly is an entirely different approach than falsely thinking that just not believing in them makes them go away.
I know, that looks like a marginal nuance, but I think it makes actually quite a big difference.