Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Love Philtres: A Few Questions

The recent discourse on Mastering Witchcraft by Paul Huson has generated some negative opinions expressed by individuals such as Robert over at the Doing Magick blog. Rather than systematically assault his characterization and treatment of magick*, I instead have a series of questions which may or may not help establish the use of Love Philtres in a positive manner in a context which avoids dualistic assumptions about Power and its characteristics:

- If I have a willing partner, could I not include a love philtre (and preferably, one from my partner for myself as well) to help stimulate a more romantic or passionate evening? Indeed: don't Neo-pagans perform similar processes all the time with Kitchen Witchery?
- If the above can be done, is it not possible to use such techniques to spark and help instigate (not to mention keep going) "the magic" of relationships that so many adults with lengthy relationships regard as having gone out?
- Is this not an expression of a type of magical power (over situations, and transitory moments)? Is this not an expression of magical precision in an area of life many Americans profess to feel is lacking for them?

I can seriously go on from there into infinity, examining similar uses of things like spagyric philtres, fluid condensers with specific enchanted functions (such as those involving love, romance, passion, etc.) and so forth.

So long as we only look for the negative functions of a specific technique, it seems to me, then the only context for that technique will be negative. If we can find a positive function, and similar processes in other fields, we can more effectively employ our magical resources towards those things which are useful. While a specific technique can probably be used to inflict harm, this does not necessarily mean that is the primary function, or the only function.

*No offense to Robert, but his definition of magick sounds more like Theurgical mysticism to me. And while I fully appreciate the places where the lines between magick and mysticism blur, I do not think presenting such a definition captures of the holistic processes that are engaged in across the world. Spiritual mysticism may well further an individual, but a definition of magick that does not include self-positive reference points for thaumaturgical (and similar practices found world-wide) potential is not worthwhile to me in the least.


Robert said...

No offense taken. You and I have different approaches. I respect yours. Though, I have never really understood your negative view of using magick as I do.

As for the rest of your comments, they are spot on. However, I really don't recall them being portrayed in that fashion in the book.

Robert said...

Oh, you were the first person I ever shared that definition of magick with via a Facebook conversation. You were quite complimentary at the time. Also, I took care to point out that is how I define MY magick, not yours or anyone else's. Where I to define magick as a whole, I would make a much broader statement.

Jack Faust said...

Robert: Fair enough. I do appreciate the definition for capturing the beauty of theurgical Magick. My criticisms are toward treating it as the end-all-be-all. There are plenty of rituals and magical processes which are neither theurgical, nor cause the unfolding of the soul but that are nonetheless magical. We also must be careful about generally elevating one category above another. If you did not mean to do that, then I was off in understanding what you were saying.

As for Philtres in Mastering Witchcraft: you are correct, Huson does not discuss the possibilities I have brought up. Nonetheless, this is still a case of function versus presentation. Simply because the author has presented material in a specific context does not mean that the technique can only be used in that context. I find more value in the techniques and their functions and possibiliites than I do in Huson's presentation of them. Adult magicians can read material, figure out what a ritual or technique is doing, figure out a positive or negative way to use it, without needing a long lecture on morality. The moral imperative has always been a personal matter for the given magician.

Ananael Qaa said...

As I see it there's absolutely nothing unethical about using a love-philtre with a willing partner. It all boils down to consent, which isn't present if you're secretly slipping one into somebody's drink.

It's not the technology that I take issue with, it's this particular application. So I don't see it as a problem that the material was published - information wants to be free, after all, and the more techniques that are out there the better.

At the same time, I can't say that I personally would have much respect for anyone who advocates using this method on unwilling individuals, and I would never do so myself.

Jack Faust said...

@Ananael: It's honestly been my experience that people who use covert, coercive love magick... Don't brag about it very much.

Scylla said...

There's a similar line of talk going on on the about.com pagan/wiccan forums. Essentially, what is the line between positive love magick, and magickal rape.

There are... er... differing opinions to say the least.

For me, yes... any technique which can be destructive can be constructive if applied with wisdom and care. So, too, can any constructive work be used for destructive ends when applied with the same.

Fiancee and I stated that if we were still together "A year and a day" after a certain date, we'd get engaged. That was not just an idle promise, but a Working. I intend to propose doing another Working once we're in our home to keep our family unit together, and peaceable, opening ways of understanding and keeping the flame burning, so to speak. Nothing wrong with that.

Deborah Castellano said...

Honestly, my opinion on non consensual love magic varies on the day. For me personally though I don't ever want to need anyone like that. If I need to slip something in your drink to stay with me . . .I don't want to ever need you like that.

If someone's paying me to do that kind of work for them? I . . .don't know honestly. It hasn't come up yet. I have a feeling it's going to be a v. subjective matter. Burn that bridge when I get to it!

Ananael Qaa said...

@Jack: Well, there is that. Which is probably at least in part because my negative reaction to somebody who uses such magick and especially the sort of person who would brag about it is not all that unusual.

Harold Roth said...

My sense from Robert's remarks was that he had not read that section of the book. Otherwise, I doubt he would have said that making a tincture of seven coriander seeds and putting a few drops of said tincture in someone's food for the sake of making them fall in love with you is equivalent to putting Rohypnol in someone's drink for the sake of raping their ass when they are out cold. Not in any way equivalent. Not morally or in any other way. Why? Because a baseball bat to the head will trump a magical protection spell every single time, that's why. Because we live not in a magical world but a material world. Yes, magic does work--often. But Rohypnol will ALWAYS work. ALWAYS. It is NOT dependent upon the signs of the zodiac, the moon phase, the operator's skill, or the "victim's" magical protection. It works because it is material and we are made of matter and live in a material world. It is not a question of degree, either. Wanting to rape an unconscious woman has nothing whatsoever in common with putting a harmless tincture in someone's food to make someone (the gender is not specified in the book, btw) fall in love with you. It is like saying that pistol-whipping someone during a mugging is the same thing as using magic to get your boss to give you a raise. In my world, these are very different things and have very different moral backgrounds.