Saturday, January 2, 2016

Summary of a Workshop: The Intersection of Magic and Consent

 I gave a workshop (three actually) at the 2015 Heartland Pagan Festival. It was a great experience, and eye-opening in many ways. I formatted my workshops as discussions (yes, all of them), and each of them went in a different direction than I had predicted. But it was wonderful!

I am attempting here to summarize, with a bit of additional commentary, what the discussion ended up being for my workshop: The Intersection of Magic and Consent. Feel free to use the questions posed here for your journaling, or respond to specific questions in the comments below.

I'd like to start by being specific about the purpose of this workshop. I don't believe that the Pagan community has finished the discussion about consent in regards to magic and energy work. I'm not here to say whether some things are right or wrong. I'd much rather talk about the things that should be considered.

There are a few ways in which magic and energy can conflict with a person's consent. I'd like to open the discussion with a question: how many of you have had a situation where someone did a spell or energy work on you or for you, and that made you feel like there was some violation of your body or energy, or that your voice was ignored?

There is one type of energy work that I believe always requires consent. That is any type that requires an invasion of body space. If there is touching involved, does the intent of the magic trump the person's right to not be touched?

I don't think it does, simply because it isn't just an energy work at that point. We see a lot of people in the community who violate body space without asking simply because they are "healers". What ways have you seen this happen? How do you deal with this invasion of body?

Now I'd like to get really deep into this. I want you to think for a moment of a time when you may have done this to someone else. I want you to think about why you felt that it was okay, since I'm assuming you never intended to overstep.

What are your perceptions of this? How does this perspective change how you feel about people who might overstep boundaries with you? How does it change how you might approach them about this?

As a parent, I have (and still do) often use a variety of energy work on my children. I used calming energies on them as infants and toddlers, and I use healing energy on them when they are sick or injured. I do the same with my husband. I don't often specifically ask for their permission in doing this, it is just a part of other care-taking activities, such as holding/hugging, applying creams and medicines, etc.

How does this fall into the magic and consent ideology? Do you have a line about who these things can be done to? Or what types of energy you will use on people?

The most interesting thing about this topic is that it resists being a black&white issue. It is an ethical discussion with many shades and variations. The best way to explore this topic is to discuss the various beliefs and lines-in-the-sand, without being judgmental.

I will leave you with a final word: If someone specifically places a boundary for the use of magic or energy work on them, do not ignore their wishes. Refusing to allow someone energetic-body autonomy is a true violation of consent.

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