In Ethics and the Craft, the author argued that "Magic and Spells are a small aspect of modern Pagan spirituality and not a necessary practice" I've seen the rise of this kind perspective for a while now and it always concerns me, because in a way I think it caters to the fear that if we talk about magic then we won't be taken seriously or worse yet we'll be demonized with the stereotypes associated with the practice of magic.
I don't think of magic as an optional or small part of modern pagan spirituality. Magic is at the core of pagan spirituality and defines what pagan spirituality. To describe it as not necessary is to turn our backs on essential practices that are used to connect with the very spiritual forces that a pagan works with. Magic is necessary because it provides the practices we use to connect with the spiritual forces we work with. If we discard magic or say its optional what we are really giving away is our spirituality and replacing it with empty formulaic activities.
When you look at magical processes, you see certain practices that are universal. For example, invoking deities is a universal practice regardless of what pagan path you happen to belong to. Invocation is considered a magical technique. If you argue that magic is optional, then why do invocations? Yet pagans do invocations and its because they are an essential part of their spiritual practice. You can't take magic out of Pagan spirituality...or at least you shouldn't.
I recognize that there are pagans who don't practice magic. I realize that magic isn't considered to be an essential practice by some people, but I think discarding magic or trivializing it isn't a good idea. What are we giving away in terms of our spiritual practices when we marginalize our spiritual practices as optional?
Book Review: Ethics and the Craft by John Coughlin
I am not a Wiccan and this is a book about Wiccan Ethics. With that Caveat made, I found this book to be an excellent exploration of Wiccan ethics, both in terms of the history of said ethics and the exploration of those how ethics are applied to one's life. I also like that the author explored ethics in relationship to one's magical practice. I highly recommend this book as a useful guide to understanding Wicca and its ethics, and even as a book that may be interesting to someone who is not Wiccan but practices magic and wants to learn about various ethical systems. While I did disagree with the author on a couple points, I found that all of his arguments were well put together.