Witch-eBytes is a new series of videos by Mani Navasothy – initiated Wiccan High Priest in the Gardnerian Tradition in London. In this video, I talk about the implications of the Wicca rede: `An it Harm none.. do as you will’!
As some of you know, I have over 20 years of The Craft & Coven experiences, as well as over a decade of organising and facilitating open rituals, workshops & training courses in Ritual Magic, Wicca & Paganism. In this video series, I’ll be addressing wicca, magic and pagan concepts, ideals, issues – for educational and training purposes.
Nearly all who practise Wicca & modern Witchcraft will have heard of the Wiccan Rede (An it harm none, Do as you Will’). But am sure not all know that there is a `longer poem’ related to it. The longer version first made its appearance in 1974, when it was published in a magazine `Earth Religion News’. Although people have claimed the longer version originates before 1950’s (before Gerald Gardner `created’ Wicca), some believe that the longer poem was created *after* Doreen Valiente spoke of the short Rede in 1964 in a public lecture. So in fact, original source is still disputed. There is a good article charting this in wikipedia (see links below)
`An it harm none Do what you Will’ is – many would agree, an `impossible’ one to follow 100%. Whatever we do will cause some sort of harm or distress to someone or thing elsewhere.. emotionally or psychologically, if not physically. (simple examples are when we attend a job interview and get the job, so the other candidates don’t get it…Another example is a nice happy country walk.. where just the walking alone probably kills insects and worms underfoot and new seedling plants!). The Wiccan Rede can only ever be an aspiration..and in particular, in the practice of personal magical workings and spell-casting.
I posted just the graphics (above) in a facebook page, and within 10 hrs it had been shared 22 times and reached 1,200+ people (and still going!). It tells me that this is a matter of great interest to many people.
One person asked the question, `at what point do you stop letting it [The Rede] harm you?’
It is an Interesting idea. Trying to be true to `it’ can cause the person harm because it ties the person’s hands from possibly doing what he/she can do to getting what he/she wants without worrying about other people. So the Rede needs to be factoring in a balance of needs and their fulfilment by many people..not just one. ..
Another comment made was, `and it harm none also applies to yourself’
My response to this is, in everyday world, people -while serving themselves- do (Will) countless `ordinary’ things that in some way cause harm/ stress/ distress to many other people or living things (animals, trees, environment)… That’s is them just going about their lives…without even being spiritual, religious or magical in any conscious way.. So this Rede is ..as said before.. an `impossible guideline’ to follow to the letter!. It can only be an aspiration.. and has to be balanced with everything else one does.. be it self-serving or selfless serving of others.
I shall add more to this as and when I hear of other questions/ comments and any related responses I give.
Below are 2 resources – A full version of Wiccan Rede poem, and a video by Stephen Cole (friend of mine) reciting the full poem in a video for his `One Man Theatre Company’
The Wiccan Rede (Full Version)
Bide within the Law you must, in perfect Love and perfect Trust.
Live you must and let to live, fairly take and fairly give.
For tread the Circle thrice about to keep unwelcome spirits out.
To bind the spell well every time, let the spell be said in rhyme.
Light of eye and soft of touch, speak you little, listen much.
Honor the Old Ones in deed and name,
let love and light be our guides again.
Deosil go by the waxing moon, chanting out the joyful tune.
Widdershins go when the moon doth wane,
and the werewolf howls by the dread wolfsbane.
When the Lady’s moon is new, kiss the hand to Her times two.
When the moon rides at Her peak then your heart’s desire seek.
Heed the North winds mighty gale, lock the door and trim the sail.
When the Wind blows from the East, expect the new and set the feast.
When the wind comes from the South, love will kiss you on the mouth.
When the wind whispers from the West, all hearts will find peace and rest.
Nine woods in the Cauldron go, burn them fast and burn them slow.
Birch in the fire goes to represent what the Lady knows.
Oak in the forest towers with might, in the fire it brings the God’s
insight. Rowan is a tree of power causing life and magic to flower.
Willows at the waterside stand ready to help us to the Summerland.
Hawthorn is burned to purify and to draw faerie to your eye.
Hazel-the tree of wisdom and learning adds its strength to the bright fire burning.
White are the flowers of Apple tree that brings us fruits of fertility.
Grapes grow upon the vine giving us both joy and wine.
Fir does mark the evergreen to represent immortality seen.
Elder is the Lady’s tree burn it not or cursed you’ll be.
Four times the Major Sabbats mark in the light and in the dark.
As the old year starts to wane the new begins, it’s now Samhain.
When the time for Imbolc shows watch for flowers through the snows.
When the wheel begins to turn soon the Beltane fires will burn.
As the wheel turns to Lamas night power is brought to magic rite.
Four times the Minor Sabbats fall use the Sun to mark them all.
When the wheel has turned to Yule light the log the Horned One rules.
In the spring, when night equals day time for Ostara to come our way.
When the Sun has reached it’s height time for Oak and Holly to fight.
Harvesting comes to one and all when the Autumn Equinox does fall.
Heed the flower, bush, and tree by the Lady blessed you’ll be.
Where the rippling waters go cast a stone, the truth you’ll know.
When you have and hold a need, harken not to others greed.
With a fool no season spend or be counted as his friend.
Merry Meet and Merry Part bright the cheeks and warm the heart.
Mind the Three-fold Laws you should three times bad and three times good.
When misfortune is enow wear the star upon your brow.
Be true in love this you must do unless your love is false to you.
These Eight words the Rede fulfill: An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will.
Here also is a video by a friend of mine, Stephen Cole
Having written quite critically about some aspects of the Wiccan Laws, I wanted to illustrate 3 fundamental laws that nearly all wiccans accept and use in their lives. No just Wiccan, but even pagans (in general) use these..
So here’s an extract from one of the e-Witch Apprentice modules.
“Know Thy Self
`Know Thy Self’ is an important part of all magical work. When we work intensely in the realms of magic, we come across the energies and forces of other people – magical and non-magical, other living things, and magical or esoteric entities (spirits, guides, ghosts, fairies etc). It is easy to become so involved with those, that you can `loose’ your own identity or boundary. It is similar to have a very close relationship with another person, where you sometimes can be in danger of loosing your own identity, likes, wants, hopes by doing too much for the other person. So as well as studying magical energies, we also dedicate an equal amount (if not more) of time to knowing about our own self – our hopes, wants, fears, nightmares, and of course our skills and abilities.
An it harm none, do what you will!
This is a very important `law’ in Wiccan communities, and it’s essence can not be impressed upon you enough! Basically, it speaks of personal responsibility, and implies that – `as long as your actions do not in any way harm others, you may do what ever you like’. This is harder to achieve than you might think!! Our every action or intention has the possibility of impacting on, or affecting (directly or indirectly) one or more peoples’ lives around us. We find that it is nearly impossible to take any sort of action that will not affect others. Yet, we must strive and aspire to this moral code of Witches!
One word of warning: Do not try to use some clever logical arguments or lines of thoughts to `crack’ this code to justify your own actions. Best you can do is to acknowledge it, and aspire to it in as humble manner as possible.
The 3-fold return
Most Wiccans & magical practitioners believe in the natural law of return – especially a 3-fold return! What this means is that whatever actions we take or energies we send out, we believe that 3 times that amount will come back to us – sooner or later (in this life!). Any good deeds you perform selfishly has the potential to return some 3 times benefit; By the same token, if you take actions that harm others or disrupt them, your own life may suffer similar or different kind of harm or disruptions – sooner or later, and when you least expect it! These are very similar to the Hindu principles of Karma!!”