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The Hex Appeal of Activism

When we start out on our path of Witchcraft we tend to learn Wiccan ideology, whether we’re Wiccan or not. Within Wicca there’s a piece of wisdom that is passed on called the Wiccan Rede, which basically boils down to “an it harm none do as you will”. As we continue down on our path, many of us start seeing the flaw of fulfilling the Rede as we meditate upon it. The act of existence is harmful by nature. The act of eating kills something, regardless of our dietary choices. The body itself tends to be constantly breaking down and destroying life as it exists.

The problem lies in adhering to the Rede as if it were dogma or law. It’s a rede and a rede is literally translated as “good advice” but its not a “law” of any sorts. Witchcraft by its nature tends to be very non-dogmatic. There really are no laws or absolutes in Witchcraft, at least not in the way that most of us practice it. The Rede as “good advice” was obviously passed down as a piece of wisdom teaching for a reason, however so were the Witches Thirteen Powers including the ability to bless and to curse. If we want to do ‘no harm’ then why can Witches curse?

The Thirteen Powers of the Witch seems to originate from the Aradia: Gospel of The Witches as does the Charge of the Goddess. While the authenticity of Aradia is debated by scholars it is undeniable the impact it has had on modern Witchcraft. In a nutshell, the story of Aradia is that of the goddess Diana and the god Dianus under the epithet of Lucifer (Light Bringer). In the story they have a child named Aradia who is sent down to teach mankind the art of Witchcraft. The setting of the story is a time when the church and government are corrupt and oppressing the people of Italy. Aradia teaches them how to bless and curse among the many practices of witchcraft to overcome oppression. In fact, cursing has been said to be the tools of the oppressed, when the people have no other tools at their disposal for justice. Cursing and healing seem to be two sides of the same coin and often healing involves withering and destroying illnesses as much as it is about infusing healing energy into the target.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Aradia let me translate it into the world of Hogwarts – The Ministry has been overtaken by Voldemort and Death Eaters and it’s time for us to raise our wands. The world outside is in social and environmental turmoil. Drinking waters are being poisoned for profit on indigenous lands. Tyranny is on the rise, attacking the basic civil rights and human rights at a rate that is hard to keep track of. Institutional racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and religious bigotry which once tried to hide in the shadows has now been given a spotlight the size of a clinical narcissistic reality television star’s wildest dreams. Not only are these societal and spiritual sicknesses being encouraged and incited from the top down through legislations and executive orders but people are becoming emboldened to flaunt their hate and ignorance by this “permission slip” from our leaders. Empathy seems to have been lost on a large portion of the population who seem to not care if it doesn’t effect them or their families. Hate crimes are on a drastic rise. While many are at the forefront trying to fight this oppression, many magickal workers are wondering what to do. People are overwhelmed, hopeless and desperate. These are the times that I see as paralleling the setting of Aradia. When we see injustice and oppression, which is more ‘harmful, remaining silent and allowing the harm to continue or stopping it if we have the power to do so?

I decided to seek out the opinions of other magickal practitioners of all kinds; witches of different types, root workers and conjurers, warlocks, sorcerers, druids and pagans. They say that if you ask three witches a question you’l get at least ten different view points. What were their views on the subject of cursing? I reached out to friends, teachers and acquaintances whom I felt were experts and leaders in some capacity within their magickal community to share their thoughts. Originally, I was going to write an article quoting their answers. As the flood of responses came back, I realized that their answers were so amazing that I had to share them in their entirety with others. I asked six questions:

  1. Do you believe hexing, cursing or binding to be a valid and effective method of magick when it comes to social justice or environmental activism and why or why not?
  2. What are your thoughts on the the “threefold law” in regards to hexing, cursing and binding?
  3. Do you believe in such a thing as a justified curse, hex or binding when it comes to social justice or environmentalism? If so, what makes a curse or hex just or unjust
  4. Are there any other precautions one should take or side effects one should expect or be aware of when throwing a hex, curse or binding?
  5. What other methods of magick aside from these do you believe should be employed for social justice on a personal level?
  6. What can we do as witches to assist our community during times of social turmoil and environmental destruction?

I also asked if they had any additional thoughts. I invited them to answer as many of the questions as they wanted in however long or short of an answer as they wished. Since there were so many participants, I’ve created an index of each responder and their answers:

Crystal Blanton
Matthew Venus
Cat Yronwode
Devin Hunter
veedub / Valerie Walker
Christopher Penczak
Laura Tempest Zakroff
Fio Aengus Santika / Gede Parma
Lupa
Jason Miller
Vivienne Moss
Storm Faerywolf
Melusine Draco
David Salisbury
Jacki Smith
Raven Digitalis
Robin Artisson
Gemma Gary
John Beckett
Caroline Kenner
Ivo Dominguez, Jr.
Anaar
Raven Grimassi
Renna Sessho
Chas Bogan
Jason Mankey
Orion Foxwood
Harold Roth

Crystal Blanton

Crystal Blanton is a social worker, activist, writer, priestess, mother and wife from the Bay Area. Blanton is a board member for the Solar Cross Temple and the 2015 Keeper of the Light for the Pagan Alliance. She is the author of Bridging the Gap and Pain and Faith in a Wiccan World. She is the editor of the Shades of Faith and Shades of Ritual anthologies, and co-editor of Bringing Race to the Table; Exploring Racism in the Pagan Community. She writes for the Wild Hunt, Sage Woman, and the Daughters of Eve blog on the Patheos site. She is the founder of the 30 Day Real Black History Challenge and website, promoting understanding and reflections of the experiences of Black people throughout history.

Do you believe hexing, cursing or binding to be a valid and effective method of magick when it comes to social justice or environmental activism and why or why not?

I feel like there are circumstances that could potentially warrant a strong response, and that could include hexing, cursing or binding. In my own personal practice I do not utilize such methods as a regular thing but I also do not rule out anything when it comes to protecting those I love and others whom do not have the means to protect themselves.

In my own practice I utilize my own tools, be they magical or in my professional world, to fight the system from the inside. Opening doors for justice, centering marginalized needs and voices, supporting the unseen in being seen…. all of those things are very important in the way I chose to do my magic.

What are your thoughts on the the “threefold law” in regards to hexing, cursing and binding?

I am not really a believer in the threefold law. I believe more that we are accountable to the Gods for how we engage and for what we do. One should always be connecting with the will of the Gods in their decisions of forward movement for any magical work.

Do you believe in such a thing as a justified curse, hex or binding when it comes to social justice or environmentalism? If so, what makes a curse or hex just or unjust?

I personally choose other forms of workings when possible instead of curses, hexes or binding work. Much of that has to do with the level of ongoing energetic commitment that is needed to successfully do a binding, taking much needed energy away from other endeavors and keeping you connected to the very thing itself. Can one be justified? I am not the one to answer that for others. For myself I could easily justify something if it will protect my children, but I choose other methods instead. Protection is the only reason I could see for that type of working and even then… there are other ways that are more inline for me ethically.

Are there any other precautions one should take or side effects one should expect or be aware of when throwing a hex, curse or binding?

There is an energetic connection that is solidified whenever doing strong magic of such. I think it is important for people to consider what amount of energy and connection to the outcome they are willing to hold energetically in such a working. And while I do not subscribe to the three fold law in a generic kind of way, I do believe that the energy we create is still connected to us, and has the potential to change way that energy connects to us. We do not practice magic in isolation and we need to remember that there is always consequences for magic (some intentional and some are unintentional) and we do not always have control over that aspect. (or many others).

What other methods of magick aside from these do you believe should be employed for social justice on a personal level?

Protection, clearing obstacles, bringing forth to the light (revelation), containment and even magic for strength and clarity during such times are workings I have personally done for myself and for others. I also feel like work around self care, grounding and even courage are ones that are essential to supporting ourselves so that we can be effective in supporting others or the cause. I also feel like healing work for those who are harmed, and for ourselves, is essential work to any movement. For me, this includes working with my ancestors to heal the harm of the past and to strengthen my own connection to past and present social justice needs.

What can we do as witches to assist our community during times of social turmoil and environmental destruction?

There are plenty of mundane and magical things we can do to support our community during times of social turmoil. Workings of protection and guidance. We can get involved. So often focus on what magical working needs to be done, and forget the power of relationship, support, political action, presence, and our words. Calling our elected officials can be just as important as doing a working to increase support for a cause. Both of those things are connecting in function and in energy.

I also believe it is essential for us to continue to raise our own awareness and knowledge around the social justice issues and needs. We shouldn’t just rely on our previous understandings and should seek information that will help us be more informed and accountable to the needs that are present. This also informs our magic and how we choose to navigate moving forward. Too many people do magic based on things that emotionally pull at them, and this can be powerful, but information closes the loophole that is often necessary for the good of the larger picture.

All responses (c) copyright 2017 Crystal Blanton, All rights reserved.

Matthew Venus

Matthew Venus has been a practitioner, student, and teacher of the occult for over twenty five years. He is a folk magician, witch, artist, photographer, and writer who currently lives in Salem, MA. along with his partner, cat, serpents, toads, and a host of cantankerous spirits.

Do you believe hexing, cursing or binding to be a valid and effective method of magick when it comes to social justice or environmental activism and why or why not?

Well, yes and no. Most practitioners are used to doing work to affect their own personal sphere as opposed to larger community, national, or global issues.

These issues are vast, multifaceted, and nuanced. Not only on the practical, boots on the ground level, but on the magical level as well. There are many minds, and a lot of hopes, dreams, and prayers directed towards maintaining systems which are designed by nature for the oppression of both people and the planet. There are egregores, spirits, and indeed magical practitioners who wish to see these systems of oppression prevail. To imagine that an individual simply lighting a candle and muttering some malefica against fascism or authoritarianism is enough to turn the tides on a beast which has been lurking in the shadows for quite some time would be wishful thinking at best.

Just as organized, concerted, and ongoing efforts tend to be the most successful when it comes to real world resistance and activism, the same applies to magic. So an organized ongoing effort of magical practice to impact such issues might be more successful. However, due to the general nature of organization, communication, and community I think we often run into roadblocks when it comes to seeing widespread magical success on a global level.

My thoughts run a bit more along the lines of “Think globally. Hex locally.” Look at where these issues strike close to home on a smaller individual, county, or state level, and focus some efforts there. Grassroots witchery as it were.

Not that I don’t love to see clandestine networks of magical practitioners working in concert towards these larger ends. I believe those efforts certainly aren’t without merit. I just believe these global issues are challenges that will require focused magical effort like none other to see a major shift, and it’s easy for folks to become demoralized when they’ve put forth a lot of effort and still find their world in the clutches of destruction and greed.

What are your thoughts on the the “threefold law” in regards to hexing, cursing and binding?

I don’t buy into the “threefold law”. I think it was a bit of poetry that has been misinterpreted by many, and for better or worse, used as a morality tale to sanitize the image of the witch for public consumption. Regardless, it’s not a part of my philosophy or practice.

That said, it’s foolish to imagine that any act of magic is without some consequence. Though, such a consequence could take many forms. Personally I believe the cost of these things is mediated based upon the spirits whom you serve, your relationship to them, the work you have done, how skillfully you’ve done it, and what, if any taboos you may have broken.

More often than not though, my spiritual belief system doesn’t afford me the luxury to believe that the unjust will receive their punishment by some unguided cosmic hand. That goes for getting a punitive wrist slap for daring to hex an individual as well.

Are there ebbs and flows of creation/destruction, liberalism/conservatism, freedom/constriction that we can observe as restoring ‘balance’? Absolutely! But this doesn’t excuse us from sitting upon our hands while our neighbor is robbed blind or our loved ones are assaulted. History has shown us that the tyrants, murderers, and the unjust in the world don’t tend to face justice or retribution unless action is taken by those who stand up to and against them. Some might argue that those with the power to stand against tyranny who fail to do so are complacent, or worse, complicit in it.

Do you believe in such a thing as a justified curse, hex or binding when it comes to social justice or environmentalism? If so, what makes a curse or hex just or unjust?

Divine justice is a matter of perspective. And just as their are those of us that think institutions that would trample our beliefs, rights, and values should be laid low by the bloody scythe of the feral gods. There are certainly as many on the other side of any conflict that feel equally divinely backed and justified.

So who’s side are the gods/spirits on? What cause is a just cause? In any conflict, who is deserving of retribution? Or protection? Depends on who you ask. My wager is that each side will give you the answer that suits their ideology.

None of this means for a second though that I won’t call upon my spirits and seek their aid and protections. I’m just not caught up in believing that having spiritual agency is a bad thing. That I feel a need for a permission slip to employ it. Or that I should keep the safety on for safety’s sake. Certainly not when my civil liberties, the liberties of the marginalized, and the very earth upon which I stand are at stake.

Are there any other precautions one should take or side effects one should expect or be aware of when throwing a hex, curse or binding?

It depends upon ones approach to such things. Regardless of my earlier statements, whenever we go into such work it is always best to foster the confidence and belief that we have divine/spiritual justice at our back. That we possess both the protection, and the authority of the gods/spirits. This is less about absolute cosmic truth, and more about wrapping ourselves in a mantle of power and strength. Mundane theory versus magical mindset

It is always a wise idea to begin such works by calling upon the aid and protections of whatever gods/spirits one works with. Ancestors can be invaluable here. Your blood wants to see you succeed and continue on, happy and healthy. And those who are spiritual ancestors will stand by you as well. If you are fighting for a certain cause, call upon those who have fought for the cause and passed on. I often call upon the queer martyrs who have gone before me and fought against tyranny and bigotry.

If you don’t work with any particular spirits or deities, then herbal or talismanic charms might be of use here as well.

Such work can also be very emotionally draining and leave you in a vulnerable state mentally, physically, and spiritually. Aftercare is important. I always recommend some form of cleansing ritual after more intense works of crossing, cursing, or binding. Once the work is complete, a ritual bath and a cleansing of the space is highly advisable. Then do something to take your mind off of the work. Something that brings joy to the heart and brings comfort.

What other methods of magick aside from these do you believe should be employed for social justice on a personal level?

Practical real world work. Whether it’s writing your senators and congressmen, organizing marches or local town halls, running for office, donating to important causes, or working to stay informed. Magic doesn’t just happen in a circle or at an altar. I often say that magic opens a door and lays a path. However it’s up to us to step through that door and walk down that path.

On other levels, spells of protection are paramount. Continued efforts to protect yourself, your home, your community, and your ecosystem.

You know how there are often spells and seals in some of the old grimoires to protect against enemies, injury in battle, or to make oneself ‘invisible’? It would be wise, particularly for those in the streets, and for the front lines activists to look into such works and apply or adapt them as needed.

What can we do as witches to assist our community during times of social turmoil and environmental destruction?

In addition to much of what I’ve already said, remember to do what you need to for self care. We are just beginning the struggle. Know that you are not alone. You needn’t shoulder the burdens of the world alone. It’s okay to step back and practice self care when needed.

The current climate is increasingly more designed to divide, exhaust, and overwhelm. Don’t let it burn you out and create hopelessness, apathy, or complacency.

We must strive always to maintain hope. It is the torch which illuminates the dark and guides both resistance and revolution.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to and lean on others for support. And try to be a support for others as well. We can’t fight alone, we need to find solidarity with others outside our circles and heal, energize, and support each other in the work to come.

All responses (c) copyright 2017 Matthew Venus, All rights reserved.

Cat Yronwode

Catherine Yronwode is the proprietor of the Lucky Mojo Curio Company, a manufactory for traditional herb-based conjure supplies, and the pastor of Missionary Independent Spiritual Church. She is the author of Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic; The Black Folder: Personal Communications on the Mastery of Hoodoo; Throwing the Bones: How to Foretell the Future with Bones, Shells, and Nuts; and The Art of Hoodoo Candle Magic in Rootwork, Conjure, and Spiritual Church Services. She lives on an old farmstead in rural Northern California with her husband, a dog, cats, and chickens.

Cat’s Prolepsis: The following comments are mine alone. They do not represent any authoritarian doctrine regarding African American folk magic. They are not anthropological, sociological, instructional, or didactic in nature, but are simply offered in response to the questions asked of me. Any observations given about my personal experiences are simply personal.

Do you believe hexing, cursing, or binding to be a valid and effective method of magick when it comes to social justice or environmental activism and why or why not?

The word “valid” is not one i would use to describe any folk magic tradition — rather, i would look to terms like historical, traditional, popular, wide-spread, and common. I am not sure i fully understand what you mean by “hexing” (see below), and i would not use it in serious matters of social justice or environmental activism. Cursing i do understand and know it to be effective (see below). What you call “binding,” i know in African American rootwork as tying (see below). While tying does have limited value in matters of social justice and environmental activism, in hoodoo it is primarily used to restrain individuals who have broken or are about to break a family compact or to violate a local social group’s standards of morality.

What are your thoughts on the the “threefold law” in regards to hexing, cursing, and binding?

The Law: As an ethnic Jew practicing Baptist-style African American conjure in a Spiritual Church context, i do not belong to a religion that proposes or holds as canonical doctrine that there is either a one-fold law of karma or a threefold law of return. In my birth-religion (Reform Judaism) we affirm that our God YHVH (Also known as Yahweh or Jehovah) revealed a set of laws to a man named Moses, who wrote them down as the Ten Commandments, and that they provide guidance for us to live by. It is our belief that, were we to break those laws, we might as a result experience an apartness from God, and that is the only punishment known to us. With the optional addition of a special realm of fiery torment for the dead who are apart from God, this same belief is shared in the Baptist Church, which is the most prominent religion adhered to by the African American originators and culture-bearers of hoodoo. Many, but not all, of the theologists in the Spiritual Church Movement churches that derive from Baptist cosmology (in contradistinction to those that derive from Roman Catholic cosmology) tend toward a seemingly “Jewish” or “Old Testament” cosmology and thus there are Spiritual Church practitioners who do not endorse a doctrine that holds to the concept of an additional or special place of torment for the dead who are apart from God, and of those, many hold that the dead, with whom we can have contact, may continue to learn and evolve in an ethical and moral manner after death and may still be on the path to God’s embrace.

Hexing: With respect to what you call hexing, i believe that this German term, meaning “witchcrafting,” is similar to a jinx or a mess in African American hoodoo. It might also be seen as a form of crossing or putting a person under crossed conditions. Since there is usually a motivation to jinx, cross, or mess up someone, God would be the judge of the righteousness of causing such mischief. For instance, were one to jinx a person to have a torn dress at a party so that one could dance with his or her spouse, that might possibly break one or even two of the Ten Commandments (adultery and/or covetousness), but if one did it simply to embarrass the person, that would not break one of the Ten Commandments yet might still be an unrighteous act — or it might be a righteous act, if God so saw it. Therefore one prays before doing such a job of work to be justified and judged according to God’s laws, then performs the work, then seeks spiritual cleansing with aim of removing sin, should it transpire that one performed it unrighteously, in error, under a mistaken impression, or against God’s will and plans for the person one wished to affect.

Cursing: My God is well known to curse the unrighteous, to blight them, to lay waste to them, and to utterly destroy them, yea, unto the fourth generation — and, in the special case of a group called the Amelekites, into perpetuity, without cease or let, generation after generation, for their crime of genocide against women and children, until they are all dead and wiped off the face of the Earth. Therefore we consider it to be consonant with God’s wills and laws to curse, and we often use scripture to curse, in particular the Psalms of King David, whose curses are numerous, far-reaching, and poetic. In making a curse, however, we again seek to work only in a righteous manner, as with jinxing, and to do so without breaking the Ten Comandments (that is, to do so from an ethically and morally sane point of view), and to lay the matter before God for final judgement and disposal, and to cleanse ourselves of any sin, error, or unrighteousness after the deed.

