Friday 26 August 2022

The nature of Grey (neither Black nor White) Magic according to Dion Fortune - and a peril of asking God for 'blessings' etc.

From Applied Magic, by Dion Fortune 

One cannot divide magic into white and black by a clear-cut dividing line; there is what may be described as grey magic, which people embark upon out of ignorance or love of sensation. 

One must therefore recognize the grey variety, of which there is a great deal more in the world than either the white or the black; but we must also say this of it; that while white is white, it is only a question of degree for grey to shade into black. 

There is one acid test which can be applied to every variety of operation— in white magic the operation is always designed and carried out with due regard to cosmic law; any operation which takes no account of cosmic law but goes its own way regardless of what the spiritual principles of the matter may be, can be classified as grey; and any operation which deliberately defies cosmic law can be classified as black. 

Let us make this clear by examples. Some people, finding the mental diet of modem life deficient in spiritual vitamins, turn to the inspiration of the ancient pagan gods. This is not [necessarily] black magic...  It is, in fact, a very useful corrective medicine for the modem mind. It is one, moreover, that we take in constant small doses without knowing it, because so much of art and poetry draws its inspiration from the classics...

On the other hand, indiscriminate dabbling in seances, fortune-telling psychism, and suchlike is classified as grey under our definition, because it takes no account of anything save personal desires, and never asks itself what may be the spiritual quality of what it is doing

No obvious evil being immediately forthcoming, and in fact a plentiful amount of specious piousness being very much in evidence - a form of piousness wherein God is called upon to bless what is being done, but is never asked whether it is according to His will. 

It is taken for granted that what is afoot is a harmless entertainment, or even actively edifying as tending to raise the mind above materialism, thus reinforcing faith; the after-effects are far-reaching and though they may not necessarily involve moral deterioration in persons of naturally wholesome character... they do cause a marked deterioration in the quality of the mind, and especially of the capacity for logic and judgment. 

Any form of promiscuous psychic or supernormal dabbling is definitely undesirable, in my opinion, and unfits the person who indulges in it for serious work.


Comment: The above strike me as wise words, from an often-wise (and always good hearted) esoteric Christian of the early 20th century. 

The principle of 'grey' activity can be applied beyond her theme of formal or ritual 'magic' (which has, anyway, become much less effective and essentially obsolete by now, as a path of Christian living). 

In particular; I was struck by her distinction between the pseudo-spirituality of asking God to bless what one has already-decided to do; in contrast with asking God whether or not it should be done in the first place. 

This could be extended very generally, in terms of prayer. In my experience of intercessory prayers at church, where the congregation is asked to pray for something or another (usually relief of suffering, or cessation of some conflict - typically an item drawn from mass media sources, and interpretations).

Yet the choice of subject often prejudges that such an outcome would (in that particular instance) be in accordance with God's will - when that may well not be the case. 

And - in retrospect - the same also applies to many of my own private prayers. 

Something well worth thinking-about.


Michael Baron said...

This outlines the bedrock reasons I prefer to pray the Lord's Prayer or some of the mantras from Vaishnavism. The only thing one should ask God for is the inner serenity needed to better carry out His will. Asking for Him to sway the world this way or that is unwise. Whenever I'm asked to "pray for someone" in the midst of some suffering or other, since I don't want to reject the request outright, I mindfully recite the Logos syllable AUM for as long as I'm able to focus on it.

Bruce Charlton said...

@MB - If what you desire is what Hinduism offers, then that is almost the opposite of what Christianity offers. I suppose that ultimately it is what lies beneath the words that matters: either you choose what Hinduism seeks after this mortal life, or else resurrection to eternal Heavenly life. You can't have both!

Michael Baron said...

I specify Vaishnavism because Hinduism is too broad a brush to paint with. If by "what Hinduism offers" you mean Moksha, saying this is the opposite of the Christian goal only makes sense if you presume the definition given to that word by the impersonalist Shaiva sects (essentially synonymous with Buddhist Nirvana).

Vaishnavism, by contrast, places critical importance on the person of God (usually stated as the Supreme Personality of Godhead). Moksha, as defined by personalist Vaishnava sects, means going to God and his Wife's supreme abode, Vaikuntha (defined by the ancient sage Ramanuja as the "eternal heavenly realm").

Always think of Me, be devoted to Me, worship Me, and offer obeisance to Me. Doing so, you will certainly come to Me. This is My pledge to you, for you are very dear to Me. Abandon all varieties of dharmas and simply surrender unto Me alone. I shall liberate you from all sinful reactions; do not fear. Bhagavad Gita Chapter 18 Verses 65/66

Cererean said...

As far as relief from suffering is concerned, I do think there's an important distinction between prayers for healing (and relief from demonic oppression/possession) and other kinds of prayers.

Namely, the disciples were specifically given authority over health and demons. This is not an area where Christian's necessarily have to *ask* God to do something, it's already given that it's in accordance with His will. Otherwise He wouldn't have given us the authority to command that these things be done.

Prayers for other things, otoh... we can ask for intercession, but we can't be sure of what God wants in a particular case. Which doesn't mean we can't ask for it -- will not the Father give good gifts to His children? We just can't *expect* them. They may not be what we need at that time, and no good father is going to give his kids a constant diet of sweets. Or even a constant supply of lasagne; overfeeding your kids is not good for them.

william arthurs said...

I have been looking again through the prayers of the Latin Mass -- normative for Western Christianity for a thousand years -- and the repertoire of petition is very limited: (1) that the sacrifice be accepted by God and thus effective (2) that those present, their families, friends etc. may attain unto eternal life (3) "peace in our time", which merely means the possibility of meeting to worship undisturbed by persecution or war. There were no intercessions as we understand that term.

It really puts "... and finally, God, regarding the result of the upcoming election..." into perspective.