Articles/Essays From Pagans
February 1st. 2019 ...
Paganism and Witchcraft in the Media
September 25th. 2018 ...
Understanding the Unseen
August 25th. 2018 ...
A Little Magickal History
Men and the Goddess
Back to Basics Witchcraft: Magical Creativity for Small Living Spaces
Kitchen Magic and Memories
Why the Faeries?
Magic in Daily Life
An Open Fire: Healing from Within
Cernunnos: The Darkest Wood in the Moon's Light
On Preconceived Pagan/Wiccan Political Affiliations
Gudrun of the Victory Gods
Ares and Athena
La Santa Muerte... The Stigma and the Strength
The Wheel of the Year in Our Daily Lives
The Lady on the Stairs
July 26th. 2018 ...
The Importance of Unification: Bringing Together Community Members to Invoke Cohesivity
May 29th. 2018 ...
Wild Mountain Woman: Landscape Goddess
April 20th. 2018 ...
Nazis Made Us Change Our Name
January 25th. 2018 ...
Finding Balance: Discipline Wedded to Devotion
November 15th. 2017 ...
September 30th. 2017 ...
July 31st. 2017 ...
Sin Eaters and Dream Walkers
July 2nd. 2017 ...
On Cursing: Politics and Ethos
June 1st. 2017 ...
The Sacred Ego in Mediterranean Magical Traditions
April 30th. 2017 ...
Tarot Talk: the Knight of Pentacles
March 30th. 2017 ...
Tarot Talk: the Ace of Swords
January 10th. 2017 ...
The Gray of 'Tween
Becoming a Sacred Dancer
Little Dog, Big Love
December 9th. 2016 ...
A Child's First Yule
November 10th. 2016 ...
What Exactly Is Witchcraft?
A Witch in the Bible Belt: Questions are Opportunities
What I Get from Cooking (And How it’s Part of My Path)
On Death and Passing: Compassion Burnout in Healers and Shamans
September 11th. 2016 ...
The Shadow of Disgust
August 12th. 2016 ...
When Reality Rattles your Idea of the Perfect Witch
Hungarian Belief in Fairies
Designing a Pagan Last Will and Testament
July 13th. 2016 ...
What Every Pagan Should Know About Curses
Magic With A Flick of my Finger
An Open Mind and Heart
Finding and Caring for Your Frame Drum
June 13th. 2016 ...
Living a Magickal Life with Fibromyalgia
My Father, My First God
Life is Awesome... and the Flu
May 15th. 2016 ...
Faery Guided Journey
Working with the Elements
April 2nd. 2016 ...
The Fear of Witchcraft
Magic in Sentences
March 28th. 2016 ...
Revisiting The Spiral
January 22nd. 2016 ...
Coming Out of the Broom Closet
December 20th. 2015 ...
Magia y Wicca
October 24th. 2015 ...
Feeling the Pulse of Autumn
October 16th. 2015 ...
Sacred Lands, Sacred Hearts
September 30th. 2015 ...
September 16th. 2015 ...
Vegan or Vegetarian? The Ethical Debate
August 6th. 2015 ...
Lost - A Pagan Parent's Tale
July 9th. 2015 ...
Love Spells: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
The Magic of Weather
June 7th. 2015 ...
A Pagan Altar
A Minority of a Minority of a Minority
May 6th. 2015 ...
13 Keys: The Crown of Kether
March 29th. 2015 ...
A Thread in the Tapestry of Witchcraft
March 28th. 2015 ...
On Wiccan Magick, Theurgy, Thaumaturgy and Setting Expectations
March 1st. 2015 ...
Choosing to Write a Shadow Book
February 1st. 2015 ...
Seeker Advice From a Coven Leader
January 1st. 2015 ...
Manipulation of the Concept of Witchcraft
Broomstick to the Emerald City
October 20th. 2014 ...
Thoughts on Conjuring Spirits
October 5th. 2014 ...
