Magic and Vigilante Justice
So, I am 34 now, and have been practising magic and divination since I was 11/12, and have identified as pagan since the age of 15. Maybe someday I’ll get it right.
I started off in paganism via Neowicca, but was quickly put off by the heterosexism as well as the “Harm none” ethic. (Which isn’t to say Wicca is bad or that Wiccans are inherently heterosexist, just this was the way Wicca was presented to me back in the 90s.) As a kid who was bullied at school and at home, I had had quite enough of “turn the other cheek” and trying to be “nice”. I got into Ceremonial Magick at 16, reading Donald Michael Kraig’s work first then Israel Regardie. While I lasted only about a year and a half in my first go-round with CM before reverting to a more low-key, informal witchcraft practise, it was enough to break me out of the fluffiness I’d picked up during my time in Neowicca. (Which is not to say that all Wiccans are fluffy, not at all, just the particular brand I was practising/exposed to was.)
When I was 17, I started cursing people. I was One of Those Witches who would curse people for saying rude shit to me, really minor trivial things. This got more intense when I worked retail and dealt with some really shitty customers from hell. When I first started throwing curses around casually, I thought it was ‘therapeutic’. I thought it was ‘empowering’.
What wound up happening was it turned me into an angry person. Becoming obsessed with getting vengeance on others – mistaking vengeance for ‘justice’ – I was angry all the time. I was consumed by anger. When I came home from my shitty retail job, instead of relaxing I would spend my time making curse jars.
This did not stop until I was 22, at which point my life had some serious upheavals I’d rather not get into for this post because it’ll derail it from the topic. I wound up in a situation where I could not outwardly practise magic or my religion at all for about four years. It was a really shitty situation, and in 2004 I began to wonder if I had somehow been ‘punished’ for all those curses I did. As a result of this, I suppressed my anger. I had grown up in a household where expressing my anger wasn’t safe to begin with, so back down it went. When I eventually got out of that situation, it took me another three years to start regularly doing magic again (even while I was still practising my religion openly) because I was convinced that I was some sort of monster and I was afraid of letting the monster out.
In 2009, I got dragged back into regularly practising magic again whether I wanted to or not because I was on the receiving end of magical warfare. At that time there was even less acceptance of Lokeans and ‘heretical’ points of view in heathenry than there is now, and there was a group of seidh-users who took it upon themselves to try to ‘neutralize’ what they perceived as a threat, and me being very publicly a leader of the Vanatru community at that time, got me on their hit list, as well as several other people I knew. I got a crash course in psychic self-defense, and started picking CM back up in addition to getting more heavily into rune magic. Eventually the attacks stopped, and I continued forth with my magical studies and practise because not only had it saved my ass, but I liked it. Occultism is my drug, has been for a long time.
As I picked regular magical work back up, I took a long hard look at my past history. I realized that no, I had not been punished for the curses I’d thrown around when I was young. The thing is, wyrd weaves ever as she shall. There are bad things that happen to good people. There are great things that happen to vile, shitty people. There are people with beautiful hearts who have a lifetime of crap and pain. There are people who are disgusting, oppressive scum who have everything they want in life. If the Neowiccan concept of ‘karma’ (which is not actually karma) worked the way they think it does, this wouldn’t be a thing. The shit I went through from 2002-2006 had jack and shit to do with me using curse jars, it had everything to do with me experiencing intersectionality and a shitty system.
That being said, I still haven’t done much cursing since then. Which isn’t to say that I haven’t done it at all, but.
This might surprise people when they hear that my patron is Asmodai, a demon who is associated with wrath and judgment. ”But don’t you summon Asmodai and work with him to smite people?” I’ve done smiting, but I don’t do it to the extent that people think I do it, and I don’t do it for minor trivial shit.
See, while wyrd didn’t bite me in the ass for constantly cursing people for trivial shit, it didn’t need to. During those years I became a toxic, hateful person. Anger has its place – since forging a relationship with Asmodai I have learned that anger is a valuable gift, anger can get shit done. But there is a difference between anger and hatred, and being consumed by hatred is not a healthy way to live. When I was young I spent a bulk of my time constructing spells to attack people who did shit that I literally stopped caring about a month, year, five years later. I could have spent that time doing other things, like relaxing, which would have been better for my mental health (as I’ve found now that I’m older, you can’t beat chill time when you’re stressed).
I also found out through difficult life experience that even good people have shitty days and will sometimes say and do shitty things when they are stressed out. I have done shit that I cursed other people for. Also, I know people who did shitty things to other people when they were drinking/using drugs or in really desperate circumstances (dire poverty) and once they got help and turned their lives around, they not only stopped doing fucked-up shit but tried to be a better person and do positive things. It started to put shit in perspective for me.
This is not to curse-shame people. You will not ever see me saying NO DON’T EVER DO CURSES. In my opinion, there is a time and a place. But in my opinion and observation, throwing around curses all the time for trivial shit is not the healthiest way to live. I’m not gonna tell you no don’t, but if you’re making a curse jar because someone hurt your fee-fees on the Internet, you’re letting that person have power over you. You’re continuing to reinforce that they hurt you, upset you, and you’re reinforcing a psychic link. Instead of being like “you know what? I’m awesome and I’mma do me,” and stepping away for a bit and finding happy, nourishing things to do, you become consumed by hatred and the need for vengeance. It is not as ‘therapeutic’ and ‘empowering’ as you think it is, as I thought it was many years ago. You might think that you’re ‘getting justice’ because omfg someone hurt your fee-fees and you gotta SHUT THEM DOWN AND TEACH THEM A LESSON, but vengeance is not justice and justice is not vengeance. Not only had I thrown around curses at people who probably didn’t really deserve them, and when I wasn’t entirely not guilty of the same shit on occasion, but we have a saying, ‘crap in crap out’, and dealing with that energy a lot made me toxic and hostile and not a nice person to be around, and in that sense just as bad if not worse than the people I was ‘punishing’.
Asmodai is the Law, and one thing he does not appreciate is when people take the Law into their own hands. Again, there is a time and a place where sometimes we may be called upon to help enforce the Law. If someone assaulted your friend, in addition to doing whatever you can legally, yeah do a justice spell on that fucker if you want, I’m not gonna say don’t. But know this – when you are calling down justice, it is not a cause for celebration. It is very sad only. Because we are all born innocent, and when we have to work with the Law to take someone down and accelerate the wyrd due them, it is a fucking tragedy that a beautiful soul went bad, became poisoned by whatever societal input and/or circumstances, and hurt others. We are all children of the gods, we all have the spark of divinity within us, and when someone shits on that inheritance by doing vile things that cause irreparable harm to others, it is a heartbreaking thing.
Justice is dirty work that needs to be done, but it’s important to stay clean, to not always have blood on your hands because you want to smite everything, and it’s important to use discernment about when to help and when to stay out of it.
Because then you too become guilty.