Many moons ago, through a strange twist of fate, Phyllis Curott’s Witch Crafting landed on my door mat. I wasn’t particularly excited about reading it but through lack of other reading fodder at the time, I began to read. By the end of the book, I realised ‘witch’ was something that had been missing in my life. Without anyone to turn to on my new path, I began to read but this time with an insatiable appetite. It wasn’t long before I came across the Wiccan Rede:
“An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will”
It seemed like a sound principle to live by. Actually, after being raised with a good deal of guilt, it was quite liberating. Do what I want? Really? Cool. And as I liked to believe that I wouldn’t harm anyone, at least intentionally, I had the green light. Go me!
To be honest, the Wiccan Rede didn’t change me but it’s a phrase that many people who walk a witchy or Wiccan path like to bring up from time to time. Usually, it’s called upon to remind others to keep their magick and their lives in check. Tagged on with it is the three-fold law, just to make sure those errant witches are mindful of consequences.
I’ve watched online witch-wars take place because of moral high grounds and judgemental attitudes over what is considered harmful.
But here’s the thing: the final line of the Wiccan Rede is impossible to live by. You cannot not do harm.
Every decision you make has a consequence that is harmful to someone or something somewhere. Decide to buy milk from the supermarket instead of the independent corner shop? You’ve harmed the little guy’s profits. Choose to do a little love magick to spice up your weekend…. well, you might have just harmed your significant other’s chances of watching the football game.
You get the idea.
Every choice, from the magickal to the mundane, has a consequence.
Of course, there are varying degrees of harm. If you intentionally set out to go against your moral compass then maybe you should have a serious rethink about what you’re doing. But ultimately that’s up to you to decide.
What the Wiccan Rede teaches us is not to use our magick for nefarious purposes. This is subjective because what’s considered harmful to one person isn’t to another (which means we shouldn’t judge because unless it’s aimed at us, it’s not our business). If you fully lived by the Wiccan Rede, you would be impotent to do anything.
I feel the change in the air of late. As my friend Jonathan Argento is quick to tell me: “Witches stand in opposition.”
We can’t be inactive when we have magick at our fingertips and a world that needs to change. Gently, gently, softly, softly, ever afraid of upsetting somebody…that’s not the witches’ way.
We must take a risk with our witchcraft.
The environment is crumbling, poverty is on the rise, social imbalance is tipped heavily in the one percent’s favour and we try to stuff holes of unhappiness with consumerism. Plastic drifts in our oceans, kids in ‘developed’ countries are malnourished, politicians care more about corporations than people, and there are homeless people on every street corner.
Will we tame our craft to appear harmless or will we rise to the challenges of our times? Witches, let’s forget the Wiccan Rede: we have a world to save.