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Some musings ...

Distinctions of light and dark are artificial constructs. We import them from dualistic religions like Christianity, for whom questions of absolute "morality" are central.

Is nature moral? Is nature concerned with doing the "right" thing? Or is nature concerned with doing what is necessary - what ensures survival. We don't ascribe moral choices to the predator who brings down a young animal to feed itself, or its own offspring.

There is a school of thought that says humans, because they are blessed/cursed with intellect and self-awareness, must be "more moral" than animals. Translated, this means that humans must set themselves outside of the dynamic balances of the universe, and appoint themselves arbiters of right and wrong. So we start by instituting laws to regulate behaviour according to various "moral" stances, and we end by punishing all those who step outside these regulations. Thus we find ourselves in a wholly artificial set of inconsistent life-instructions.

We applaud a woman who killed a man trying to rape her - yet we would jail that same woman if she deliberately murdered her abusive spouse while he slept.

We jail the man who steals to support his family - yet we admire the man whose theft occurs within the bounds of a business transaction.

We teach a child to fight "to defend himmself" against bullying - yet we punish that child if, in the course of events, he decides to pre-emptively strike against the same bully.

We expel a student for cheating on an exam, but not for making another student's life a misery.

We bombard a civilian population with missiles and mortars, killing thousands in the name of an abstract principle of "freedom" that really means, "what we think is the way you should live".

We shake our heads and tut-tut over the "oppression" of a woman wearing a hijab, yet in the most "liberated" countries in the world we perpetuate all manner of invisible barriers to women with bare heads.

We condemn one religion for its exaltation of martyrs from the pulpits of another religion founded on the willingness of its adherents to die for their faith.

We enshrine ideas of "truth" and "justice", while building ever-stronger edifices of lies.

And this we call "law" ... "morality" ... "right" and "wrong". We congratulate ourselves that we have risen above the jungle, embraced a superior state of existence. We study the universe with "scientific curiosity", safe in our knowledge that we are better.

And around us a volcano erupts, killing millions of animals and insects. A star explodes into a supernova, ripping apart the fabrice of space-time and causing destruction on a scale we can only imagine. A lion takes over a pride and kills all the cubs in order to make the lionesses ovulate again, thus perpetuating its own gene-line.

Where is the morality? Where is right and wrong? When abstracts are gone, what is left?

Do I mean that the end justifies the means? Partly. Does a lion stop to think about the morality of killing other cubs? No - he acts in a manner to ensure his own line's survival.

But there is a limit. Not something imposed by us in the name of morality, but simple survival. If the lion slaughters the lionesses, its line dies. If the locusts eat their entire food supply, they die. There is a balance at work - not a static, imposed balance, but a constantly-shifting, compensating adjustment.

This is the work of Temperance.

And our intellect, our self-awareness, is wasted on constructing artificial notions of right and wrong. Like it or not, we will be balanced.

So what is the work of the magickian, the witch, then? To study the balance ... to become attuned to imbalances within the self ... to see the illusions of morality for what they are ... and to learn to do what is necessary.

Necessary not only for the self, but for everything and everyone around us. This has nothing to do with white-light ideas of "walking lightly on the earth", or Satanic ideas of "take whatever you want and predate upon the world" - these, too, are constructs of morality.

Know that what we do has consequences. When we set ourselves above the balance, or imagine that we can stay on one side of the scale, we become helpless. We are at the mercy of forces we refuse to acknowledge, or believe we can thwart.

The darkness within us needs to be accepted ... and so does the light. This is the true meaning of shadow ... without both darkness and light, creation and destruction, we cannot exist.

We are the shadow ... we are what is created when darkness and light come together.



( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 30th, 2005 06:00 am (UTC)
Excellent entry, you have articulated something I have been musing on for some time now. I often wonder when we are accepting that every action has a consequence, how far do we take the effect of our action. To the first degree or to the 145th degree? Say I do something that I can accept as ok and I go do it, obviously the ripple effect occurs. Do I worry about the 145th ripple or only the ones closest to me? How far do we let ourselves go with thinking about consequences?
Nov. 30th, 2005 10:56 am (UTC)
i think it's a worthwhile exercise to sometimes think as far along the chain/web of consequences as you can, 'til your brain hurts with the effort of keeping all that complexity in it. it brings on an amazing double point of view, of being immensely powerful (and often immensely guilty) because of the causal chain of effect you can set in motion, but also intense humility, because of what a tiny little part your actions play in bringing about even the results of your direct actions, much less indirect ones. (of course, i doubt anyone could live thinking like that all the time. your brain would explode.)

as a (probably unachievable) ethical aspiration, i reckon responsibility goes as far as your power reaches. more power = more responsibility. not because anything demands it as being more ethical, but just because it's closer to what's real. there's no logical reason why you are not responsible for something 'cos it's once (or 100) times removed in the causal chain. the hand that signed the paper and all that...

but i don't think anyone can think like that all the time. you'd never get anything done. hence abstract virtues and good intentions, which, as we all know, pave the road to hell...
Nov. 30th, 2005 10:55 am (UTC)
you really are one smart cookie, aren't you? there's not a trace of sarcasm in that, either. i mean it. i was going to respond here, but it's turned into a complete tretise on it's own, so i'll post it in my own journal when i'm finished. remind me to sit down discuss metaphysics with you over red wine one night...
Jan. 2nd, 2006 01:51 pm (UTC)
Interesting are the concepts about Balance, temperance and morality!
Thank you for sharing.
Jan. 2nd, 2006 01:54 pm (UTC)
Is this merely relative of "cause and effect", or a socratic dialog?
In Honor!
Jan. 6th, 2006 04:39 pm (UTC)
Was linked to this from elsewhere
As of now, my ideals (ideals mind you, not rules of life) lay in doing what is best for me and what makes me happy. It all begins with me (aka the self). But ofcourse things outside effect me and I have to deal with that as well (example: how I treat my friends and others around me). The two sides for me, as I tend to refer to them, are stupid actions VS ones that probably will have a good rather than negative effect on my health and happiness.

So we come to my choice of ideals as they relate to, say, stealing from others. Not that I've done that since I was a kid. But the ideal within that would be getting away with it and stealing from someone I care nothing about. And another example, when it comes to how I treat friends, I have to weigh how they would like to be treated against the amount I value them.

Is this what you mean when you say balance?
Jan. 6th, 2006 04:43 pm (UTC)
Re: Was linked to this from elsewhere
See, I'm wondering if you're saying that one should care how they effect strangers.
Jan. 6th, 2006 04:48 pm (UTC)
Re: Was linked to this from elsewhere
Also, I support the law. For example: Someone steals from me and they are punished by the law. This discourages them from stealing from me again. But then if I can avoid the law's consequences when I want to steal from someone then it's good for me. The law doesn't seem perfect and if it did I wouldn't have the skills to beat it (I do not have the skills to do that even now but that would be a flaw of mine if I were inclined to steal).

So basically, the world is at each other's throats when it comes to my world view (I like to refer to it as reality). But that's ok with me. I'm not immortal after all. Because there would only be so much of that I could take. Luckily, my life span seems to support this.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )