john coughlin

The Metaphysics of Ethics

I'm reading Ethics and the Craft by John Coughlin. It's a good read and its gotten me thinking about the metaphysics of ethics, or if you will, how ethics are enforced. Consider for example the idea that if you do something you'll get back three times what you put out. So if you do harm to someone, you'll get 3x the harm back on you and if you do good you'll get 3x the good visited on you. I've never subscribed to this particular law, but as Coughlin notes, there are people who believe it to be a literal reality, while there are others who teach it, but relate it to three degrees that are part of Wicca. I understand the latter interpretation, but the former interpretation strikes me as unrealistic. Nonetheless I could also see how it could be a reality for the people who believe in it.

So why it is a reality for those people (and no one else)? It's a reality because they believe in it, and because they will subjectively find proof to support the belief  that they will get 3x the benefit or harm, they put out. This is especially true when it comes to harm, and the reason for that is that typically harm is emphasized, in order to discourage people from doing magic for harmful purposes. That emphasis consequently encourages a fixation on the experience of 3x harms moreso than 3x the benefit.

Belief is a powerful tool in magic, but it is double edged, and the beliefs we hold can sometimes cut us, precisely because we believe them and give them power to effect our lives. This is why it is important to examine our ethics (whatever they are) carefully to really determine how those ethics impact us.

I'll admit that I am not the most ethical magician out there. I think one of the reasons I am more "ethical" in my life these days boils down to doing the internal work and working through the dysfunctional beliefs I've held that contributed to the chaos in my life. Doing that work has helped me realize how much the rules we hold ourselves to can be helpful or harmful depending on what we believe. Perhaps this is why I base my ethical decisions on situations as opposed to an overall code for living life. I look at every situation and evaluate how I will respond based on the situation and the contexts and variables effecting the situation. That makes me ethically flexible, which some people would frown upon, but I'm satisfied with that flexibility, and it allows me to factor in my beliefs in, in a way that causes me to examine how those beliefs will impact me.

Esoteric Book Convention day 2 and pictures

I've been meaning to post this all week, and finally got to it today. I did go to a presentation on Sunday: Brandy William's talk on Chaldean Oracles. It was a really interesting talk and gave me quite a bit of appreciation for Brandy's ability as speaker and presenter.

Brandy at her talk

The lighting on that picture isn't great, but there she is, just about ready to do her talk. The rest of the day was spent talking to various people and selling books. What stood out to me about this convention was the intimacy of it. There was a nice crowd of people, and everyone was there to look at (and buy) books, as well as go to the presentations. I got into some wonderful conversations throughout the entire convention.

John and NicoleHere's a picture of John Coughlin, with his wife Nicole. I met John years ago at Winterstar, but only finally saw him again in person at this event. Needless to say the opportunity to connect with him again and talk at length was really something I appreciated. John's sense of humor, in particular, is something I've always liked and he was just as funny this time as the last time I saw him. He also was a co-panelist with us about small press publishing.

John and LupaHere's another picture with Erynn and Bill:

Erynn and BillAnd another picture with Brandy and Phil in his furry Fez

Brandy and Phil

The organizers of this event did a wonderful job. William Kiesel, Michael Kolsun, Catmara Rosarium, and Josh Madara put a lot of effort into this conference as did all the volunteers. The volunteers did a great job of making people feel welcome and the organizers put a really good program together for a first convention. Here's a picture of the four above mentioned people:

William, Cat, Michael, and Josh

Finally here's a picture of Lupa and I at our table of books. We definitely left with a lot less books, which made both her and I happy, and from the look on various faces, made other people happy as well. I definitely look forward to going back next year.

Lupa and Taylor