‘An’ it Harm None, Do What Ye Will’ is part of a line taken from what is referred to as The Wiccan Rede. The full sentence reads ‘Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill, An it harm none do what ye will’. In fact this is just the last sentence in a whole script.
I have seen the shortened term ‘harm none’ thrown around social media on a large scale, often just arbitrarily thrown in at the end of any or all statements made. Whether it is relevant to the content of the comment or not. It seems to be used as a ‘cover all, disclaimer’ of some sort. Two words that vindicate the user from holding any kind of responsibility for the words they have written. i.e. it doesn’t matter if you are offended by what I wrote because ‘harm none’. I am pretty sure that’s not what the Rede is meant for.
A loss of meaning?
And when it is used in every single sentence or statement does it then lose its meaning? Surely the Rede is there to use with the power of intent? If you just chuck a couple of words to round off anything you say, without much thought or intent then doesn’t that render it meaningless? I don’t know, I am just pondering out loud about that angle.
I have used the Rede myself in the past, and even included it as advice in one of my earlier books. I suggest the use of it at the end of spells. For instance, if you cast a money spell but you don’t want to gain the money by someone dying and leaving it to you in their will you could use ‘an harm to none’ as an escape clause.
As I gained more experience in the Craft and widened my perspective I stopped using it in my spell work. My thought being that although this does have the potential to reduce accidents it can also neutralise the spell in some cases. You are telling the magic to work, but also restricting it. I don’t mean by stopping it from killing people (coz that is wrong, definitely wrong) but by curtailing the energy from causing anyone inconvenience.
Properly put together and well thought out spells should not back fire in any way so you shouldn’t need to cover yourself.
If you work a spell to gain more money and you get given overtime instead of your colleague then the spell has worked, but someone else lost out in the process. Your spell/actions affected that other person. You must take responsibility for that.
Actions and reactions
Every single spell affects the will of someone or something. EVERY SINGLE action or reaction we create puts a ripple out into the world and it will have a cause and affect on others. You cannot live life without it doing so. There is no complete and absolute ‘harm none’ way of living, not even in the Star Trek idea of a Utopia, all the Enterprise Captains were always upsetting someone!
Obviously the Rede does not prevent anyone from protecting or defending themselves. That idea would be incredibly silly. But I do think it restricts the flow of energy in a lot of cases, particularly spell work.
Words have power, we all know they do. Spells are created with words, the power of them plus our intent puts the energy into action. So why would you use powerful magic words in such a throw away fashion?
Throwing ‘harm none’ on to the end of every single sentence, statement or comment seems ‘slap dash’ and meaningless to me. And in fact if you use just the two words they have quite a different meaning from the full sentence. There are and should be morals involved in your decisions. Ones that allow you to take control of your own life!
Quick fix world
Perhaps we have gotten lazy, maybe it is in part to do with the modern disposable ‘quick fix’ world? The Craft is beautiful and mysterious, parts of it are light, others dark, finding the balance between them is key. But learning to walk the pathway takes time, effort and experience. And although I don’t walk a Wiccan pathway these days, my initial training was in Wicca. The Rede meant something to me when I was learning initially. The words and belief behind it were important. They seem to have lost something now for some.
Whilst Wicca may not be hundreds of years old it still has a history and a structure that was put in place for a reason. If you are going to follow a pathway into the Craft it should be important to you and you will need to work hard. And I believe wholeheartedly that the words and teachings of it should be respected. I am not asking anyone to blindly follow ‘rules and regulations’ if your tradition has them. It is your journey and you should absolutely ask questions and challenge things all the time. But there should also be respect and personal responsibility.
If you are following a Wiccan pathway I would encourage you to read, learn and research the full text of the Wiccan Rede and discover the full meaning and belief behind it.
Ultimately the responsibility of your words and actions lies with YOU. Only you can make the decision to be a good person, to do what you can to help yourself and others be the best. Only you can decide to look after this planet and the animals that live upon it. There is no ‘get out of jail free card’ in life – you must trust your intuition and your moral compass. And absolutely take responsibility for all your words and actions. But also think about your words carefully before you let them loose on the world.
Originally posted on Beneath the Moon, Patheos Pagan - 17.11.20