Binding: In hoodoo this is called tying. We find it quite efficacious to tie people to their own stated oaths and promises. If a person swears to monogamy in marriage but commits adultery, he or she has violated one of the Ten Commandments and may legitimately be either divorced or tied to the promises made through the use of powers granted through traditional and personal knowledge of hoodoo. However, this is not generally sought as a form of remediation in matters of social justice or environmental activism, except and unless the matter comes before a court, in which case we may seek to tie the tongues of the unrighteous, the untruthful, and the mendaciously motivated who give false witness, the latter being a violation of the Ten Commandments.

Do you believe in such a thing as a justified curse, hex, or binding when it comes to social justice or environmentalism?

Yes. See above.

If so, what makes a curse or hex just or unjust?

A curse or a jinx that is itself made in violation of God’s laws is ipso facto unjust. See above. A curse or jinx that supports God’s laws or that inhibits a malefic person from violating God’s laws is thought to be justified, but in all such matters, we leave the final judgement and disposal of the case to God. See above.

Are there any other precautions one should take or side effects one should expect or be aware of when throwing a hex, curse, or binding?

One should not endanger or blight the life of an innocent party when jinxing or cursing. For example, one should not curse a pregnant woman even if she committed a gross social injustice. It is considered best to wait until the child is delivered and weaned, at least, and better to wait until it is grown and no longer needs its mother.

What other methods of magick aside from these do you believe should be employed for social justice on a personal level?

Conviction of Sin: I believe strongly in the possibly of conviction of sin — that is, in working through prayers and spells aimed at the soul, spirit, or conscience of the wrong-doer, which have as their effect the wrong-doer’s undergoing a moral self-conviction of sin and a turn toward righteousness. One example of this may be to cause a person who is racist to be drawn toward curiousity about DNA tests, taking a DNA test, and learning that he or she carries a significant amount of DNA from an ethnic group that he or she had previously wrongfully stereotyped, disrespected, or sought to harm, and then experiencing a change of heart and purpose and becoming an ally to and an advocate for the rights of the people he or she had formerly persecuted.

Court Case and Legal Work: Conjure works performed for the protection of individuals, groups, and locations from violence, false arrest, torture, or death are not mentioned above and i find it interesting that they are not, because such works are common in the African American hoodoo tradition. Legal works to influence attorneys, judges, and juries to not unjustly convict the innocent are numerous as well. So are spells for reduced charges, probation, and early release on parole for those who have been falsely accused, framed, railroaded, or given unjustly harsh sentences. Additionally tying spells for the tongue, mentioned above, are abundant, as are spells for the loss of crucial paperwork by the opposing parties, and for the sweetening or favour of a judge, law officer, or corrections officer.

What can we do as witches to assist our community during times of social turmoil and environmental destruction?

The fact that neither conviction of sin nor court case and legal work were originally a subject of this Neo-Pagan inquiry into social justice magic leads me to speculate, rightly or wrongly, that these matters are not a traditionally understood set of spells in Neo-Pagan magic. Be that as it may, in hoodoo, due to the conditions of systemic racism and economic injustice that prevail, there are many practitioners who are court case specialists and whose help is routinely sought in matters of justice. I suggest that any Neo-Pagans unfamiliar with this topic seek out the alliance of and assistance of African American root doctors or other traditional-style conjure practitioners to learn a good set of court case spells.

Additionally, from a mundane perspective, i personally think that non-violent resistance, including publication of position papers and physical attendance at public protests, marches, and demonstrations in alliance with others who have similar goals, regardless of their religious cosmology, is effective in times of political oppression as long as that oppression is sub-lethal. In times of lethal oppression, especially when the oppression is organized on a local level by mobs or on a national scale by law, escape or warfare are one’s best options.

Any other thoughts?

I believe that the best and most righteous magical curses can be found among those who have a continual history of both magical works (without suppression under law) and who have been long persecuted. Thus i feel that Jewish and African American methods of cursing and court case work, particularly in what some Baptists call the “Old Testament style,” are very well known and fairly openly practiced in both my native and my adoptive cultures and that we have something of value to teach to those who are newly arrived at the condition of being systematically persecuted or victimized, either by mob rule or under law.

All responses (c) copyright 2017 Catherine Yronwode, All rights reserved.

Devin Hunter

Devin Hunter is the manager and House Medium at The Mystic Dream in Walnut Creek, Ca. In addition to holding multiple initiations in various witchcraft traditions, he is the founder of his own, Sacred Fires and co-founder of the Black Rose Tradition of Witchcraft. Devin is the author of The Witch’s Book of Power, The Witch’s Book of Spirits and is the host of the AV Club favorited Podcast, The Modern Witch.

Do you believe hexing, cursing or binding to be a valid and effective method of magick when it comes to social justice or environmental activism and why or why not?

I think that if you look back to a very common root for many witches, The Gospel of Aradia by Charles Lleland, we have the answer to this. Cursing is a tool, albeit a holy tool, used to level the playing field against an oppressive class. Aradia taught magic to the poor, the slaves, and the outcaste because she saw that they were being lied to and misled, not just in matters of faith but in matters of life and human rights. We see magic being used by African slaves to give them any edge possible during the early years of this country, and that very magic fused with the folks traditions of immigrants and working class westerners to create what we know as Hoodoo or American folk magic. This magic, this uniquely American magic, is rooted in the fight of an underestimated and oppressed class of people. For me, to not use this holy tool and act against the very forces it was given to us to defend against would be anathema to the craft. I think that as wielders of modern magic we have to continue this most honored tradition and use it to defend not only the people, but the land and its spirits as well.

What are your thoughts on the “threefold law” in regards to hexing, cursing and binding?

Ultimately the “Threefold Law” didn’t exist before 40’s so it is safe to say that it is a modern invention meant to make witches and witchcraft more palatable to outsiders. The vast majority of magical traditions do not adhere to this “law”, including my own. I encourage people to go do the research on this for themselves so they can make an informed decisions, however I am not a big fan. I did a Youtube video last year that goes into all this a little bit better, but essentially; the “threefold law” doesn’t have any power over the craft unless you let it.

Do you believe in such a thing as a justified curse, hex or binding when it comes to social justice or environmentalism? If so, what makes a curse or hex just or unjust?

Every curse is justifiable to someone. As I say in The Witch’s Book of Power, “Ethics are relative, standards however must always be maintained.” I think passing moral judgement on someone’s magical intent discredits their pain. That is a major overstep for me and in my opinion can only come from a place of (dare I say) privilege. In order to maintain my personal magical standards I must respond when I hear the call of an oppressed or hurting people. In the case of the recent takeover, this call is coming from around the world.

Are there any other precautions one should take or side effects one should expect or be aware of when throwing a hex, curse or binding?

Well, let’s be real here; you can’t shoot a gun without feeling the kick. If you aren’t someone who is otherwise stable and grounded in your life, that kick can really be a doosey. So keep yourself spiritually, mentally, and physically clean. Work with spirits that will have your back, spirits that are known for working the same cause as you are in the moment and don’t be sloppy with your magic. I’ll also add that publicly announcing what you are doing before you do it is not a good idea. If you feel the need to share, wait a while for the energy to sync with the world and then share your evidence. Otherwise, remember, silence is not just a magical virtue, it in a pillar to effective spellcasting. Telegraphing your next move, or even sharing your work with others who has a different intent, can fizzle out even the most bad ass of spells. When it comes to social justice magic on the internet, I think the Chaos magicians have the right idea; spread the code to rewrite the world, and do it in such a way that no one really understands what you are doing until it is too late.

What other methods of magick aside from these do you believe should be employed for social justice on a personal level?

Self empowerment. Finding your own power and your own voice. We can’t actually heal the wounds caused by this fight until we see that we are powerful enough as individuals to stand up against it. We have to be the living embodiments of Aradia, we have to work hard both in the physical world as well as the spirit world in order to make change. And until we all see just how powerful we are as people, fellow humans, we will always fear the truths that exist between us. We can curse a horrible power all we want but if in doing so we don’t find our own then we have missed the point all together.

What can we do as witches to assist our community during times of social turmoil and environmental destruction?

We have to continue to do what we have always done; be the bringers of truth. We have to hold each other in our thoughts, be there for each other when support is needed, and we have to remember each other when the nights get lonely. There isn’t just one battle waging in this war, there are several. So we have to think of the people who feel like refugees in their own lives, we have to reach out to the victims and hear their stories. We have to take those stories and share them so that everyone can hear them.

Any other thoughts?

I don’t think that people who feel morally against cursing are stupid or wrong. I get it, it just isn’t for them. It is one of those things that makes people feel uneasy at a base level and there isn’t much anyone can do to argue with instinct. But I don’t think it is ok to have the attitude that cursing is the only job that needs to be done. Nurses don’t get to turn the other cheek in triage because they oppose violence. So I think the important thing is to be asking is “What can I do?” and “What can my magic do?” not “Should I cast a curse.” I think we need as many kind hearted souls in life as we can possibly cultivate and I don’t think it is right to shame those who choose not to lift the crooked wand, I just don’t think they get a free pass when the war is on their doorstep.

All responses (c) copyright 2017 Devin Hunter, All rights reserved.

veedub (Valerie Walker)

veedub, aka Valerie L. Walker, has been a witch since the early 1970’s, and is the author of the DustBunnies’ Big Damn Handout Book, the Big Damn Coloring Book, Gramma Vee’s First Book of Shadows, and CancerFunnies. She was initiated into the Feri Tradition twice (twice-baked for extra crustiness) and counts among her influences Cora Anderson, Terry Pratchett, Alan Moore, and Robert Graves. She teaches free online classes in Feri, the next one to start in July 2017, and taught for many years in San Francisco, founding the Feri coven DustBunnies. vee is a recent transplant to Portland, OR, and wouldn’t mind teaching there if anyone is interested. She recently lost her beloved husband of 39 years, Ron Miller, to a rare form of brain cancer which left him unable to speak long before his other skills were stripped away, which has given her a renewed interest in the sacred process of dying and the experience of being a Crone. Despite all this, her sense of the absurd is irrepressible, and her motto remains “If you don’t like the Lore, go out and make some of your own.” She can be reached at weatherwax@gmail.com and will send out a free pdf of her Big Damn Handout Book to those who request it.

Do you believe hexing, cursing or binding to be a valid and effective method of magick when it comes to social justice or environmental activism and why or why not?

Yes, definitely, because it is just another magickal modality, along with contacting one’s federal and state elected officials, voting, boycotting, marching, petitioning, etc.

What are your thoughts on the the “threefold law” in regards to hexing, cursing and binding?

I don’t believe in the threefold law. I do feel that the over-use of cursing is akin to spitting in the soup, which is okay if you are the only one eating it, but is an unwarranted imposition on one’s dinner guests. But an appropriate level of cursing, appropriateness being determined by the individual witch, spices the soup nicely.

Do you believe in such a thing as a justified curse, hex or binding when it comes to social justice or environmentalism? If so, what makes a curse or hex just or unjust?

Yes. But it is up to the individual practitioner to decide the level of justice. If it makes me feel icky, I won’t do it.

Are there any other precautions one should take or side effects one should expect or be aware of when throwing a hex, curse or binding?

Simple precautions like expressing the intent that it not return to me, and being very clear about where the curse is directed, should suffice. Use magick like a scalpel, not a club.

What other methods of magick aside from these do you believe should be employed for social justice on a personal level?

Periodic self-examination of one’s own motivations, discussions with other like-minded witches, and honesty in one’s practices. Not getting hung up in what others are doing to the extent of losing sight of one’s individual goals. Doing magick to produce positive changes in attitude rather than to punish others for holding to principles which are seen as wrong or ill-advised.

What can we do as witches to assist our community during times of social turmoil and environmental destruction?

Same as any other concerned citizen: get involved. protest. speak out. meet with elected officials. persuade. volunteer. VOTE! Plus that little extra mojo from adding magickal practice to the mix. Just that little sprinkling of metaphorical and actual faery dust that smooths the paths of those we want to encourage, and makes slippery the paths of those we do not.

Any other thoughts?

An old Chinese curse: may you live in interesting times. These are extremely interesting times, and we need to refuse to panic or get side-tracked. We need to, as the posters say, KEEP CALM

All responses (c) copyright 2017 veedub / Valerie Walker, All rights reserved.

Christopher Penczak

Christopher Penczak is the co-founder of the Temple of Witchcraft religious nonprofit organization and the creator of the Temple of Witchcraft Mystery School and Seminary education programs. He is an award winning author, ritualist and minister focused on expanding the teachings and culture of the Witchcraft community. He co-founded Copper Cauldron, an independent publishing company to support his own vision and that of the Temple of Witchcraft community. Today Christopher continues to teach internationally, write, see private clients, design jewelry and travel to sacred sites with small groups. His latest book is The Casting of Spells

Do you believe hexing, cursing or binding to be a valid and effective method of magick when it comes to social justice or environmental activism and why or why not?

For myself, I am generally not a big fan of magick that is classified as “cursing.” I’m a big fan of doing what is Necessary, with a capital N, and that often conflicts with what I might desire to do. Necessity is what is required to fulfill your true Will, or magickal fate, and fulfilling it requires a conscious choice. It’s not guaranteed or automatic, we must participate in it. In this worldview, it’s necessary on all levels, including the magickal, to build up and tear down. I’m a builder by nature, so I tend to focus on what is needed. Can I create a system, paradigm, teaching, ritual, work of art, article or action that brings what is necessary to a situation? But to be effective, there has to be space for those new things, and old paradigms and systems and structures must be broken down. Builders have to work in concert with those dismantling. Likewise if you take down something and have nothing to take its place, you could be creating a bigger potential problem. It’s the two sides of the blessing and cursing coin: Each fulfills a function, and each is necessary.

So with that in mind, such magick can be valid and effective because it is necessary, and can be applied to the larger scope of social justice and environmental activism, but part of the decision to use such magick is a thorough understanding of the mechanics and the intention. Working magick for or against large institutions, communities, corporations, and nations has a big scope, with lots of unforeseen factors, and can require a lot of energy and clear intention to be successful. Working magick for individuals and small groups seems to have a more immediate result.

Even the terms we are using, we should have an understanding of what they mean to us, as they mean different things to different people. What is your ultimate goal with the work? Are you seeking to harm an individual or group? If so, why? Do you hope that harm will prevent a specific action or in general not allow that individual or group to function and fulfill its stated goals? Are you seeking to do harm as a form of punishment, believing no legal punishment will come? If so, will that punishment prevent the situations that have led to your desire to punish, or just perpetuate them?

A curse can be like a punch or a slap, causing spiritual or even physical harm, a blast, so to speak. It’s a one time attack unless repeated. Do you have a goal? Someone who is not particularly spiritually aware might not notice the more subtle forms of attack. Nightmares and “bad luck” are brushed off and never connected to the actions that brought about the curse. Is it a concerted and strategized attack on many levels? A one time blast probably won’t do much to alter the course of someone or something causing harm.

Most simply cast an unsophisticated curse they want to harm someone involved in wrongdoing on a social or environmental level, but even if they succeed, the target might not link it to their behavior and the caster of the curse might never specifically know the result.

If you have specific intentions, what area of the target’s life are you seeking to influence? It is affecting the target’s health, voice, finances, fortune, or mental balance? What is the intended effect? Will that do it, or should you work towards the intended effect? If you want to remove an unjust official from office, cast the spell to remove them from office. Is that a curse, hex, or binding? Not in my mind. That would be justice.

True curses have a life of their own and continue to work over the course of the target’s life. If that is your intention, how do you plan on going about that magick? What feeds it? If certain behaviors are changed, will the curse dissipate? Or are there triggers, if certain actions are taken or promises broken, will the curse activate?

When you look at the folkloric aspect of the evil Witch and fairy godmother, often the curse is the impetus for a character to grow. It provides restriction and reminders of great difficulty, causing discipline and awareness. The curse can actually be a blessing if cast in such a way. The target becomes their own worst enemy. Actions that violate the letter or spirit of the law by causing harm trigger the curse. Actions that are neutral put the curse to rest. The target learns, through trial and error, to adjust their behavior and possibly have a change of heart. Most modern practitioners seeking to curse a wrong-doer tend to forget these mechanisms.

For a binding, are you binding them from taking action on any level? Are you binding specific types of action and letting them be free for other types. Are you setting a boundary to where and when they can operate? Are you binding their harm, effectively creating a trap for their ill will?

The main thought behind all these questions and ideas is when you apply the use of curses, hexes, and bindings on a social justice or activism scale, what do you really want to have happen? Are you sure that is what you want to have happen, or is that just emotionally satisfying in the moment without regard to the long term? Will the curse bring about the real change you desire, or prevent the harm you see happening? One should watch for personal work that punishes or removes an individual, but no real change happens, as a similar individual just fills the vacuum created. The bigger goal would be dismantling and replacing the system perpetuating the problem. That then gets into are we working magick against a person, or an institution or structure? Some think you need a flesh and blood target, while others go after corporations, as they are legally considered people, and financial curses are an effective means of limiting them when successful.

What are your thoughts on the “threefold law” in regards to hexing, cursing and binding?

I’m probably going to give the less popular answer these days around the threefold law, as I think it can be a useful guide. I think the current problems around it are when thinking it’s a moral or religious directive from the universe or a tradition, or specific only to magicians and witches. Just like we often say use the quote, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice” attributed to Martin Luther King (but perhaps the origin of the concept goes to Theodore Parker), the arc of the magickal universe is long, but it bends towards return. As a Hermetic-Qabalistic Witch, everything that moves from source seeks to return to source eventually. All our creations energetically return to us, as their source, on some level. When they are what we want, we call that return a successful manifestation. Even in non-Wiccan or non-Hermetic traditions, there is the concept of “paying the coin” or having to take some level of responsibility for what you have created, and what you have cursed. So do any magick consciously, and be prepared for the consequences of your actions.

Likewise, with the Wiccan Rede, we realize deeper in the mysteries it’s impossible to absolutely do “no harm” in life, let alone magick, but hopefully having the teaching makes us more conscious of our everyday harm, and able to mitigate it. If we do harm, let’s not be unconscious about it, and if it’s necessary, let us do what is necessary with full consciousness and responsibility. I see the Rede and the Pagan Hippocratic oath having resonance, and often look to the role of the Witch as that of healer or doctor. Of course to heal, you have to harm the disease. It’s all in measures and a spectrum, but really about creating change for the most good and well-being, and minimizing the amount of harm done.

Today, in such an information age, it can be difficult because a newly practicing magician or Witch can read the thoughts and philosophies of a particularly experienced one, who has delved into these thoughts, reflected, and come to a contrary conclusion. The process was incredibly valuable and the new magician just reading about the process and agreeing, and not going through the same process of trial, error, reflection, and inner contact, won’t get the same understanding out of it. Without the training wheels, the mistakes made might have greater consequence and less protection through developing the “magickal muscles” and having a well-developed team of inner contacts.

Do you believe in such a thing as a justified curse, hex or binding when it comes to social justice or environmentalism? If so, what makes a curse or hex just or unjust?

If looking through the lens of necessity, such work would be considered just, but since at least two of those terms often carry a malevolent connotation , I often think of such work, when justified, as simply justice magick. The fungus is not malevolent when performing its job breaking down a log in the woods. It doesn’t do so with ill will. So that is often my guide. Necessity is often born of inner guidance, and while it can coincide with personal feelings, it is not born from, or fueled by, our personal feelings. The Weavers, the Scales of Ma’at, Lady Justice and all these forms of power are non-human and impersonal.

