The other day when I was bemoaning the current struggles at work to get my paperwork to make sense a friend, confused by my obvious frustrations, asked why I was breaking my back to achieve the results I wanted when I could simplify the whole process by using magic. It was a question I'd been asking myself. There was no single reason why I hadn't used magic. I suppose as a matter of personal pride in my intelligence I wanted to rely on my brain to produce the necessary results. I perhaps also felt that maintaining an intense magical and mundane focus would absorb me to the extent that I would lose the balance with other things in my world. But the real issue lurking at the back of my mind was that in using magic to affect my work performance I might actually be cheating...
Ridiculous really - cheating through spell work is the easiest thing in the world to keep secret. I wouldn't risk more conventional methods of cheating - I've seen too many people lose their jobs for dishonesty and it isn't worth the sleepless nights worrying about joining their ranks. Besides, other methods of cheating are generally accepted as being wrong and/or against company policy. I don't need to speculate if bribing/bullying someone to do my work for me is wrong, I know it is and therefore I rule it out. But use of magic is far more morally ambiguous and has the advantage that it doesn't need the involvement of anybody but me. I'm not forcing anybody to do my will, I'm forcing circumstances to do my will. There is no direct consequence to anybody else other than myself as a result of the paperwork improvement spell.
Cheating via magic is also entirely unprovable. Imagine if my company took me to disciplinary for using witchcraft (non customer related spells incidentally) to improve the quality of my paperwork. My union rep would have a field day! My reluctance to use magic at work isn't a fear of discovery. Indeed I'm even being open in writing a blog about it. I'm hardly worried about the consequences of being "caught" but I am concerned that by employing an unrelated skill - a skill that to the best of my knowledge none of my colleagues can summon - I could still be in some way cheating. Not in a disciplinary sense but in a moral sense. I'm stacking the deck to give myself the best opportunity for success and there has to be some moral question as to whether manipulating circumstances to favour myself in the workplace is ethical.
I could of course check with the HR department if using witchcraft is considered cheating. But I suspect they may question my general level of sanity if I did so. One of the ways we witches get away with so much of what we do is due to the fact that the public simply don't believe in magic. This is another reason why I couldn't be held accountable at work, they'd have to acknowledge there is such thing as a witch before they can discipline me for using witchcraft. And they won't do that because to do so might bring ridicule from the sceptics (and the press scandals would of course be ruinous...). How much easier to pretend it doesn't exist and just leave witches to do their own thing, (Possibly the only exception would be if I cast direct magic against the customers or the staff but as I genuinely don't believe doing so would be appropriate that isn't an issue. And even if I did, I wouldn't be daft enough to put an admission to it in writing!). Likely it would be a similar situation with my colleagues, if I told them I could influence my performance with witchcraft they would almost certainly not believe me (I suspect many of them already consider me a trifle strange...) so there is little point in being open and honest about it. As long as people refuse to believe that a) I can influence my performance through magic and b) that I will influence my performance in such a way - then I'm pretty safe from actual repercussions and the disapproval of those I work with.
But am I cheating myself? To an extent I think I might be. I'm using a tried and tested skill to mask a weaker ability. I'm denying myself the chance to feel genuine pride for my learning and ability to develop in other areas. I don't need any more success to feel confident as a witch but I do need more success to feel I'm doing well in the day job. Playing to my strengths may be good for short term results but it makes me a one trick pony which is ultimately very limiting. It also sets the trap that once I start achieving work related performance results through magic I have the choice of either continuing with the workplace magic and never developing the mundane skills or stopping the magic and baffling my company as to why the quality of my work takes a sharp nose dive downwards one day. And I'm not doing myself any favours putting the development period off. It is quite natural to need a bit of help after six months in the job but I'm not sure the helping hand would be offered if after six years I suddenly decided to go it alone and stop using magic. I strongly suspect that after this length of time I would be very much on my own.
Earlier this week I had to make a decision on the matter and despite my reservations I understand I have a responsibility to my family to do the best I can. If my best involves utilising skills that differ from those expected in the role then I can justify that by saying that at least they are my own skills and the results, however unconventionally obtained, are still my own work. So I went ahead with the spell work.
The results were actually rather spectacular, I went from chaos to flawless in the space of one case check. In fact it went so well that I actually plan to tone it down a bit. I want to put in a solid performance not draw unnecessary attention for suddenly handing in perfect work that ends up being held up as the standard for others. I could see the question....how... on my boss's lips and although I don't feel a true explanation would gain me any credibility in a commercial workplace I also don't want to arouse suspicion for cheating in ways of which I am genuinely innocent.
So after making my decision I'm left with just the ashes of my dilemma. I don't really feel guilty if I'm honest, I'd be a pretty poor witch if I didn't manipulate things in my life for the better. I may have broken the mundane code that cheating is wrong but I have acted in accord with the true essence of what it is to be a witch, namely - you've got power, use it!
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