The History of the Sacred Circle
September 28th. 2014 ...
Seeking Pagan Lands for Pagan Burials
Creating a Healing Temple
August 31st. 2014 ...
Coven vs. Solitary
August 24th. 2014 ...
The Pagan Cleric
A Gathering of Sorcerers (A Strange Tale)
August 17th. 2014 ...
To Know, to Will, to Dare...
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Beyond the Wiccan Rede
Article ID: 3748
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 6,371
Times Read: 4,928
Author: RuneWolf [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: December 8th. 2001
Times Viewed: 4,928
If Yahweh did indeed scribe the Ten Commandments onto the living stone of Mt. Sinai, I can't help but feel that He did so out of frustration.
"Okay, I'm gonna write this stuff down in clear and uncomplicated terms that you simply cannot misunderstand or misinterpret, not matter how hard you try!"
It seems that one of the most basic and most powerful human abilities is to find the loophole in anything, whether it is secular or sacred law, the instructions your doctor gives you to save your life, or simply the generous and benevolent guidance of a spiritual mentor. We delight in finding a way to do what we want, often in contravention of the spirit of the law, while still giving lip service to its letter. The classic example is the patient whose doctor has limited him to "one bowl" of ice cream per night. And he only has one bowl - one half-quart mixing bowl, that is!
This may seem an extreme example, but it's true - I have been that patient. There is something about being able to "bend" the truth that lets us get away with doing the wrong thing, even when we are fully aware of what we are doing. As if being able to tell the "truth" to someone else somehow alleviates the consequences of our actions.
Therein, I think, lies the weakness in the "short version" of the Wiccan Rede as a written law. By its very brevity and ambiguity, it demands a high degree of personal honesty and integrity from a species that does not, as a rule, demonstrate those virtues.
The crux of the matter, of course, is defining exactly what is meant by "harm" and exactly who and what is meant by "none." I don't think any of us have any problem with the "do as you will" part - that comes all too naturally!
By way of illustration, let me recount an episode from my early days in the Craft when, with nothing but the noblest of intentions, I thoroughly trashed the Rede.
For many years, a couple of acres of woods had stood unmolested just across the road from our house. It was wonderful having all those trees there - we could sit out on the front balcony, and have nothing to look at but trees swaying in the wind. Then one day, the bulldozers showed up. To my horror, I discovered that the tract had been sold to developers who were going to build "luxury" town homes. I was spitting mad. Razing a perfectly good stand of trees to make way for more overpriced, unneeded yuppie-hovels! Just freakin' great! I stewed on this for several weeks, then decided to take action. I wrote and cast a very powerful warding spell to bind and turn away the developers and their workers.
Over the next several weeks, I sank into a black depression, as my spell appeared not to work in the least. When I (finally!) mentioned this to my Teacher, he immediately knew what the problem was.
Not only had my spell not worked, but my depression was the result of the backlash, via the Law of Threefold Return, of an ill-considered violation of the spirit of the Rede.
Had I considered, my Teacher asked, the harm that I was doing to the developers and their workers by trying to ward them off of the job site?
I was simply incredulous. Here was my Teacher, "SuperPagan, " taking the side of the tree-killers!
But he was absolutely right. In my over-zealousness to "defend the wild, " I had not in fact considered that I might actually be doing harm to someone. I rationalized that the developers wouldn't miss the money - after all, they were just a bunch of fat-cats anyway. And the workers could always find other jobs.
Was I really certain of all that? my Teacher asked. Was I absolutely certain that the developers could afford to have this project ruined? Was it possible that this failure might in fact ruin them, their families and those who depended on them for work? Was it possible that just one worker in this area needed this particular job to keep his home and family intact? And what of the revenue that the new homes would bring to the community, revenue that was used, in part, to subsidize low-income housing, to provide services for the elderly, to shelter and feed the homeless, and to ensure that other wooded areas could in fact be nurtured and cared for properly? Had I honestly considered all these ramifications?