For me the line is determining if the matter is petty and personal, or serves a greater cause and is motivated by magickal will. Using magick on someone because they insulted you, don’t like you, or made your life difficult seems like a waste of time. It’s unjust. Magick against someone who raped another is justified. Magick against those acting to destroy the environment or civil liberties is justified, but cursing the perpetrator doesn’t always stop the harm. So planning this magick includes both the intended results and the unintended consequences. Spells to make sure a criminal gets caught, are they curses? Some would say we should be prohibited from some magick as it would fall under the “harm none” as it harms the criminal and interferes with his free will. Magick and witchcraft shouldn’t do that. I totally disagree. I think when someone breaks the law, or the spirit of the community and land, it’s justified. I think such magick is an important part of our work as Witches. But a spell to get the criminal caught and convicted is different than a spell for the criminal to be hit by a bus. While I can get angry at a situation, is it personal or an anger fueled by the desire for justice. If I’m personal, I am probably seeking revenge, seeking the criminal to be hit by the bus, and I feel the line for me is that is unjustified. If that is all I can focus on, then I should not be the one to cast the spell. If I am justifiably angry, and do the spell for the capture and conviction of the perpetrator of a crime, then I’m justified. The same principle is expanded outward towards environmentalism and social justice.

Someone wisely told me you shouldn’t spell, or curse, for anything you wouldn’t do with real world action. That roots out most of the petty spells and curses for me, and also gets me to reflect upon the bigger situations that seem justified without automatically assuming “yes.” Would I turn over evidence and call the police? Absolutely. Would I shoot someone because I could, even though I could also turn over evidence and call the police without ending their life? I might be tempted, particularly if the crime was against me, or a loved one, but then it gets personal and messy and less clear. Would I shoot someone if I was immediately threatened to save my own life or the life of another? Yes, absolutely. It’s the “immediately” part that is tricky, because we all feel in the current climate that we are in immediate danger and it’s just looming over the horizon. Yet, am I operating from my actual reality, or an adrenal response? Adrenals are an influence and tool in our magickal body, but they are not always the clearest window to truth for any of us, particularly magicians in heightened emotional and empathic states. That’s why the daily practices of centering, grounding, and breathing help us see better what is the clear action to take.

I think historically where we see magick and Witchcraft outlawed is the use of magick to not just stop injustice, but to be judge, jury and punisher for the crime. I don’t have that power and responsibility in my daily life in my society, so should I have it magickally? Cursing has certainly been the purview of those who don’t have access to justice systems, yet there is the line between removing someone from a position and wishing their death. For many, a curse is not simply bad luck, but debilitating physical harm or death. I have a hard time with that. People think because it’s magick, it’s not murder, but in the ancient world, if it was a crime to do it with physical action it was most likely a crime to do it with magickal action. You can look at the ancient Maqlu texts from Babylon and see rites for protecting the king and kingdom from the curses of witches and sorcerers. So as long as there have been rulers there have been people feeling they are unjust, and using magick to take them out. If there weren’t, why would such rituals exist? They form a great overview of ancient Witchcraft techniques, and are pretty much the same as things we use today in our justice magick. But the fear that one would murder through witchcraft is the concern of the ancient world, even in pre-Christian civilizations.

If the spell is framed as “stopping the criminal” for the highest and deepest good of all involved, I’ve set the intention, and put the manifestation in the hands of divine intelligence, and that gets to the heart of it: At the end of the day, is my magick, any magick, in service to the divine, to the land and to the spirits? I can use divination and meditation to check in, and make sure my ego alone is not driving things. Can I detach from the outcome I personally want and do this work in service to something greater than myself? Sometimes you get asked by inner contacts to do things you don’t want to do in greater magickal service, and get shown that things you want to do, and feel justified in doing, might in the long term harm you or others in unforeseen ways. Every time I’ve disregarded that guidance from divination and meditation, and done what I wanted, when I felt that perhaps I should let it be, I’ve regretted it.

Usually the unjust curse is when one feels righteous, but is projecting some fault or failing outward upon another, or seeing a target for helplessness, and either the target is not as guilty as one things, or not responsible at all for the reason you are cursing. Sometimes we seek the easy answer of blaming one person for our problems and think a curse will solve it, rather than also provide solutions to the situations that led us there in the first place. The other side of the coin of cursing is blessing and creating.

I believe many practitioners today are here, again in magick, working out all the curses, hexes, and bindings we did, perhaps unjustly and personally, in past lives. Those of us who do service work—readings, spell consultations and teaching—often find the people who seek us out seem strangely familiar. I think a lot of the infighting in magickal communities today is a way to work out things we didn’t work out well the first time around. Sometimes we simply repeat the mistake, but I hope in our modern age, we can work on solutions. I think when I was first coming into magick, the Law of Three and Wiccan Rede were great training wheels for me. When I came to magick I was personally angry, and if I didn’t have them, I might have a very different focus in my magick today. I feel quite a bit for the next generation behind me who casually curse or think cursing is cool and justified for small infractions and disagreements, and were taught the Law of Three and Wiccan Rede are irrelevant or out of touch. I think they did provide excellent training wheels in a time when I was less mature, and still do for many people. Their contemplation, reflection, and deeper understanding, even if the final result is a disagreement, represents a mystery teaching in itself.

Are there any other precautions one should take or side effects one should expect or be aware of when throwing a hex, curse or binding?

If one is doing magick to punish another for getting away with a crime , and wanting to prevent future crime, I would make sure you are aware of all the facts. It’s easy from an outside perspective to believe we have the whole picture. Back up any research on the situation with a divination, and look at it objectively. You can be 100% correct, but another good question to ask in the divination is “Am I the one to do this work?” As a healer I’ve had success with clients who have had cancer. I believe magick can cure cancer in certain situations, but I don’t believe I am the one to cure everyone’s cancer, and I don’t believe I can cure everyone with cancer who crosses my path as a client . I am not responsible for it all. With some the work is curing. For some the work is preparing for death. As a magician, I’m facilitating their process, not controlling it. You contemplate it on a case by case basis. Thinking you are the cure for everyone is a doorway to magickal madness. For me, things that are classified as cursing are similar. Is this my job? Am I being called to do this? If you feel strongly, then probably you are, but double check. Beware believing you are the cosmic enforcer to curse all wrong doers. That is also a way to madness. I’ve found when you are unjustified, personally, or in big situation, your magickal pattern gets tangled, and my belief from observation is that you either have to work hard to untangle it in this life or in another. If it is your job, are you prepared for the backlash to your own self? It is different for everyone, and different for all of the types of baneful magick. If you punch someone repeatedly, you eventually hurt your hands. Not as much as the person you are hitting, but you receive some damage. Whatever you do, you might experience resonance with the result.

If you decide you are called to do justice magick in this vein, and you are prepared for the consequences, what exactly do you want to happen? And what result do you think it will bring? I think general curses without intention are unwise, unless they are justice spells to rebalance and re-pattern a situation for the highest and deepest good, without attachment to the outcome. But most curses are directed actions of magick, or creating a baneful construct, so if you are doing one, make sure you know what your goal is, and how much energy you have to put into it.

One should also be aware of the potential defenses protecting the target. We like to think there are none, as so many people don’t believe in magick, but what is magick’s base but an incredible strength of will and, for some magicians, projecting your will and paradigm upon the world until the world conforms? By that standard, some CEOs and politicians are the best magicians I know and have created the strongest manifestations and lasting accomplishments in their paradigm. Ego can be a tremendous shield. While I don’t think most corporate CEOs are evil Illuminati ritual magicians, I know quite a few who consult with psychics and magicians. I actually had quite a few local ones for clients in my early years, so they wouldn’t be against having talismans for “good luck” and protection created by competent practitioners. If you are a political figure who has people praying for you, particularly those evangelicals who believe evil Witches are out there doing harm and providing a “prayer shield” to a politician, it’s a crude, but real psychic barrier. So psychically look a bit before you leap. Don’t run head long into a wall.

What other methods of magick aside from these do you believe should be employed for social justice on a personal level?

I think sometimes in a desire to curse those who perpetuate harm, one forgets to do magick for the overall outcome. One forgets the builder’s and blesser’s side of the equation. If all goes well, what do you want to create? If that includes removal of, or punishing of those who create harm, so be it. But also I don’t think I’m the “karma police” unless I have a clear direction to take such action from inner guidance, and I can get confirmation that it’s not my ego bias. There has to be a balance between the catabolic and anabolic magick, the cursing and blessing. We have to bust systems and break down paradigms, but we also have to be creating, and making a convincing argument for new paradigms and systems, and supporting those who are proposing new thought and ideas around society and civilization. We can’t be locked into a Democrat vs. Republic “steady as we go” attitude towards the end of civilization worldview, but whatever we come up with will have to be creative and convincing. So we need to study. We need to dream. We need to learn how to most effectively communicate.

Sometimes the best spells, considered hexes by some, were to have the truth revealed. A justice spell was to let a perpetrator’s actions come to light, and the justice system could take it from there. While I love this idea, in this modern era, it doesn’t seem to hold much weight. People’s crimes are revealed and never persecuted, and many with dubious errors in judgement are presented as high crimes. It leads to the feeling there is no justice available, and why marginalized magickal people seek cursing as an alternative.

One technique of old occultists was to simply call the attention of the gods or a specific deity to the situation. Many feel this relieves the magician of any consequence that a curse, binding or other specific form of magick would naturally carry. I always thought this was silly, thinking “how can the gods not know?” But it was explained to me that they don’t place the same weight upon the human realm that we do, and that our petition provides a direct conduit for their energies, to reach the human realm. Without it, their action would be less direct. So in ritual or meditation, you place the situation in the hands of the Goddess, or a specific god or goddess from your personal pantheon. Deities of justice, rebalancing ,and the land are often good. In the Cabot Tradition, one anonymously sends a black feather to the perpetrator of an injustice, to alert the goddess Macha to the injustice and petition her intervention if she deems it appropriate. Some also think that without a specific spell, this is folly, but if you believe the gods have their own will, agenda, and agency, and this work coincides with theirs, they will take action. Though I do believe in a unified divine Hermetic outlook, within that framework, I believe the gods are individual with cause, and will work with you to further their intentions and ours, for the greater good of all.

Sometimes we don’t know what the solution or goal should be, so we do vision work evoking the allies, ancestors, land spirits, and gods, and working with them, to re-pattern balance. If you seek to curse someone, and your inner contacts are not on board, that’s a sign not to do it. If they leave you alone, then you’ll bear the brunt of that experience alone. If they are with you, then they will shoulder it with you. But they could also offer guidance on ways to transmute and mediate the energy that you haven’t thought of, and check you, if your desire to do justice magick goes against the flow of the patterns already rebalancing the process. Sometimes the awful experiences we undergo in the world are a form of rebalancing.

Many competent magicians did magick for a different outcome in the election. On the other side, many people prayed, and got the outcome, almost unbelievably, that they wanted. When I’ve checked in since the election, asking “should I do electoral college magick?” I got a No. “Should I be doing spells for impeachment?” No. All totally contrary to my personal desire in the moment as a gay polyamorous Witch watching the national scene. But all my internal messages have been to show up in physical ways: make phone calls, write letters, show up at marches, and have conversations with people of opposing views willing to talk. My Will is telling me to focus on the human level. So as much as I truly hate the current circumstances, I must assume this serves on some level. Easy for me to say, as I have a relative safety net compared to others. So I continue to resist, but I have to listen to the internal voice of the Witch, and decide when to make and when not to make a magickal move. Just because things are not to my liking doesn’t mean something is not playing out that ultimately serves the greater good of the Earth.

Lastly is simply working on the personal level. The practitioner is like a poppet for the collective human consciousness. Change yourself to change the world. Keep your meditation and magickal practice. Operate from a place of centeredness and compassion. Do good whenever and wherever you can. Speak your truth. Take responsibility for your own failings. Do better. Perform self wellness and care. Don’t maintain a 24/7 cycle of rage, but awareness. Educate yourself, and support education. Learn more about the history of these injustices and causes, and how you might unconsciously be perpetuating them. Sometimes you can’t change the societal circumstances that hold them in place by yourself, but you can change your personal knowledge and understanding, and communicate from that place of understanding, and ask for more understanding from resources and people willing to do so. Do your Will, do what is Necessary, in any given moment.

What can we do as witches to assist our community during times of social turmoil and environmental destruction?

At heart, the Witch is vocational. In our own ways, we are the ones people come to at the edge of their village, for guidance, help, divination, and support. It’s easy in the large scope of things right now to forget people are still having babies, helping people die, experiencing terrible illness, losing jobs, and going through divorce, domestic violence, and mental illness. They might seem small in the scope of the international scene, but they are huge for those going through them. Continue to support your community with your magick, by showing up to see people and, if you do sessions, readings, healing and rituals, continue to do so. Provide time and place for support. Gather to talk, to plan, and if possible, to take action. It can be the big community sabbat, or the cup of tea on a Saturday afternoon. The people don’t go away in times of turmoil. Personal problems can seem even greater. If we have magickal skills to be more present than the average person, be present. Model it. Show up. Be empathic. Speak your truth. Follow your Will.

Any other thoughts?

It’s important to realize the questions here, and the responses, are from the holistic perspective of a multilayered philosophical and personal understanding, with complex ideas and issues. It would be easy to take any one of them out of context and greatly misunderstand them. They should really be looked at from the perspective of the whole.

Whenever we talk about such work, I’m reminded of the stories of the Benandanti, the Good Walkers of Northern Italy, in shamanic visionary battle against the Bad Walkers, the Malandanti, who bring blight and illness. Were the Bad Walkers actual people in dream vision, as the Good Walkers were, or simply spirits embodying the forces of winter, blight, and misfortune? I don’t know, but I have observed over time, that this idea of the battle, magickal or otherwise, is part of the arc of magickal development for those seeking the mysteries. When many of us start with an idealized form of magick and spirituality, we think everything can be solved by love, and those who don’t agree are not sufficiently enlightened or are unnecessarily pessimistic and need to be healed. Then with a lot more experience, you come to the place of the night battles, of conflict. It can be with self, but often personified in other practitioners, the government, corporations, evil spirits, demons, reptoids, aliens, or cosmic forces of evil. We look at those in the previous awareness as fluffy and not pragmatic. Through the worthy adversary, and how we handle it spiritually, we can grow, or diminish. Either we become what we are fighting, or we transcend it. I first came across this Philip K. Dick quote, from Valis, in the work of Grant Morrison’s Invisibles comic. “To fight the Empire is to be infected by its derangement. This is a paradox; whoever defeats a segment of the Empire becomes the Empire; it proliferates like a virus, imposing its form on its enemies. Thereby it becomes its enemies.” I constantly keep that in mind in my resistance to empire. If we transcend what we are fighting, it doesn’t mean we stop standing up to evil and oppression, but our tools become larger, our view becomes larger, and we operate on multiple levels to change our world and ourselves. The direct conflict stops being the be-all, end-all to our worldview, and is simply one aspect of a greater vision.

All responses (c) copyright 2017 Christopher Penczak, All rights reserved.

Laura Tempest Zakroff

Laura Tempest Zakroff can be described as a professional artist, author, dancer, designer, muse, mythpunk, teacher, and witch. Laura has been a practicing Modern Traditional Witch for over two decades and revels in the intersection of her various paths with witchcraft. She blogs at Patheos as A Modern Traditional Witch and at Witches & Pagans as Fine Art Witchery. Her first book, The Witch’s Cauldron, will be released from Llewellyn Worldwide in May 2017, and her second book Sigil Witchery is due out in early 2018. She also writes for The Witches’ Almanac, Ltd.

Do you believe hexing, cursing or binding to be a valid and effective method of magick when it comes to social justice or environmental activism and why or why not?

Yes. If you look at spellcraft as shifting, directing, and other manipulations of energy, if you can halt, prevent, freeze, dissuade someone from hurting others (people, animals, the world, themselves even), then it’s definitely worth the effort. Especially if it’s not within your means/availability to do it in any other non-metaphysical way. It’s important to do what you can within normal means, but spellcraft adds another level of focus that can reach far.

What are your thoughts on the the “threefold law” in regards to hexing, cursing and binding?

I don’t follow a rede or the threefold law of return. In the Modern Tradition, we have very simple but effective guidelines: Know Thyself, Maintain Balance, and Accept Responsibility. The basis of the threefold law says what you do comes back to you in multiples – but that to me seems like a system of reward/fear, and I don’t work that way. Do something “good” because good things will happen or don’t do something “bad” because bad things will happen to you? What is good or bad? Positive or negative? It’s so subjective to one’s perspective. Everything is a transfer of energy, every action has “positive” and “negative” reactions – like a spell to get a job could mean someone else loses that job. Healing someone requires the killing/removal of other entities. I’d rather look at the situation and consider what are the best outcomes AND possible repercussions that I can possibly see. And if I chose to do it, I also accept there are going to be things I could not foresee either. That’s life. If I feel the pull or need to do something, it’s often about putting things back in order or changing the pattern. Versus punching a hole for no good reason.

Do you believe in such a thing as a justified curse, hex or binding when it comes to social justice or environmentalism? If so, what makes a curse or hex just or unjust?

Yes – it comes down to how you apply it. I don’t strike to hurt specific individuals, but rather I see it as illuminating a situation so that justice prevails. As much as I dislike someone, I’m not going to work to “cause X to have a heart attack” but I will work to slow/impede/stop their efforts, and to give energy to the defense/alternative actions. It’s like working with the flow versus against it.

Are there any other precautions one should take or side effects one should expect or be aware of when throwing a hex, curse or binding?

I don’t believe in that when you bind someone or something, you yourself are more connected to them – I think the very fact that it’s in your field of vision or concern is evidence that there’s a connection already. (I see everything as a tapestry, we’re all threads in a larger pattern). But that said, work with the energy around you to shift the tide – don’t pull exclusively from your own well. It’s like spitting to water a plant when you can harness the rain or gather from a stream instead. Might seem like a bit more work, but it doesn’t run you dry.

What other methods of magick aside from these do you believe should be employed for social justice on a personal level?

It’s all the same force, so it’s all part of the same brew to me. I can direct energy to foster and cause growth where needed, and I re-direct energy to dry something up. Binding, cleansing, banishing, healing – they’re all part of the same energy – and there are so many different kinds of spellcraft you can call upon. Whether it’s purely mental, trance, herbs and candles, or sigils – it’s up to the individual to use the method that works best for them.

What can we do as witches to assist our community during times of social turmoil and environmental destruction?

I think it’s up to us to protect, empower, and inspire. Witchcraft isn’t just working spells – it’s spiritual work in the form of healing, guidance, and giving direction. It’s teaching and leading others. It’s about working with the liminal and the divine to perceive, stir, and evoke.

Any other thoughts?

I’m really personally inspired right now by #WeAreAradia, so much so that I was inspired to create a modern tradition-inspired charge of Aradia.

All responses (c) copyright 2017 Laura Tempest Zakroff, All rights reserved.

Fio Aengus Santika (Gede Parma)

Fio Aengus Santika is more commonly known in the broader Pagan and Witch world as Gede Parma, the name under which they have written several books. They are a genderqueer witch initiated in three traditions of the Craft and the current Lucifer/Magister of the Sophian Wildwood Thread. Fio grew up with animism, magic, meditation, and the spirits in a Balinese Hindu context and at the age of 11 realised their witch nature. They are currently embarking on a three-year course of study in contemporary dance in the Australian city of Melbourne whose traditional custodians are the Wurundjeri people.

