The question of whether witches are/should be vengeful is commonly debated among magical communities. The fashionable Neo Pagan view seems to echo the Christian belief of turning the other cheek. But to many serious practitioners of witchcraft, vengeance can and still does play a part in their craft.
Concepts like Karma and the (Wiccan) Rule of Three are bandied about in the form of moral rulings, the implication being that personal workings for revenge are wrong and incompatiable with modern Witchcraft. These moral imperatives make the suggestion that personal workings of vengeance are intrinsically wrong in themselves and that magic should only be used in the pursuit of "good." I take issue with this because I am most definitely the only arbiter of my own moral judgement. I neither read scriptures nor listen to guides who try to impose a single view of right and wrong. My definition of what is appropriate in a given situation stems solely from my own beliefs. To put it politely, I think for myself. I am therefore loathe to subscribe to the idea that there is a generic law of right and wrong to which I must ensure my actions adhere. Not only is such a concept far too simplistic - certainly anybody prepared to consider the matter in depth is forced to conclude that morality is highly relative anyway - but an absolute morality negates my choice and my right to perceive the world as I see it, to an extent that I would find totally unacceptable.
When we define the world in terms of good and evil we are unwittingly applying a moral code that suggests one is better than the other. But again, such a comparison is relative, this time to the end a person wants to achieve. If your ambition is to bring as much light and happiness into the world as you can then, yes, perhaps restricting your magic to the less vengeful workings may help you to achieve that end. But I have to be honest and admit that this aspiration is certainly is not the end toward which I work with my own life. For the vast majority of the time I am focusing on the pursuit of my own interests. My aim is solely to make my own life easier and happier. There are times when making those around me happy achieves this aim, equally there are times when I have to step on other people to get what I want, I am comfortable doing both. When dealing with issues of morality we have to acknowledge that people all have different views on their individual idea of endgame. What can be "good" on one path may be wholly unsuccessful for an individual on another.
I actually think it is important to get away from the whole good/bad, dark/light thing. Energy actioned through intent (which is all spellwork really is) is not any kind of absolute in itself. People who talk of light and dark magic are missing the simple truth that magic is really just the tool of the caster. And not only are dark and light relative, they are also subjective. What may appear good to one person may appear bad to another. With this is mind, it is hard to understand how an absolute moral law could ever come about. And I would question how those who believe in karma would explain the problem of subjective morality. Who decides what is right or wrong? Possibly one could appeal to the omniscience of a higher being but there are many witches who have no belief at all in deity. Such an explanation would render the supposed laws of karma entirely useless to those witches.
So, vengeance... A friend of mine described the difference between justice and vengeance with the explanation that justice is something that should happen and vengeance is something that people choose to make happen. I don't disagree. However, what I do disagree with is the implication that I should choose not to take revenge on somebody who has wronged me on the basis that it is always wrong to do so. As a witch who believes in balance, I would argue that sometimes two wrongs do make a right. Vengeance can be a balancing of the scales, a negative act equalised by a negative energy. If I am hurt and hurting somebody else makes me feel better, is that balance within myself not restored?
And I'll go further than that. I'm even prepared to make the first move to prevent other people from harming me. If there is such a concept as preventative revenge, I'll happily admit to using it - To hurt before being hurt, so to speak. Again, a morally grey area but what I'm getting at here is that many witches do not subscribe to this socially acceptable single idea of morality. Or even perhaps morality at all. I may weigh up a situation and decide that to act one way would be considered the objectively moral thing to do but to act conversely would be in my best interests. And I'll tell you what, I act in the way that works best for me every time. That doesn't make me a 'bad' person, it makes me a selfish person. But I strongly suspect I don't differ greatly from most other people here, except of course in the fact that I admit it.
Incidentally many witches cast revenge workings by 'mirroring' the negative energies sent toward them. Kind of like the Wiccan's beloved threefold law, but deliberately and specifically applied. The idea is that the person receiving the hex suffers no more than they intended their opponent to suffer. A word of warning though, go gunning after most witches and you'll get a hell of a lot more back than you sent out. As I remind you regularly - I'm the lovelier end of the market...
The famous saying "Revenge is a dish best served cold," suggests vengeance is always the result of cold calculation. I am unsure that in witchcraft this is true. Certainly speaking from my own experience it isn't. The energy from my anger and frustration would work a far more effective spell for me than any amount of plotting and planning. The flip side of this of course is that when I'm feeling angry enough to want to revenge myself on someone, I may not be in the best frame of mind to make the judgement that it is the best thing to do. Personal involvement may well cloud judgement. As a witch I am also aware that some of what I do may not be entirely conscious. Should I dislike an individual enough to wish them harm, even if I take no tangible steps toward bringing that harm to reality, it is likely that some effect will occur, simply by nature of the will of my subconscious. Focused intent will always work best but unfocused subconscious energies can certainly play their part as well.
I'd question why magical revenge is perceived as less moral than practical revenge. I'd be applauded if I slapped a cheating husband but frowned upon if I hexed one. Double standards arising from fear of the unknown perhaps? The perception that curses and hexes as the esoteric tools of the select few are not seen as fair game? I don't know, I can't explain it. There does seem a deep psychological fear of cursing even in modern day society and I'll tell you now, its something witches exploit. I've seen the suggestion of a hex work as effectively as a hex itself. Irrational fear does make it very easy for witches to manipulate people...
Now having said I don't believe in karma or the Wiccan threefold, I have to acknowledge that I do believe opening yourself to vengeance can bring about negative consequences. Balance is a key concept for the witch and a witch who fills her heart with hatred and the need for revenge will find herself singularly unbalanced. Hate unfortunately does breed hate and a witch who dwells solely on the negative will find herself locked into a negative mind spiral that she would find it hard to break out of. I personally limit my workings of vengeance and indeed negative workings of any kind and try to achieve a balance between the type of energies I want to work with. That is not to say that if I cast a healing spell I frantically look around for someone to curse to balance it out, but it is to say that I choose not to open myself up entirely to either extreme end of the spectrum - at least for any significant period of time.
Personally I refuse to conform to a socially accepted norm, I create my own ideas of justice and act as I believe appropriate and I would be very surprised to find a witch who doesn't do the same.
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