This is another of those 101 questions that every newcomer gets caught up in and everyone has a different answer to give.
We’re so used to being able to define actions into categories as a result of the overarching presence of monotheism; ‘this is good’ vs ‘this is bad/evil’. The fact that Witchcraft and its various aspects are placed in the latter category by most monotheists and Holywood portrays Witches either as dark and angsty or twisted and Crone like so this false separation is further reinforced in the mind.
I’m going outline the way most proponents of the ‘Witchcraft With Colour’ divide up operations and practice and then I will tell you why it is nonsense.
White Witchcraft/Magic is usually defined as an act or actions which benifit others either individually or as a community. Most prominent amongst the operations included in this category is healing, in fact many people will define this as the only acceptable form of Witchcraft.
Taking a wider view practices such as fertility and financial workings may also be included, as might job spells, relationship/romance spells and work involving deities and beings which are perceives as being light bringing and positive in their aspect.
Generally speaking White Witchcraft/Magic refers to operations which either brings benifit to others or at least benifits the caster in a way which does not impact others. The free will and actions of others should not be influenced by these workings and the magical process involving the self is generally inward seeking such as building self confidence in order to appear more attractive to other.
Conversely Black Witchcraft / Magic is any working that affects the will or life course of others either negatively or without their knowledge or permission. Operations and practices which benifit the caster in a manner which is perceived as disproportionate or at the expense of others is also put into this category.
In particular cursing, hexing and occasionally binding spells are placed within this category. Spells such as love spells, or anything which is perceived to influence a target into a course of action which they may not normally engage in is also considered to be black in nature.
Other aspects of witchcraft which are occasionally identified as ‘black’ include working with spirits, in particular the Goetia but also other forms of spirit communication such as Automatic Writing and Ouija Boards. More often than not the practices ascribe to this category are those that are not as well understood by the novice practitioner and usually require specific levels of training and knowledge in order to be practiced.
Witchcraft/Magic Without Colour
The truth of the matter is these divisions are so arbitrary they are conflicted and confusing. Different people will partition different practiced off for different reasons, often not fully understanding the subject. For example some people will consider workings with Talking Boards (or even Spirit or Angel Boards) and being ‘White’ or acceptable whilst defining Ouija boards as ‘evil’ and ‘black’. These are all part of the same family of tools used for spirit communication and are all used the same way, its just the brand has had a bad press from Hollywood.
These categories are also divided in line with idealised ethical perceptions of what is right and wrong. The basis of these perceptions can have different origins such as in general social convention but more often than not it is being influenced by concepts such as the so called “Wiccan Rede” and “Karma”. Please check out my previous post on Karma for more details on my thoughts on these subjects. They are problematic in their own right however these divisions then become a meand for people to simply feel better about themselves. They’re used to create an illustration of moral superiority which is often not reflect in the way they actually live their lives. Statements such as “Oh I would never do that, that is wrong, bad, evil, negative” are at best judgmental, at worst condescending and hurtful.
Unfortunately the concept of white vs black is often applied to the function of magic rather than the intention, giving a false impression to incomers. Rather than examining their intention both in isolation and in context they are encouraged to focus on the operation.
The actions that get divided up into these categories are often two sides of the same coin. As I have said previously, in order to be able to heal someone you must gather knowledge and learn practices which could also be used to harm. It is not the knowledge or practice itself that causes harm but its application. Even then what is considered ‘wrong’ by one person may appear just and proper to another.
Magic, as discussed last week, is a force which we as Witches use and direct according to our will. The question of what is right and wrong can be answered any number of ways depending on a given situation, personal moral perspective and social setting, and the answers are often not as black and white as we would like it to be.
If you were to insist I use a chromatic scale to described Witchcraft/Magic so you could visualise this conversation I would prefer to direct you to the middle of the scale and the colour Grey. It is neither not black or white but a point in between. Grey is a colour of neutrality.
But in truth it just perpetuates an analogy which has been taken too far for the wrong reasons.
Magic does not have colour. It is neither good nor bad but rather is an entirely neutral force and does not itself have an orientation. It is the intention of the practitioner, which only they themselves can know, which may be construed as giving the operation a tone but even then it is neither polite or possible for an outsider to categorise the casters actions.
When learning witchcraft you acquire a whole set of skills which you can choose to use in any way you see fit. You do not need to conform to any particular set of rules, any particular set of definitions, when working as a Witch alone. If you believe that you are right and just in your action and you are willing to own them then don’t let someone else’s moralising stop you for any reason. You are living your life, you see all the minute details and understand the situation you are in. It is for you to decide what is right or wrong for you.