Black magick is a largely subjective term for describing magick based on intent or style of practice. There are several ways to view black magic as a term that has been used in many different contexts. We will attempt to begin with the most widely accepted views.
Black Magic as the Opposite of White Magic
In this view, Black Magic is associated with dark deities, death, secrets, night-time, yin, and the ending of things. If magic can be viewed as a circle, then there is Black, White, and Grey magic that the initiate practitioner must study to become whole and enlightened. Some here view White Magick as the magic of the patriarchy and black magic as the magick of the divine feminine.
Black Magic as Evil or Harmful Magic
In this view, Black Magic is associated with things that should not exist at all. It is an abomination rather than a part of the cycle of life and death. For some, merely to consider using Black Magic is to risk one’s future happy existence. Learning about evil is something that pollutes the mind, soul, and body to even know about it. This sort of magic moves the soul(s) away from enlightenment, even as knowledge is gained.
In some modern traditions, evil or black magic is defined as any magic that does harm or that influences or overrides the will of another regardless of methods, intention, or the end result.
In some cases, particularly in tribal situations evil is in the eye of the beholder. Magic to defeat one’s enemies would be seen as evil or black magic by the enemies or but good by the community of the caster.
Black Magic as Defined by Spell Ingredients
In some cultures and traditions, black magic is defined according to the ingredients used in a spell. These items tend to be those viewed as unsavory by the community at large and may include human body parts and other unsavory items such as excreta, animal parts and/or poisonous plants, depending on the sensibilities of the community. These items may be used for spells that would otherwise be considered beneficial, such as healing and fertility spells and yet would still be viewed as an abomination. However, magic that does not use these items is usually viewed as benign.
It may be interesting to note that many (but not all) of these cultures do perform animal sacrifices (or have historically alongside the above beliefs) and would not view the sacrifice of an animal as an act of black magic. After all, what’s the difference between killing an animal to feed your human guests or killing an animal to feed a helpful spirit?
Black Magic as Primitive Magic
The term Black Magic may be applied in an ethnocentric manner to magick that seems primitive, unenlightened or undignified. A practitioner might consider any magic Black that uses animal sacrifice (just as an example) but is it Black because it ends the life of the animal, because it is too “earthy” (or tribal, or primitive, or alien to “civilized” culture) or because death/blood really does attract entities that wish to do evil to living things? Magick involving possession may be seen as black magic by those who do not understand what is going on, even though they may, in other contexts, revere one who claims the Lord speaks through them. Magick involving vigorous dancing may be seen as black magick because it seems licentious or chaotic to one who doesn’t wish to understand its value.
It must be noted that perhaps not coincidentally, many of these practices apply to magic practiced by people who literally have darker skin. Here in the U.S., magic associated with Voodoo or Hoodoo may be referenced as black magick with all of the baggage that entails, which Wicca-style spells to accomplish the same purpose is approvingly deemed white magick.