Articles/Essays From Pagans
December 1st. 2013 ...
A Pragmatic Look at Neo Paganism
The Tarot as a Tool for Raising Consciousness
Leaving a Pagan Group – Part 1: To Leave or to Stay?
November 24th. 2013 ...
The Pagan and the Papacy
The Groovy Aquarian Christ: Jesus From a Pagan Perspective
November 17th. 2013 ...
For Love of the God
Which Witch? Philosophical and Psychological Roots of Wicca
A Threat to Religious Liberties?
November 10th. 2013 ...
Where did Aleister Crowley’s Influence on Wicca Go?
Thoughts on the Threefold Law/Law of Return
Nine Creeds: A Statement and Explanation of My Beliefs
The Celtic Tree Calendar
November 3rd. 2013 ...
The Mundane/Spiritual Mirror: What Does it Say About Your Life?
October 27th. 2013 ...
Thoughts On a Miley-Cyrus/ Robin-Thicke Society
On Being Wiccan: Some Unsolicited Advice
Pagan Religious Communities in your Area: Connecting With and Creating Them
Banishing, Invocation and the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram
October 20th. 2013 ...
Weather Magick: Who is Responsible for the Weather?
Broom Closet: In or Out?
Bottle Spells and Magick in Hoodoo Tradition
On Coven and Claws
October 13th. 2013 ...
Destroying to Create: A Lesson from the Dead
Consume the Scorpion- Scorpion Energy Revisited
October 6th. 2013 ...
UPG and U: A Breakdown and Building Up of Unverified and Unsubstantiated Personal Gnosis
Answering The Call from Spirit
Coping with the Loss of a Familiar
The Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage, Part 2 (The South)
September 29th. 2013 ...
Six Reasons Why Covens are Here to Stay
Priestessing and Titles: What's the Point?
Truth or Convenience? Questioning Motives for Spiritual Advancement
Speaking Up: The Conflict Between the Spiritualist and Our Human Experience
September 22nd. 2013 ...
Death of a Friendship within the Craft
The Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage, Part 1 (The Center)
September 15th. 2013 ...
Some Pagan Prayers
Lunar Insight Moon Musings: Bramble and Cerridwen
The Holocaust Survivor (Part II)
September 8th. 2013 ...
Introduction to the Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage
The Druidic Concept of Nwyfre
The Holocaust Survivor (Part 1)
Giving and Helping
September 1st. 2013 ...
Use a Flyswatter for a Fly: More on the Dark Arts
How Spells Work
Is It Really 'Energy'?
August 25th. 2013 ...
Mother Nature’s Way: Forging a Distinctly American Path
Healing Moon Ritual
Unconditional Love: The Paradox of Perfect Love
Earth to Soul/Sole
August 18th. 2013 ...
How Not to Fall in the Bunny Trap
Why Are You Like That? Thoughts on Hoodoo and Appropriation
Finding the Right Coven
The Knowledge Found in Silence
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances, Hazelnuts and Magick Wands
August 11th. 2013 ...
“I Survived a Weekend with Galina Krasskova”
The Charges of the Goddess and God with Commentary
August 4th. 2013 ...
Fair Weather Witches
Pagan Studies II: Modern Paganism in the Americas
Pagan Abbeys - A Practical Heritage for Spiritual Lay and Professional Cloistered Communities
July 28th. 2013 ...
Crystals 101: A Helpful Guide For Beginners
The More the Merrier? It’s not Only an Inaccuracy; it’s an All Out Farce!
My Pagan Manifesto
July 21st. 2013 ...
I'm a Witch, Not a Wiccan: A Brief Summary of Broad Pagan Designations
Rethinking Community for Solitaries
13 Keys: The Beauty of Tiphareth
July 14th. 2013 ...
Ramblings of a Pagan Guy: Stupid Clichés We Use (Part II)
Pagan Humanism: A Tradition of Rational Religion
Moon/Planetary Musings: The Holly King and John Barleycorn
July 7th. 2013 ...
Coping With Depression: Learning to Dance with the Sacred Twins
Shamanic Healing of Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Humility and Community Service
H is for Hubris
June 30th. 2013 ...
How To Feel The Energy Around You
Planning A Ritual
Why Pagans Might Benefit from Counseling Techniques
The Weight of Contemplation: When the Silent Self Grows Louder
June 23rd. 2013 ...
Magick and Play
Tarot Spell for Protection
Moon Musings and Planetary Preponderances: RE-fuse, RE-duce, RE-use, RE-pair and RE-cycle
June 16th. 2013 ...
How To Stay Spiritual Amidst This Chaos?
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Some Thoughts on Ethics and the Wiccan Rede
Article ID: 3742
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 4,381
Times Read: 4,017
Author: Lark [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: December 8th. 2001
Times Viewed: 4,017
Let me say unequivocally that ethics is not some arcane and boring subject that we study in school and promptly forget as soon as we walk out the door. Ethics is the way we honor the Divine in ourselves and in others. It is a way of behaving that is at the core of our beliefs and the basis for how we choose to live our lives. You can call it by many names; good manners, the Ten Commandments, The Golden Rule, the Wiccan Rede...all are essentially a way of describing the same thing. Without ethics, civilization as we know it would cease to exist. Without them, we would lose the connection to the Divine that we treasure.
Let us look at the Wiccan Rede. "An it harm none, do as ye will." It is a simple and elegant rule on the surface. But people tie themselves in all sorts of knots trying to live according to its precepts.
