Before we get deeper into spell work, I want to take a small step back and go over what I feel are very important foundations. The Wiccan Rede, An’ it harm none, do what thou wilt, is a fairly common tenet found amongst most modern witches. Note that I did not say all witches. Witchcraft is entirely too diverse to say anything all inclusive.
The Wiccan Rede is an awesome tenet in my opinion, it’s a good thing to live your life by, but a lot of people over think what the Rede means in it’s entirety. So, in 1973 and 1974 a very diverse group of witches, called the Council of American Witches, made an attempt to define the Wiccan Rede. After much debate, they eventually agreed on these 13 points:
1. We practice rites to attune ourselves with the natural rhythm of life forces, marked by the phases of the Moon, and the seasonal Quarters and Cross Quarters.
2. We recognize that our intelligence gives us a unique responsibility toward our environment. We seek to live in harmony with nature in ecological balance, offering fulfillment to life and consciousness within an evolutionary concept.
3. We acknowledge a depth of power far greater than that apparent to the average person. Because it is far greater than ordinary it is sometimes called supernatural, but we see it as lying within that which is naturally potential to all.
4. We conceive of the Creative Power in the universe as manifesting through polarity, as masculine and feminine, and that this same Creative Power lies in all people, and functions through the interaction of the masculine and feminine. We value neither above the other, knowing each to be supportive of the other. We value sex as pleasure, as the symbol and embodiment of life, and as one of the sources of energy used in magickal practice and religious worship.
5. We recognize both outer worlds and inner, or psychological worlds sometimes known as the Spiritual World, the Collective Unconsciousness, the Inner Planes, etc., and we see in the interaction of these two dimensions the basis for paranormal phenomena and magickal exercises. We neglect neither dimension for the other, seeing both as necessary for our fulfillment.
6. We do not recognize any authoritarian hierarchy, but do honor those who teach, respect those who share their greater knowledge and wisdom, and acknowledge those who have courageously given of themselves in leadership.
7. We see religion, magick, and wisdom in living as being united in the way one views the world and live within it; a world view and philosophy of life which we identify as Witchcraft, the Wiccan Way.
8. Calling oneself “Witch” does not make a Witch, but neither does heredity itself, nor the collecting of titles, degrees and initiations. A Witch seeks to control the forces within her/himself that make life possible in order to live wisely and without harm to others and in harmony with nature.
9. We believe in the affirmation and fulfillment of life in a continuation of evolution and development of consciousness giving meaning to the Universe we know and our personal role within it.
10. Our only animosity towards Christianity, or towards any other religion or philosophy of life, is to the extent that its institutions have claimed to be “the only way,” and have sought to deny freedom to others and to suppress other ways of religious practice and belief.
11. As American Witches, we are not threatened by debates on the history of the craft, the origins of various terms, the legitimacy of various aspects of different traditions. We are concerned with our present and our future.
12. We do not accept the concept of absolute evil, nor do we worship an entity known as “Satan” or “the Devil” as defined by Christian tradition. We do not seek power through the suffering of others, nor accept that personal benefit can be derived only by denial to another.
13. We believe that we should seek within Nature that which is contributory to our health and well-being.
I’m probably about to tick someone off with what I’m about to say, and so be it, but I feel that a lot of people these days tend to forget these tenets. Yes, not everyone has studied Wicca, or even know these tenets exist, but those that claim to have studied Wicca should know these tenets, or at least have read them once or twice. There are so many people out there that forget that Witchcraft was not created to be a “one true and right way” type of religion. We are taught to believe that because each human is so different and unique, there should never be one exact way of worship either. Your way of worship should be personal and fulfilling to you, with a respect for other’s ways of worship as well.
These tenets are terrific to live by and hold in your heart. In my opinion, they embody what Witchcraft truly is about. However, just because you live by these tenets doesn’t mean that you have to be a fluffy bunny and allow yourself to be attacked or harmed because you aren’t to harm others. I learned that lesson a hard way for myself. When I was 15 and just starting out, I had an amazing mentor, whose opinion matter the most to me in the world. At that age, I had a problem with cutting myself. I am an abuse survivor, from the hands of my biological father, and trying to deal with that at such a young age was too hard for me to deal with. Cutting myself was a way of taking control of the pain I felt. I was the one who dealt pain to me, no one else. Yeah, a twisted way to look at it, but that’s the way I looked at it.
One week I was in his shop going over our weekly studies when all of a sudden he grabbed my arm, flipped it over, and found some of the cuts. Somehow he had just sense that they were there. I had them hidden under a long sleeve shirt, and when it wasn’t long sleeve weather I work wrist bands that hid most of them. He asked me what they were, why they were there, and I explained everything to him. He was the first male outside of my grandfather and step-dad that I had trusted after being hurt by my biological father, and it meant the world to me to be able to openly talk to him about those things. I cried, and he asked me, “Have you not been paying attention to our studies at all?”
I was heartbroken! I could cast a circle just as good as his, I could recite everything he asked of me, and I could cast a protection spell that was infallible. I just couldn’t understand where he thought that I wasn’t paying attention. He sensed what I was feeling and was going to say, and he said, “The first lesson we ever went over was ‘Harm none, do what you will.’ You are the most adept student I’ve ever had come into these doors, you are the first of the people that asked to study with me that was truly dedicated to the path and not just playing, but you haven’t absorbed what that saying means.”
“It means don’t harm anyone when you do magick, or in your every day life,” I said, “but I’m not harming anyone, just me. That doesn’t count.” He looked at me as if he was ready to smack me upside the head. He didn’t because he knew the things I’d been through. He took a breath, and said, “Of course you count, idiot. When it says ‘harm none,’ it means ‘harm none,’ you included. If you don’t understand that you have to be in good health, mentally and physically, to be able to truly work magick, you will never be more than a scholar who understands the principles, but can’t do what they know.” He ended our session right then, even though we still technically had an hour or more left, and informed me to spend the rest of my week meditating on and thinking about what he had just told me. He counted every cut, and checked all the scars, keeping them in memory, and told me if he found even just one more, or sensed that I had cut somewhere that wouldn’t show, he would end our lessons indefinitely and I would be left on my own.
That’s super tough love for someone as emotionally wrecked as I was at the age, but I took what he said to heart. I meditated and thought until my brain hurt, and I totally understood what he was saying. I’ve never thought of cutting myself ever again. Granted there were a couple times I wished I would die, like when Gram passed from this world and I felt I couldn’t live without her, but at times like that his voice always comes back to me saying, “When it says ‘harm none,’ it means ‘harm none!'” I took that lesson 100% to heart, and as you’ve read today I can still remember every minute detail of the day my mentor made me realize what that Rede truly means. So, no you should not be a fluffy bunny. When it says harm none, that’s what it means, including you. If you feel attacked or feel as if your family or loved ones are being attacked, it is good to defend yourself, keep you and yours safe and protected and healthy and happy. If that means sending a curse back to who it came from so be it, but don’t hurt innocent bystanders in the process. If that means killing a couple snakes, spiders, or scorpions to protect you or your loved ones so be it, but don’t be cruel about it.
So there’s what I wanted to talk about today. For your homework, whether you’re new or have been on your path for a while, take out a notebook, write down these points, and ask yourself if you’ve been living by them. Yes, we all slip and there’s probably a couple you’re not living by just because you don’t think about them, so this is not an exercise in berating yourself, this is a way to refocus your path and goals; a way to remind you why you came to this religion in the first place. Write down the points that you may need to focus on a bit more and try your best to reinstate them in your life.