For me, “black”, “white”, and “grey” magick are modern constructs. Ancient Pagans had a different concept of magic. For them, “white” magick was what was sanctioned and brought blessings to their society. In contrast, “black” magick was considered to be that which was subversive and hidden. In today’s modern society, the curse tables of the Greeks and Romans could be considered to be black magic. However, they were considered by the ancients as “grey” magick since they neither brought blessings to everyone nor were subversive to their society.
The modern concepts of black, white, and grey magick are rooted in the monotheistic faiths of the West. The world view shared in these faiths is of a vast spiritual battlefield between good and evil. Because many Pagans were originally raised as Christians, much of Neo-Pagan thought still retains Christian undertones. Therefore, grey magick came to be defined as white magick with elements of black magick.
In researching various definitions of black magick amongst Neo-pagans, I found that a majority focused on “evil” or “darkness”. Included in some of these definitions are discussions of the differences between the Left-Hand Path (such as Satanic) groups and Right-Hand Path (such as the majority of Neo-Pagans) groups. The definitions seek to contrast good and evil by how these Paths view the world.
The definitions ranged from “drawing on malevolent powers for gain without regards to others” (1) to “expecting miracles from humiliations and subjection.” (2) One definition was more neutral – “hoping good will emerge from violations of the laws of nature.” (3) These definitions were rooted in the concept of doing evil versus good.
In contrast, white magick is generally defined by helping the community or seeking a blessing. Personal betterment and the healing of others are also included in the definition of white magick. Grey magick is usually defined in the breach by implying that it is usually for the good of all but may involve some suspect activity.
- “Black Magic”, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_magic.
- Rideau, “White Magic vs Black Magic”, http://fare.tunes.org/liberty/white_black_magic.html,