Cussin’ for College: Your Moral Compass
|You’re Thirteen Now! These Margaritas Are for You, Becky!|
So, thanks to
that book Mastering Witchcraft that everyone else including Jow seems to have read at a formative age but me (I was reading Spiral Dance and um Bridget Jones’ Diary and here we are), everyone’s talking about morals and looooooove philters which is totes exciting for me because while I have not read the book and am incredibly unlikely to, I have opinions about morality! I’ve even had articles published on the subject matter! Thanks, blogosphere! I’m socially relevant again, snowflake queens! So, there’s a story I’ve been meaning to tell you all that had both my Platonic Euro Husband (PEH) and Husband-to-Be laughing and telling me that I’m like the liberal parent who lets their kids drink in the house because it’s better than on the streets! Remember a while back how I foolishly agreed to teach Hoodoo 101 to the kids in the Pagan club at my alma mater? And how I, like, promised the president that there would be absolutely no discussion on curse work whatsoever?
About that. So I’m droning about the history of Hoodoo and the differences between Hoodoo and Voodou and how it came to our country and frankly even boring myself as the kids all were visibly twitching to have to listen to me and not text or be boning each other out while their roommates watch rolling on E pills or whatever they’re doing now but we all brighten up when I get to the practical applications that I carefully redacted to be both appropriate to college kids’ needs and not discussing The Dark Arts. We chatter about fast luck and how to do well in an interview blah de blahblah. They get interested and ask about source books. Of course I recommend cat yronwode’s seminal work, but there’s not like a redacted version of it so I say vaguely that it’s not all positive work so keep that in mind and keep it moving. Much like my lazy fat house cats they went from only vaguely aware of their surroundings to HIGH ALERT! BUG! BUG! IT’S A BUG!
Them: What do you mean?
The President: (suspious side eye)
Them: No, we’re totes awake now and ready and willing to push back our E pill orgy and pizza dorm room party for this.
Me: The President and I spoke on this issue and it’s specifically against your club’s charter for me to discuss this.
The President: (approving to me, apologetic to them)
Them: You have said the words we have longed to hear! Forbidden knowledge! It’s why we came to college! That and getting away from our smothering parents! (closes the door and shuts the blinds like a real sekrit society does!)
Me: (oh Lordess, I’m boned) (looks to The President)
The President: (nods)
I had a real moral quandary that I thought I had shielded myself from – do I tell them or do I let them learn about it on
the streets the internet where the information will be just that – information coming from a source they’ve never met and has no stake in their lives or even a face to them? They are adults but they’re still young and impressionable in American society and frankly have probably hereto forth never even read a book yet that even whispers about The Dark Arts, it’s most likely been mostly beginner Llewellyn stuff.
I took a deep breath and I dove in:
Okay. This is where your moral compass that we keep talking about becomes incredibly important. Karma doesn’t work the way that most Americans think of it; it’s slow, it’s accumulated over lifetimes and it represents both the good and the bad. And while the Law of Three is a nice idea that’s meant to keep you from getting involved in some seriously dumb shit, it doesn’t work in a way that’s observable, if it works at all. I can’t tell you what the right thing to do is going to be for you. We don’t have a manual or a list of rules to follow as Pagans like a lot of religions do. As young adult Pagans it’s critical that you start figuring out what you think is right and wrong now. What are you willing to do magically and in life? Where is your line in the sand that goes too far? Whenever you work magic, you’re thrusting your will over something. Do you need consent for you to do magic for another person? You need to decide that. You need to decide if you want to get involved with exerting your will over other people specifically. A mentor of mine once told me that some of the worst things she’s done magically have been with good intentions and some of the best things she’s done have been with bad intentions.
You also need to understand that in Hoodoo curse work is called a mess for a reason. Do not get yourself into a mess that you can’t get yourself out of because I’m sure as hell not going to rush in to help you. Don’t ever rush into curse work. If you’re angry and not being sensible, it’s not a good place to do curse work, you will likely do something you regret. Always give it at least three days to see if you want to tie yourself up further with the person you’re angry with because make no mistake about it, you will be tying yourself up closer with this person. Sometimes it will be worth it. Sometimes it won’t be. Sometimes your magic will work in a way you won’t expect it to. Oftentimes it will in fact. Sometimes it will work better than you wanted it to. Love spells are all fun and games until you need to get a restraining order on someone. You need to think about if you want someone to be with you because they feel compelled to be. You need to make sure to do omen/divination work before you get involved with cursing. Bottle spells can work like this. Love spells can work like that. Make sure you are mindful about your personal concerns. Make sure you are mindful about others’ personal concerns that may behoove you to have. When I once asked a Witch what to do if you don’t have them, she calmly remarked, ‘But why wouldn’t you?’ If you’re not willing to do what a curse work asks, you’re likely not really ready to take that step. And that’s okay. It’s okay if you never work a curse in your life. But make sure you know if someone’s been working you.
And . . .that’s where I stand on the whole morality issue. It’s personal. That’s part of what’s both great and terrible about being part of a group of people who don’t have a list of specific rules to govern us, some of us are on board with things like love philters and some of us are appalled by it. Some of us say, well, it depends. But you need to know where you stand, you need to know where your conscious is and only you can really dictate that for yourself as an Occultist/Pagan. It’s thrilling, scary and uncertain for us, like Death.
you know I live in a world full of hope
not a world full of hype
I ain’t no saint
I help myself to what I need
but I help other people too
y’know I sleep soundly- Ani Difranco
About the author
Deborah Castellano is a frequent contributor to Occult/Pagan sources such as Witchvox, PaganSquare and Witches & Pagans magazine. She writes about Charms, Hexes, Weeknight Dinner Recipes, Glamoury and Unsolicited Opinions on Morals and Magic here at Charmed, I'm Sure. Deborah's book, The Arte of Glamour is available for purchase on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Her craft shop, La Sirene et Le Corbeau specializes in handspun yarn and other goodies. Her Craft shop, The Glamoury Apothecary specializes in handcrafted items for your magical/occult practice. In previous lives, Deborah spent seven years as an Executive Assistant and founded the first Neo-Victorian/Steampunk convention, SalonCon which received rave reviews from con-goers and interviews from the New York Times and MTV. She resides in New Jersey with her husband, Jow and their cat. She has a terrible reality television habit she can't shake and likes St. Germain liquor, record players and typewriters. Deborah is a social media dork and can be found wasting far too much time on Ravelry, Twitter, Facebook, G+, Instagram and Tumblr.