The Wiccan Rede
Article ID: 2876
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 6,036
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Posted: July 16th. 2000
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Unlike most mainstream religions, Witchcraft does not have a long list of laws governing our behavior. Witches generally adhere to what has become known as "THE WICCAN REDE" and THE THREE-FOLD LAW. These two principles contain the basics of what Witches define as ethical and moral behavior within the Craft and the society in which we live.
Much criticism has been leveled at the Witches Rede by outsiders who, by a quick reading of the text, assume that it is a license to do whatever "feels good" to the individual without accompanying responsibility. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Witches' Rede is rich with compassion, empathy and respect for others, the individual practitioner , the Goddess and God, and Mother Earth. It guides and directs our energies "for the good of all".
"Harm" is defined as "physical or mental damage" and to this we can add "psychic damage" as well. To inflict harm on another is simply not a thing that a Witch would do. Aside from the obvious karmic repercussions, Witches have a deep and abiding knowledge of the workings of the Universe. All things are connected to all other things- we are related to all Life, the Earth and the Stars. We know that all that we do affects everything else in the Web of Life. We are very conscious of this responsibility. We are known as "The Craft of the Wise" because of our knowledge of energies and the natural and spiritual laws that govern the workings of the Universe. To work within these laws is wisdom, to work against them is chaos. Because we hold this knowledge, we know and are willing to accept responsibility for our actions and what will result from them. We do not believe in a fictional devil that "made us do it". WE make the choices, and so, we make our choices very carefully. The image of a witch dressed in flowing robe running around "zapping" people or casting random spells across the countryside is a fictitious one. All spells that Witches actually perform are directed to a very specific end, developed after much thought and should always end with the phrase "for the good of all and the harm of none". No one here on this earth can possibly be sure of all the possibilities which fall under "the good of all", but by asking that the spell be performed under this guideline, we save ourselves and others a lot of unnecessary trouble. If it is indeed "for the good of all", it will come to pass. If it does not manifest, then perhaps we have asked wrongly or do not have all the information. In either case, we have spared ourselves and others from karmic backlash and the "three-fold return" of which much lately has been made in media sources.
An example can be given here in the working of love spells. To manipulate a person into a relationship in which they have shown no interest developing is to try to negate that person' s right to free will. To cast a spell "to make so and so fall in love with me" shows not a spirit of love but an insensitivity to another's feelings. But Witches do cast love spells. don't they? Yes, they do.. The first love spell a Witch should cast should be for her/himself. Self esteem is essential in correct magical working. To bring a complete and balanced person into a relationship, is indeed to give a precious gift to another. To be capable of receiving love, we must be able to truly give love.
So what would be a correct love spell? A spell to "remove obstacles to love" could cause physical distance to cease to be a problem, would allow "circumstances" to arrange a meeting or draw someone who is good for you into your life that perhaps you do not even know yet! It could also make someone who IS interested in you to be able to overcome shyness in approaching you..or you with them.
The point here is that while Witches are free to influence energies to accomplish a purpose, they are not free to manipulate people. "For the good of all" should be the real reason one does a spell.
Another area of confusion can result from a too quick interpretation of the Rede. Does the Rede mean that we are just to accept mistreatment from others? Are we simply to "turn the other cheek"? Witches are empowered individuals. They are strong and because they have worked on their own self esteem issues, they will not accept bad treatment from anyone. We cast protection spells around ourselves and our loved ones. We know how to deflect harm without inflicting harm. We "neutralize" harmful energies back into the Universe to be converted to pure forces that CEASE to do any harm at all. We are protecting ourselves and the effects of the "bad" energies do no further damage to anyone. We are practicing the Rede at its highest level.."an it harm none" = we are protected...and "for the good of all" = it harms no one else in the process. Witches believe in "justice", not revenge. We can wait for justice to be served, for eventually what goes around, indeed, will come around. The God and Goddess know our hearts and our intentions and we are confident that, in the end, we are vindicated.
Walk in Light and Love,
(Chairperson - The Witches' Voice)
May 20th, 1996
The Wiccan Rede (Long form)
(also known as The Rede of the Wiccae and the Witches' Creed)
Generally credited to Doreen Valiente
Hear now the word of the Witches, the secrets we hid in the night,
When dark was our destinys pathway, That now we bring forth in the light.
Mysterious Water and Fire, The Earth and the wide-ranging Air,
By hidden Quintessence we know Them, and we will keep silent and dare.
The birth and rebirth of all Nature, the passing of Winter and Spring,
We share with the life Universal, rejoice in the Magical Ring
Four times in the year the Great Sabbat, returns, and the Witches are seen,
At Lammas and Candelas dancing, on May Eve and old Halloween
When daytime and nighttime are equal, when sun is at greatest and least,
The four lesser Sabbats are summoned, again Witches gather in feast.
Thirteen silver moons in a year are, thirteen is the Covens array,
Thirteen times at Esbat make merry, for each golden year and a day.
The power has passed down the ages, each time between woman and man
Each century unto the other, ere times and the ages began.
When drawn is the Magickal circle, by sword or athame of power,
Its compass between two worlds lies, in the land of shades of that hour.
Our world has no right to know it, and the world beyond will tell naught,
The oldest of Gods are invoked there, the great work of Magic is wrought.
For two are the mystical pillars, that stand at the gate of the shrine,
And two are the powers of Nature, the forms and the forces divine.
And do what thou wilt be the challenge, so be it in love that harms none,
For this is the only commandment, By Magick of old be it done.
Eight words the Witches Rede fulfill:
If it Harms none, Do what Thou Will!
Witches LIVE their Religion every day!
March 2000 Note:
The Rede - An In-depth Piece
Shea Thomas began a research project to explore the roots and beginnings of what has become known as the Wiccan Rede. What he found was enough information to fill a web site. And that is exactly what he has done.
From its humble beginnings as a short poem in an alternative magazine, the Wiccan Rede has grown to become one the most widely publicized Pagan belief statements. Fueled by the Internet and an explosion of paths borrowing from Wicca, the Rede has proliferated far beyond the pedigreed covens of Gardner and Sanders to emerge as a core ethic-concept for many aspects of modern Paganism.
At the same time, there is tremendous confusion about the Rede, who wrote it, and where it's central ideas might have originated. The Wiccan Rede Project is an attempt to shed some light on this remarkable work and put together in one location some helpful commentary and information about the Wiccan Rede.
July '98 Note: Although the origin of the 'Rede and just who rewrote it has been up for debate for many a year, We just received this info via email...
"The Rede of the Wiccae should be credited to Lady Gwen Thompson for originally publishing it back in 1975 edition Green Egg Magazine". - Arion Rhys http://www.starkindler.org/arion/
Thank you Arion Rhys for bringing this to our attention.
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