First, and most importantly, the Rede is generally misinterpreted, and from this misinterpretation all sorts of problems arise. Taking all of the archaic language out of the Rede, what it is really saying is that any action which does not cause harm to yourself or to others is OK to do. In most of the Wiccan community, however, this meaning has been stood on its head and stated as any action which MIGHT cause harm to another is not acceptable. These are very, very different rules of ethical behavior. And herein lies the problem; because the second interpretation is impossible to fulfill.
The common misinterpretation of the Rede says we must harm NONE...no exceptions, no excuses...no harm to the Earth, our fellow creatures, the people around us, or to ourselves. Is this possible? No, of course it is not. We are living beings who require the resources of our planet to survive and to maintain ourselves. Unless you have learned a way to live on air and sunshine, you must cause the death of other living beings in order to eat. We build our homes out of trees sacrificed to provide us shelter. If we get the job we wanted, it means that someone else did not. By the standard interpretation of the Rede, we should have neither food, nor fuel, no electricity, nor shelter, nor even modern medicines because each of these involves causing harm in some form or another.
By the standard interpretation of the Rede, harming someone in your own self-defense is a violation of the Rede. Yet you would also violate it by allowing harm to come to yourself or to another through your lack of action. No one who is a policeman or a soldier could be a Wiccan as well..at least according to the generally accepted interpretation of the Rede; yet both are necessary for our society to survive. Is this reasonable?
When we first come to the Wiccan path and we are taught the usual interpretation of the Rede, it sounds so simple and clear-cut. And then we start seeing the inconsistencies...and we start rationalizing to make the Rede fit situation it was never meant to fit. We may begin to say that the Rede only applies within a cast circle or in regards to magical workings. Or perhaps we come to look at the Rede as a quaint piece of doggerel which really is meaningless. And when we do that, we leave ourselves without an ethical framework on which to build our beliefs on right living.
So, let us go back to the first interpretation; that any action which does not cause harm is OK to do. That is simple, straightforward, and fairly easy to live by.
But what about actions that may cause harm? The Rede says nothing of these. It leaves us to make the judgment on our own as to whether we want to pursue a course of action or not. What this involves is considering each decision you make very carefully before you commit yourself to a course of action. You do this by looking at all the possible consequences of that action and whether that will cause harm to any, choosing the path that causes the least harm and (THIS IS THE KEY) accepting the responsibility for the consequences of your actions whether intentional or unintentional. That is what our religion is all about PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY. You can't stand before the Gods saying, "I didn't mean...", or "I didn't think...", or "the Devil made me do it"...it won't wash! Your answer MUST BE, "I chose to do this". And if you did it, it's all yours to deal with. OUCH! That can be pretty uncomfortable to face up to. We all like to shift the blame away from ourselves. But taking the difficult path is the way to spiritual growth.
And here is another hard pill to swallow. If you take a course of action which you felt initially (or which you managed to convince yourself) would not cause any harm...and harm does come of it, you are still responsible for the consequences. Part of that responsibility then becomes trying to make right the harm which you inadvertently caused. We all make mistakes, we are after all only human. But being willing to acknowledge our mistakes and repair the harm we caused brings us closer to becoming one with the Divine.
We are also taught early in our spiritual journey as Wiccans about the Three-Fold Law, that whatever we do for good or ill returns to us three-fold. . And again it becomes a concept rife with misunderstanding and misinterpretations. We behave because we are afraid of being smacked with the Karmic paddle. Being good little Witches because we fear punishment if we break the rules does not make ethical beings, just clever ones. There is no Karmic scorekeeper out there keeping a list of who's been naughty or nice. There is no Divine retribution, or something like the Christian Hell for violations on the Rede. What the Three-Fold Law is telling us is choices of action have consequences for which we alone are responsible. And if our choices are consistently negative or harmful towards others, then the energy which tends to return to us will also be negative and harmful. To live our lives full of anger, guilt, and negative thoughts can lead to both physical and mental illness right here in this lifetime. In effect, we become the tools of our own Karma. So, what kind of energy would you like to wake up and find on your doorstep one morning??
Ours is a religion of personal responsibility, not a religion if rules and strictures. This is both a liberating and an extremely difficult path to follow. The biggest obstacle to living rightly is ourselves. For man is not so much a rational being as a rationalizing being. We are often apt to confuse WANT with NEED. We mistake that which will bring us happiness. We pretend that a course of action will not bring any harm, when we truly know otherwise. And out of these wrong choices we cause great harm and evil in the world. In other faiths you might chuckle to think that you broke a rule and no one saw. You might feel that you had successfully gotten away with something, or you might have managed to make excuses, to put the blame on someone else. Wicca does not allow you that freedom. In Wicca, you and only you are responsible for your choices. And you, and only you will stand before the Gods to make answer for your deeds.
Location: Madison, Alabama
Author's Profile: To learn more about Lark - Click HERE
Bio: Lark is a Third Degree Initiate of the Oak, Ash, and Thorn Tradition of American Eclectic Wicca, and High Priestess of Tangled Moon Coven. She has been a Pagan all her life (at least her Mother always said she was a little Heathen!), and practicing the Craft for eleven years. She holds a BS in nursing and a MS in counseling. She served in the US Army for 20 years, including Vietnam. She and her husband (and High Priest) live on 85 acres of land which they are holding in trust from the Earth as a nature preserve and Pagan retreat. They share their home with two Irish wolfhounds, a beagle, and 15 cats (most rescued from the side of the road). Lark can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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