Do you believe hexing, cursing or binding to be a valid and effective method of magick when it comes to social justice or environmental activism and why or why not?

Hexing, cursing, and binding are well-worn tools of maleficium which lie at the heart of traditional witchcraft. This is not to say the witch’s main role in relation to other humans is to cause harm or to injure; it does however mean that we can, will, and know how. I story the witch as others have, as the prime hedge-rider and crosser. That we are intruders from the “other-side” of the hedge born as human amongst humans, identified and sniffed out as Other no matter where we may be. We often cause strange things to happen that unnerve those around us. This has been the case in pagan and Abrahamic societies. This could be that we are uncanny in our prescience and ability to know “unseen” things. It may manifest in provocation of people’s repressed and long-suffering demons. We may “steal from the rich and give to the poor” in the ways of Robin Hood or akin to Aradia’s work against oppressors and for the oppressed. Ultimately we are part of ecology, we serve functions. Maleficium is incredibly important. It is why our kind were hunted and persecuted before. Yes there were socio-economic and gender threads too, but I believe that ultimately it was because of a fear of actual maleficium. I also think discretion is the better part of valour when it comes to this kind of thing. A cardinal rule of our Craft.

What are your thoughts on the the “threefold law” in regards to hexing, cursing and binding?

As a witch who is not a Wiccan and has no traditional Wiccan training, lineage or leaning, I can say very emphatically I believe the threefold law as it is largely conveyed (albeit by Neo-Wiccans) to be utter bullshit. I have heard that initiatory traditional Wiccan teachings on the threefold law are quite different.

I am responsible for my actions no matter what; that is true, that is a teaching of the Cosmos, of Nature, of Fate. And – some things are mine to do, and some things aren’t. In counsel with my witch-kin, familiar-spirits, ancestors, and Wyrd, I do what is mine to do and I accept responsibility for it.

Do you believe in such a thing as a justified curse, hex or binding when it comes to social justice or environmentalism? If so, what makes a curse or hex just or unjust?

I certainly do. I try to only curse or bind when I believe it to be just and justice must always take into account much more than just humans. Witches in my primary tradition are encouraged to engage in soul-alignment, practices of knowing oneself, opening the way for ancestral knowledge and inspiration, and cultivating intimate connections with one’s spirits. We are taught how to divine and read omens; how to listen, how to ask, how to reach out, how to reach in. With all this in place and being practised we learn how to filter our own “stuff” – repressions, projections, bonds, assumptions – and to come to an anchored and enlivened place. If the needfulness behind the curse or binding is still present, then at this point we might initiate the work. If we are uncertain, as with any choice, not just overtly sorcerous, we may consult with loved ones who we trust.

Are there any other precautions one should take or side effects one should expect or be aware of when throwing a hex, curse or binding?

All I will say is: “Act responsibly, be responsible, engage responsibility” – and – “Be clean with yourself, your spirits, and your family.”

What other methods of magick aside from these do you believe should be employed for social justice on a personal level?

It all depends. So many acts of magic can be a curse depending on the perspective. I could write “mirroring” in which we might ensorcel – through someone’s dreams or unconscious – the person to live through the effects of their actions in the world. This seems relatively straight forward, but might be terrible in feeling for that person. And so it ought to be. That is a kind of justice that can be effected by a cunning sorcerer. I will also add that invoking and calling for medicine, balm and soothe, after we banish, or break down, or blast, is an important step in our magic. We need to know what it is we wish to see and feel come to fruition; what the curse or binding and other magics may be serving.

What can we do as witches to assist our community during times of social turmoil and environmental destruction?

We as spirit-workers and sorcerers need to be reminding ourselves to ground, align, shield, ward, transmute, alchemise, and commune with our beloveds here, there, and everywhere. Whether we are tradition-focussed or pan-pagan witches roaming through various groups and communities, allied with whom we are allied, we need to practise excellence and sensuousness in our communication. Excellence in articulation and conveyance so that our thoughts, feelings and ideas may be received as best as we can determine. Sensuousness so our words are married with heart and hearth, with the redness of being alive and being divine human animals. This is how we become intimate with the source of ideas and it is our ideas which ultimately connect with the Awen, or the Fire in the Head, and that Fire – that forged-fallen Fire – is part of our witch-blood. May it awaken. May we serve. May we defeat the oppressors.

All responses (c) copyright 2017 Fio Aengus Santika / Gede Parma, All rights reserved.

Lupa

Lupa is a naturalist pagan author, hide and bone artist, ecopsychologist and naturalist in the Pacific Northwest. She is the creator of the Tarot of Bones deck and book and is author of several other books, most recently Nature Spirituality From the Ground Up: Connect With Totems in Your Ecosystem (Llewellyn, 2016). She creates art from hides, bones and other natural and reclaimed materials, and she runs Still Death, a monthly art and education session in Portland, OR where participants can draw real animal skulls and learn about comparative anatomy.

Do you believe hexing, cursing or binding to be a valid and effective method of magick when it comes to social justice or environmental activism and why or why not?

Okay, let me preface this all by saying I am a naturalist pagan, so I don’t take magick literally, in that I don’t believe that doing a ritual or spell over here will automatically affect something over there. So I don’t think that hexes and the like have any actual direct effect on whoever the target is, and I figure that if I were to cast a hex on X politician and then the next day some scandal came out about them, the news would have broken regardless of my actions. If I said “Oh, look, my hex worked!”, that’s me falling prey to confirmation bias.

I do, however, see ritual as a powerful way to bind people together in a common cause. It’s why we have rites of passage to welcome people into new groups or into new phases of their lives that they share with others. And it’s a way to raise morale and boost the feeling of solidarity. It can be incredibly overwhelming to feel like the problems of the world are too great for one person to do anything about, and yet rituals remind us that it is the collective actions of many that create change. There are people who like to disparage those working for social justice as “snowflakes”—well, guess what? Lots of snowflakes can make an avalanche! And if rituals and group-coordinated spells can get people moving in the right direction, so be it. Even if all you do is a spell by yourself in your home, if it serves to help you shake off some of the malaise and stress you feel so that you have more energy to put toward other actions, then it was effective.

What are your thoughts on the the “threefold law” in regards to hexing, cursing and binding? Do you believe in such a thing as a justified curse, hex or binding when it comes to social justice or environmentalism? If so, what makes a curse or hex just or unjust?

I think the Threefold Law is an incredibly simplistic attempt at trying to sum up complex moral and ethical issues. A lot of pagans who are still stuck with a rigid idea of good vs. evil tend to adhere to it like holy writ. I mean, all you have to do is look at the state of things both now and throughout history and there’s evidence right there that things do not come back to you threefold; the world’s a lot more complicated and less fair than that. But the Threefold Law gives people a false sense of security; they can feel something resembling justice by daydreaming about how someone who wronged them will somehow “get theirs” because the Universe will throw their badness back at them three times worse.

Malevolent intent is not an automatic trigger for some cosmic sense of justice. Let’s say I cast a curse. Aside from the fact that I don’t think it’s actually going to accomplish anything, I don’t think I’m going to suddenly be the target of all sorts of awfulness that manages to equal three times the awfulness of daring to cast a curse. I’m pragmatic. Don’t worry yourself over the Universe smacking you down for having dared to burn a black candle with President Skroob’s name on it. If casting a curse helps you to alleviate anger and anxiety and other emotions that may be dragging you down at this stressful time, by all means unleash your fury! If you spend your time being anxious that you’re going to get hit by the Threefold Law, you’ve basically negated all the emotional release the curse allowed you.

Are there any other precautions one should take or side effects one should expect or be aware of when throwing a hex, curse or binding?

Yes. Don’t let casting a curse lull you into the idea that you don’t have to do anything else. Even people who believe in magick in a literal, supernatural way say you’ve got to back it up with something physical. It’s like job spells—you can’t burn a green candle and then not send your resume out and then expect to get a job.

What other methods of magick aside from these do you believe should be employed for social justice on a personal level?

Honestly? There’s nothing quite like routine to help you feel some sense of grounding and normalcy in times of social madness. You’re going to be a lot more effective in whatever your efforts are if you take care of yourself as best as you can. That means it’s more important now than ever to focus on regular practices that help you recover from stress, worry, anxiety and the like. Mindfulness and other forms of meditation on a daily or weekly basis can be a huge help. Engage in self-care, and feel free to make it overtly witchy if you like—take a nice, hot bath, and add in oils or herbs that you associate with relaxation and healing, for example. Or prepare one of your favorite dishes, and say a small prayer of gratitude over it, as well as a prayer that it will fuel your actions going forward.

Don’t neglect your seasonal or other periodic practices, either. Keep celebrating the sabbats, esbats, or whatever your chosen sacred calendar is. If you can do so with others, even better. Not only does it give you something to focus on besides how much everything sucks right now, but again it allows you to connect with others and not feel so alone. We need each other, and there’s nothing wrong with having rituals whose primary purpose is to say “We are here together.”

What can we do as witches to assist our community during times of social turmoil and environmental destruction?

Same thing everyone else can do: take action. That can take many legitimate forms. Some people do great on the front lines of protests and other direct actions. Others are better at leaning on elected officials, or even running for office (local ones included!) I personally favor donating money to nonprofit organizations that work to protect the environment, and I just became a member of the ACLU. Another of my strong points is volunteering time with those nonprofits, getting my boots on the ground for everything from planting native species to educational opportunities. I know there are those who like to disparage people whose main form of action is to share links on Facebook, but even that has value in that it keeps lines of communication open and helps important information go viral. Engaging in magical thinking doesn’t exempt you from actually doing something on a practical, mundane level, but you have options as to what that actually looks like depending on your time, location, ability, etc. Find your niche, and go with it.

All responses (c) copyright 2017 Lupa, All rights reserved.

Jason Miller

Jason Miller is the author of Protection and Reversal Magick; Financial Sorcery; The Sorcerer’s Secrets; and Sex Sorcery and Spirit as well as the Strategic Sorcery Course, and several other programs of mind and magical training.

Do you believe hexing, cursing or binding to be a valid and effective method of magick when it comes to social justice or environmental activism and why or why not?

It can be, but most of the time its not. On the one hand if it’s a big public hoo-ha that doesn’t really do anything as far as sorcery goes then I am not a fan because it’s a poor use of the art. On the other if it is a serious and secret act aimed to cause harm to someone, it’s akin to someone going up and assaulting or damaging that person with a family and friends and life.

In the case of public curses it can be like the darkside version of white light group rituals to “heal the earth” or some other suitably vague goal. Instead of healing the earth, its cursing the GOP or jinxing the oil industry. It’s not really about measurable change so much as feeling like you are doing something.

If however the curse is aimed at a target that will trigger a domino effect that matters, and care is taken to gather links and actually be serious about it, then sure it can be a valid and effective method of magic for social justice and activism when the issue really warrants it. Having had curses work, and seeing the fallout from them has given me a respect for what that really means though, and it is not something to be undertaken lightly. At least not for me.

What are your thoughts on the the “threefold law” in regards to hexing, cursing and binding? Do you believe in such a thing as a justified curse, hex or binding when it comes to social justice or environmentalism?

I remember meeting a Witch in Highgate London who was allegedly part of the Regency coven scene. She told me that the origin of the threefold law was actually rooted in the idea that a Witch would return harm three times over. Beyond that I have no real use for it in my thought process. I believe in the cause and effect of Karma, but just like magical traditions of the east I can see that some great harms can some from healing and peaceful actions just as occasionally great good can stem from a well placed curse. Do I think we need to run around cursing people over political issues? No. Can I understand how curses, and especially binding might be necessary for people that are targeted by police and hate crimes, or to protect the land? Yes I can. There are a lot of spirits that have little use to Witches and Sorcerers private lives, but who are very dedicated to protecting the land.

If so, what makes a curse or hex just or unjust?

I’ll take a pass on that one. I don’t believe in a universal standard for such things and its amazing how fast guidelines get tossed out the window when it gets personal. Are there any other precautions one should take or side effects one should expect or be aware of when throwing a hex, curse or binding? First, for gods sake if you are going to do it, then do it. Target a person, a company, a small group of people of something very precise. This enables you to either get a link like a personal item from a person or dirt from a corporate headquarters; or to plant curse material on them such as powders or sigils.

Next, take responsibility and be prepared for what you are doing. Be prepared for what it will feel like if the person you curse, or someone at the company you cursed dies. Even bindings can take drastic forms. Sometimes people thinking that “binding X from causing harm” will just suddenly prompt the target to drop their nefarious plans for no reason, but more often then not the binding manifests as something that KEEPS them from doing that thing – which is rarely a positive thing for the target.

What other methods of magick aside from these do you believe should be employed for social justice on a personal level?

Anything and everything is fair game, but the magic of influence and magnetizing is perhaps more useful than just taking people out. As the left fractures more and more it seems to be less interested in gaining support and converting people to the cause than in yelling louder and louder among those who already agree and pushing out those who don’t. I still believe in making a point and gaining ground because people are basically all doing their best to make sense of the world.

What can we do as witches to assist our community during times of social turmoil and environmental destruction? Any other thoughts?

The school of thought that I have founded is called Strategic Sorcery because we dedicate ourselves to forming plans that will work without magic, then using magic to insure that those plans work well and exceed expectations. What witches can do is apply their craft to those who are running for office at local and state and congressional levels. Show up at local meetings and get involved.

A witch standing up and publicly proclaiming a curse upon the GOP or the Financial Industry is a joke. A Witch getting involved in the game of applying pressure to politicians and supporting efforts to make change, while quietly using magic to bolster those efforts is a force to be reckoned with.

All responses (c) copyright 2017 Jason Miller, All rights reserved.

Vivienne Moss

Vivienne Moss is an Avalonian/Faery Witch and a priestess of Hekate and Morgana. She is the author of Hekate: A Devotion and has written essays for several books on the Goddess. Vivienne enjoys spending time in nature and causing trouble with her two teenaged daughters. A lover of all things occult, Vivienne has dedicated her life to uncovering the esoteric knowledge that lives with the worlds Seen and Unseen.

Do you believe hexing, cursing or binding to be a valid and effective method of magick when it comes to social justice or environmental activism and why or why not?

Yes, I do. I believe any extra help you can give to these issues will be of great assistance to the cause. Of course, one needs to do plenty of ground work as well.

What are your thoughts on the “threefold law” in regards to hexing, cursing and binding?

I am not one to abide by the “threefold law”, though I do believe one needs to take great caution before taking such measures.

Do you believe in such a thing as a justified curse, hex or binding when it comes to social justice or environmentalism? If so, what makes a curse or hex just or unjust?

Yes, a curse, hex or binding can be justified in social justice and environmental concerns. Just make sure it is about the cause and not you.

Are there any other precautions one should take or side effects one should expect or be aware of when throwing a hex, curse or binding?

Always think long and hard before hexing, cursing or binding. Do your research on both the issue and the type of spell you are doing. This type of magic can and will take a lot out of the practitioner depending on how much energy you put into it and can occasionally backfire on you.

What other methods of magick aside from these do you believe should be employed for social justice on a personal level?

Prayers, candle work and petitions to the Gods should be employed during these times of turmoil.

What can we do as witches to assist our community during times of social turmoil and environmental destruction?

Listening to our brothers and sisters in our community, especially those affected the most—POC, LGBTQ, Women and our brothers and sisters in other minority religions—is one of the greatest ways to assist our community.

Any other thoughts?

Always stand up for what is right and just! Stand strong and don’t back down!

All responses (c) copyright 2017 Vivienne Moss, All rights reserved.

Storm Faerywolf

Storm Faerywolf is professional author, teacher, warlock, and co-owner of The Mystic Dream, a metaphysical and occult retail shop in Walnut Creek, CA. An initiate of the Faery tradition, he holds the Black Wand of a Master and has over thirty years experience practicing the Craft and teaching for more than twenty. He is the founder of BlueRose, his own school and lineage of Faery, offering classes internationally both in-person and online. He is the author of Betwixt & Between: Exploring the Faery Tradition of Witchcraft and The Stars Within the Earth, and is a founding teacher of the Black Rose school of witchcraft.

Do you believe hexing, cursing or binding to be a valid and effective method of magick when it comes to social justice or environmental activism and why or why not?

I think that –like all magic— hexing is multi-layered. On a purely psychological level it can produce an effective form of emotional release, giving the practitioner a ritual method of “venting” or directing feelings of anger and rage that might otherwise poison or harm. Often this level of working is all that is really needed, leaving the practitioner with a feeling of satisfaction at having done what they could to bring down their target.

When applying hexing toward political ends things get a bit trickier. This type of magic tends to work best when applied to individuals, rather than movements or organizations as there are often too many variables to take into consideration. Political magic also becomes difficult because so many people are emotionally (and even magically) involved, which creates a type of energetic current, that can be particularly difficult to navigate. I have had both successes and failures when it comes to working magic for political ends, and my advice would be to keep the goals specific to a particular person or office.

What are your thoughts on the “threefold law” in regards to hexing, cursing and binding?

The “Threefold law” is a specifically Wiccan religious dogma that would only apply to those practicing some form of traditional Wicca. My own traditional witchcraft practice does not include such a philosophy. Personally I find the Threefold Law as it is commonly understood (roughly, “everything one puts out will return to the sender 300%”) to be an attempt at restricting the witches’ power that has no basis in reality. This most likely has its origins in a sort of “public relations” campaign to present witches as harmless and therefore “acceptable” to an otherwise fearful society. While this may have done much to help a fledgling modern Craft find its foothold, at this point I feel that it restricts us more than it helps. Regardless of what the individual witch may feel about the Threefold Law, I think it’s time for witches everywhere to really look at our own dogma and decide if they are still relevant.

Do you believe in such a thing as a justified curse, hex or binding when it comes to social justice or environmentalism? If so, what makes a curse or hex just or unjust?

My personal philosophy tends toward first binding or reversing rather than hexing outright, but I reserve the right to hex should a binding prove ineffective.

Magic, in itself, is amoral, and I personally feel that witches in particular have a responsibility to use our magic to bend the world toward justice. While some assert that hexes are always off limits for a “real” witch, I remind them that our own history proves otherwise. We are not a “religion of the book” that insists on a static morality at the cost of our own reason. I assert that ethics work best when they are situational, enabling us to act in ways that are effective and serve the greater good. In the case of being attacked, for example, we shouldn’t hesitate to use our magic for self-defense and for the defense of the weak and innocent. We should not squander our energy or attention in misguided attempts at wooing our very attackers, enabling them to do even more harm. If someone is attacking you then you do whatever it takes to make sure that you are safe. Whatever it takes. Only those with the privilege of personal safety could argue otherwise.

Are there any other precautions one should take or side effects one should expect or be aware of when throwing a hex, curse or binding?

As with all magic, when we cast we are conjuring the powers we direct through ourselves and so we are first subject to them. When I cast a love spell I am filled with the powers of love as I perform my rites, just as I will be filled with the energies of any curse I may throw. We are always affected by the magic we perform. In a sense, to cast a spell is to cast it first upon ourselves. Generally, when we are working magic for a positive outcome, we are more than happy to do this, as it is simply part and parcel of our workings, even if this spell would be performed on the behalf of another. (I mean, who wouldn’t want extra love or money magic coming their way?) But in the case of a “negative” working, we must take extra precautions, lest we end up cursing ourselves in the process.

