Friday, September 11, 2009
An Ye Harm Some
Since this topic came up in both a "real conversation" and in the Inominandum.com forums today I decided to spin this topic off of the "Where to begin thread". Black arrow wrote:
I do admit I have wondered regarding his and many other occult writers' warnings against any "harmful" use of magick due to karma reasons, threefold law, etc. In some cases, it seems somewhat counter-intuitive. To give a more mundane analogy, I have a pistol, and a concealed handgun permit. If I or my family was attacked, I would have no problem shooting the assailant. "Harmful" use of that pistol is not innately evil. What matters is the intent and the context involved.
The issue of wrathful magic and its fallout is a bit more complex than this I am afraid. There are really two factors at play: moral and technical considerations. Most sources treat the two as one, which is a mistake.
On the moral end, you are quite correct that it is intent that matters. Great good has come from wrathful action which is why in the Bodhisattva vows, Mahayana Buddhists vow to not refrain from wrathful action if compassion demands it. Any system that suggests good for good and bad for bad that doesn't take this into account is just sophomoric.
Real Karma as understood in the east takes intent into account, as well as the performance of the action, the fallout both intended and unintended, and finally the rejoicing or regret that follows. But all of these are not judged by some karmic panel, they are just factors in the cause and effect that is karma. This brings us to the technical side of the matter, but only a fully realized being can truly know the full extent of every action.
There are however less subtle technical aspects of wrathful magic that can be grasped. Whatever work you do surrounds you with energy that patterns itself after that work. This is why when doing wealth work for others, the operator often finds himself coming into a little bit of extra cash. There is also the matter of spirits employed, and in turn the spirits that those spirits employ. Even in the case of a cosmic goddess like Hekate or a realized guardian like Ekajati, there are retinues of spirits that follow them around which are not as easily controlled; Aoroi, Empusae, and so on in the case of Hekate and Mamo's in the case of Ekajati. Beings that do dirty work, regardless of intent, are still wrathful in nature and need a firm hand to control. This is why in hoodoo you take a Hyssop bath to rid yourself of any spirits that linger after harmful work, and why you generate as a wrathful yidam in Tantra to scare the crap out of any dregs-pa (wrathful beings) that attend your guardians.
The stronger the wrath, the more prevalent the problem. Dudjom Rinpoche wrote and article called "On the bad luck of the Nyingmapa" basically detailing the ways in which many of the beings that were subjugated and bound during the importation of Buddhism into Tibet have since caused various problems when not tended carefully.
An even more drastic example is the country of Haiti. The Congo spirits were already served in the country and are themselves pretty powerful for wrathful work. To facilitate the slave revolt however, a new nation of Loa were evolved from the Congo spirits - The Petro. With the help of these beings, the people of Haiti pulled off the only successful slave revolt in the western hemisphere. One they are no longer needed though, you still have to deal with them. Because many of these spirits are really really bloodthirsty, they tend to cause problems which can be seen in the history of Haiti ever since. The secret societies have evolved yet more Nations of Loa such as the Bizango nation to deal with some of the reprecussions of this.
An analogy would be like you making friends with the local gang in order to get their help to take out your enemy. After that is done, you are still friends with a gang and may find yourself dragged into several undesirable situations.
Basically, wrathful magick is not different than any other type of magick. Even if you do not believe in retribution for the morality of the act, which I do not, you still have to deal with the wrathful energy and spirits that you atttact during the rite. This is why in many African and Asian magickal systems the darker spirits are all served outside the home or at least on a separate altar.