Recently, I was re-reading Eliphas Levi's classic Transcendental Magic: Its Doctrine and Ritual, and a passage stuck out to me: "Mistress of love or of hate, occult science can dispense paradise or hell at its pleasure to human hearts; it disposes of all forms and confers beauty or ugliness; with the wand of Circe it changes men into brutes and animals alternately into men." I had written a similar statement in my book Psychic Witch, where I state that, "Magick changes everything it touches and everything it touches changes." It is my firm belief that magick does transform people and their lives, for better or for worse, and that the proper path of magick should be transforming you for the better. This was one of the main themes of Mastering Magick, that magick can transform you in positive ways and is an extremely effective path of self-development and self-growth. This was one of the many reasons why I chose to place a moth on the cover of the book—a symbol of inner and outer transformation.
I firmly believe that witchcraft itself is a spirit in its own right and one that should be engaged with respectfully and responsibly. Through engaging with a witchcraft practice, the Spirit of Witchcraft will eventually test you and your motives. It will also exacerbate the energy you engage with in your own life. While I'm not specifically Wiccan, I find a lot of wisdom and am greatly influenced by it in my own craft, along with other forms of witchcraft and magick. I sometimes have my own experience and spin on concepts that may stray from how they're commonly discussed. One such concept is the ever-controversial "Threefold Law." I don’t personally believe that the magick you cast will return to you three times nor in the exact ways that you have cast your magick. For example: if you were to curse someone with financial ruin, I don't necessarily believe that you'll receive financial ruin back threefold. However, I am an observer of my own life as well as an observer of other witches and magickal practitioners. Engaging in magick will make or break you and usually in unsuspecting ways. Magick often manifests in subtle ways that are unrecognizable if you aren't paying close attention and connecting the dots.
It's not that magick or the Spirit of Witchcraft necessarily has some sort of ethical code that it's enforcing, as if there's a "Big Sky Daddy" looking to punish wrongdoers and award those compliant to his rules and morals. Rather, when you're casting magick, you're sending energy into different layers of reality, where that energy is amplified when being manifested, similar to a snowball being rolled downhill. While I don't personally believe there's an exact science of it coming back three times or in the same manner, there's definitely an increase of the energy you're working with magickally in your life. I've had several people argue with me that cursing or hexing people over petty things (such as hurt feelings, hurt egos, or personal rivalry) has absolutely no consequences in their lives. I strongly disagree, just by observing them. It's just not coming back to them in the ways that they're expecting and they're not connecting the dots between the magick they engage in and what is occurring in their lives. I've lost count of how many times I've seen people with this attitude have their life and themselves shift into chaos and negativity, receive bad luck, be constantly surrounded by drama, and other inner and outer imbalances. I've also seen them slowly become paranoid of other people, other magickal practitioners, and of life in general. If this was a Terry Prachett novel, we would say that they begin "cackling." This is because the witch is never truly separate from the magick that they cast. The interaction with magick is transformative, and in Levi's words confers a metaphorical heaven or hell in the practitioner's life, enhancing either inner beauty or ugliness within a person. As above, so below, as within, so without.
The good news is that magick, when cast with the proper motives, is transformative in the best ways; it brings about empowerment, sovereignty, healing, connection, empathy, and spiritual fulfillment. Most of all, a magickal practice can bring about wholeness, the goal of what we call the Magnum Opus or The Great Work in occultism. These areas are a driving force in my work as a witch and as a witchcraft author, and are highlighted themes in Mastering Magick. The goal of the book isn't to just become more proficient at casting spells and working magick, but of using magick to master yourself and your life through sovereign empowerment.
Some folks never get past empowerment. They recognize that with magick they have the ability to directly influence their life, their environment, and the people in it. Many of the older occultists, theosophists, and metaphysicians of our history warned about the pitfalls, glamours, and traps that then come after this point. The solution to the pitfalls of empowerment is sovereignty—a term beloved by witches. Sovereignty isn't about going through life like some unapologetic tyrant doing whatever you want however you want and whenever you want. Rather, sovereignty is about the right use and relationship with your power and more so about responsibility and self-accountability when it comes to that power. The phrase "heavy is the crown" and the concept of the sword of Damocles applies here. We are responsible for our actions, our lives, and the impact it has on our environment and ourselves, especially when it comes to magick. While we can't always control the challenges that life throws at us, we can control how we react and respond to those challenges when they arise and take responsibility for the influence our reactions and responses to those situations have and how it affects ourselves, our lives, our environment, and others. Sovereignty is the ever-constant reminder that as witches we are active co-authors of our lives instead of mere bystanders.
Magick, especially witchcraft, isn't all white light, rainbows, love, and hugs. It would be beautiful if we lived in a world that was like that, but we don't. As I wrote in the foreword to Kate Freuler's fantastic book Of Blood and Bones, sometimes we have to do magick that may be harmful or less than kind to bring about justice and to stop real threats towards ourselves, our loved ones, our community, and our world. This, too, is a form of being sovereign and taking responsibility. Sometimes sovereigns have to do things that are unkind but necessary for the greater good. The thing is determining whether it truly is justice that your magick is tapping into or whether it serves your ego's fragility. This is what will determine the energy that you're interacting with and calling into your life. Are you amplifying justice with your baneful magick or are you amplifying discord, chaos, and pettiness in your life?
Magick itself is amoral, as is the Spirit of Witchcraft. That is why sovereignty is so crucial to the witch, because it's ourselves we have to be held accountable to in regards to the energy we're weaving into our lives. The Spirit of Witchcraft, similar to the genie in Aladdin's lamp, just tests us with one question—what it is that we wish for (or in this context, which current of magick we want to touch)—and then it manifests and weaves it into our lives. It's not a punishment or reward; we are responsible and accountable for that ourselves. I believe that this is the true reasoning behind the idea of being careful of what we wish for being so strongly embedded in folklore, fairy tales, and mythology. We get what we cast, but it's also the raw current of energy, not just the manifestation of the spell's goal in itself.