Cunningham CoverSo I picked up a copy of Scott Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbalism (link here). I picked it up because I’m interested in herbalism. It’s one of those subjects I want to research, even if the likelihood of actually using it is fairly slim. I just don’t have the room available to me to personally get to use it–at least not right now. But maybe some day down the line I might have some more room to at least have a small little storage of herbs I could use. That would be a nice little dream, to have room to have a small corner of a room at least set aside for my practice and beliefs. Right now though I am just researching for personal interest and no pressing belief that I’m going to practice soon. In any case – Cunningham is, by all accounts, a good starting point for this subject.

So I’m starting reading it.

Then I hit this, “Magical Principles”:

  1. Magic is natural.
  2. Harm none–not even yourself–through its use.
  3. Magic requires effort. You will receive what you put into it.
  4. Magic is not usually instantaneous. Spells require time to be effective.
  5. Magic should not be performed for pay
  6. Magic should never be used in jest or to inflate your ego.
  7. Magic can be worked for your own gain, but only if it harms none.
  8. Magic is a divine act.
  9. Magic can be used for defense but it should never be used for attack.
  10. Magic is knowledge–not only of its way and laws, but also of its effectiveness. Do not believe that magic works–know it!
  11. Magic is love. All magic should be performed out of love. The moment anger or hatred tinges your magic you have crossed the border into a dangerous world, one that will ultimately consume you.

I don’t really agree with a good portion of those. Obviously. I mean, I’ve written before a bit on my views. I don’t mind the comment about magic not being instantaneous–for me, I see it as taking some time (whether in preparation end, or on the end of giving time for results to manifest). And learning magic is a form of knowledge; you have to have knowledge of the parts of magic, and how to make it work–so that comment doesn’t bother me too much either. Except the last part: “do not believe it works; know it”. Because I’m the sort who will go in somewhat skeptical. I don’t see anything wrong with that. It’s fine for me. But this whole introduction section–before he gets into the associations and uses–is just full of this tripe. He keeps going on an on about don’t harm anyonenever attack anyone, etc. etc. And it grates on the nerves pretty severely. Because it’s shaming people who have different views of magic.

Magic for me is not some thing I should have to fret over harm others or not, or only for personal gain, but not at the cost of others; or my favorite–never for attack. If I want to use magic for that purpose, that is my prerogative. If my divination tells me that I’m good to go to use magic to curse the hell out of someone (example being my dad’s ex-wife), then you can bet damned well I’m going to use magic to curse that person. Sure it’s going to cause them harm somehow, but if they deserve it, I don’t much care.

So this whole introduction is grating on me pretty severely. I had to put the book down and walk away before I got into anything else.

After all, I know for a fact I’m going to have issues with the whole masculine/feminine energy association. And I’m going to probably have some grumbles about what planetary or other associations are listed. So I’m taking time to cool down and just look at the book objectively again.