In the Faery tradition we are generally taught that when we find ourselves in need of cursing that we must first be “clean” of whatever transgression we are “punishing” in our target. If I were cursing a rapist, for example, my own behaviors around sex and consent must be beyond reproach, lest the curse have something for it to “stick” to. I must be free of any psychic entanglements that might give cause for the curse to manifest in such a way that is detrimental to myself. This is often easier said than done, however, as these psychic entanglements can come in many forms, and not just rooted in the specific behavior we are targeting. Our own fears and complexes can get in the way of any magical working, and a curse has even more potential of blowing up in our faces.

Another danger that we must face when performing cursing magic is that this work can become somewhat addicting. Especially if one has had successes with this type of work it is tempting to allow those successes to fill one with a sense of power and authority that can lead to performing more and more curses. The problem with this is that the more often we engage in this type of work the energies will change us over time and we can become “corrupted” in the process. All magic that we work does this, but in the case of positive workings the result is that we live a more positive and fulfilling life. In the case of cursing, however there becomes the very real possibility of becoming bitter and paranoid so that we start to see “enemies” everywhere and we become the “casual curser”, throwing hexes as easily as we might throw an angry look. This becomes a downward spiral; the more we curse, the more we are cursed. And the more we are cursed, the more we see ourselves as a victim or a champion, both extremes validating our decision to throw even more curses. This is the real danger of cursing work, and why it must be done sparingly, soberly, and with a real end in mind.

What other methods of magick aside from these do you believe should be employed for social justice on a personal level?

First, it is important that we as magical practitioners use our skills for self-care. Activism, magical or otherwise, has the very real potential of causing emotional burnout; a very unhealthy state. As witches and warlocks we should remember to use our magic to help build up what changes we would like to see in the world, and not just tearing down that which we are aligned against. We need the positive to help us in dealing with the negative. And we need to make it fun. It’s important to realize that not all activism need be rooted in anger and fire. There is always something that we can make fun of. This isn’t “making light” of a dark situation, but instead using humor as a tool to better enable us to be able to face that darkness. Part of my personal spiritual practice after the election has been to make fun of the Orange Usurper at every turn, to mock and berate him but in a fun way. If we can laugh in the face of evil then we have begun to strip it of its power, as well as to reclaim our own.

What can we do as witches to assist our community during times of social turmoil and environmental destruction?

We really need to come together. In these dark times we need all of our voices and all of our magic. One approach alone will not cut it. We need the voices of non-violence, but we also need to recognize that other approaches might be equally valid. A cursory look over the history of any oppressed people will soon reveal that no oppressed people have ever won their freedoms simply by asking their oppressors nicely. Our power will only be ours if we demand it and take it, even perhaps by force. As a gay man living in the United States, my LGBT brothers and sisters and I celebrate our current freedoms every June on a date that marks the beginning of our movement toward legal equality. This date is not in remembrance of any impassioned speech or a change of laws won at the ballot box, but a remembrance of a riot, when police violently raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay establishment whose patrons had finally had enough of the abuse, the false arrests, the extortion, and worse, and they fought back. Because of this spontaneous act of violence and property destruction an intense national dialogue began and within two years “gay rights” groups had formed in every major city across the country. So, when people tell me that protesters who engage in violence and destruction are detracting from their message, I will respectfully disagree. While certainly a last resort, violence –whether physical or magical—has at times proven to be the only message that can be received.

This, to me, is one of the lessons of the Old Craft: Aradia didn’t come to earth to teach witches how to heal and spread “white light”, she came here to teach us how to torment and poison our oppressors and I think it’s high time that witches remember our history. We might not all want to go out and start casting hexes, but we need to recognize that martial magic is a part of our history and is at times necessary. This is one of the ideas behind the #WeAreAradia movement, in that we are each the embodiment of the striving toward freedom and we are here to mirror that for each other. No one is coning to save us. We need to do that ourselves, and if we are to busy tearing each other down because some of us feel it necessary to engage in magical warfare (“A real witch never hexes!”) or because some feel that to do so is anathema to their ethics (“Fluffy-bunny!”) then we have already lost. We need all of our voices. We need all of our magic, together. We needed Martin Luther King. But we also needed Malcom X. A simple approach will no longer cut it. We live in a complex world and simple solutions are woefully insufficient.

All responses (c) copyright 2017 Storm Faerywolf, All rights reserved.

Mélusine Draco

Mélusine Draco originally trained in the magical arts of traditional British Old Craft with Bob and Mériém Clay-Egerton. She has been a magical and spiritual instructor for nearly 30 years with Coven of the Scales and the Temple of Khem, and writer of numerous popular books including By Spellbook & Candle: Hexing, Cursing, Bottling & Binding and its companion volume, By Wolfsbane and Mandrake Root: The Shadow World of Plants and Their Poisons, published by Moon Books in both paperback and e-book formats. For details of the CoS’s foundation course Arcanum, email moonraker369cos@gmail.com.

Do you believe hexing, cursing or binding to be a valid and effective method of magic when it comes to social justice or environmental activism, and why or why not?

Absolutely … but it does depend on the circumstances, such being seen as a means whereby defenceless people can avenge themselves upon their enemies when the normal channels of legal action had been denied them. We would class this as appealing to a ‘Higher Law’.

What are your thoughts on the “threefold law” in regards to hexing, cursing and binding?

It’s a nice little moral code to discourage the inexperienced from meddling with things they don’t fully understand. Curses, like chickens, have a habit of coming home to roost because if not properly ‘earthed’, curses have a habit of rebounding on the curser,

Do you believe in such a thing as a justified curse, hex or binding when it comes to social justice or environmentalism?

Again absolutely … but we clearly separate cursing/hexing and bottling/binding and look upon them as completely different disciplines. Many people confused binding and bottling and, although similar in preparation, the long-term outcome is often employed for different purposes. Neither carry the finality or strength of a full-blown curse and, unlike the curse, both can be ‘undone’ should it become necessary to negate the spell for whatever reason.

If so, what makes a curse or hex just or unjust?

People who throw curses without being fully aware of the facts and use magic to feed an ego or paranoia; curses should only be used as a defensive measure. On the other hand, binding is a form of short-term preventative magic inasmuch as the spell can be used to stop someone doing something foolhardy – such as taking out a loan they can ill-afford. It is not meant to be permanent and, unlike cursing or bottling is easily reversed when the moment of madness has passed

Are there any other precautions one should take or side effects one should expect or be aware of when throwing a hex, curse or binding?

Obviously it takes a long time to lay a successful curse and often may take several days before the witch has raised this dark energy by stoking up tightly controlled emotions in order to make the magic work. It must also be borne in mind that no matter what the books may tell you about spells for lifting curses … there is no such thing. Once sent, a curse cannot be lifted, called back, withdrawn or negated. It can, however, be deflected and, if the cause is not just, can be rebounded on the sender, especially if another magical practitioner is involved. I was taught that the amount of mental, emotional and physical effort required to throw a successful curse was so great that it effectively shortened the sender’s life – in other words, there was a price to be paid.

What other methods of magic aside from these do you believe should be employed for social justice on a personal level?

Personal protection rites and the preparation of a talisman for the family and home in the first instance.

What can we do as witches to assist our community during times of social turmoil and environmental destruction?

Firstly, there is nothing altruistic about Old Craft and having a tribal mentality, we tend to look after our own – that being the case we fiercely protect our own people, livestock and working environment. That is our responsibility and obligation. We expect others to take care of their own environment in any way they see fit. A concerted communal, magical effort to combat these issues can often have the opposite effect if the contributing energies are out of kilter.

Any other thoughts?

Only that curses, in the long term, are usually counter-productive and self-defeating, since few people who throw a curse bother to concern themselves with the far-reaching implications. Binding and bottling give a far greater ‘control’ over the outcome and if, at the end of the day, you decide it’s really not worth the effort – or you got it wrong! – then the bottling or binding can be undone … a curse cannot.

All responses (c) copyright 2017 Mélusine Draco, All rights reserved.

David Salisbury

David Salisbury is a Firefly initiate and high priest of Coven of the Spiral Moon. He is the author of various books on magick and mysticism including A Mystic Guide to Cleansing & Clearing, The Deep Heart of Witchcraft and Teen Wicca. He lives in Washington DC.

Do you believe hexing, cursing or binding to be a valid and effective method of magick when it comes to social justice or environmental activism and why or why not?

Like all magick, I think the efficacy of hexing in these matters depends on the person throwing the hex, how they’re throwing it, and what the conditions of the situation are. I think hexing is a challenging sector of the magickal arts with more complications on it that can impede fruition than with other types. But for the person who knows what they’re doing, sometimes a one hex can be more effective than weeks of work on another method.

What are your thoughts on the the “threefold law” in regards to hexing, cursing and binding?

Having been practicing Wicca since the age of 12, I have long struggled with the threefold law. Because as I got older and learned more of our history along with deeper metaphysical concepts, it just didn’t seem to make much sense any more. I’ve now come to a place where I can’t find any reasonable explanation to why this mandate should be followed that doesn’t come from a place of fear from retribution, which is a fear that I think should stay in the darker corners of monotheism. If I follow any “threefold law” now it would be to remain mindful that effective magick comes from all three parts of the self being aligned and connected.

Do you believe in such a thing as a justified curse, hex or binding when it comes to social justice or environmentalism? If so, what makes a curse or hex just or unjust?

Part of this depends on how you define justice, which is work I’ll leave to the philosophers among us. I take a simple approach to justifying hexing. I ask myself a few questions:

1 Has something occurred or is in imminent threat of occurring that’s brought unpreventable harm?
2 Is it possible to neutralize the harmful force in a more subtle (and easier) way that also restores balance to any victims involved?
3 Am I casting this hex because it’s necessary, or am I just bitter and vengeful?

If something can’t pass my personal test from those three questions, then I’m not likely to proceed with a hex. I’m not even necessarily against what some would call “vengeance magick” because justice sometimes looks like revenge from the view of the unaffected. Having a strong moral compass, carefully cultivated integrity, and counsel from others are all helpful for deciding if that work is justified.

Are there any other precautions one should take or side effects one should expect or be aware of when throwing a hex, curse or binding?

I never forget the “jelly jam affect” in magick: You can’t really work magick without “getting a little on you.” I’m not talking about karmic repercussions here, but the simple idea that even if it’s completely justifiable to throw mud at a perpetrator, you’re going to get a little dirty in the process. Because of that, cleansing and clearing work is an essential part of any plan to hex. Sometimes this might be a simple suffumigation with sacred herbs, and sometimes it means a daily uncrossing bath or something even more dramatic. Let the cleansing match the severity of the work.

What other methods of magick aside from these do you believe should be employed for social justice on a personal level?

Always seek justice in the physical world whenever possible. Hexing is a tool often employed by people who don’t have the resources in the physical world to take action to restore balance (for example: in a legal matter, someone may not have the funds to hire an attorney). But if you do have the ability to match the magickal with the physical, I think that should always be considered. Finally (and this might seem obvious), we need to be sure that we’re not guilty of the crime we’re coming after someone else for.

What can we do as witches to assist our community during times of social turmoil and environmental destruction?

I strongly believe that the world needs the witches now more than ever before. We need to realize the potential we have to cause massive change in the world. We need to remind ourselves of that and remind our kin. On the personal level, don’t forget to check in with your comrades and your friends who are affected by things on the daily. Sometimes our most revolutionary magick is inviting an overburdened friend over for dinner, offering to babysit, buying some groceries, or lending a shoulder to cry on.

All responses (c) copyright 2017 David Salisbury, All rights reserved.

Jacki Smith

Jacki Smith has been studying ancient magical traditions and interpreting them for use in today’s modern world since 1992. She is internationally known both for her award winning books and the Coventry Creations line of intentional candles, oils, and sprays. Jacki’s earthy, practical approach to magic takes out the spooky and adds in a flavor of lighthearted humor. Her studies in theology, tarot, herbalism, astrology, world religions, and psychology inspired her to write Coventry Magic and DIY Akashic Wisdom. Jacki lives in southeast Michigan with her husband and daughter, where she runs a multitude of businesses, teaches classes, consults spiritually, hosts “Keep it Magic Radio,” and in general, runs amok.

Do you believe hexing, cursing or binding to be a valid and effective method of magick when it comes to social justice or environmental activism and why or why not?

I have a different view on hexing and cursing. I do it by bending, not resisting in my magic and by giving people what they want. I also work on being quietly invasive with a new energy.

For instance, when I was asked to facilitate a community ritual to help with Marriage Equality in Michigan, I worked on the fear that the lawmakers held around this issue. No one wants to live in fear so we worked on releasing and letting go of the fear. We charged up liquid soap with the prejudice and lies that feed the fears and then blew bubbles to show how insubstantial those fears are. We also charged up pennies and glitter with the power of love, justice and transformation. These items were spent and shipped all around the state to “pollute” with love everything they come in contact with.

The next week, the courts ruled in favor of Marriage equality. Coincidence?

I have worked in this fashion for court cases, bullying issues and child protection issues.

What are your thoughts on the the “threefold law” in regards to hexing, cursing and binding?

Ethics are very personal and when you are dealing with your well being I subscribe to the “Don’t start none, won’t be none” school of thought. When one is being persecuted, discriminated against and even physically harmed, are you worrying about a precious higher spiritual ideal?

In the hierarchy of needs, we are looking at the base need of survival before we have the emotional and spiritual cash that can be spent in higher pursuits. When someone is coming at you with a bat in hand, you are not going to lecture them on the karmic ramification of their actions. You are going to try and stop them by any means necessary.

I look at the three fold law is a tool to use to check your behavior when you are in pursuit of personal gain. It asks you if you are acting in accordance with who you want to be and the type of person you want to be seen as today and in the future.

Do you believe in such a thing as a justified curse, hex or binding when it comes to social justice or environmentalism? If so, what makes a curse or hex just or unjust?

Again, I don’t out right hex. I don’t want to push against the obvious direction or intention of the other person or group. That is just two opposing forces and that takes a lot of energy to keep up. What I do is go around, look for what the underlying, secret agenda is and work from that place. The secrets are where there is room for change, room for healing.

Is it just? I am working on giving them what they want in a way that I get what I want too. Sneaky or just less resistance?

Are there any other precautions one should take or side effects one should expect or be aware of when throwing a hex, curse or binding?

I have thrown energy in anger. It doesn’t work for me when I do that and then I feel terrible because I am working in opposition to my ideals. It’s like running backwards and not expecting to trip.

I am being challenged ethically right now with the current state of injustice happening and growing in our country and my world right now. I ask y guides daily how I can resist the hate and promote justice. Every day there is a variation on what I can do and each time it is about elevating and demanding better. I work on acting calmly and speaking clearly. That is my role and I am sure others are taking a more aggressive role and I honor them their path.

What other methods of magick aside from these do you believe should be employed for social justice on a personal level?

Personal balancing and cleansing are necessary on a daily basis to avoid burnout. I am also working magic to open roads to communication and attraction spells to find the tribe I need to work with right now.

What can we do as witches to assist our community during times of social turmoil and environmental destruction?

My store is a sanctuary and a politic free zone. We need moments of respite to recharge our batteries. I am also talking to and coaching the stores that I sell to in ways to find their voice and remain empowered for their community. I try to ask the questions that will bring forth your own personal paths to empowerment.

Any other thoughts?

We all have different roles to play in what I am now calling the resistance. We have the activists and the truth tellers who will will keep us informed and charged up. We have the thinkers and the inspirers who help us think for ourselves. We have the healers and the safe spaces to help us recover. Your role must speak to you and your path.

All responses (c) copyright 2017 Jacki Smith, All rights reserved.

Raven Digitalis

Raven Digitalis is the author of Esoteric Empathy, Shadow Magick Compendium, Planetary Spells & Rituals and Goth Craft. He is a Neopagan Priest and cofounder of an “Eastern Hellenistic” nonprofit multicultural Temple called Opus Aima Obscuræ (OAO). Also trained in Eastern philosophies and Georgian Witchcraft, Raven has been an earth-based practitioner since 1999, a Priest since 2003, a Freemason since 2012, and an empath all of his life. He holds a degree in anthropology from the University of Montana and is also a professional Tarot reader, DJ, small-scale farmer and animal rights advocate.

Do you believe hexing, cursing or binding to be a valid and effective method of magick when it comes to social justice or environmental activism and why or why not?

I feel that binding is the most ethically sound type of “curse” because it utilizes a person’s own energetic projections rather than putting something foreign onto them. Karmic “quickenings” tend to be more ethically aligned than outright cursing. I have heard of many incidents where a spellcaster cursed a person without understanding the full dynamics or truth of a situation, who then regretted performing the magick. This can be avoided by utilizing binding spells and even magick aimed at illuminating and enlightening an influential person “by any means necessary.” This sort of spellcasting is not only morally and karmically sound, but also highly effective!

What are your thoughts on the the “threefold law” in regards to hexing, cursing and binding?

I tend to follow a philosophy toward life that is closely aligned with Hinduism (Sanatana Dharma) and other ancient Eastern systems. For this reason, I don’t believe in the Wiccan threefold law. I believe that the Universe is constantly balancing itself out on every level, so I perceive a law of equal return. If the threefold law somehow existed, it would completely throw reality out of whack because energetic equilibrium would never be reached! If one wishes to research the history of the threefold law, I recommend the excellent “Wicca: Magickal Beginnings” by Sorita d’Este and David Rankine.

What other methods of magick aside from these do you believe should be employed for social justice on a personal level?

Like I mentioned, I believe that intense and acutely focused magick aimed at enlightening a person’s awareness is greatly effective, especially in the case of an individual or individuals who wield social and political power: those whose decisions dictate the wellness of other people, animals, and the environment. This sort of work should be coupled with magickal intent aimed at softening these individual’s hearts and invoking empathy into their spirits. I believe that this sort of magickal activism is our responsibility as witches and pagans; it’s not enough to sit idly and allow corruption to run rampant behind the scenes.

It is interesting to note that spellcraft aimed at illuminating someone’s mind and softening their heart can sometimes result in experiences for that individual that appear curselike in nature; this is because the powers-that-be are working to invoke progression into the individual. For those who are especially corrupt or irresponsible, this is not always a pleasant process.

What can we do as witches to assist our community during times of social turmoil and environmental destruction?

One word: Activism!

All responses (c) copyright 2017 Raven Digitalis, All rights reserved.

Robin Artisson

Robin Artisson is the creative director of Black Malkin Press, a small, independent, and semi-respectable publishing house for certain strains of occult literature and art. He is a member of Covenant DeSavyok, a largely off-grid initiatory working group of practitioners of traditional witchcraft and sorcery. Robin is the author of “Letters from the Devil’s Forest“, “The Secret History“, “Hands of Fate“, and the very recent translation of Havamal entitled “The Words of Odin.” His earlier works included “The Witching Way of the Hollow Hill” and “The Resurrection of the Meadow.” He has authored other books, some under other (undisclosed) names. He lives in New England, in the darkest of the hillside thickets, somewhere near the ocean.

Do you believe hexing, cursing or binding to be a valid and effective method of magick when it comes to social justice or environmental activism and why or why not?

To answer your question, I feel it necessary to take the term “magick” out of it- owing to the fact that I think “magick” refers to a “broad-yet-specific” range of modern practices that aim at an exalted form of extraordinary awareness or extraordinary psychology/mental discipline that can affect the world around us- and I have to just answer it in terms of “metaphysical effort” or perhaps “extraordinary effort.”

I have to do this because I’m not a specialist or authority on Magick, as a man like Crowley spelled it or defined it, or the practices (historical mageia or magic) that fall under this heading.

Do I believe that hexing, cursing, or binding are valid forms of extraordinary effort for addressing social ills? I absolutely do.

