I am wondering about The Rede and “Harm None”, and how it works with yourself. Is intentionally harming yourself with toxins (cigarettes, alcohol, pills) fall into the category of harm none?
First off I will start by saying that I do not use the Rede in my practice. I have however put a lot of thought into that choice and its usage in Neo-Paganism and Wicca. I do feel that using the Rede is a very personal choice that can only be determined by the individual. This includes how you use it. How you use it is also tied into why you choose to follow the Rede, and which version you follow.
My personal choice to not use the Rede came from my education, which is very heavily tied into science. Newton’s third law states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This has played heavily into my choice and views. Every action you take as a person has a opposite action and result. For every breath we take we not only continue our life processes but we also destroy oxygen molecules and create carbon dioxide molecules. If we are constantly in a state of destroying oxygen molecules, are we not in a constant state of harming? When I look at the definition of “destroy” the answer is yes. This is my truth and my path and I fully embrace my scientific mind as part of that. And to me if I am in a constant state of harm the Rede in itself becomes negated as an impossible task that we can never strive to fully live up to. Most people would disagree with this and say I was looking into it too much. But this is my choice and how I choose to live my life and path.
I think it is also important to remember that not all Wiccans follow the Rede, nor do they all follow the same version. My tradition does not teach the Rede and encourages people to find and follow the morals dearest to their heart. However, some traditions and lineages have very specific versions that they teach and use for all students. These differences come from the fact that the Rede was written by Doreen Valiente in 1964 which she derived from the notes and works of Gerald Gardner. This was written after Wicca itself was already being practiced.
If your goal is to try and live to the standard of never causing harm to another creature or the planet or anything than it is your choice and your standard to live up to. If you personally view these to be part of that then yes they are included. I would say that a person on this sort of path would also have to consider things like diet and exercise, chemicals used in the home and more. If we choose to never harm our bodies then it does become an all encompassing lifestyle to live up to. I applaud anyone who does this. Just remember that the beauty of being a pagan is that we take our spirituality into our own hands and hearts and can live to our own standards. No one can tell you what to believe in or how you interpret it. They are your choices to make and they are all valid.
Jasmine is a 15 year veteran pagan and Wiccan High Priestess and has been a leader in her local pagan community and done spiritual counseling. To submit questions please email JasmineMoon@gmail.com.