Ethics: Why the Wiccan Rede is not just for Wiccans
I attended the first of six lectures on ethics this evening. For those wondering if the module is compulsory, the answer is yes. However the content was interesting, focussed and relevant - and quite honestly not what I was expecting. One of the downsides to not bothering with a bachelors degree is you miss out on the differences between what you learn in a school and what you learn at a university. Anyway, that aside, one of the tasks to complete is to pick a motto or mantra for the group. I suggested a one liner from the Wiccan Rede. First though, here is the full excerpt:
Abide the Wiccan Rede ye must In perfect love and perfect trust Eight words the Wiccan Rede fullfil An’ harm ye none, do as ye will
As it is written in “Middle” English, it can be a challenge at the best of times, but if English isn’t your native language it can really confuse things as the sentence structure is pretty much backwards and not many people (i.e. none that I know of) use the word ye. For those that would prefer a sane version try my rendition (which sadly doesn’t rhyme):
You should follow this guidance With best intentions and goodness In summary this guidance means: You can do whatever you want as long as nothing is harmed
Okay, I admit this is not my best work but it does getting the meaning across. The concept is quite straight forward and I think neatly sums up ethical thought and action. In short we should:
Act in the best interest of all
Truly and honestly act with best intentions
Do no harm
In the original rede (rede is ye olde English for guidance) the word none is used. Sometimes people write this as None but I have seen it written both ways numerous times. The idea here is that it doesn’t just mean people or animals. It means everything as a whole. Wiccans see the world (and universe) as an inter connected system - to harm anyone or anything is in effect harming yourself.
I won’t go too deep into Wiccan philosophy but I do think the last line of the rede would make a great mantra:
An’ harm ye none do as ye will
It’s simple, short and sounds pretty cool. It also manages to capture in just eight words what many people have failed to capture in over a thousand.
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