by Gunther Hrafngrim
The question of magical ethics is common enough whenever magicians gather. Whether they be Norse rune vitki, spaewoman, witch, or ceremonial magician, ethical practice of our craft is a much debated topic. It is an important issue for those who have the power to change the world in a very real way. There are those who will scoff at this, because of their lack of faith in the efficacy of magic. I can only say to these folk that they have not seen the things I have. Those who have tasted a draught from Mimer's well can never doubt it. There are those who think themselves above ethical considerations. I have heard the expression "I keep my ethics on the shelf, and when I need them, I get them down." To these folk, I may only say that wyrd has a way of trimming one's wings.
The power to change is at the heart of magic. What's more, it is the power to change things that could not otherwise be changed that attracts the best and brightest magicians. We all know that a huge amount of energy is needed to make changes to physical objects by magic. For example, to levitate a feather is beyond the abilities of most technicians. And yet, a simple breath of air is all that is needed to do this physically. The sigh of the youngest infant may perform a task beyond the means of most magicians. It is, however, well within the capabilities of most practitioners to summon an air elemental to perform this task. For many people, this would involve hours or days of intensive effort, to perform the necessary rites and reach the proper frame of mind, but it can be done. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that this is an inefficient process at best. This is what sets the true mage apart, this basic common sense approach to magic. There are things that magic is simply not efficient enough for. There are times when the physical approach is by far the best. There are, however, many times when magic is not only the best thing to use, it is the only thing.
An example of this might be when attempting to defend oneself from the vagaries of life, from unpredictable events one cannot control. Of course, it is wise to have smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, car insurance, eat right and get plenty of exercise, etc., etc.... But how to protect yourself from a chance tornado, a car running a red light, or a stray bullet from the neighbors? You could hide in the basement and hope for no earthquakes, or you could opt for a magical based defense. Such a defense is not 100% effective, but it will swing the odds in your favor. The future is fluid. It may be driven by the patterns of wyrd, but there is flexibility in the system. It is this minor chink in the armor of fate that most magic is directed against.
We have decided, in this example, to provide a magical defense for ourselves. The choice now comes down to a decision concerning whether an active or passive method is best. A host of ideas will spring to mind, but we must confine ourselves to a few specific choices to better delineate the ethical considerations involved.
First, let's look at the passive defenses. One possible approach would be to raise a circle or sphere of energy around yourself. This circle could be scribed with appropriate runes for protection. An Elhaz rune in the six directions should cover a multitude of difficulties, warding off un-holy influences like a magical shield or filter. Another choice would be to make a series of on-lays or astral inscriptions on virtually everything. A good rune for this purpose would be raidho, to insure that everything "takes the right road." The first technique is extremely efficacious, BUT, it requires almost continuous maintenance. The energy drain is considerable, unless one can tie into a natural source such as a pool, rune stone, or large tree. Use caution however, it is possible to drain a living being to death by tapping it too much. The second technique is much "softer," but still quite effective.
The active defenses are a trifle more exciting, but may contain formidable dangers. It is possible to create an artificial thought-form or elemental to provide an active defense. Such a creation is imbued with a charter to protect the home, or the person. The important thing to know here is that not only is it provided with the charter, but the magician must lend it some POWER too. Typical thought forms are mindless robot-like creatures, which take commands as both literal and infinite. If an elemental of this type is given too much freedom (or its charter and powers are not described adequately during the formation process), it may protect you by destroying others. The neighbor who mows a foot too much of your lot line may have a sudden heart attack, lose his job, or have an accident. If the duties, methods of action, powers, and responses can be carefully circumscribed, this type of elemental can be the most effective defense. Note: ALWAYS assign a specific life time to any artificial creation, otherwise, it may achieve true independence and wreak untold havoc.
Another type of active defense is to use the on-lay or inscriptive technique with an active rune such as thurisaz. Thurisaz is a rune energy that clearly demonstrates the old adage that "The best defense is a strong offense." A thurse rune on your car will protect you from being rear-ended, but it may do so by causing a fatal accident a mile down the road. With a powerful vitki, the range of this energy is virtually unlimited. This brings with it grave responsibilities, as well as tremendous power. There are many times (some would argue almost always!), that this type of defense is unnecessary and inappropriate. Why use a cannon when a BB gun will do the job better?
Let's review this information. Some situations require the use of the strongest possible force, while others need only a tiny nudge in the right direction. It is the responsibility of the magician to insure that the appropriate choice is made. Start small, and test your methodology thoroughly. Consider all ramifications of an action, and prepare for every eventuality. The Gods have given us the drive, knowledge, and the power to change the world, we must strive to be ethical and responsible.
The Kindred of Ravenswood
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