To enact magic is to enact change. That means that whatever you cast a spell for, whatever its purpose – even in the case of preservation – you commit to an act of changing yourself.
I think that’s why I see one quibble after another by people who identify as practitioners about reasons not to perform magic. While an honest desire for change my bring a person to magical practice, at some point the fear of change sets in. It’s a bit embarrassing, getting past the gates of fear marked “Occult’” only to find yourself two miles in and pissing your pants again. I still terrify myself on a regular basis.
Personally, I think that’s why people concoct one so-called magical ethic after another that essentially demands inaction.
“Don’t cast a spell for a job. That might give you an unfair advantage.”
“Don’t visualize an open parking space – what if someone needs it more than you?”
“If you map out good places for ritual around here, people will go and vandalize them!”
“You should avoid spells. They could have unforeseen consequences.”
“You might hurt yourself.”
That’s all true. Risks and unforeseen consequence are inherent in all change. Just because it’s true, however, does not mean it’s a good reason.
Just to give you my full perspective: I consider Reiki a classic situations where specific energy workers are overly convinced of their rightness and sometimes make decisions for people in for exactly the reason people breed these hesitations about magic work; I’ve been “treated” more than once without my permission, and every time it’s completely screwed up progress I’d made on healing work I’ve done for myself. I can guarantee you that when a practitioner asks me “higher self” for permission, S/he’s answering “For fuck’s sake, no!” But therein lies the key difference: magic you work for a job or parking space is based on a decision you make for yourself. The uninvited reiki was some asshole making a decision for me. ((Reiki may be “universal life energy” but the method is not universally applicable. Most reiki practitioners I have met have a very difficult time accepting this, as it goes directly against what they’re taught/attuned to. I have tried it, with practitioners I trust and respect. It doesn’t work for me, and often does more damage. I do not think this is because I am built from some Qlipothic energy, and I don’t think an attunement would make a difference. I’m just, energetically something else not labeled or conceived of within reiki. Whatever that may be, I believe myself to be entirely human.)) Please note that I say uninvited reiki – I have no quarrel with people who have offered me help, and from whom I have accepted that help. It’s not their fault that the help did little if anything.
When you sit down, stand up, flip a switch or get a drink you at the very least squash an amoeba. A living thing dies every time you eat – not just furry animals. Plants are alive too. Life feeds on life, after all. You can sit on your ass flipping channels all day, and you still cause change in the world.
No matter how much you limit your footprint, you have an effect on the world around you. Rearranging it with magic is one more step into that effect.
Whenever the whatever tribe first came up with the idea of magic, the entire purpose was to get some kind of advantage. An advantage in the hunt, an advantage in crops – an advantage to help us survive. Magic served two purposes: to give us a sense of control over areas where we felt we had none, and – if you happen to believe magic is real and works – to give us a tool to ensure our survival.
What we need for survival differs these days, and whether or not comfort factors into survival depends on who you are. I personally see no shame in ensuring my comfort; I do more good and feel more generous when happy than when cranky.
So along with fear of change – magic is tricky in that we don’t always record or sort what we do – is a sort of denial. If the magic works, we have to admit responsibility. If the magic changes our lives, we have to acknowledge that we have a hand in it, that there is no one to blame and that there was something more that could have been done. If you use a moral “high ground” – “what if I have an unfair advantage?” it’s hiding from the possibility of failure, that possibility that even if you cast the spell, you’re not “good enough.”
This does not mean “ignore the consequences.” On the contrary – the more specific the working you want to do, the more closely you should look at your divination tools for the big picture. You can cast a spell for that certain job, but if you do a tarot reading and find the Devil, or the Hierophant, Emperor or Empress inverted, you will see a warning about a regrettable boss. That certain someone you want to aim your lusty energy could turn out to be a freak show that’s not on your level of kink, something you’ll find out the hard way once your head clears from the hormones and fantasy.
If you do think your spell affected someone, also pull out your divination tools. First, you might be wrong. Second, that person might have his or her own chain of events and choices that led to some karmic lesson and you just happened to walk up to the slot that person left open as a result. We are finite beings working with the tools we have – just because you have the power of magic on your side does not mean that unknown persons aren’t using their own tools, contacts and advantages.