The Myth of The Rede: Universal Pagan Beliefs
Article ID: 11040
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Church of the Blessed Moon
Posted: December 17th. 2006
Times Viewed: 4,441
Once again, I committed a Pagan faux pas at a local event. Twice a month, the Church of the Blessed Moon holds what we call the “study group” where after we teach on a topic, we spend hours eating and socializing. In all honesty, I think the real learning begins after the topic talk and during the eating part.
So, back to my faux pas. One of our members asked me if I followed the Rede. My response was, “Not exactly.” Low and behold, I managed to catch the attention of the entire room.
“She’s kidding”, one person said, and they all laughed.
“But I’m not”, I replied.
The room went back to quiet.
“But, Kendra, you are so caring, and warm.”
Another person chimed in, “So what kind of morals DO you have? You aren’t into black magick are you?” (Black magick. I always love that question. This is probably due to being a black woman.)
I then began the process of explaining that a poem was not the basis for why I chose to lead the kind of life that I do.
There are many texts floating in the pool of Pagan knowledge that provide a summary of Pagan beliefs. However, many of the texts are far from inclusive. There are plenty of texts out there in the pool that just leave the neophytes wading through the pool completely lost in the waters.
Some folks may tell you that all Pagans follow the Wiccan Rede. This is a myth. The Wiccan Rede is a poem written by Gwen Thompson of the Welsh Witchcraft Tradition.
Ms. Thompson’s poem, over the last 30 years, has lost some of it’s meaning.
Some Pagans do not even recognize that it is actually a poem, but rather only acknowledge its last stanza. Then there are Pagans who refer to the Rede as “the advice”, but not some sort of universal must follow for all Pagans. And many Pagans, do not follow or acknowledge the Rede at all. Not acknowledging the Rede does not mean one is lacking in morals, just that some people choose not to recognize a poem as scripture.
How many times must we hear people say, “Well all Wiccans/Witches/Pagans follow the Rede so therefore we are all good all the time”, but yet not hear a decent rebuttal? And yet we will probably hear it several more times to come in the future.
Unfortunately, the Rede is probably the most well propagated myth among Pagans for simple public relations reasons: It makes us seem non-threatening. However, I think it just makes us look like simpletons to the educated.
Some other widely thrown around “universal” Pagan beliefs are not universal at all. Ideas such as karma and reincarnation are not well defined enough within our belief structure to have any universal meaning to Pagans across the board. In order for a belief within our community to have universality, we must define it clearly and concisely. (That is not to say karma and reincarnation cannot be Pagan beliefs, but that our definitions must be universal.) The commonly held Neo-Pagan definitions for these two beliefs are often varying and not cross-cultural.
One belief that we do clearly hold as Pagans is that the Divine is immanent. Immanence means that the Divine is a part of the created world. Animals, vegetables, minerals, atoms, etc., all are a part of the Divine.
The belief in immanence means more than is readily apparent. One belief that stems from immanence is that an action by one individual affects many. None of us is alone in this world, but rather we are a part of a greater whole.
Many of the systems in which we as United States citizens are involved in would rather have us believe that we are individual entities who only need be concerned with our individual wants, desires, and needs, and that we cannot and do not affect the lives of others.
How many times have you heard the phrase, “I can do nothing. I am just one man, one woman?” But Immanence does not ‘know’ that the world functions in such a way.
We are a part of each other’s lives. What we do as living creatures affects the lives of those around us. We have to think about our actions in terms of what would be right for our community and our people.
As the Divine is immanent, we are all Divine and we are all sacred. We, as Pagans, have to think in terms of respecting and loving each other, as we would do to ourselves. Sure, some people do not respect or love themselves. However, because of immanence, they draw things of a non-loving and non-respectful nature to themselves.
We, as people, naturally draw to ourselves what we put out. How can one find a healthy relationship with a healthy person if one is not healthy oneself? How many healthy individuals do you know who would subject themselves to cruelty or abuse for long without standing up for themselves? Whenever we say to ourselves, how do I attract _____, we need to take a deep look inside ourselves and figure out what about us is looking for other parts of the Divine to match it.
Immanence is one of the primary Pagan beliefs at the core of all our beliefs. It is a belief that we share with other earth-based or indigenous religions across the world. It is a belief that causes us to note similarities between Pagans and Native American spirituality or Pagans and Aboriginal spirituality or Pagans and South American Spirituality.
When you hear someone say, “All Pagans believe in ____, ” take a look at what they are saying and try to match it to the concept of Immanence. If the shoe doesn’t fit, then perhaps you should ask a few questions regarding the origin of the statement.
I often tell my brothers and sisters when they question me about my personal morals that I do not base my actions on fears of karmic return nor on any of the many poems available today that many Pagans regard as scripture.
Rather, I base my actions on the kind of example that I choose to set for others and on the kind of person that I want to be.
Copyright: Kendra R. Reece, July 7, 2006
Church of the Blessed Moon
Location: Cape Girardeau, Missouri
Bio: Kendra Reece is the Priestess for Church of the Blessed Moon. Mrs. Reece is also a mother of 2 children and a career woman. Church of the Blessed Moon is run by a number of families in Southeast Missouri.
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