Attitudes Towards Potential Harmful Magical Practices in Contemporary Paganism - A Survey


  • Bethan Juliet Oake None.



Ethics of magic, hexing, Contemporary Paganism, harmful magic, healing magic, stigma, community stigma, discrimination


In 2016, a group of witches organised a mass online hex against Brock Turner, the “Stanford Rapist,” in disgust toward his crime and unjust punishment. Responses to this event demonstrate the enormous diversity in Pagan’s opinions regarding the use of hexes, curses, or other forms of potentially “harmful” magic. The research outlined in this article consists of a qualitative survey which sought to identify these differences in opinion and the reasoning behind them. Results demonstrated that Pagans’ attitudes towards potentially harmful uses of magic fell into four distinct categories. It appears that fears of misjudgment and discrimination are very present amongst many within the community, which has led to some individuals attempting to conceal any practices that may be deemed harmful, or “evil,” by outsiders. Additionally, some choose to abstain from using harmful magic due to fears of harm returning to them. However, a significant proportion of Pagans today are in fact open to engaging with potentially harmful magical practices, as long as they can in some way be channeled to provide an outcome that can be deemed positive and/or healing.

Author Biography

Bethan Juliet Oake, None.

Bethan Juliet Oake is an independent research scholar from the UK, with particular focus on Theology & Religious Studies.


Aburrow, Yvonne. “Hex the system, Bind the Perpetrator.” Dowsing for Divinity. 10 June 2016.

Coughlin, John J. Out of the Shadows: An Exploration of Dark Paganism and Magick. 2nd ed. Bloomington, Ind.: 1stBooks Library, 2001.

Daimler, Morgan. “Irish-American Witchcraft: Not That Kind of Witch.” Agora. 3rd November 2015.

Davy, Barbara J. Introduction to Pagan Studies. Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 2007.

Ezzy, Douglas. “White Witches and Black Magic: Ethics and Consumerism in Contemporary Witchcraft.” Journal of Contemporary Religion 21, no 1 (2006): 15–31.

Gardner, Gerald. The Meaning of Witchcraft. London: Aquarian Press, 1959.

Hanegraaff, Wouter. “From the Devil’s Gateway to the Goddess Within: The Image of the Witch in Neopaganism.” In Belief beyond Boundaries: Wicca, Celtic Spirituality and the New Age, edited by Joanne Pearson, 295–312. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002.

Harvey, Graham. Listening People; Speaking Earth: Contemporary Paganism. 2nd ed. London: Hurst, 2007.

Holzer, Hans. The Truth about Witchcraft. London: Jarrolds, 1971.

Kelden. “A Case for Hexing.” By Athame and Stang. 5th October 2016.

Kirner, Kimberly. “Healing Community: Pagan Cultural Models and Experiences in Seeking Well-Being.” The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies 16, no. 1 (2014): 80-108.

Paul, Kari. “Hundreds of Witches Just Hexed Stanford Rapist Brock Turner.” Broadly. 9th June 2016.

Rabinovitch, Shelley T., and Meredith Macdonald. An Ye Harm None: Magical Morality and Modern Ethics. New York: Kensington, 2004.

Reece, Gwendolyn. “Contemporary Pagans and Stigmatized Identity.” The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies 18, no. 1 (2016): 60–95.

Restall Orr, Emma. Living with Honour: A Pagan Ethics. Winchester: O Books, 2008.

Tejeda, Manuel. “Skeletons in the Broom Closet: Exploring the Discrimination of Pagans in the Workplace.” Journal of Management, Spirituality & Religion 12, no. 2 (2015): 88–110.



How to Cite

Oake, B. J. (2019). Attitudes Towards Potential Harmful Magical Practices in Contemporary Paganism - A Survey. Pomegranate, 21(1), 26–52.