The Beautiful Balanced Wiccan Rede
Article ID: 14993
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Naya Aerodiode
Posted: June 3rd. 2012
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Lately, I've seen "harm none" become the new short form of the Wiccan Rede among the Pagan populace. The whole of the Wiccan Rede reads, "An it harm none, do what thou Wilt." There are two parts to this, and both are very important. To drop one side of it is to cut the one of the wings off of a bird. The integration of both halves of the Rede creates a perfectly balanced moral guide, which has many meaningful implications.
An it harm none,
The first part, "An it harm none, " (the archaic "An" meaning "If") is a condition - is this action going to bring harm to someone? If so, choose another pathway. It's simple enough, right?
"Harm" is a multifaceted concept that needs to be more carefully considered. We might be Mister Rogers himself in our dealings with others, but it's difficult to live one's life without causing some degree of strife to someone, somewhere. That fancy new iPhone, the gas in the car, the clothes on my back, the computer I'm working on, and so many other things that we take for granted are all brought to you by the suffering of others. If everyone were to take stock of the degree of hurt that our purchases inflict upon others and do something about it, the global economy might grind to a halt. People are working in slave-like conditions in companies like FoxConn in China, and people are dying in toxic villages in China for these technologies. All of this brings great harm to the world, yet it's so pervasive that it's hard to demand the right thing be done. By typing on this computer, I'm bringing harm to people and the environment. Can we go so very long in our interconnected world without causing harm to one another? Everyone's got responsibility for everyone else, because we're all in this together.
Acknowledging that feeling of guilt is the first step toward healing it. We do indirect harm all of the time and in many ways. For many of us, it's necessary for our survival in this world. Without oil devastating coastlines and fueling brutal wars, I can't make it to work to earn the money I need to feed myself. By being aware of the harm that I cause, it leads me to work in my own personal way to healing and minimizing that harm.
We can heal what's in your own backyard first. In our interactions, are we wishing the best for the person we're talking to, even if they may be giving us a difficult time? Are we wishing them destruction and suffering for their trespasses against us? Are we giving fairly and taking fairly? Are we speaking fairly? Are we hoping that those people we come across all find their life's dreams and fulfill them, or are we wishing them as much misery as we must be currently experiencing?
To further complicate things, there's this idea of tough love. To hurt is to heal. Hurt and harm is not necessarily the same thing, and hurt is required for us to evolve. Without pain, there can be no growth. The gods certainly don't go easy on us at times, and if we're not willing to suffer, we're not ready to learn. A child might feel hurt when a parent punishes him, but the child will grow up wiser and stronger for being corrected. It might hurt to study for my finals when I'd rather be partying with friends, but to fail my exams would do real harm to my life.
While realizing all of these many aspects on the nature of harm, I agree, it's a very good idea to live in such a manner that infringes on others as little as possible. There is no need to be nasty to others while achieving your goals. There are enough dreams out there that we may all be fulfilled.
In fact, in resolving to do no harm to others, one can learn a lot about him or her self. If someone or something irritates me, I gripe a lot and in doing so, I process exactly what it is that irritates me. Why did this elicit such a strong emotional reaction in me? What is the root of that reaction? What new information does this tell me about myself and the shape of my soul? Those people who irritate me have also initiated leaps and bounds worth of changes in my life's evolution. After I process the information, I put it aside, keep calm, and carry on. Rush Limbaugh has really been putting this exercise to the test lately.
Keeping calm and carrying on is the key to the door of success carried by the second, equally important half of the Rede:
Do what thou Wilt.
The Rede half-quoted is a bird with just one wing. Harming none is half of the equation - doing your Will is the second vital half. After all, stones in the grass harm none, but they also just sit there, providing a home for moss and not much more. We, as human beings, must do more. Our consciousness demands it.
The Charge of the Goddess says, "Keep pure your highest ideal, strive ever toward it." In this case, the word, "Charge, " means, "To impose a duty, responsibility, or obligation on." This is not a request on Her part. This is a charge. Your life's quest. Your soul's job as it inhabits this flesh.
I've often said that the key to happiness is to figure out what you're supposed to be doing, and do it. Listening to and understanding the goals of your soul is so important to my magical path. Without that, I am a ship in the sea without a compass.
"Do what thou Wilt, " reaches much farther than "do whatever you want." As anyone with any life experience knows, doing whatever you want can be very detrimental to your relationships, career, education, and financial situation. What we want at any given time is strongly determined by ego, and ego can be easily manipulated and led astray if not held to the guidance of one's Will. Doing one's Will must not violate the first half of the Rede by doing harm to yourself.
We are constantly inundated with advertising that seeks to define and profit from what we want to do. Those in our social circles also would love to tell us what we want to do. My parents want me to move somewhere closer to them and raise children, my friends want me to take sides with them in their quarrels, and my enemies would love it if I sat down and shut up. Clergy and politicians want me to support their wars and not question their authority. Pop culture wants me to develop anorexia, indulge in a string of bad relationships and spend too much on purses. Advertisers want me to buy their latest product so that I may be truly happy and fulfilled in life.
None of these things are my Will, and all of these things are traps that without the guidance of one's will can cause one's life to stagnate so that whatever your Will is, it's buried under a mountain of irrelevance. There are many in this world who would be happy to sap my energy for themselves and their own purposes. The guidance of my Will protects me from and alerts me to these traps.
I cannot value enough the power I have found in learning my soul's path. I am constantly discerning and clarifying those things that fulfills my heart, mind and spirit in such a way that I do them with a power that I afford to few other things. Aleister Crowley once said, "A man who is doing his True Will has the inertia of the universe to assist him." This is what, you, human seeker, are charged to do - find your Will and do it.
Just don’t be a jerk about it.
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