Do you use a phrase like 'such that it harms none/in my highest and best interest/if it be of your Will' in your work? Title. - The Witches Table
 
_I was recently asked this question over on twitter and I knew straight away that the answer was going to be a blog post and certainly couldn't be limited by 140 characters. 

I wasn't quite expecting how passionately I would feel about such an innocent question, which has been a interesting journey in itself.  This might even get a bit controversial!

The quick response to the question is "no I don't" and frankly the words seem like a bit of a cop out.  It isn't that I don't want to "harm none" or fail to work only for the "highest and best interest" but I think these caveats and qualifications lead to a certain kind of moral and magickal laziness (there I said it, judgmental warts and all).

If I do a piece of magic then I should have considered well in advance whether it harms any or serves a selfish and damaging desire rather than something in my highest interest.  This moral/psychological preparation requires a lot of work, hard work where you have to be brutally honest about your motives, desires and where you must really think through the consequences of your actions, possibly even question your values and whether you really live up to them.  Once this sort of "hygiene audit" has been done I have the confidence of knowing that there is nothing within me which will lead to an unwanted result.

There are four scenarios behind using the above words, two of which I disapprove of, two of which could be useful.

Firstly, you haven't don't any sort of moral audit or mental
preparation prior to doing your magick then you can't make the
Universe your safety net by making one of the above statements.  That abdication of personal responsibility is not cool and often cited as a reason for Pagans leaving mainstream religion. If I actually want to cause harm or revenge is deep in my heart this will be expressed in my magic regardless of what I *say*.

Secondly I have done all my soul searching and moral preparation and yet still feel the need to have a safety net.  By doing all the hard
work and *still* whacking a caveat on your magick you are putting a
big sign up to the universe that you are not confident, perhaps even
that you don't really believe you are capable of assessing a situation
and choosing the right course of action.  That should be a big signpost that you need to work on your confidence and self belief because if you do harbour secret doubts about your magick then they will probably come out somehow - probably not by causing harm but these insecurities will undermine your magick.

Thirdly, there may be a situation where you have done all your soul
searching, are completely confident and don't need a safety net and
you may choose to use these words anyway to announce to the Universe that you have done your homework and are confident you are causing harm to none.  I can see how giving voice to the preparation you have done could be a powerful magickal tool - but easily confused with scenario two.

Lastly, I can see an argument for using a form of these words in group magick, just because you are working with a group of individuals who will likely be at different stages in their personal development etc. and in this case it works well to bond the group and remind everyone that you are doing this for some sort of highest good.  Using it as one of the many tools to align a group of disparate individuals to a single focussed magickal working is a very different proposition to the above.

Successful and responsible magick is a discipline, it requires a lot
of personal work and confidence.  I am a Witch, I work magic according to my will (possibly even my Will).

I don’t hedge my bets.

What do you think about making these statements in your own workings?
12/11/2011 17:53:46

in a word - no.

I suspect it is my chaos background coming through - when I do magical work, I visualise all of the paths that it could go down and then 'close' them off in some way.

The other thing is I don't really agree with 'an it harm none, do what you will', it seems a bit wishy washy to me, although I have to say I do use it when I am trying to explain Paganism to people, mainly to reassure them.

Again, I think this is partly becuase of my time as a Thelemite, I do think of it more of 'do what thou will shall be the whole of the law'. The trick of course being the 'will' is a highly tricky conecpt. And something I am continually working on.

Of course, everything is coupled with Wheaton's Law of 'don't be a dick'. It's quite a simple law to live by and can influence many things in your life if you choose to live by it

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12/12/2011 13:26:52

Ha - I knew you'd say that and naturally I agree with you but you get many many extra points for referring to Wheaton's Law!

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Brightburningtyger
12/13/2011 17:15:23

The trouble with "harming none" is that it assumes everyone's definition of harm is the same. It's the Pagan version of the Christian perspective of taking the most compassionate course of action, both get a mauling when situation ethics are applied. I dislike the terminology because it smacks to me of the kind of dualism implicit in the White/Black Magick nonsense - "I'm a fluffy White witch harming none"

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Amalthea
12/14/2011 16:17:52

In Universal Law, everything is energy and therefore the "intention" i.e. the personal energy behind the magickal working - will
manifest, regardless of the words actually spoken. So the the words spoken combined with the intention behind them, is truly powerful energetically. I think that most of us underestimate the power of words, even in everyday life!
Therefore, I agree with Antara that if our heart's intention is true harm-lessness, then this will transmit energetically and we don't necessarily need to say it.

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8/8/2012 10:11:04

Appreciate your info

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