A lot of time is spent debating whether magic can be “White” or “Black”. My personal opinion is that magic is a tool, just like a hammer. The tool is neutral, only the intent determines its “color”. After all, when was the last time you heard of someone using a “White Hammer” or a “Black Hammer”?

I still find the terms useful however and use them frequently when discussing magical ethics. Below are the definitions I use for them:

White Magic: Magic done with the intent to help and with the permission and understanding of the receiver..

Grey Magic: Magic done with the intent to help, but without the permission and/or understanding of the receiver.

Black Magic: Magic done with any intent other than to help the reciever, regardless of permission or understanding of the receiver.

I like these definitions because they focus on the important aspects of magical working as I see them: Intent, Permission and Understanding.

Intent describes your motivations to doing the magic. Magic is powered by emotional energy and directed by mental focus, so the Intent of the sender is of vital importance. If the intent is anything other than to help or better the receiver, it is Black Magic.

Permission is whether the receiver of the magic wants you to do it for them or not. If you don’t have permission, it’s grey magic at best. Think of it like a medical procedure – the doctor may want to help, but without the patient’s permission he is ethically prohibited from doing anything.

Understanding is whether or not the reciever understands what you are doing. This is the magical equivalent of medicine’s Informed Consent regulations. If you aren’t informed and you don’t understand what is to be done, then it is impossible for you to consent to it. If you tell them you are going to give them accupressure and then do Reiki, they did not consent to what you are doing. If you tell them you are going to do Reiki and they have no idea what you are talking about and you don’t explain it in at least the basic concepts, they are not able to give informed consent since they don’t understand what you are going to do.

Hopefully you may find these definitions useful in your discussions of the different “colors” of magic. It may also prove helpful as a sort of “reality-check” as to the ethical implications of any magics you are considering doing for others.

Blessed Be,

– Brian Gallagher

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