Ethical Spells for Others
Dear Witchful Thinking,
I have a dilemma. I’m out as a witch to my friends, and most of them have asked me to do spells for them. Last night, I got two requests. The first came from a friend who’s mom has pneumonia and may have cancer. She’s very worried, and she wanted to know what all she could do, and what I could do. I gave her some practical advice, told her to pray and to get as many people as she could to pray, and I told her that my husband and I would so a healing spell for her mother, if she got her mother’s permission, which she did. Her mother is also in the hospital, so she’s under medical care.
The second request is the one I have the problem with. Another friend had asked me a while back to do a spell to keep her ex from terrorizing her and her son. I told her to first go to the police, tell them what was going on, and get an order of protection. I told her that if she followed through and showed that she was really serious, then I would do a spell of protection for her. She’s in a very sick relationship with this guy, and I really don’t want her blaming me if he ever leaves her for good. Last night, she said she didn’t want me to do a spell of protection anymore. She wants me to do a spell that makes him treat her better. I have some qualms about any spell that “makes” someone do anything. It gets worse though; then as we were doing some other things, she says under her breath, “It’s a sin, you know.” I said, “If you think it’s a sin, why would you want me to do a spell for you in the first place?” Then she said, “Oh, it’s not a sin.” I’ve pretty much made up my mind on the whole business of doing any spells for her, but I don’t know how to tell her without losing a friend. She’s not very bright, so no conversation we’ve ever had has gone smoothly. I have to repeat myself all the time and backtrack on everything to make myself clear to her, and even then, I’m not sure I’m getting through half the time. Anything I did tell her would have to be broken down into its simplest elements. Any advice you give me would be well appreciated.
I really appreciate your high ethical value. It is a sign of competency and strong professional standards that you want to talk through a dilemma. Doctors and counselors do it all the time. The professionalism comes in knowing when to ask questions, not in always knowing the answers–so I applaud you!
In the first situation, I would do the same thing you did. Any time I’m doing a spell, I want to get everyone’s permission, and you absolutely had permission to do a healing spell. Studies show that prayer actually works, and I know from personal experience that magic, spells, lighting a candle, and raising energy do too. By not limiting your healing to magic, you are helping the spell to work even better–that is, getting medical care is what she needs too.
As for your other friend, well…I feel sorry for her. It’s like someone asks for your help, and then yells at you for doing it wrong. She wants spells done for her, but she believes it is a sin? She doesn’t need magic, she needs a priest, in whatever religion she feels most comfortable. Your magic is not going to work on someone who doesn’t want it to work or who thinks it is wrong–and I don’t care how good a spellcaster you are! The deeply held beliefs about sin are difficult to get rid of, even for new converts to Paganism, and if she’s not converting and doesn’t plan to address these ideas, she won’t get out of them with your help.
Sometimes, ethically, we have to just say no.
This will be hard for you–you’re gifted and people come to you for help. But we can’t learn lessons for other people. You know she’s in a bad relationship, and even if you try and help–no matter how wrong it is–if she doesn’t want it, it won’t work. Ask any Alcoholic working on recovery–she must help herself first. Likely, she’ll have to hit rock bottom, or find some deeply rooted boundary where going back to her terrible relationship is no longer an option.
But, can you have some sympathy for her? She’d rather be abused than be alone, and she’s living with some serious fear. In scary situations, adrenalin tells us to fight or fight…and also freeze. Even though she knows the way out is just like you said, calling the police and getting a protection order, etc, she still doesn’t see the way out. The question for you is this: can you honor her inner divinity to believe that she can solve her own problems?
Being blunt with people by being direct and addressing problems head on actually honors the inherent divinity in another. It means you believe that they don’t have to be coddled or protected, but can handle things if they just have enough information. By asking her to go to the police, you have done your ethical duty and are not required to do more. (Unless you are a mandatory reporter such as a teacher or counselor, and then it depends on your state requirements, so find out what you are required to report. For example, in my state, I’m required to report child abuse but not adult or elder abuse, and I’m required to report suicidal or intent to harm another. But in a pastoral counseling capacity, I am not required to report anything under most circumstances–KNOW YOUR RULES!). Anything after that, magically, is like throwing your energy down a bottomless pit, or running into a brick wall.
If you did a spell for her, and it worked, she’ll blame you. If you do a spell for her and it doesn’t work, she’ll blame you. Because she has to learn her own lessons. She has to take responsibility for herself and her child. By asking you to do it for her is a way of being passive and she is not learning a lesson. It sounds like, for you, she’s hard to talk to, so it may take her a little longer to learn what she needs to do. I guarantee you that many many people both more and less intelligent than her have figured out what they needed to do in her exact situation. And it doesn’t matter how many times somebody told them what they needed to do–they must choose their own path. You want her to change and have the tools to make it happen, but she has to want to. She has to use the tools for herself. And frankly, some people are not ready to change. But if we, as helpers, hold others to the highest standard they are capable of meeting, they will eventually meet it, and may even thank you for it.
We can’t always do the spells that other people want. Sometimes it is not ethical or in the client’s best interest. I often won’t because I don’t want to get involved in their drama spiral, or I don’t want to reward bad behavior with attention. Magically, if you feel you must do something, you can always do a spell for general wellness and gentle spiritual growth. I’ll do something relatively passive, like light a healing candle in their name. The magic will go where it is needed. You feel good because you’ve done something, which will return to you three-fold, theoretically, and you won’t lose any sleep thinking you’re tied up in an ethical dilemma with a person you really don’t want much to do with.
As a counselor, if I had a client like the one you are talking about, I would do either one of two things: 1) refer her to another clinician, since she is not getting what she thinks she wants with me and we are making no headway. It is not ethical for me to continue taking money from someone who is not getting anything out of services after a reasonable amount of time, if another clinician might be able to do more. 2) close her file, and give her the option to return when she commits to therapy. The Witch and the Counselor are essentially in the same business, we just use different tools to help clients create change. Closing a client file, or refering out to another does not make you a failure in any way. It proves that you are holding their needs above your own. Not every spell will work for every body, nor every therapist for every client.
And now, I honor you enough to know that, with enough information, you’ll be able to figure out the best course of action for you. If I had a client like that, she’d be pushing all my buttons. Good luck!