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.