White Magic and Black Magic

Spotlight Falling On Magician Hands
Fabs Grassi / EyeEm / Getty Images

Some people, when speaking of magic, divide its uses into two categories: white magic and black magic. The definition of these terms, however, is highly subjective, varying from location to location, across time periods, and even person to person.

Essentially, white magic is magic that the speaker considers to be acceptable magic, while black magic is that which is unacceptable, and the limits of acceptable and unacceptable are defined by culture.

Today, many speakers consider white magic to be magic that is only beneficial to the caster or others, such as healing and divination. Black magic is magic that is meant to cause harm to another person, what might be called a curse or a hex. The term white magic also sometimes implies spiritual magic.

Those who describe themselves as black magicians are likely to use somewhat different definitions. To them, black magic is what is unacceptable to society at large, although clearly not unacceptable to them. This doesn't necessarily mean it's harmful; there are a wide range of things that might make it unacceptable, including the powers invoked, the methods used, and the outcomes desired.

For those who believe that all magic is evil, there is no such thing as white magic, although they may very well still employ the term black magic or the black arts.

Plenty of magicians avoid using either term because of their subjectivity. For many, magic is simply magic, and there is no need to color code it.

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Beyer, Catherine. "White Magic and Black Magic." Learn Religions, Aug. 27, 2020, learnreligions.com/white-magic-and-black-magic-95829. Beyer, Catherine. (2020, August 27). White Magic and Black Magic. Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/white-magic-and-black-magic-95829 Beyer, Catherine. "White Magic and Black Magic." Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/white-magic-and-black-magic-95829 (accessed May 29, 2023).