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“Clean up your own mess” – Practical Magic

Ok, I love the movie Practical Magic, and the sassy dialogue, but this statement, “Clean up your own mess.” is actually a very important part of working magic – on both a spiritual and mundane level. Whether you agree with me and like this movie or not, there are two very, very important lessons that you can take away from it. The first is take responsibility for the situations that you create, through action or inaction, and deal with the consequences of your actions (or lack thereof).

In the movie, the aunts [Bridget (Jet) and Frances (Frannie)], deliver this very important lesson of responsibility (“Clean up your own mess”) via Antonia (Sally’s daughter). They have left unexpectedly, after making sure that the youngest girls have some protection, to make sure that the lesson becomes clear. They don’t leave forever. In fact, they come back and are pivotal in the resolution. They act like experienced elders, like gods and goddesses, like mentors that say, “I’m done holding your hand. You did this. Now, fix it.”

If you are going to mess with magic, sometimes it’s going to mess back. You need to be able to handle yourself, your life, and your energy when spells backfire, or things don’t work out the way you want, or didn’t anticipate. If you are unwilling to, or can’t, then you shouldn’t be messing with that magic to start with. You need to learn to handle your magical responsibilities and clean up after yourself, like the adult you should be.

You can’t practice witchcraft when you look down your nose at it.” – Aunt Jet

This leads me to another, but connected, lesson… Respect yourself. Respect your craft. You are choosing to practice magic. You are choosing to influence the world around you. So, if and when the consequences of those choices inevitably come around and bite you on the butt, pull up your big girl (or boy) panties, and recognize that you probably deserved it. Then, do better.

Witchcraft is not a ‘get out of jail free’ road to the fairy tale life of riches and glamour with no responsibilities. In fact, taking responsibility for your own shit is an excellent way to start practicing magic. Like the maxim inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, “Know Thyself.” That is some powerful magic. If you are not honest about who and what you are, how can you truly know what you want or need? How can you direct your energy and magic toward a different reality if you don’t know where you are now?

If you don’t take the magic seriously, why should it do so for you?

When, Why …If – Ethics in Witchcraft

There actually aren’t many resources about ethics in Witchcraft, which I think is a shame. I am not in any way advocating that I am an expert in what is ethical, or what other people should believe. I am advocating that everyone take the time to examine their own beliefs and decide for themselves what they believe is an ethical practice.

What do you believe? Why do you believe it? What are your boundaries, limits?

When, Why …If by Robin Wood is an awesome resource, if a little old, published in 1996. But, hey, I’m old, too, and there aren’t many books written on the subject. The other issue is that the book is Wicca based, so, if that is not your path, you might feel a little left out in left field. However, if you can take the time to give it a read, and work through it, I think it’s worth it.

Decide what you believe, and why you believe it. Decide what lines you are willing to cross and which you are not. How do you choose to practice your craft responsibly and deal with the consequences thereof? Learn to respect your craft, and to clean up your own mess. The universe will appreciate it, and in the long run, so will you.

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