… And so can riding your bike, crossing the road, firing a gun at a gun range, swimming in the ocean, and a host of other activities, both high risk and low risk, that thousands of people do daily and never receive so much as a nosebleed.
This is not to mitigate the dangers of witchcraft… except that it kind of is. When I was first starting out as a witch, I saw blog posts and opinion articles that, before so much as saying what witchcraft was, said “DANGER, DANGER!” And this can be somewhat off-putting. I understand the need to warn people about witchcraft before getting involved, but scare tactics are not the way to go about this. It is especially aggravating when the author simply screams a warning without so much as explaining what the danger is, how to avoid it, or how to fix it in the event that you do get yourself into a spot of trouble. This article explores those areas.
The Dangers of Witchcraft
I liken the dangers of witchcraft somewhere between crossing the road and handling a gun. The level of danger is going to depend on your experience, the type of magic you’re doing, and the precautions that you take before proceeding. If you cross the road without looking both ways, you might walk right out in front of a car, or you might make it across safely without any sort of trouble. If you have no experience handling a gun, you might very well hurt yourself (or someone else), but if you know how to use one or have someone experienced assisting you, the dangers are decreased.
I tend to use the analogy of horseback riding to explain getting started with witchcraft. Before you even think about getting on the horse, you need to do a little bit of research. You should know what the terms mean, such as gallop, trot, lead; you should be aware of the dangers and what to do if things start going wrong; you should try to talk to an experienced rider and if possible, get their advice. But you do not need to know the date of all major horse riding competitions, when horseback riding began, prominent riders, or even the different breeds of horses. You can learn those things over time. It’s the same with witchcraft. You’re going to want to know most of the terms associated with witchcraft (waxing, waning, potion, charm, etc); you should look into the dangers (which you’re now doing, congrats!), and if you can, you should talk to an experienced witch and let them give you some advice. You do not need to know when every sabbat or holiday is; you do not need to know the origins of witchcraft; you don’t even need to know every single correspondence or type of magic. You can learn those things as you begin to study and practice the craft.
Now you’re ready to get on the horse: but are you going to take off full gallop? No. You need to learn how to handle the horse and how you react to each other. You must learn to walk before you can trot, trot before you can gallop, and gallop before you can run. Even as you begin to learn the basics, you are going to fall off of that horse. And when you fall off, you’re going to get right back on. When you’re starting with witchcraft, it’s no different: you don’t want to go right into the heaviest forms of magic, because you will not be prepared, and even when you’re just doing simple spells, they might not work. So you try again. You don’t give up.
But witchcraft can KILL you!
Yes, it can. But if you die from witchcraft, it is likely because you ate a toxic herb, dissolved a toxic crystal in your potion or elixir, or set your room on fire because you left a candle burning. Can magic itself kill you? The answer to that will depend on the witch, but in my practice: no, it can’t. At the very least, it is extremely unlikely and would require a significant amount of energy. In my time as a witch, I have never heard of anyone dying or being seriously injured from magic alone. When you get into dealing with spirits, things can be different, but that is an entirely different animal that I do not have much experience dealing with, so I will save it for another witch to explain. With the proper safety precautions, magic is no more physically dangerous than walking down the street.
This isn’t to say that magic cannot still harm you, because it can. Psychological and emotional damage is a big concern and is usually what witches are talking about when they say that magic can be dangerous. This quote from Paul Huson’s, “Mastering Witchcraft”, perfectly sums up why you should take precautions:
“Don’t delude yourself. The minute you set foot on the path of witchcraft, a call rings out in the unseen world announcing the fact of your arrival. And sooner or later you’re going to have to confront the problem of protecting your friends and yourself from the magical bolts that will undoubtably be slung at you by less friendly practitioners.”
Magic is something that takes energy out of you, which means that after a ritual, especially one that is high intensity, you may be left feeling exhausted and drained. Some curses are designed to make you anxious, depressed, paranoid, and overly fearful. If you are already predisposed to these emotions, it can make your situation a lot worse. Unseen energies, both benevolent and malicious, are attracted to the vibrations that you are inputting into the world and pouring into your space, and they can have very real effects on your mental and emotional functioning.
How to Avoid Danger
I am going to address the elephant in the room: you can’t. There is no surefire way to ensure your safety from yourself, other practitioners, or other entities. However, there are things that you can do to reduce your risk.
- Research. Know what you are asking for when you say an incantation. Know the meanings of each herb, crystal, color, and lunar phase of a spell before you perform one. (see: My First Spell for a great example of what can happen if you don’t).
- Pace Yourself. Do not jump straight into high-intensity spells before you are ready. Understand how you react to magic and how magic reacts to you. Be familiar with your energies before performing any spell.
- Take Protective Measures. Scapegoats, wards, and other protective charms can help deflect baneful magic that is directed towards you. Cleansing, grounding, and meditating can help ensure that you are not an easy target for negative energies.
You do not have to follow all of these measures to stay safe. You could do the exact opposite of every suggestion I’ve given and you might never experience a negative side effect from witchcraft, just as you might jump into open water with a hoard of sharks and return perfectly safe. The level of risk you want yourself exposed to is a personal choice.
What to do When Exposed to Danger
If you feel as though witchcraft has caused you a significant amount of harm, you are in no way obligated to continue practicing. There is no contract, and if you find that maybe this path isn’t for you, you can step off of it just as easily as you stepped on. You may also simply wish to take a break from witchcraft, and that is just as valid. You are not any less of a witch for walking away for a week, a month, or even a few years. Your health and safety should always come first.
If you still want to continue practicing, but feel as though you may have been the target of negative energies, look up banishing and protective methods. Get help from a witch with a little more experience, and take this as a lesson in way you should be careful with your craft.
My Final Two-Cents
Witchcraft is a craft. Like painting, cooking, or shooting a bow and arrow, it is going to take time and practice to learn. And you’re going to mess up. Frequently. You’re going to get results you didn’t plan, results you did plan, and no results at all. You might get a few bumps and bruises along the way. This is all part of the learning process, and the amount you put it is going to be the amount you get out. When it comes to the dangers of witchcraft: be prepared, be cautious, but don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.