Black magic has traditionally referred to the use of supernatural powers or magic for evil and selfish purposes. With respect to the left-hand path and right-hand path dichotomy, black magic is the malicious, left-hand counterpart of benevolent white magic. In modern times, some find that the definition of “black magic” has been convoluted by people who define magic or ritualistic practices that they disapprove of as “black magic”.
During his period of scholarship, A. E. Waite provided a comprehensive account of black magic practices, rituals and traditions in The Book of Black Magic and Ceremonial Magic.Other practitioners have expanded on these ideas and offered their own comprehensive lists of rituals and concepts. Black magic practices and rituals include:
- True name spells – the theory that knowing a person’s true name allows control over that person, making this wrong for the same reason. This can also be used as a connection to the other person, or to free them from another’s compulsion, so it is in the grey area.
- Immortality rituals – from a perspective, life is finite, and wishing to live beyond one’s natural span is not with the flow of nature. Beyond this, there is a major issue with immortality. Because of the need to test the results, the subjects must be killed. Even a spell to extend life may not be entirely good, especially if it draws life energy from another to sustain the spell.
- Necromancy – for purposes of usage, this is defined not as general black magic, but as any magic having to do with death itself, either through divination of entrails, or the act of raising the dead body, as opposed to resurrection
- Curses and hexes – a curse can be as simple as wishing something bad would happen to another, through a complex ritual.
Voodoo, too, has been associated with modern “black magic”; drawn together in popular culture and fiction. However, while hexing or cursing may be accepted black magic practices, Voodoo has its own distinct history and traditions that have little to do with the traditions of modern witchcraft that developed with European practitioners like Gerald Gardner and Aleister Crowley.
In fact, Voodoo tradition makes its own distinction between black and white magic, with sorcerers like the Bokor known for using magic and rituals of both. But their penchant for magic associated with curses, poisons and zombies means they, and Voodoo in general, are regularly associated with black magic in particular.