No, I had not. I had decided, on my own, but with the best of intentions, that there was no one to be harmed, therefore I was free to do as I willed. I had, all unknowingly, violated the spirit of the Rede, and was duly suffering the consequences of my actions.
Only after I dis-spelled the warding did my depression lift, and life return to normal.
I have used the phrase "spirit of the Rede" twice now, and have done so deliberately. I believe that there is a vast difference between obeying a law simply because it is written out somewhere, and obeying it because it is part of the warp and weft of the Universal tapestry. We all know that secular laws, written laws, can often be violated without consequence. We see it happening every day around us, from people who disregard red lights, to murderers who get off on a technicality. Spiritual, or Universal, laws are a different story, and I believe that it is impossible to violate these without enduring some form of consequences, even if we have the best of intentions and the noblest of purposes. In a previous essay, I said that I would gladly suffer the consequences of binding a criminal, because I believe that there would indeed be consequences, as a result of the Threefold Law. I do not believe that the Gods judge our actions one at a time, giving dispensation when we are doing the right thing and bringing the hammer down when we are wrong. The Threefold Law - or karma, if you like - is a Universal Law, to which even the Gods Themselves are subject.
Our Rede is an archetype. As Joseph Campbell (more or less) said, archetypes are symbols that point to transcendent realities. Our Rede is merely a collection of words that points to the reality of Universal laws and forces at work. We can fiddle with the words all we want, rearrange them and reinterpret them, look for loopholes and back doors. But that doesn't change the fact that those Universal laws and forces remain inviolate, unalterable and inescapable.
My point being that we could - and probably will, eventually - reword the Rede. That's fine. It still won't alter the fact that we are accountable, not to the "Rede Police, " but to Powers far greater than ourselves.
We seem to concern ourselves overmuch with "The Rede As Law." We debate it endlessly and try to finagle it on the sly, hoping that we "won't get caught." We forget - at least I sometimes do - that the Rede is merely a gentle reminder that we are accountable to ourselves - to our Deep Selves - and to the Universe for our actions, and that there are no free rides. Before you "do as you will, " be darned certain that you are in fact harming none, or be ready to accept the consequences with dignity and grace.
Having said all of that, let me close by saying that we could do far worse than the Rede as our ethical touchstone. Considered deeply, these few words speak eloquently of two of the most powerful and beautiful of human virtues - personal freedom and personal responsibility. We even hear the echo of our Rede in the words of the Dalai Lama: "If you can help someone, do so. If you cannot, then at least do no harm."
And who wants to argue with the Dalai Lama?
In Their Service...
Location: Reston, Virginia
Author's Profile: To learn more about RuneWolf - Click HERE
Other Articles: RuneWolf has posted 34 additional articles- View them?
Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE
Email RuneWolf... (No, I have NOT opted to receive Pagan Invites! Please do NOT send me anonymous invites to groups, sales and events.)
Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2019 The Witches' Voice Inc. All rights reserved
Note: Authors & Artists retain the copyright for their work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.
Website structure, evolution and php coding by Fritz Jung on a Macintosh.
Any and all personal political opinions expressed in the public listing sections
(including, but not restricted to, personals, events, groups, shops, Wrenâ€™s Nest, etc.)
are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of The Witchesâ€™ Voice, Inc.
TWV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.
The Witches' Voice carries a 501(c)(3) certificate and a Federal Tax ID.
Mail Us: The Witches' Voice Inc., P.O. Box 341018, Tampa, Florida 33694-1018 U.S.A.
of The World
NOTE: The essay on this page contains the writings and opinions of the listed author(s) and is not necessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
The Witches' Voice does not verify or attest to the historical accuracy contained in the content of this essay.
All WitchVox essays contain a valid email address, feel free to send your comments, thoughts or concerns directly to the listed author(s).