Wiccan Ethics And The Wiccan Rede
By: David Piper, Sat 21 May 94 12:16
Part II: "Do good, an it be safe..." (from the Ordains)
The MR Rede is the most common interpretation in Wicca today; so much
so, that not only do many Wiccans not realize there's a difference in
the two constructions, but they *deny* it when it is pointed out to
them, holding firmly to the MR Rede as what the original has always
At first the change of language was only an attempt to bring the
language up from archaic, to modern English; but in doing so - especial-
ly with the public relations campaign, to convince people that Wiccans
are "not black magick/not devil worship/not evil nasty curse-casters"
the "harmlessness" aspect of the Rede was stressed, over the personal
responsibility aspect. And in essence Wiccans became the victims of
their own PR campaign.
An additional result is the injunction that one may never work magick
for others, even to heal, without their knowledge and consent. Of
course, we are allowed by this injunction to ask "Can I pray for you?"
as a means of obtaining the consent. From "a love spell aimed at one
particular person is unethical because it violates their will only to
serve our lust" we've moved to an extreme: to the prohibitive injunction
against ever doing any magick for another without permission, since it
violates their free will. Does anyone *really* believe the Gods will
judge them ill, for attempting to heal someone?
What of the case of an unconscious accident victim and family unavail-
able to ask - are we forbidden to work? No, of course we're not - but
we *do* have to accept the karmic consequences of such acts. Do you
really think that a neurotic who uses an illness as a crutch wouldn't be
better healed of that neurosis as well as the illness? Of course that
may call up some karma if the person isn't strong enough to give up that
crutch yet. Once again the real criteria is *personal responsibility*
and consideration of the consequences of one's actions *before* one acts
rather than the "thou shalt not" prohibitive commandment.
There is however another reason for the "prohibitive form" of these
redes - one which has some validity. The teacher bears a karmic respon-
sibility for the student. There was a group whose teaching was, "No
magick may be done for another, even to heal, without their consent; any
exceptions may be decided only by the High Priestess and the High
Priest." The point of this is that a student is not yet experienced
enough, not yet wise enough (since wisdom is the harvest we reap of our
experience and knowledge), to have that kind of decision, and the
resulting karmic burden, left to rest fully upon her/his shoulders -
hence, some teachers and some Trads do not allow neophytes to have
responsibility for that kind of decision-making.
It is far better, however, to teach a student the essential importance
of personal responsibility, the need to look ahead for possible
consequences before they act, than to lay "thou shalt not's" upon them
despite Wicca's insistance that we have none.
I received a comment about the last sentence in part I, paragraph 3,
that said "Ack! Welcome to the One Wiccan Commandment! Any 'thou shalt
nots' lurking around?" Food for thought, my fellow Wiccans! Food for