When Rebecca asked folks to write about the Wiccan Rede, I had to think for a bit about it. I am more of an eclectic pagan than a true Wiccan, though Wiccan beliefs are a part of my personal belief system. Like many people before me, I started out as a Christian and stumbled into paganism. I’ve pulled beliefs and ideas from across the spectrum. I’ve used everything from high magick and European traditions to eastern mysticism and kitchen witchery to form a belief and magical system that work for me.
I’ve seen the Rede, most often in it’s short version: “Do as ye Will, an ye harm none”. In theory, it’s a wonderful idea. In reality, it’s not entirely possible. The very act of living means causing death and destruction. It probably sounds terribly pessimistic or being doom and gloom, but it’s not. It’s something older than the Wiccan Rede; it’s the natural cycle of life.
A prime example is this: in order to live, we must eat. Whether you are an omnivore or a vegetarian, you cause death or harm to creatures or plants by their consumption. Whether it’s that lovely baked potato or a savory steak, something died to provide your sustenance. The potato plant had to be pulled from the ground to harvest its tubers and the cow had to sacrifice its life to provide meat. In the end, you’ve caused harm. Realistically, it’s how life has worked from the very start.
On a different level, there is the issue of how to deal with a person who hurts others. By definition, a police officer who captures a criminal is causing harm. The officer may have to chase and tackle the person, or he may even have to shoot that person. The criminal may end up in a jail cell. Those things, from the criminal’s point of view, would be considered harm. However, what about the greater good? If the criminal isn’t stopped, even if it means that harm in some form comes to them, then more harm happens to other people that the criminal later goes on to hurt.
Those are some obvious issues. Many more statements could be made about simply living in today’s modern word; gas and energy consumption, the toxic materials in electronics, the conditions the clothes and shoes we wear were created in, animal testing by companies who produce the products we use, and so much more.
I did some research and found out that the word rede comes from middle English and means to council or advise. (thank you, Wikipedia!) If you take the Wiccan Rede as advice, it has some great stuff. The longer version contains a great deal of pagan and magical knowledge. The general principal of the shorter Rede, if taken as a moral rather than a rule, councils us to not cause harm to others and the world around us. That is a beneficial rule to live by. That philosophy has come to us in many forms throughout time. There is the “golden rule” that says to do to others what you would want done to you. That moral has been stated, with far more eloquence, from religions such as Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity (to name a few).
Personally speaking, that viewpoint works better for me than if it were a rule or law. It falls in line with my own personal beliefs, for the most part. From my perspective, the Wiccan Rede is a nice source of wisdom and knowledge but I don’t take it literally or as law. What works for others will, of course, vary. And that’s how it should be!
Author’s Bio (Lyn Bullard-White):
I was asked to write a short blurb about myself and perhaps provide a picture. Being as how I’m not a big fan of being in front of a camera, I think I’ll decline the photo option. As to who I am…I’m a 36 year old mom of three kids. We have cats, fish, and a leopard gecko. I have more plants than anyone living in an apartment probably should have, but that’s okay. I was introduced to other views of the world quite young by having grown up in a haunted house. I formally began studying magic when I was 15 and I’ve been learning and growing since. I’m a a gamer, I love anime and manga, and I read and watch sci-fi and fantasy. That’s me in a nutshell.