Those who have read the excellent work “The Visions of Isobel Gowdie” by Emma Wilby are privileged to encounter, first hand, the deepest, darkest, and most thorough revelation- very soundly supported- of how intrinsically bound together Witchcraft or Sorcery was, historically, with the struggles and conflicts between the poor and the wealthy, in the ages before the Industrial Revolution.

Isobel was a witch, a sorceress, a person who accomplished what extraordinary things she accomplished not because she had an indwelling special power that belonged to her person alone (that would have made her a practitioner of magic, a mage) but because she had the help of familiar spirits to whom she was bound and to whom she had relationships. This is the historical model of witchcraft or sorcery- a person who accomplishes things through recourse to a “demon” or a familiar, often granted to them by the Devil, or some other potent otherworldly agency.

I think Wilby’s book does a superb job proving that Isobel wasn’t a madwoman in any manner. She was honestly reporting visionary experiences she had, and honestly reporting not only methods of maleficia (lethal or dangerous sorcery) that she and the other witches of her region in Scotland aimed at the rich and powerful lords and persons who were above them in the social hierarchy, but their motivations.

Isobel and her confederates attempted to kill the male heirs of the lord who had power over all their lives, so that his lands would be lost to his family upon his death. This was a brutal and fierce kind of “folk justice” for his mistreatment of the poor people who lived upon his lands.

The sheer darkness of this maleficia is hard for us in the modern day to comprehend, because Isobel and her fellows were literally targeting male infants and male children, whom we would consider innocent of their father’s greed or oppression. But in those days, our modern ideas of “individuality” were not formed in the shape they are now. Families were seen as bound collectives, and the guilt or shame of one member could easily reflect on all other members. And children absolutely inherited the reputations, debts, and shames of their forefathers.

What is important to point out- and what has been missed so many times- is that nearly everything Isobel and her fellow witches did was about class warfare. The destruction of crops and livestock was a strike at the bank account of those lords who owned the land. This witchcraft, this potent metaphysical power, ever dark, ever hidden, ever wild and beyond the control and understanding of the authority of the church and the state, was all these peasants had to turn to for any kind of real and satisfying justice they were ever going to see in their lives.

The very same pattern repeats itself throughout history, when we see marginalized peoples suffering under the boots of the powerful and oppressive. African slaves in the New World practiced in secret the spiritual-ecological animistic and sorcerous practices of their distant homeland, and utilized their connections with spirits, both ancestral spirits and spirits native to the new world- to gain protection from the whims of their owners, and even to gain vengeance or justice when it could come from no other source. Slave owners feared African-rooted sorcery, and for good reason.

The “strange soul” that lives in some people, and makes them capable of reaching out to spirits, to the extraordinary world, makes them capable of extraordinary means of addressing injustice- it taps into a world that is beyond the ken of mainstream social authorities. It is the last true “uncontrolled resource” that actually exists, when we look at our world and its modern social realities. I don’t mean to call it “resource” in any materialistic way. It’s not a dead “thing” or “mass of stuff” to be used just as humans need; it’s a sacred and powerful and living and complicated system of mystery that humans are deeply related to, as are all other forms of life. But this aspect of it- the Unseen, the Sorcerous, even the “Magical”- this is uncontrolled, unexplored, uncharted.

The only people who ever taste it even a little are the strange souls. The state, the government, the spiritual imperialists, the corporations, they have tainted and tapped everything else. Their menace spreads over everything else. Nothing happens in our world without their permission. Even the things we esteem as great “social justice victories” don’t happen unless somewhere down the line, they are deemed sufficiently safe for business as usual.

To imagine that we can make a comprehensive and meaningful response to deep systemic social injustice through ordinary means only is the apex of naivete in my mind. We are no more capable of getting real and meaningful justice for ourselves and our communities, in many cases, as the peasants of Isobel Gowdie’s time were.

We are not in the same situation of helplessness that she and her family were to the Lord who owned their land, true, but we are in new positions of new kinds of helplessness in the face of who will make the policies that impact our lives forever. Naked brutality and injustice manages to explode out of our social world in the most surprising places and at the strangest of times. We must all endure a world of alienation and helplessness in the face of all this.

If these things do not call for extraordinary means of redress, then nothing ever did. If such powers can be gained or maintained that can bring redress to even a shred of it all, those powers should be used. This world and this life can’t be about protecting the percentages of wealth of the very wealthy. It has to be- it has to be- about flesh, and blood. It has to be about human beings and other-than-human beings breathing and eating and living and thriving as Nature (an eternally older law) intended.

It has to be about things that go back to the roots of our humanity, not the shallow things of the glittering financial world. It has to be about things that can cry or be happy or feel- not unfeeling stacks of paper, or some jerk’s third yacht. The only people who try to cast “moral” lectures down on the heads of those who hex or bind in the name of justice, against people who have done savagely unjust things, are people who suffer from a deep moral confusion about what is valuable in life, and what is not.

What are your thoughts on the the “threefold law” in regards to hexing, cursing and binding?

I have Wiccan friends, who were initiated into traditional lines of Wicca, who have stated to me over and over again (and I really trust them) that the mainstream understanding of the Threefold Law is heavily flawed. They have told me that the way it is popularly understood is not how the Old Fellows taught it or meant it. I have no reason to distrust them on this point.

But I don’t want to comment more into all of this, because I’m not Wiccan, and I’m not wanting to fall into any popular misunderstandings, but I will say that _any_ “law” of this kind- so-called “Golden Rule” laws, or “Be good or bad things will happen to you” laws- are clearly artifacts of authoritarian human societies, artifacts of “civilized” and ordered thinking, crowd control products that serve to domesticate people. They are not products of the Unseen world.

The Unseen is a wild, dark, sublime, and mind-bending place. It doesn’t have simple sets of rules that apply to it. Our ultimate destinies as persons are not based on a list of good deeds and bad deeds, waiting for a Cosmic Santa to check twice. This kind of thinking reflects a kind of transcendent idealism that has no place- no place at all- in any kind of historical sorcery known to me. It has no place in spiritual ecology as I understand it.

This kind of thinking (“Be Good Laws”) are most useful in stopping the poor from murdering the rich, which I ultimately believe is its main utility and the main reason it’s been promulgated in so many different forms. Real life, Nature, the strange forest of the world seen and unseen- they just can’t be hammered down so simply.

I do think that what we do, what kinds of relationships we make, it impacts us, sure- and perhaps even beyond the boundaries of this world, by shaping us into different kinds of entities. But anyone who thinks that cosmic cops are waiting to slap cuffs on you when you die for your crimes recorded by the big cosmic eye-camera hasn’t yet seen just how open and strange and non-linear the really real world is yet. Perhaps it’s not so much “punishment and reward” as “one slow transformation followed by other deep transformations, in a system of persons bound together and affecting one another.” Ordinary words are hard to use when discussing matters this subtle.

If a great wrong has been done, then power has been lost in an ill exchange. Someone gained, and someone, or many people, lost. That those who lost might fight or try to regain some of what they lost, or attempt to eliminate or incapacitate the takers, such that the takers can’t do that sort of thing again (through ordinary or extraordinary means) is not rocket science. It would appear to be a most basic, intuitive reaction of life in such a bad situation. To suggest that a deeper morality states that those who have been wronged should remain docile is beyond absurd. We can easily see who that serves, and we have to stop joining those people in agreeing that it reflects a cosmic morality of any sort.

To suggest that doing everything one can to strike out at the Grim Takers of massive life force from a people or a forest or a nation is somehow “morally dangerous” follows along the same lines. Only a modernist idealism- which has crept through civilization for a long time- could prop up such an empty claim. Those who have been touched by the ecstatic darkness of the Unseen world have no time for such claims. They have seen, on some level, how strange and sharp and strong the reality of life is.

Do you believe in such a thing as a justified curse, hex or binding when it comes to social justice or environmentalism? If so, what makes a curse or hex just or unjust?

If the curse or hex is aimed at a legitimately unjust situation or a legitimately dangerous, harmful person, then it is completely justified.

I obviously can’t look to mankind’s laws (at least not very often) to satisfy the criteria of “what is just” or “what is unjust”- because endless amounts of things that never should have been declared unjust or illegal have been, and endless amounts of things that _should_ have been declared unjust or illegal have not been.

Legality and morality seldom really come together, but many people thoughtlessly believe that they do. Legality is a matter of social power, which is itself tied up with violence and who has the right to use violence and who does not.

Real morality, on the other hand, is a matter of maintaining fair and reciprocal exchanges of life-force, or of effort, or of valuable things, or just fair relationships, the kind that allow for two or more people to thrive together and be safer together and get through life easier together.

Are there any other precautions one should take or side effects one should expect or be aware of when throwing a hex, curse or binding?

Yes. If a person is working for the actual death of another person, that kind of work should be done as far from one’s home as one can manage. The powers that kill are not easy to understand or control, no matter what anyone thinks. They can be predatory and they are often hungry. You don’t want them associated with places where your family lives and sleeps. I suppose the same could be said if you are attempting to lure the powers that bring very woeful things like terrible crippling diseases towards a victim. Maleficia as a whole, I think, belongs in the darkest of the thickets, in forests far away from dwelling places, or in ruins, or deserted buildings (again) far from your home.

Also, me and mine have come to understand the power behind the phrase “What is done symbolically in this world is done for real in the other world”- masking oneself or attempting to destroy one’s easy ability to be identified is a symbolic statement of taking on a new identity. In the Unseen, this is a powerful thing. Wearing the mask of an animal or painting one’s face very bizarrely, or doing anything at all to disrupt your ordinary appearance, and perhaps even calling yourself by a different name, can help protect a person from the dangerous powers that are attracted to real maleficia.

Even Isobel Gowdie’s “shape shifting” charms- in which she was made able to turn into a hare, or a crow, might be seen as methods of disrupting her human social identity so that the strange consequences of things she did were not allowed to fall on Isobel’s shoulders, as much as the strange hare in the field, or the crow on the fence-line. Shape-shifting and masking and guizing and things like that can be harm-deflecting in this way.

What other methods of magick aside from these do you believe should be employed for social justice on a personal level?

Any extraordinary means of address of obvious and blatant social wrongs (collectively or personally) that a person might command should be utilized. There are endless shapes and varieties of these extraordinary means. Whatever a person is best at, whatever they excel at, whatever kindles the very dark fire in their souls, is right and needed. Of course it will come with dangers, if it is real- but then, there will be dangers even if those things are not done, so why not?

What can we do as witches to assist our community during times of social turmoil and environmental destruction?

In my view, the “witch” of the pre-industrial period (what me and mine refer to as “traditional” witches) was seldom a strong member of a community. The strange soul does not sit well among other souls. They are often feared, and this isn’t just because a church said that they were potentially in league with demons. They were feared, even in pre-Christian times, because the witching they bear, the sorcerous connections to spirits they bear, is a strange thing- it’s all very strange, somewhat chaotic, and hard to comprehend, even sometimes for the witch.

The witch was a peripheral person, a person that community members sought out. They didn’t tend to sit in the middle of town with a “open for business” sign sitting out. Obviously they didn’t do this back then because it was illegal- of course- but what I mean to say is, they were always a little obscure, out of the way, and only really whispered about. It’s important for strange souls and the strange powers they attract to remain a bit peripheral, if a community wants to have any hint of metaphysical stability or normalcy. Sadly, this same fact makes the “strange soul” easy to blame for all manner of things that probably aren’t connected to his or her’s doings. But the “Other” must always bear this burden.

In our modern day, we’re free to have signs out and have our Witchcraft turned into a business. We’re free to try to integrate into communities. While I see no harm in actual witches selling physical goods (talismans, phylacteries, medicines, philters, etc) produced by their Craft, the selling of what the familiar spirits might do for the witch or others shouldn’t ever become mainstream. That should always be sought out. That should always be a little “on the side.”

The Witch will lose power if they “mainstream” themselves. Their familiars are undomesticated powers from the ultimate undomesticated invisible world. The soul of the witch is always a little (or a lot) out of step with ordinary human things, else it could not relate to spirits as it does.

The Witch, in my mind, cannot create themselves as intentionally a part of a community of non-sorcerous or non-metaphysically active folk. They may discover that somehow, they have become a part of such a community, but I don’t think the strange soul can choose to fit in. And even when they find themselves a part of a community, the Strange Power behind what the Witch does can never be used to fix or right or govern the affairs of the ordinary world. It just doesn’t work that way.

There is a “hedge” between the Seen and the Unseen for a reason; there is a metaphysical division, and the Witch’s role as hedge-crosser or boundary-crosser means that his or her real job, their real task, is to leave a community, go into the community of spirits, and return after finding things on the other side that a community, or the people in it, might need.

To tear down the hedge would bathe the ordinary world in madness and mayhem. It’s meant to be crossed, not torn down. Mortal humans must find a way to govern or help themselves, with help from the Unseen at times, but not only by the Unseen. The Witch can’t be the center of help, only the occasional helper.

Aside from destroying the lives and ambitions of evil people who will greatly damage society and wreck the lives of tons of ordinary people, the best thing the Witch can do is be there, ready to offer alternative perspectives on problems and on situations, things that ordinary people might not easily think of themselves. The Strange Soul is good for this kind of thing, outside-the-box thinking, or they should be, anyway.

The Witch can offer a wider perspective, to give people hope- real hope- that what the wicked people who threaten our world _say_ is real (the many ways they justify their greed and viciousness, lifting these things up to the level of law and virtue) most certainly _is not_ real, or at least, not the only reality, and surely not the best one.

All responses (c) copyright 2017 Robin Artisson, All rights reserved.

Gemma Gary

Gemma Gary is a writer, British ‘Old Craft’ initiate and devoted practitioner of the Arte Magical. Gemma lives and works in the far west of Cornwall and is the author of Traditional Witchcraft – A Cornish Book of Ways, The Black Toad – West Country Witchcraft & Magic, The Charmer’s Psalter, Wisht Waters – Aqueous Magica and the Cult of Holy Wells, The Devil’s Dozen – Thirteen Craft Rites of the Old One, and has contributed to various anthologies.

Do you believe hexing, cursing or binding to be a valid and effective method of magick when it comes to social justice or environmental activism and why or why not?

Historically, witchcraft has often been the recourse of the oppressed as a means to bring some level of empowerment to their lives and to bring punishment for the injustice they had suffered. “The Beggar’s Curse” was the most feared. The Faery folk were notorious for their dislike of greedy, cruel and abusive people and would often bring upon them some misfortune; so there is certainly a precedent for such things in magical tradition, whatever our views about them might be today. Personally, when dealing with dangerous perpetrators of injustice, a binding might be a more fruitful course of action; to limit their actions and capacity for harm. “Turning” is also a useful option; turning or reflecting a wrongdoer’s ill-intent back upon them, so that they become self destructive. In this sense a magical practitioner has not sent a curse at all; for the wrongdoer is harmed by their own unpleasant nature; it becomes a self-curse.

What are your thoughts on the “threefold law” in regards to hexing, cursing and binding?

This is a belief originating in the modern Craft movement. Even Doreen Valiente, who helped create this movement, was quite vocal in her belief that the “threefold law” was utter nonsense. It is certainly unheard of within the lore and history of witchcraft prior to the emergence of Gerald Gardner’s vision of the Craft. That being said however, one is very unlikely to be a happy person while engaged in the work of cursing, not only because of the circumstances that would prompt one to curse on the first place, but because cursing is inherently an unpleasant experience. It requires a focussed hatred, an inherently self-destructive emotion, as well as focus upon the injustice that has been inflicted, and the person or persons who inflicted it. That’s quite a depressing way to spend your time and energy! Suffering is almost certainly to be expected when engaging in this kind of activity, and it is up to the individual to decide if it’s worth it. Sometimes though, if the injustice is great enough, we have no choice and must suffer to achieve our goal.

Do you believe in such a thing as a justified curse, hex or binding when it comes to social justice or environmentalism? If so, what makes a curse or hex just or unjust?

It depends whether it really is an injustice. I have known witches throw curses against those they claimed were serious wrongdoers within a community, but in the end it turned out those people had just bruised the witches’ egos, or had inspired their jealousy. I’m pleased to say the efforts of the witches in question were mostly self-destructive. We must be honest and entirely sure of our motives.

Are there any other precautions one should take or side effects one should expect or be aware of when throwing a hex, curse or binding?

Here we must be entirely sure of our abilities and the sharpness of our focus. A curse or binding without purity of focus can be disastrous; the power of these things must go somewhere, and you don’t want to miss! Also, is your target well versed in the magical arts? Are they protected? Cursing a fellow magician can be a tricky business; you need to know the nature of their own defences if you hope to pierce their armour and get under their skin.

What other methods of magick aside from these do you believe should be employed for social justice on a personal level?

Protection is important, protection and empowerment for that which is being threatened. There are old traditions of spirits of place who could be very vengeful if the land they are associated was abused, damaged or disrespected by human kind. Where environmental threats are concerned, I think it is important for witches, on an individual and local level, to work with the spirits of place, at their local places of power, to feed, honour and strengthen them. If we all did this, in our own ways around the world, it is a direct empowerment of the land; a re-enchantment of the land, to hold it in awe and wonder in direct opposition to the dis-enchantment, and viewing of the land as a useable resource or consumable commodity encouraged in the modern day.

What can we do as witches to assist our community during times of social turmoil and environmental destruction?

I think the things we can do here are the same as for non-witches; take care and look out for one another, and of course ourselves. Turmoil is tiring and draining. Support for local traditions and community events is a strengthening of community. We need fuel for our fire!

Any other thoughts?

Eat your greens.

All responses (c) copyright 2017 Gemma Gary, All rights reserved.

John Beckett

John Beckett grew up in Tennessee with the woods right outside his back door. Wandering through them gave him a sense of connection to Nature and to a certain Forest God. John is a Druid in the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, a member of Ár nDraíocht Féin, and a former Vice President of the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans. His blog “Under the Ancient Oaks” is part of the Pagan Channel of the multifaith website Patheos. John has been writing, speaking, teaching, and leading public rituals for the past fourteen years. His book The Path of Paganism: An Experience-Based Guide to Modern Pagan Practice will be published by Llewellyn in May 2017. John lives in the Dallas – Fort Worth area and earns his keep as an engineer.

Do you believe hexing, cursing or binding to be a valid and effective method of magick when it comes to social justice or environmental activism and why or why not?

I view hexing, cursing, and binding the same way I view guns and knives – as very dangerous weapons that should not be used unless there is no other choice. But if you’re down to no other choice, do what you have to do. Just make damn sure you’re right before you pull the trigger, whether that trigger is literal or magical.

Isaac Bonewits said “fuzzy targets yield fuzzy results.” Casting general spells against general targets is not likely to be effective. Complex problems require complex solutions – multiple workings by multiple practitioners toward specific goals.

This question gets into the issue of how magic works – what it can and can’t do. A successful magical working doesn’t flip a switch from off to on. It improves the odds of your desired outcome. You may do the spell perfectly but random chance still works against you. You may be working against far more power than you can oppose – try using magic to save your house from a tornado and see how well it works. You may be strong, but the tornado is many times stronger.

When we’re working magic for social and environmental issues, we have to remember that there are forces involved that are far stronger than any practitioner or group of practitioners. There are also other people working against us, even if they would be horrified to hear what they do called “magic.” As with our mundane work for social and environmental justice, our magical work is most effective when it’s coordinated and sustained.

What are your thoughts on the the “threefold law” in regards to hexing, cursing and binding?

