Moon Phase


Friday, February 11, 2011

"An it harm none, do as ye will."

Wicca is an ethical religion. A VERY ethical religion. And to make things more interesting, the decisions about what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad are left up to the individual. Wicca has no code of laws, no ten commandments, no rules of conduct, just one piece of advice and a principle of return.

If it harm none, do as ye will.

The core of this statement is the word harm. What is harm? Harm is a vague word; it could mean any injury however slight, or a major injury under a specific context. The degree of injury in the word harm must come to us from the context it is used in, but in the Rede we have very little context, so what constitutes harm? This is the bit that you have to think about, use some common sense and intuition. The following is my definition of harm and the reasoning I used to arrive at it, but please, please do not take my word for this most crucial aspect of Wicca you must form your own conclusions based on your own reasoning and moral sensibilities.

It is not physically possible to live without causing some small injury to someone or something. For instance: if you brush your teeth, you are causing harm to the bacteria that live on them. If you take antibiotics to cure an infection, you are causing more harm to bacteria. Not to mention that you can't possibly eat anything... whatever you might eat, plant or animal, is harmed by your Ingestion. So using common sense and Goddess given wisdom, we see that this is not the type of harm that is meant by the Rede. So we are back to the question...what constitutes harm. Well to answer this I turned to Nature. What is Nature's definition of harmful? I started first by looking to plants and animals to answer those things that might be considered harmful to someone but occur regularly in all of Nature and came up with the following.

1. It is not harm to kill and eat something to continue your existence.
2. It is not harm to defend your young from predators.
3. It is not harm to defend your body from disease and parasites.
4. It is not harm to use natural materials to construct your nest. far, but what if you take ALL the natural materials from an area and leave nothing for someone else to use.... Then some other concepts come into play. Moderation, necessity, and balance. When injury is caused is must be driven by necessity (to continue living, to grow, to procreate) to not be a harm. It must be confined to the specific need and no more...moderation. SO proceeding from these concepts my definition of harm goes as following: Harm is any physical, emotional, or spiritual act that destroys the natural balance or does not serve to promote life, healing, growth or enlightenment. In this perspective, it is not a violation of the Rede to remove a tumor, or brush your teeth, or eat meat, or dig up weeds. There are some injuries that are necessary to promote life, healing, growth and enlightenment, and these are not harm. With harm defined then the Rede becomes a good piece of advice...there is nothing forbidden to us, but in every act we must consider what the consequences will be, not only for ourselves but for all of Nature, so we are always striving to act correctly and for the good of all.

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