Disclaimer: This post is not an endorsement nor a rejection of the practice. It is an attempt to have an open and intelligent discussion about the subject of Black Magic: a highly controversial and misunderstood concept.
Let me start off by saying that this is an incredibly difficult subject to research. In searching for “Black Magic” on google, I was bombarded by a horde of terrible “spell” sales schemes, “professionals” who practiced the dark arts – which were handed down by family members for “centuries” and could perform a powerful get rich spell for only “$9.99.” It’s this kind of “used car salesman” approach to magic polluting the internet that drives people away from witchcraft altogether.
But here is the most accurate summary I can offer:
Much of what we think of as “black” or “white” magic is a product of New Age invention mixed with Christian influence. Much of what we think of as “black magic” is often a result of demonizing that which we don’t understand. After all, the polarization of “good” and “evil” itself is a Christian concept that has seeped into Pagan Practice.
Not to say that Pagans don’t have any distinction between just and unjust, moral or immoral behavior. That would really depend on the Pagan and the practice. But, I’m saying that this distinction is more polarized in the Christian World – to the extent that much spirituality outside of the Christian Veil gets demonized as Black Magic.
If something is considered “Black Magic,” it isn’t necessarily evil, but perhaps something to broach with caution.
So here are the definitions I scraped together:
Drains Life Force: A type of magical energy that drains the life force from others in order to make the practitioner stronger. In some countries, it is still common to drink the blood of an animal in order to gain their life force. For example, drinking a goat’s blood in some countries. Many Christian Europeans who witnessed this practice demonized it as “Black Magic” or “Satanism.” However, the idea of drawing strength and power by drinking the “blood of Christ” may not be that different (although drinking wine is certainly a difference from drinking goat’s blood).
There is a more nefarious use for Life Draining magic though, where the practitioner will drain human victims of their life energy in order to make themselves stronger. Magic works in principle by drawing energy from different sources – whether that source be the sun, the moon, the stars, plants or just positive energy in general. Life draining magic centers around its ability to draw energy from either a living or sacrificed life form. Hence an explanation for the existence of animal and human sacrifice in ancient times.
The Control of Spirits: This refers to Black Magic as being a powerful energy where you summon and control spirits to do your bidding. The most notorious example in popular culture of someone doing this kind of work is when Aleister Crowley summoned spirits into the House of Boleskine. Or at least…he was in the middle of a spirit summoning ritual when he was interrupted. As a result, some people believe that the Boleskine House is haunted today.
Controlling Someone’s Free Will: By this definition, even a seemingly harmless love spell could be a form of black magic – since it bends someone’s will against their natural inclinations. Some modern witches try to ask someone’s permission before they cast a spell for them.
A Rebellion Against the Christian, i.e. Satanism: Sometimes Satan magic is considered a form of Black Magic. Some Satanists agree with this definition while others vehemently refute the notion. This comes from the age-old Christian Practice of denouncing anything non-christian as “Black Magic.” Some Satanists have embraced this definition and try to make their rituals as anti-christian as possible: wear upside crosses, tattoo crosses on the feet, read prayers backwards, etc.
Of course this is not a representation of all Satanism. Just a commentary on those Satanists who do embrace Black Magic as a rebellion – even a mockery – against Christian Ritual.
The Mislabeling of Another Culture’s Practice: Aside from many Satanists and witches alike, another group that largely gets accused of practicing “Black Magic” are practitioners of the Haitian/West African tradition of “Voodoo.” For example, when the slaves in Haiti rebelled against their slave owners, many performed Voodoo rituals in the tradition of their ancient African beliefs in order to gain strength. This could involve appealing to ancestors or other spirits for power. Since the Haitians won, there are many Christian leaders who claimed that the Haitians made a contract with the devil. This is still a completely ridiculous misconception that some Americans and Political Leaders believe today.
Voodoo in itself is too complex to convey in this post alone. However, I will say that there are many varieties of Voodoo – so the practice really shouldn’t be generalized as “good” or “bad.” Some Voodoo practitioners are healers – like the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans – Marie LaVeau. She was so famous, that Catholic priests even let her practice in the church.
There are other Voodoo sorcerers called “bokor” who practice a dark punitive magic. They act as a type of religious policemen and curse bad people.
Santeria is another African Religious tradition that gets mislabeled as “Black Magic” for its tendency to conjure spirits called Orishas who control human destiny. Some summon these spirits by committing an animal sacrifice.
Animal Sacrifice may offend modern sensibilities , but if we examine history we will find that all peoples from all corners of the Earth practiced animal sacrifice at one point. It is even documented among Hebrews in the bible.
(To be honest, I’m glad we don’t do animal sacrifice anymore. But that is just my personal opinion).
In Summary: The reason why it is so hard to research and understand what ACTUALLY constitutes black magic, is because the definition is either misunderstood, derogatory, ironic, rebellious, mysterious or powerful. It’s up to you to form your own definition. Magic is ultimately the control of life energy. It is a struggle for power – as are all things in nature. It doesn’t necessarily fit into a nice neat label like color coordinated postage stamps. But be weary of what type of energy you are sending out. If you want to sew the wind, be prepared to reap the whirlwind.
Workplace rights mean being able to practice your religion at work.
Examples: A christian wearing a cross and taking off for religious holidays.
A Sikh being allowed to wear a turban, grow a beard and have long hair.
A Muslim having time to pray 5 times a day.
Pagans should also be allowed to wear religious insignia and take off for holy days.
Such rights are starting to take off in the U.K.
Disclaimer: I try not to be too commercial on this blog. However, I am posting this information as a service to the arts and craft makers of the Pagan community.
