Magick in its most fundamental form and simplistic definition is Life Force.
That it is an underpinning of life is the reason personal will and conscious intention are the initiating forces of wielding magick. Our desire shapes life, and therefore directs magick.
And yet, if it were entirely that simple, failed spells and unfulfilled wishes would be impossible.
Enter the Rule of Three aka the Three Fold Law or Karmic Law. This circumstance is behind magickal backfires and stalls. Though not in the way you might think.
Like Gravity, Karma is a named natural phenomenon, not a moral or social dictate. External forces or deities do not enact karma in our lives, or even across lifetimes. It is an expression of our own soul’s beliefs about what we deserve to carry and experience.
Beyond “good” and “bad,” karma also balances “powerful” and “powerless.” It is a relational energetic encompassing the entirety of the Yin/Yang dynamic.
It is the moving force that oscillates Light and Shadow.
And like Gravity, it’s nature changes as we shift our perspective and relative position. Internal circumstance altering external circumstances. As above, so below; as within, so without.
This is where many magick practitioners trip.
Some succumb to this law and deem it inescapable, leveraging its effects by doing “good” so only desirable outcomes return to them - while living in fear of negative backlash if their intentions aren’t “pure” enough.
Others go the route of denial and distortion.
Simply denying the existence of Three Fold Law does not absolve you of the experience. You’re in it regardless of whether you consciously correlate the effects or not.
Dismissing its importance by citing Crowley’s mandate “Do as Thou Wilt is the Whole of the Law” doesn’t get the job done either. There is a Mystery contained in this statement. Its second half that is almost never mentioned - “Love is the Law. Love under Will” - holds further depth. Without diving into its full implications this proclamation is easily misappropriated to mean that whatever a person wants is valid regardless of what part of them wants it or why.
“Why” is of paramount import.
Relying on magick to create change which you believe yourself to be incapable of making otherwise, or to hold power over others places you in a state of Split Will as the inherent underlying belief behind these two motivations is in your own powerlessness. Magick shaped from a place of disbelief in personal power is an inherent distrust in magickal power itself creating an irreconcilable paradox within magickal workings.
Whether you enslave yourself to the Karmic Law aiming only to serve others or ignore it in favor of doing exactly whatever “you” want, all the magick performed under Split Will conditions will be heavy, slow, and significantly less potent if it has any of the desired effects at all. Or it will be experienced as karmic backlash, the unconscious part of your will redirecting and warping the energy inward.
These repercussions manifest regardless of the spell’s intention as healing or harmful.
It is helpful here to redefine magickal states based not on the practitioner's ethical alignment (the traditional classifications of White, Black, and Neutral), but rather through the lens of a practitioner’s magickal embodiment and the degree to which Will is unified.
Shadow Magick: 1<1, spells “done to” others or yourself
Light Magick: 1>1, spells “done for” others or yourself
Dark Magick: 1=1, spells done
Often Dark Magick is confused with Shadow Magick, as is the only possible outcome when concepts of magick and morality are oriented around the Light. Shadow is Yin to Yang in the known world, not only in opposition to the Light, but entirely defined by being whatever Light is not. Shadow Magick is performed from the space where everyone is fundamentally powerless. Spells can be cast over others who are weak and unwilling, and you can also be spellbound without your consent. It produces shoddy results, like unleashing the Djinn who grants your wish to the letter, but warps its intention. Light Magick will yield stronger results as it is from a space of claimed personal power, yet it still honors victimhood. This incongruence effectively positions your power as something that can still be removed or overridden under certain circumstances. Your Will is more tightly woven, though it remains Split keeping you in karma’s flow.
Neither Light nor Shadow Magick can exist without the other, meaning that no matter how much “good” is done there will also be corresponding “bad.” In the same way the powerful cannot exist without the powerless. These Magicks are each other upside down and reversed.
Dark is not the opposite of Light. It is Light’s complete Absence.
Dark Magick is the unknown realm in which we seek to operate. It is the state of Will completely Unified within which we are no longer performing magick. We ARE Magick. There is no longer a question of IF we use Magick to accomplish a task, but which type of magick we choose. Questioning power - ours or others’ - is nonexistent.
A true departure from current morality. Which is why this state is so often conflated with Shadow as “evil.”
In the Dark we dance the oxymoron of our own infinite insignificance and infinite importance. Our Choice between existence as Human or God. And what it is to experience living both.
Entering this existence requires extracting ourselves from the snarling embrace of the fabled Black and White Wolves, leaving behind all who we believe ourselves to be within that paradigm, becoming the Void that lies beyond the Karmic turned Yin/Yang.
We do this by alchemizing the Shadows that are formed by belief in powerlessness, which dissolves the wall of Light between our embodiment of visceral self and pure (Dark) Magick force.