Light and Darkness

Light sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Everyone wants to be in the light, everyone wants to feel the light and express it and that’s great. People want to share the light. But it’s not balance. It’s not whole. It’s not complete until you acknowledge, understand, appreciate and can work with shadow as well.
I don’t believe that the most fulfilling spirituality comes from being unwilling or afraid to work with darker energies. By Dark I do not mean Evil. I mean dark aspects where darkness is a balance to light.
One of the teachings that I don’t particularly agree with in Scott Cunningham’s work, though I love the bulk of it in general, is his aversion to calling upon dark gods and goddesses. He believes that they should be avoided altogether. For some, that is best and I won’t hold it against anyone for choosing to do so. It is for each to determine his or her own level of comfort and understanding.

I believe for beginners, just starting out on understanding this path, that is the safest course of action. However, as study and knowledge increases, it is expected that our level of understanding should grow as well. Time is not an absolute indicator of spiritual maturity and for some it may take many years to understand the dark aspects and their importance. It is an individual’s choice and best based on their experiences.

Witches should not fear these aspects. Why would we claim that death is a natural part of life, and then be afraid or unwilling to work with the energies of Hades or Persephone or any other chosen Underworld deity?

In the Witch mindset, dark does not equate to evil.

Evil is the intention to do malicious harm. The energy of death, decay, old age, night, winter, and pain is dark… but it is not evil.

It is unpleasant… but it is balance.

It is natural.

There is an old saying that if a Witch can’t curse, she can’t cure. There is truth to that. It is one of the mysteries of our path. The secret is in understanding that magic is magic. It is our focus that sends it in one direction (cursing) or the other (curing). There is choice involved. It is a choice to make as to which way we will walk the path. There is no real white, black, or gray to it. (Excepting various specific traditions that organize their teachings in this way. I am not speaking about that, rather just the popular concept of white = good and black = bad.)

Fire is not good or evil. It is natural. It is our application of fire that bends it to our will or need and causes a good or bad outcome. We may choose to set fire to a building like a museum, burning countless irreplaceable treasures and destroying what can never be created again. Or… We can use fire to keep warm in the cold, prevent hypothermia, cook our food, give light, and survive.

Earth is not good or evil. It is natural. We can pick up a stone and destroy a window or pick up a heavier stone and hit another person or an animal and cause injury to them. Or… we can put stones together and build a shelter.

This example can be applied to many different things: water, sunlight, air, weapons, tools, etc.

It is not the element or the magic that is good or evil. Magic is neutral. What we do with it determines if it is good or evil.

In Witchcraft, our energies and even our deities, are neither good nor evil. They are both, because nature is both. Nature is loving and giving. It is dark and forbidding and cruel. To truly understand and claim this power, you have to realize what this means and accept it in the deepest level of your being.

We do not have All-Good or All-Evil deities in Witchcraft because we understand the divine dichotomy of balance. This is why the monotheistic concept of Satan does not exist in our religion. We do not have a balance between a god and a devil, because the good and the bad are both present IN our perception of the Divine.

Just as a path shouldn’t focus on the light side of things entirely, neither should it focus solely on the dark aspects. It works like this: Walking around in total light or total darkness blinds you either way. In order to see and function, you need some measure of both. If you’re operating totally in one realm or the other, you are out of balance. You are essentially blind.

So why is it that in the beginning, it’s typically taught that there is only the light half of things?

It’s because delving into shadow, especially the shadow side of oneself is difficult. It’s hard enough dealing with shadow when you’re used to living a Witch lifestyle. But when you’re just beginning it can be overwhelming.

When you begin to actually incorporate the philosophy and religion, the practices and beliefs into your everyday existence to where you know there is no separation between what you do and who you are, then you might begin to experience the understanding of what it means to walk in shadow as well as light.

There are power and energy in both. It is just different. Neither light or darkness is stronger so don’t kid yourself into this belief. They are exactly equal. They just feel differently and operate differently but by being a ‘light worker’ instead of being a ‘dark witch’ or vice versa, you are no more powerful than what you perceive your antithesis to be. Do not forsake either for the other, but live with and love both equally. To do otherwise is to limit yourself and your understanding.



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