I’m a Druid, not a Wiccan – the threefold law is not part of my heritage. More importantly, I’ve seen no indication it actually works as described. I have seen evidence of what John Michael Greer calls “the strawberry jam effect” – you can’t work with it without getting it on yourself. This work is not safe, and it can’t be made safe without neutering it.

Do you believe in such a thing as a justified curse, hex or binding when it comes to social justice or environmentalism? If so, what makes a curse or hex just or unjust?

Is the overall goal just and right? Do the methods avoid excessive harm to innocent bystanders? Will the working do what it’s intended to do without serious unintended consequences? If so, then do it. If not, think carefully before you proceed.

Are there any other precautions one should take or side effects one should expect or be aware of when throwing a hex, curse or binding?

Maintain your core spiritual practices – meditation, prayer, offerings, study, and such. That’s good advice at any time, but it’s especially important if you’re working what Byron Ballard calls “willful bane.” It’s the best way to insure you use these extreme measures for reasons that are in alignment with your core values, and not just because someone made you angry or scared. Vague disclaimers of positive intent are mostly ineffective and may serve to dilute the magic. As with all magic, go in well-informed and with your eyes wide open.

What other methods of magick aside from these do you believe should be employed for social justice on a personal level?

Bardic magic can be an extremely effective method to work for justice. Ancient Druids could destroy the reputation and thus the effectiveness of a king with satire, and music can motivate people to change their lives. The power of story and song are strong. Remember the words of writer and Christian theologian G.K. Chesterton: “Fairy tales do not tell children that dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children that dragons can be defeated.”

What can we do as witches to assist our community during times of social turmoil and environmental destruction?

Maintain the sovereignty of your mind. Dig for facts, not someone else’s opinion. Look for root causes, not just symptoms. Avoid uninformed speculation and reflexive reactions, particularly in response to someone who has a vested interest in keeping you outraged (i.e. – politicians and news media). Understand that this is a marathon, not a sprint. No one or two workings – magical or mundane, individual or collective – will solve our problems. Pace yourself – you’re no good to yourself or anyone else if you burn yourself out. Get in and stay in for the long haul. This work is necessary.

Any other thoughts?

A significant part of my practice is the veneration of my ancestors. Some day, all of us will be the ancestors. May we live our lives in such a way as to be worthy of their honor.

All responses (c) copyright 2017 John Beckett, All rights reserved.

Caroline Kenner

Caroline Kenner calls herself a Washington Witchdoctor. As a native of Washington, DC, Caroline worked as a publicist for non-profits and candidates on the Left for twenty-five years, producing propaganda for organizations like Greenpeace and NARAL, and for Mrs. Clinton’s attempt to pass healthcare reform. Magically, Caroline is a shamanic healer trained by Sandra Ingerman. Caroline holds multiple initiations in Wicca, and has received rituals in Cuban Santeria and Tibetan Buddhism. Caroline teaches a two year program in shamanic healing, and helps organize the annual Sacred Space conference. She owns The Fool’s Dog, a Tarot app company.

Do you believe hexing, cursing or binding to be a valid and effective method of magick when it comes to social justice or environmental activism and why or why not?

I am a specialist in shamanic healing. Under most circumstances, I do not initiate curses. Normally, I release curses when I find them on clients, a skill I teach in my two year program in shamanism and shamanic healing. However, we all know that healing is an application of Knowledge and Will. Anyone capable of operative magic can curse as well as heal.

There are times in every Witch’s life when we need to consider some of the more rarely used tools in our tool boxes. Cursing and other baneful works are tools of the dispossessed, and unfortunately in the social justice and environmental arenas, we are currently powerless to stop bad things from happening. Therefore it is a good time to weigh where our responsibilities lie, our responsibility to be good stewards of the Earth and our responsibility to the Descendants Yet to Come.

An important part of being a Witch is To Dare. Witches trust our own judgement, and have methods of testing our judgements with oracular tools. Before laying a curse, I do shamanic journey to consult divinities and spirits with whom I am in alliance. Before laying a curse, I perform oracular divinations to make sure I am following a course that will prosper my intent. I would never lay a curse in the heat of anger. Curses laid in the heat of anger, curses formed without due consideration, are the curses most likely to rebound upon the practitioner. Coldly laid curses are designed more skillfully, and are far more likely to work properly.

What are your thoughts on the the “threefold law” in regards to hexing, cursing and binding?

I do not consider the threefold law in my practice. My spirits have told me to disregard it. My spirits sat the Threefold Law overstates karmic ties. They say Actions result in corresponding Reactions, and there’s no thrice involved.

According to my spirits, the Threefold Law was written by humans influenced by the monotheism of their time. They say it was designed with the same intent as the Christian edict to turn the other cheek: manipulating the faithful into giving their personal power away. Fear of consequences is very far from the best motivator to compassion behavior, in my opinion.

When we cede our ethical responsibilities to others by believing falsehoods designed by humans to control us, we lose power. As a shamanic person, I try to take full responsibility for my actions. This includes taking responsibility for my actions when I am not at my best, actions that make me feel sad and ashamed of my behavior in retrospect. This is how we integrate our shadow sides into ourselves: by looking at our own motivations and actions in the light of truth, with dispassionate clarity and total self-acceptance. We do not have to admire every action we take, but we do need to be truthful to ourselves about how we behave, and how we affect others. Most importantly of all, Witches have a responsibility to learn from our actions, especially those actions that make us uncomfortable in 20/20 hindsight.

Do you believe in such a thing as a justified curse, hex or binding when it comes to social justice or environmentalism? If so, what makes a curse or hex just or unjust?

I do believe baneful work has a role in social activism and environmentalism. I prefer to focus my baneful work on transmuting fear and greed in myself and others.

Many of the selfish and destructive behaviors too common among all tribes stem from fear and greed. Currently in this time, our country is enveloped in a cloud of fear and greed, fear of scarcity, fear of losing privileged status, and fear of change in general. Many people are giving into fear, and are clinging to static familiar traditions that have been touchstones for generations. Many people are trying to impose their own limitations on society generally.

Unfortunately for the fearful, the future demands that release ourselves from restrictive orthodoxies that blind us to the realities of life in the 21st century. Our species desperately needs to look clearly now, and be practical. We live at the brink of destructive global climate change that will undoubtedly cause a massive contraction in the global human population. The future is only somewhat predictable generally. Now humans have brought about much greater unpredictability in the natural world.

President Franklin Roosevelt said it best: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” although I am also very partial to the quote from Frank Herbert’s Paul Atreides about fear being a mindkiller. When we fear change, when we fear the future, our vision is obscured by that fear. It becomes that much more difficult to see a productive path to a desirable future for self and for society.

Baneful work is unethical if directed at the low level functionaries who are just doing their jobs as part of our corrupt system. In my ethical framework, any baneful approaches must target the highest level of perpetrators. I suggest calling to the Erinyes in such situations.

For me, the act of pointing out people I believe are malefactors to the Erinyes has been the most ethical way to work in social justice and environmentalism, outside of transmutation. I leave the decisions about what to do next up to Them. I merely write what amounts to a press release giving a succinct account of the situations and pointing out those responsible, and then I do a nice ritual with songs and libations and a small fire. There are so many horrendously unethical situations going on continuously on our planet, calling to the Erinyes and shining the light of truth on a situation is comparable to doing political advocacy by calling your Congressperson on the divine level, or being a whistleblower on the astral. Or so I believe.

Are there any other precautions one should take or side effects one should expect or be aware of when throwing a hex, curse or binding?

My spirits have told me not to use bodily substances in baneful workings, unless I want my own wyrd woven more tightly into the wyrd of whatever I am weaving. For example, I would unhesitatingly use a drop of my own blood to consecrate and seal some types of workings, but I never use bodily fluids in a baneful working.

What other methods of magick aside from these do you believe should be employed for social justice on a personal level?

Inside each of us, we carry Hell realms, wounds from this incarnation and many others, unhealed, still cycling with pain and fear. As Witches, we have a responsibility to begin transmutation at home, so to speak.

If we hope to help others transmute their inner Hell realms, first we need to transmute our own rage, pain, guilt, shame, and fear, to conjoin our bright and dark angels, to hold ourselves to standards of ruthless and unashamed truth about ourselves. We don’t need to be finished transmuting our Hell realms to help others, but we do need to work on it.

Part of the great work is acknowledging to ourselves all of the places that are small within us, where we are immature unreasonable children or even babies inside, where we are desperately needy and sad. To look with loving compassion at the greater world, we first need to acknowledge our own small places, our pain, grief, sorrow, and defensiveness. When we can hold our own inner pain with loving compassion, and avoid giving in to shame and fear, then we can be compassionate to the greater world. All love comes from self-love.

Part of the great work is pacifying our own inner Hell realms, taking responsibility for our own anger and greed, shame and fear. That is the most direct way we can reduce the levels of guilt, rage, pain, and above all, the fear that surrounds us at this time, in our country. The most effective focus of transmutational magic is the self. Every magical tradition I know teaches that shadow work should be never ending for all magical practitioners.

What can we do as witches to assist our community during times of social turmoil and environmental destruction?

As a healer, I have taken a lot of responsibility to perform shamanic healing ceremonies including soul retrieval for free at community events, such as gatherings and conferences. The next one scheduled is at Beltane, aimed to people who have survived sexual abuse. I have done that particular workshop at a variety of events for more than a decade, but there are many other examples of free or low-cost community healing events I’ve worked with a more general focus, over the course of the last twenty years.

I have also taken personal responsibility to organize many politically-motivated events over the course of the last twenty years here in DC. I organized several events to assist in obtaining the pentagram as an approved symbol on federally-funded grave markers for veterans through the Veterans Administration. I have organized a number of ceremonies in times of need at the Jefferson Memorial, and in Lafayette Square Park outside the White House. I organized the first official Pagan delegation to a women’s march back in 2004. There are articles on Witchvox about these past political actions, some by me and others by Byron Ballard.

I have served my community on the boards of four previous community organizations, and currently help organize the Sacred Space conference, held annually in March.

Any other thoughts?

Just like Wag More, Bark Less, I recommend more blessing, less cursing, more transmution, less vengeance. Aim high.

All responses (c) copyright 2017 Caroline Kenner, All rights reserved.

Ivo Domínguez, Jr.

Ivo Domínguez, Jr. has been active in Wicca and the Pagan community since 1978, has been teaching since 1982. Ivo was a founding member, and a past High Priest, of Keepers of the Holly Chalice, the first coven of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel a Wiccan Tradition. He currently serves as one of the Elders of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, a Wiccan syncretic tradition that draws inspiration from Astrology, Qabala, the Western Magickal Tradition and the folk religions of Europe. Ivo is also one of the key organizers for the New Alexandrian Library Project. He is the author of Practical Astrology for Witches and Pagans: Using the Planets and the Stars for Effective Spellwork, Rituals, and Magickal Work; Casting Sacred Space: The Core Of All Magickal Work; Spirit Speak: Knowing and Understanding Spirit Guides, Ancestors, Ghosts, Angels, and the Divine; Beneath the Skins. His next book is Keys to Perception: A Practical Guide To Psychic Development.

Do you believe hexing, cursing or binding to be a valid and effective method of magick when it comes to social justice or environmental activism and why or why not?

I’d start by calling what I do operative magick instead of hexing, cursing, binding, etc. which refer to specific types of action and carry a bit of baggage. Operative magick is my catch-all term for workings that protect, prevent or encourage specific outcomes, that heal, unify, separate, or in some other fashion bring about palpable and tangible changes. For operative magick to be effective when applied at this scale and to these categories, modifications must be made to both the planning and to the execution of the workings. Validity to me is a question of efficacy in this context and that depends upon technique, talent, and timing. Often attempts at operative magick for activism fail for lack of proper knowledge or planning. I have seen operative magick work, but wishing and passion are not enough.

What are your thoughts on the the “threefold law” in regards to hexing, cursing and binding?

I do not believe in the threefold law in a literal or simplistic interpretation. I believe that causality and synchronicity are intertwined in both linear and non-linear ways that result in consequences that are sometimes called karma, wyrd, and so on. If your actions cause changes in the world then you will be affected by those changes as well. Like calls to like and vibration and resonance are never far apart so what you do will return to you in some fashion. This is one of the reasons to be very sure of why, how, and what you are doing and of your commitment to all the outcomes, not just the ones you desire or can predict.

Do you believe in such a thing as a justified curse, hex or binding when it comes to social justice or environmentalism? If so, what makes a curse or hex just or unjust?

This is a question of ethics and morality that only you can answer for yourself. I make no distinction between physical actions and those that are undertaken through magick. If it is something that you would see as wrong if you accomplished it through mundane means, then it would be just as wrong to do so through a working. One of my goals is to be more fully integrated as a person which leads me to use the same decision making process for both types of action. I do not wish to become like those that I oppose, so I am very wary of both the slippery slope and of the dripping corrosive venom that are just a step away from my rightful path.

Are there any other precautions one should take or side effects one should expect or be aware of when throwing a hex, curse or binding?

The first precaution is to know yourself and your current state of emotional and psychological being. There is no undo or redo. The second is to seek the counsel of those you trust and respect. The third is to ask yourself if you know enough to act well.

What other methods of magick aside from these do you believe should be employed for social justice on a personal level?

All effective political change goes hand in hand with cultural change. I have done rituals for clarity of communication at public hearings. I have done rituals to plant ideas. I have done rituals of protection for those that are engaged in actions. I have done rituals of healing of the mind, body, and spirit for those impacted upon my the times or this type of work. The goal is do see what can be done that will shift us closer to the world we wish to live in.

What can we do as witches to assist our community during times of social turmoil and environmental destruction?

We need to care for one another in emotional and material ways. We need to be more temperate in our responses when our communities don’t act exactly as we wish they would. It is easier to turn our fear and frustration against those near to us rather than the sources of the problems. This only weakens us. Teach more and preach less. Lastly, its is always important to keep your eye on the long term even while you are planning your next action. It is an act of hope and liberation to believe that there will be a seventh generation beyond ours that will benefit from our work.

All responses (c) copyright 2017 Ivo Domínguez Jr., All rights reserved.

Anaar

Anaar is an initiate of the Victor Anderson school of witchcraft, most commonly known as the Feri tradition. Greatly influenced by the mad poet, she has sought to create works of great mystery and power. Her aim is to bring you dark imaginations, intense pleasures, and fierce beauty. In 2003 she was named the Grandmaster of Feri by Cora Anderson and strives to fulfill this tremendous honor and responsibility by creating works of devotional art and acting as a resource for the tradition. She is the proprietor of Tombo Studios and is the author of The White Wand: Ruminations, Meditations, Reflections toward a Feri aesthetic.

The effectiveness of a curse depends on the effectiveness of the witch. The more complicated the target, the more complicated the intent. It seems that Donald Trump’s name frequently comes up these days. This is a very complicated target.

One must know as much as possible in any target. But in one as complicated as Trump, one must know nearly everything. What is your goal, and who is the actual target? And this is very important, who else will suffer from this action? Will there be consequences as a result?

I had a thought to buy a tongue to bind his. I rejected this and for good reason. His recent remarks prompted President Nieto to cancel his visit. This could cost our citizens a lot of money and even jobs. What if had I bound this tongue? Would it have gone better or worse? How would Trump then communicate to other, more antagonistic leaders? Is it in the least bit possible that a national leader with a bound tongue could be of benefit to his people?

You must have a clearly defined strategy and employ the proper tactics to achieve your goal. When I hear of boycotting companies who have donated significant amounts to defend American liberties, I am concerned. This feels self destructive and desperate. Never act in desperation, but in power.

And what is power but to affect a creative and positive change? What if your target is not the tyrant, but the oppressed? Protecting and comforting the oppressed is not complicated. I’m not saying it’s easier, I’m saying it’s simpler. So in this case, I prefer to employ the powers of our will, our love, and our empathic compassion.

I would rather call on witches to build our own wall, and to build it high and deep. I would build a wall that formed a cone, a witches cone of power. And I would build it around those who needed it. I would build it around those who are out on the streets, in the courts and at their laptop furiously reporting the news. To the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of our teeming shore. [*]

Instead of material offerings to Justice, I would offer donations to those that serve our communities. I would offer hand written letters to thank the press when their reporting is honest, as well as a subscription. I would offer phone calls to our representatives. I would offer my body and my voice to the sea wave of resistance. We have a grave and urgent need for each other right now. It’s important to me that my power is not wasted on something that could go so wrong, and so easily.

It’s important to me that my power lands it’s target. So I choose to be simple. I choose to be effective.

It is said that Feri do not follow the Threefold Law. This is true. But it would be a grave mistake to think the Law does not exist, isn’t real, that it has no impact. It is the Law. Even children know this to be true. What we mean to say is that in times of great need, we accept the Law.

There is a payment that will be made, this is sure. And we accept it, down to our bones. But in order to truly accept it, we must understand that this acceptance is given on behalf of your lover, guardians, friends and family as well. Before you embark on these magics, remember them in your will. Protect them as well as you are able, but know that this too is the payment the Law will extract.

But I am no apologist for hexwork. If there are those who are absolutely Kala, absolutely grounded, absolutely centered, and absolutely informed I can offer help. I will make an offering of information, of technique. But first I must be certain. I must be certain that you are absolutely grounded, absolutely centered, and absolutely informed. And I have not yet met this, even within myself.

[ * From “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus, with minor changes. ]

All responses (c) copyright 2017 Anaar, All rights reserved.

Raven Grimassi

Raven Grimassi is the author of over 20 books on Witchcraft, Wicca, and Inner Mystery Tradition themes. He is also the co-Directing Elder of the Ash, Birch and Willow tradition of Witchcraft. Raven brings over 45 years of adult study and experience to his work. His titles include Spirit of the Witch, Old World Witchcraft, Grimore of the Thorn-Blooded Witch, and Communing with the Ancestors.

Do you believe hexing, cursing or binding to be a valid and effective method of magick when it comes to social justice or environmental activism and why or why not?

Yes, I believe there are times when extraordinary measures need to be taken. To my thinking this is not about harm but about resolution.

What are your thoughts on the the “threefold law” in regards to hexing, cursing and binding?

I’m not a big proponent of the “Threefold Law” as it is commonly defined (energy returning three-fold). There is no counterpart in Nature/physics. If you throw a rock up in the air it does not come down three times as fast. It returns with the same energy that made it go up. What I see instead is a Three-fold effect, the impact of a deed on mind, body and soul. If we do good we feel good, and so we get an endocrine secretion reward, which makes our body feel good, our mind/thoughts feel good, and thus our spirit responds in turn. Same is true of bad deeds, which have an adverse impact on mind, body and soul.

So for me it is not about reward or punishment, or “Karma” – it is about what we are willing to experience due to our deeds. I would not feel bad about “Hexing, cursing, or binding” a neighborhood rapist or serial killer.

Do you believe in such a thing as a justified curse, hex or binding when it comes to social justice or environmentalism?

Yes, I believe there can be justification. I don’t feel that it should be our default setting though. Discernment is key.

If so, what makes a curse or hex just or unjust?

I think that an unjust curse or hex is one that just comes from personal anger as opposed to a true discernment of the situation. For me, a justified curse or hex is one that is needed because all else failed.

Are there any other precautions one should take or side effects one should expect or be aware of when throwing a hex, curse or binding?

One should expect a three-fold energetic shift in the mind, body, spirit connection. Wearing a protective charm or amulet is wise because we are not always as justified as we might like to think. Shields are important.

What other methods of magick aside from these do you believe should be employed for social justice on a personal level?

In my tradition we use a quelling spell, which is designed to wither away the offender’s desire and energy to act out. This is always our first level.

What can we do as witches to assist our community during times of social turmoil and environmental destruction?