Comment if there is a shop you love that you would like to suggest.
An Internet Store for Norse Goods. Has a comprehensive list: Everything from Candles, Shirts, Pens, Drinking Horns, DVDs and Mead.
Mainly a site for those interested in Medieval Weaponry, but also contains clothing and other cultural items of interest.
Another Norse Site. Redistributing Norse Culture through craft.
For those interested in the Divine Feminine.
Has a wide variety of Goddess items: African, Aztec, Egyptian, Hindu, Celtic, Norse etc.
For those interested in connecting to their European heritage.
Contains Celtic, Norse, Slavic and Sumerian Cultural Items.
Rome was a vast empire that lasted for about 1,ooo years. It was founded in 753 B.C and collapsed around the 5th century. To give you a brief history of what happened in this time, Rome was split into two different empires: East and West. The western part of the Empire fell in 476 A.D while the Eastern Empire thrived until Muslim forces conquered Constantinople in 1453 A.D.
At its height, Rome held territories from Britain to Asia Minor. Many of the Roman roads that connected Europe in that ancient time are still used today. So what eventually brought down this great empire?
Yes, it was stretched too thin. Yes, there were several barbarian attacks and invasions that eventually brought the whole thing down.
Yet there was another decisive factor as well: the forced conversion to Christianity.
The empire converted to Christianity in 395 A.D. and fell apart about 80 years later.
MAPPING A TOLERANT EMPIRE
Up until that point, Rome was tolerant of different religious and cultural ideas. This was the key to their success actually. The persecution of Christians in Rome was a highly exaggerated affair. The Christians were persecuted more for their refusal to follow Roman laws than they were for their religious beliefs.
For example, if a Fundamentalist Religious Cult in America refused to follow our most basic of laws (and claimed God as the reason) we’d probably throw the practitioners of that cult in jail.
I am not trying to downplay the barbarity of Roman conquest here. I am well aware that Romans had their fair share of slavery, warfare and capital punishment. They also did force Roman cultural norms upon those they conquered. (The execution of the Druids at the Isle of Mona was a particularly gruesome affair)
However, the Romans did not do a wholesale eradication of the cultures and Gods of the people they conquered. Most people were permitted to continue with these traditions as long as they also worshiped the Roman emperor as a God and paid their taxes. (With the exception of Carthage. The Romans waged a brutal campaign and salted the Earth in Carthage so that nothing could grow).
The Romans even added other cultures Gods within their own repertoire. For example, when the Gauls started fighting within Roman military ranks, Roman Calvary started saying prayers to the Gallic Horse Goddess Epona.
Pictures of the Egyptian Goddess Isis suckling her son Horus were also circulated in Roman homes (later to be copied by images of the Mother Mary suckling Jesus).
(Roman Statue of Egyptian Goddess Isis)
My point here is that the Roman empire could not have ever hoped to become as large and powerful as they did if they were not tolerant. Rome had its flaws to be sure, but it was an empire that was highly advanced for its time. It was a place where art, science, poetry, and medicine flourished. Rome was an advanced society because they learned from those they conquered and became stronger in the process. You can only benefit from your conquered subjects if you allow them to maintain some level of autonomy – if you don’t crush the spirit and soul of those you rule over.
For example, by allowing the Greeks to maintain their “Greekness” so to speak, The Romans were able to share the benefits of the great art, knowledge and science produced by the Greeks. Many Roman families even employed tutors for their children from Greece (or had Greek slaves for this purpose). The Romans also knew how to turn the ferocity of the Gauls to their advantage, by employing Gallic mercenaries in the military with the promise of Roman Citizenship as a reward. The Gauls could not have been great warriors if the Romans tried to eradicate and supplant Gallic culture in entirety.
Xenophobic and narrow minded civilizations can not achieve the same grandeur as Rome did. For example, when the Ming Dynasty in China abandoned exploration and trade in favor of Isolationism, their status as a world power declined rapidly – and they were eventually conquered by European powers within a few centuries.
When Rome embraced Monotheistic Christianity, their blazing torch of culture, art and power was extinguished. Christian values were completely contrary to Roman Pagan values. Romans and their Gods valued a bold and heroic life in the present. The Gods rewarded those who were particularly brave, beautiful or artistic. Christianity, with its focus on a meek and mild existence in exchange for a glorious afterlife was completely contrary to indigenous European values in general.
Up until Rome’s forced conversion in 395 A.D, Christianity was an insignificant cult, a fringe minority that many people never even heard of.
Yet once Rome converted, Christianity released a madhouse of horrors upon Rome. Ancient temples to other Gods were sacked and destroyed. Entire libraries of valuable knowledge and literature were burned to the ground. The tolerance that allowed Rome to rule over a vast and diverse empire was replaced by a zealous, single minded cult that destroyed all who didn’t subscribe to their ideology. Even other Christians were killed if they didn’t adhere to the “correct” version of Christianity.
Even if the strongest person swallows a poison, they become more vulnerable to the most mild of viruses. Once Rome embraced Christianity, it fell prey to barbarian invasion, splintering and eventual destruction.
The light of Rome was replaced by a millenia of darkness and ignorance. Western Europe became rampant with inquisitions, crusades, witch burnings and disease. It wasn’t until the church started to lose authority in Europe around the Renaissance that Western Europe began to get back onto its feet again. Coincidence? I think not.
Spiritually the world must once again learn how to tolerate different systems of belief that are aligned with the real principals of human nature (rather than attempting a system of morality only suitable for the dead).
May the torch of the Ancient Pagan world burn bright once again as many around the world reawaken to ancient values.
Now enjoy some Roman Metal:
EX DEO – ROMULUS