Many of us dislike using the term “forgiveness” because it has been weaponized by passive-aggressive Christianity. But yesterday I found myself talking about it when I received two more ill-advised requests for curses on non-compliant husbands.
First, I want to mention the value of divination in magical work. When someone comes to me for help in some kind of relationship, I don’t judge whether the other person is or isn’t acting right. I merely do a reading and the cards tell me whether sorcery is justified or not. It’s not up to me to decide, according to my own set of subjective values, whether someone deserves to be cursed, dominated, influenced, or crossed up.
In my own life I also take this approach, no matter how angry I happen to be at someone. In fact, I perform a divination before any magical work. It helps me fine-tune what I do. And it gives me insight into the sides of a situation I might not have noticed. I think this is a good habit to cultivate, especially for beginners who worry about “karmic return” or “blowback.” If you do a reading and ask your higher self (your HGA / that part of you that is Divinity / your patron deity) to tell you what you need to know about the situation, you are responsible for that knowledge. You are also free to act on it.
I personally like the poetic Golden Dawn tarot invocation: In the divine name IAO, I invoke Thee thou Great Angel HRU who art set over the operations of this Secret Wisdom. Lay thine hand invisibly on these consecrated cards of art, that thereby I may obtain true knowledge of hidden things, to the glory of the ineffable Name. Amen. The Angel HRU (pronounced hey-roo) is a very powerful companion during a tarot reading. Experiment with this and see how it feels.
That said, if you don’t know how to do a proper divination—one that will give you clarity on an issue—you shouldn’t be mucking about with magic yet. You should be learning how to cast circles, grounding, centering, banishing, and working on proficiency with the Runes or the tarot or the pendulum, etc. You should also be meditating. Those are the basics and if you don’t have them, you do risk messing yourself up with magic.
If you do these things regularly and you feel comfortable with divination, very good! But you still might not be ready for spell-work if the vast majority of workings you feel like doing involve curses, hexes, crossings, and domination. I’m not trying to moralize and certainly your choices are your own. But let’s talk about forgiveness for a moment.
Let’s pretend you’re an all-powerful deity. You have the power to make anything happen, bring anything into being, or erase anything from existence. Would you rather create more suffering or heal the world? If you see someone behaving like an asshole, wouldn’t it be better to change this person into a non-asshole than to vaporize her completely or torture her in revenge for her behavior? Remember, you’re all-powerful; you can do anything. Would you be a god of torment, murder, and darkness or a god of peace, enlightenment, and love?
Many beginning magical people, especially beginning witches, secretly want to be the dark god of torment because that seems more powerful. They feel so powerless that power is the only factor in their decisions—how to get some and how to avoid losing the tiny bit they have. This means they are fundamentally weak human beings, weak of character and metaphysically weak as well. They feel like they can’t afford to practice forgiveness or love.
On the other hand, someone who is genuinely strong is also generous. This person would become the god of enlightenment and love. Why? Because they’re not thinking like a scared animal. They have enough to spare, truly enough that they can offer some to others and not worry about it. They can do this and still keep their enemies at bay. They can practice forgiveness because they’re not obsessed with someone perceiving them as weak or taking advantage of their kindness. This is true nobility and it is actually very rare, especially among beginning magical people who often turn to the occult because they feel they have no other options in their lives.
This is why I recommend divination. Even if someone has a small petty nature, if they work with divination—especially before doing magic—they will be safe. They will not make their lives more of a mess. In the depths of fear and hatred, it can be hard to act confident. Animal nature takes over. We are dominated by scarcity thinking and defensive reactions.
That is precisely when we should be using a technique like tarot reading or Rune casting to check in with our higher selves, with the highest good. And we may find, after our sight clears, that we are even capable of being that god of love and enlightenment. We might realize that the healing power of forgiveness does not make us weak. Rather, it makes everyone stronger and better than they were. And that is not a bad thing at all.