Speaking out is important, but knowing the facts is vital. There are always two sides to every story. While I am not a political activist, I do respect those who join in public protests, so I think that is an important element. I tend to work more behind the scenes.

Any other thoughts?

In terms of ethics, in my tradition there is only one law, and that is that we never harm the innocent. We define “innocent” as one who does not provoke us. Provoke us and you lose the protection of being innocent because you no longer are.

All responses (c) copyright 2017 Raven Grimassi, All rights reserved.

Renna Shesso

Renna Shesso is a witch and shamanic practitioner, and the author of Math for Mystics and Planets for Pagans: Sacred Sites, Ancient Lore and Magical Stargazing (aka A Magical Tour of the Night Sky). The drum and the tarot are favorite tools, the starry sky a favorite resource. She works in ritual, healing and teaching in one of Colorado’s many multiracial and multicultural urban neighborhoods.

How can my life be made better? How can my life – and by extension, the lives of those around me, and the lives reaching outwards around them – be made better – more creative and productive, more joyful, more abundant, healthier, safer? Sure, my own mundane efforts matter, but I also call upon the Goddess, my Guides in the realm of spirit, and plenty of other Divine Aides to direct and assist me in supporting positive change.

Generally I do this as a calling-in, with a lot of Thank-You for what I’ve already received, followed by any request for “More of this, please!” Occasionally, this flips to “No more of this!” which can be as simple as bidding something farewell, with thanks for the lessons I’ve learned, and sending it off with the waning Moon.

But, even more occasionally – rarely, in fact – this takes the form of actively working to bind, hex or curse something so its rendered harmless. Self-defense is a compelling and appropriate motivation, and makes as much sense here as it does in mundane circumstances. If my neighborhood is being targeted by a serial rapist, and I’m willing to invest in better locks, get involved with a local watch group or buddy system, and physically fight back if attacked, it makes sense to also have a “better lock” working for me within the realm of spirit.

This applies out into a larger arena as well, in issues that ripple out across the environment and across populations. When there is profound risk to the Earth and its beings, when mundane-world steps are being taken to halt the damage, when those steps are being overwhelmed by the forces of money and entrenched power, then yes, it’s time to consider calling on our preferred Helping Powers for assistance in halting those powers-that-harm. My view of the Three-fold Law here is this: That if I myself ever undertake to create such harm, may others work with three-fold strength to halt me.

How do I know if I’m justified in doing such work, that I’m not just acting out of ego, self-aggrandizement, fear? I journey on it. My own path is a twining of witchcraft and shamanism, and shamanic journeying is key. I’ve worked with many of my Guides for almost three decades now, and we have a strong alliance of mutual trust. They are very adept at popping my personal fear-balloons – the stuff that looks huge today, but is already set to puncture and vanish tomorrow – which allows me a clearer perspective on where my attention really needs to be directed, i.e. on the crap that isn’t going to just go away. Within the journey realm, this crap has a viscous texture, a bad taste, a toxicity and stink that my Guides recognize. I feel it through them, and with their assistance can design a response. Without that vivid and visceral confirmation from Spirit, including a clear image of specific action to take, I don’t proceed. I may do something else instead, but I wouldn’t proceed with a binding, hexing, cursing – not without Guide-Approval and Support.

In terms of precautions, the trouble that I’ve seen around binding spells has come when we’ve done too little, specifically when only on one side of the matter got the attention. I see binding-work as part of a balance, like one of the two bookends that bracket what I’d call harmony. The other side of the balance is Instead: If this undesirable-action is bound and doesn’t occur, or this dangerous-person is bound and doesn’t act, what happens instead, what takes its place? I need to be prepared to envision and work to call in an alternative. Otherwise I’ve just invited a vacuum, which is foolish. Activist-astrologer Caroline Casey has a phrase that applies: “Imagination lays the tracks for the Reality Train to follow.” It’s hard to achieve a new goal, a new world, that we can’t picture in our mind’s eye. Imagination followed by active Invitation, both physical and magical, work together to fill the vacuum. If we do too little, and fail to fill the vacuum with a strongly envisioned alternative, that’s when trouble ensues.

Especially in times of duress we need inspiration. We need to remember beauty and connection, love and joy, as vividly and sensually as possible. Again, this is balance: Not just banishing hopelessness, but replacing it with hopefullness. Magick – ritual that symbolically taps all the elements and by extension all of the sensory elemental resonances that we physically embody – is a profound way of keeping our own personal forms, our interpersonal connections, and our associations with Spirit, all alive and tingling. This creates vibrant connective energy within our communities whether or not we’re overtly identifying it as Magick. Those who can step forth to invoke this quality of inspiration in their communities – whether they are acknowledged leaders or not – are community resources to be encouraged and nourished. We need to remember what really matters, and we need to help each other remember, to keep on expanding the horizon, in the imagination and in the physical world, so there’s plenty of room for that Reality Train.

All responses (c) copyright 2017 Renna Sessho, All rights reserved.

Chas Bogan

Chas Bogan is professional rootworker. He is part owner of The Mystic Dream, a brick and mortar occult store in Walnut Creek, California. He teaches classes online at The Mystic Dream Academy, as well as in person at his shop and at various events. His ongoing classes include A Course in Modern Conjure, as well as Black Rose witchcraft and BlueRose Faery Tradition. Chas is a proud member of AIRR, the Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers. He also designs and crafts a variety of occult products, such as talking boards, which he sells under the brand name Carnivalia; as well as various oils, baths, herb blends, and similar, under the brand name Modern Conjure.

Do you believe hexing, cursing or binding to be a valid and effective method of magick when it comes to social justice or environmental activism and why or why not?

Throwing a well-deserved curse always makes me feel good, so in that sense I find it valid. A hex can be effective; however, it must be followed up with more direct forms of political action. Additionally, being well informed is not only part of being a good citizen, it is the key to a good cursing strategy. You probably won’t be able to bring down capitalism by tossing herbs into a cauldron, but there are plenty of smaller targets that can be moved by magic.

What are your thoughts on the “threefold law” in regards to hexing, cursing and binding?

The three-fold law has never been part of my belief system. I don’t see any proof of what folk call “karma” either. People who are rich and bastardly tend to become even more rich and bastardly. It is easy to point to them and say “they are probably sad and empty inside,” except I see no evidence of that either, and am convinced that horrible people often live rich and fulfilling lives. I do not see any evidence of a supernatural judge meting out rewards or punishments, so three times nothing still amounts to nothing.

Do you believe in such a thing as a justified curse, hex or binding when it comes to social justice or environmentalism? If so, what makes a curse or hex just or unjust?

Sure, in the same way that I think it is justified to punch a Nazi, I think it is justified to curse one as well. I know many spiritual workers who will only throw a curse if they believe that God will find it to be justified, often with the belief that unjustified curses won’t stick. I suppose I work similarly, as there is prayer element to my work in which I inform Spirit of my target’s evil deeds, make my plea for justice, and then engage with creation through my actual spellwork in order to set the curse into motion. When you are unsure if your curse is justified, then turning to some form of divination can help suss things out.

Are there any other precautions one should take or side effects one should expect or be aware of when throwing a hex, curse or binding?

Folk sometimes say that if you do too much cursing it can have a cumulatively negative effect on you, something to do with dwelling too long in negative emotions. The notion seems to be that you need to be filled with hate and malice in order to generate energy for a curse. You don’t though. Some of my most effective curses have come while I’ve been tickled with delight over anticipation of an enemy’s inevitable downfall. It has a lot to do with temperament, I guess. If you enjoy seeing your enemies suffer then cursing can be quite cathartic.

What other methods of magick aside from these do you believe should be employed for social justice on a personal level?

Self-care, followed by care for our communities. It is easy to focus on the issues making the headlines, but there are often folk on your own city block who are in need of help as well. Having talked about curses, we should make sure that we are also enacting plenty of blessings. When folk are living happier lives they are less likely to look for scapegoats to persecute, so doing magic for more positive things may keep you from having to target whichever fascist they might otherwise vote into office.

What can we do as witches to assist our community during times of social turmoil and environmental destruction?

I think we need to make sure that the important conversations that need to be had are had, while providing spaces for respite and mirth. We particularly need our artists during these times, to help us see issues from different angles.

All responses (c) copyright 2017 Chas Bogan, All rights reserved.

Jason Mankey

Jason Mankey is the editor at Patheos Pagan Channel and the author of The Witch’s Book of Shadows and The Witch’s Athame. He has been involved with Paganism for the last twenty years, and has spent the last ten of those years as a speaker, writer, and Gardenarian High Priest. Jason can often be found lecturing on the Pagan Festival circuit. He is a regular columnist for Witches and Pagans magazine and his Patheos Pagan blog Raise The Horns. He lives in Sunnyvale CA with his wife Ari and two hyper-kinetic cats.

Do you believe hexing, cursing or binding to be a valid and effective method of magick when it comes to social justice or environmental activism and why or why not?

Of course! Though I’ve never hexed or cursed anyone consciously I have bound a lot of people. Witches do what they have to do, and certainly doesn’t violate “harm none.”

What are your thoughts on the the “threefold law” in regards to hexing, cursing and binding?

The Witch, not the universe, is really the responsible agent when it comes to the threefold law. If someone does good for us, I think we have a responsibility to return that good. If somebody does something bad to us, I think we can return that bad if we choose. That doesn’t mean you get to smite your ex-boyfriend because of a break-up, but if somebody does something truly awful, then we shouldn’t just sit on our hands. I had a girlfriend once who said to me “I am karma,” I was horrified at the time, but I get it today.

Do you believe in such a thing as a justified curse, hex or binding when it comes to social justice or environmentalism? If so, what makes a curse or hex just or unjust?

If someone is intentionally racist or destroying the planet, I think we can take a stand. Trump is obviously a walking dumpster fire (no offense to dumpsters), we have an obligation to work against that.

Are there any other precautions one should take or side effects one should expect or be aware of when throwing a hex, curse or binding?

People are obviously going to retaliate if you throw something at them. It might not be by reciting something from the Key of Solomon, but they are certainly going to put negative energy directed against you out into the universe. We should all be ready for that.

What other methods of magick aside from these do you believe should be employed for social justice on a personal level?

Let’s make sure we are being good to people. It’s got to be more than talking, there has to be doing. I think a lot of it too has to be on the personal level too.

What can we do as witches to assist our community during times of social turmoil and environmental destruction?

We should any extra energy we have to keeping our friends, sisters, and brothers safe from harm. That’s what we work on the most during ritual, we want everyone to be safe. Let’s put some real energy into that.

All responses (c) copyright 2017 Jason Mankey, All rights reserved.

Orion Foxwood

Orion Foxwood is Traditional  witch, conjure-man and faery seer; and, the author of The Faery Teachings, The Tree of Enchantment, The Candle and the Crossroads and The Flame in the Cauldron and a blog with Witches and Pagans Magazine called: Magic with Muscle: From Fear to Fortitude. He was born with the veil (the second sight) in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, where he was first exposed to faith-healing, root-doctoring, faery lore and the second-sight practices of southern and Appalachian culture; and he has continued learning and teaching these spirit-doctoring practices in workshops, intensives and lectures in America and other countries. He is the founder, and primary instructor, in the House of Brigh Faery Seership Institute, where he teaches a multi-year teaching program in the “Tree of Enchantment” lore, practices, traditions and skills. He is a co-founder of Conjure Crossroads (CC), which is a collaboration between five (5) seasoned root-workers and witches focused on preserving and promoting the healing and helping benefits of southern root-work, witchcraft and other folk traditions. CC hosts the annual Folk Magic Festival in New Orleans.  He is also co-founder of Conjure-Craft and Witches in the Woods, two gatherings aimed at fostering community and co-creative magic across traditions and approaches to the sacred art magical.  He is the Founding Elder of Foxwood Temple, a coven dedicated to passing on the traditional witchcraft of his elders. He holds a Master’s Degree in Human Services. 

Do you believe hexing, cursing or binding to be a valid and effective method of magick when it comes to social justice or environmental activism and why or why not?

If I understand the specific components of this question correctly, you are asking whether I consider use of the three aforementioned magical methods as-

• Valid, such as “credible, “authentic” and/or “respected or validated” magical methods endorsed and/or taught by people, systems or traditions with history using them and who are also adept in using magic to successfully influence desired change and;

• Effective, such as a method in magical practice that has been witnessed as affecting a successful achievement of the goal aimed at broad scenarios like social justice; or, environmental activism.

Though these methods are both valid and effective, they are also controversial because of their potential to do harm or increase it and interject influences that can produce a sort of domino-effect. Magic that directly alters a person’s ability, capacity or opportunity to own their own will and the choice(s) it mobilizes and subsequent effects is questionable in some traditions such as Wicca. However this kind of rigorous concern is a luxury of those who are privilege with the time and resources that reduce the pressure of desperation, personal threat, and multi-generational trauma. In the case of the latter, many of these more severe magical techniques. I might add that inequity, injustice and the ability to harm those of less economic also influences the aggressiveness of the spell.

Magic Method Specific Answers

Cursing- in my experience, causes more harm to the innocent people connected to the target and even in their bloodlines downline. These methods do not stay isolated- they drift and contaminate other people, events, places etc. and with each cycle of destruction, or generation, if I feel severe magic is necessary I would do a reversal to remove the damages from victims and send back to the perpetrator(s). Then I watch that work through by then consulting the ancestors through a bone reading or other oracle or as I call it “discernment tool” to assess type and level of impact and determine the need for more of that type or other work. It’s important to know what magical traditions, methods, philosophies, ethical guidance/rules, moral considerations and even the tools, terms for the different tools and styles and the resources used in the practice such as animal bones and mason jars versus vellum grimoires and swords.

The tools used and in what settings as well as the amount of ethical consideration and implied responsibility and accountability varies based on the origins, history, environment and other elements that birthed or shaped and transmitted the practice and associated methods to the witch, worker, magician etc.

Further considerations in the decision of method used in what kind of ritual for what reason is shaped by many elements such as:

• The culture and ethnic group of origin and subsequent interaction and exchange with other ones. Whether the migration was by choice, need (such as a need for food, jobs etc.) organically or through forced marginalization or shared oppression such as we see in many areas of America or political change such as when an influx of emancipated African slaves carrying African traditional religions from their home cultures synergized with European Christian (and some Pagan) folk magic practices which they gained through forced assimilation by their “Owners” or social interaction and sharing with neighbors, other non-African plantation hands and other ways. Then they carried these expanding bodies of lore and practice wherever they went as they journeyed northward or to the west coast searching for a new life while a new culture of magic later called hoodoo, conjure, or root work was growing with their journey.

• The economic status (wealthy, poverty etc.) of a group or groups of people can create divisions that are rigid and enforced and thus justice magic , bindings of the oppressor etc., become a part of the magical practice.

• Major social events and traumas influence the level of ethical consideration, intensity of application or the comfort in working what to some is baneful and wicked magic but to others is justified and necessary. In situations where there is an oppressive power- elite or daily threats to life and safety- binding and cursing may seem appropriate and ethical considering the cruel actions of the target .

When trying to understand why one magic worker chooses one more severe and immediate type of approach, while another chooses one that “kinder”, slower acting and gentle. The reason may be that community where the practice evolved  or the period in history when the tradition started or blossomed was oppressed. When equity is restricted and justice weighs on the side of the oppressor, magic becomes the only way to  balance the scales or ensure some truth is revealed.  There are many types of groups that have suffered inequity segregated by economy, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender and the more a tradition was connected to this, the more the subject methods are in a sense part of the milleau. Most workers only go for the severe method because they or their client don’t have the social privileges of justice, equal access or safety and thus they may need to get what they can get when they can get it. In closing, history bears out that magic most rears its head when freedom is most challenged.

What are your thoughts on the the “threefold law” in regards to hexing, cursing and binding?

My traditions have this law as a part the teachings; “The Threefold Law” covers more than the aspect of it often referred to as “Karma” but more accurately “The Law of Return” or “the Law of Retribution”. The older part of our line which comes the hereditary teachings of our Queen, Lady Circe simply advise thusly, “The toucher is touched” meaning what you touch touches you.

All responses (c) copyright 2017 Orion Foxwood, All rights reserved.

Harold Roth

Harold Roth is a witch who works primarily with plant spirits and planetary energies and whose shop, Alchemy Works, has supplied magic works with ingredients since 2000. His book, The Witching Herb,  the result of years work with plants, is now available. His artwork incorporates magical symbolism and is aimed at revealing the hidden mystery of the natural world.

Do you believe hexing, cursing or binding to be a valid and effective method of magick when it comes to social justice or environmental activism and why or why not?

I do believe it is a valid method for all sorts of things, including social justice or environmental activism, but I am not so sure how effective it is for such wide-ranging causes. I have heard of hexing and especially binding being effective when aimed at individuals more or less within one’s community, but aimed at a national figure, I have not heard of that working. I think in most magical practices, distance has an effect, and that distance can be geographical or social. I think of magical energy like the beam of a flashlight, which gets more and more diffuse the farther away the beam is from the source.

What are your thoughts on the the “threefold law” in regards to hexing, cursing and binding?

I don’t believe in the threefold law or karma. I haven’t seen any evidence of the universe being just or evil-doers being punished for their deeds. I think the reason why people use magic is precisely because they DON’T see karma in action. So for me, this is not an issue for cursing.

Do you believe in such a thing as a justified curse, hex or binding when it comes to social justice or environmentalism?

Yes.

If so, what makes a curse or hex just or unjust?

The same things that make any action just or unjust. The individual has to assess the situation with all the available info and make a decision about how or even if they want to act. Then IMO there has to be some sense of scale in the response. I have seen someone for instance put a death curse on a photographer because they did not like how their wedding photos turned out. Or someone once got her coven together to put a death curse on me because I corrected the person online about the difference between two words. To me, this kind of lack of scale is asking the spirits to kick your ass for your hubris. Also, I tend to think that killing generally does not solve problems. All we have to do is look around to see that validated by stuff like executions or wars.

Are there any other precautions one should take or side effects one should expect or be aware of when throwing a hex, curse or binding?

Yes, good protection for oneself and one’s household, including one’s animals, and being well-rested and alert when doing the work, because IMO by cursing, one puts oneself in an energetic environment that can be dangerous. I would consider it to be similar to using strong chemicals or power tools, working with poisonous plants, or being around wild animals. So take precautions. I think it is best to do such work away from one’s home.

Also, I consider frequency something to be considered. Don’t always be cursing. Some call witchcraft the crooked path. That means among other things that it is neither all dark nor all light. And I would say that in my experience, people who do cursework a lot tend to have an inaccurate estimation of their own powers, to be self-centered to the point of blindness, and to be humorless. I don’t know if those characteristics are the result of doing too much cursework or if people do too much cursework because they are those things.  None of these are good characteristics we should cultivate.

What other methods of magick aside from these do you believe should be employed for social justice on a personal level?

I believe protection to be very useful–protection not only of oneself, but of one’s community. I think it’s a good idea to work on a more local scale with this. Like instead of focusing on the pipeline in the Dakotas, focus on protecting the streams in your town or the water in your city.

What can we do as witches to assist our community during times of social turmoil and environmental destruction?

Demonstrate by our behavior that there are other ways to live in the world besides as a rapacious, selfish consumer. Don’t be wasteful or careless with any sort of life, including your own. Encourage people to remember the positive results of actions and the beauty and power of life. Live with a sense of humility regarding our place in the natural world.

Any other thoughts?

Hang on; it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

All responses (c) copyright 2017 Harold Roth, All rights reserved.

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