Warnings and Ethics in Wiccan Spellcraft

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here are many books on spells. A few of these books contain lists of magickal ethics that are absolutely hilarious. If you believe magick is real, why would you need a set of ethics other than the ethics that you have already acquired for dealing with the real world? Ultimately, what you have been told matters very little, because you will probably do what you will anyway. Ethics simply do not make a difference unless they are your ethics. How many laws would you obey if not for the potential of jail or fines?

When it comes to spellcraft, it is not what you have been told that counts. It is what you feel that counts. It is that inner voice that says an action is right or wrong. When these feelings are grouped together and presented as a set of religious values, they become religious morals.

Hindu teachings call it the yama. Buddhism calls it the sila. Judaism calls it the Law of Moses. Christianity call it the "Sermon on the Mount" and Wicca calls it the Rede. Each is a collection of social ethics and guidelines that partially define the religion to which it belongs.

You should not try following these ethics just because they are part of your religion. Instead, they should be a part of your religion because you follow them. Your choice of religion should be a carefully considered decision, which allows an environment in which your personal ethics can exist harmoniously with your religious morals. If you have chosen your religion well, that religious group's sense of morality will also be your ethics. If not, then you will likely run into some rather unsettling problems.

If the morals of your religion are compatible with your personal ethics, then they are much more than a set of rules. They are your magickal warnings. They warn you when you are getting too close to an issue that will distract the mind from your intent. Unlike speed limits and stop signs, there is always a witness present when you break one of your own rules. You are that witness, you are the judge, and in very extreme situations you are the executioner.

Consider the life of a gay man within a religion that teaches homosexuality is an abomination against the Creator. By accepting that religion's sense of morality, he accepts a set of ethics that cause his intent to be in conflict. On one hand, he wants to be in a loving relationship with someone that he finds sexually desirable. On the other hand, he wants to live a moral life. As you can imagine, short of rejecting the morals of that religion, he will not be able to achieve any level of happiness.

This is one of the greatest reasons for the recent swell of the Wiccan community. The one ethic that our community seems to teach contains only eight words, "An ye harm none do what ye will." You can see how such a liberal ethic would appeal to a wider range of people. But the simplicity of this ethic is deceptive. One of the reasons the man in the previous paragraph found his intent in conflict was because he wanted to like himself. He wanted to believe he was moral.

With the possible exception of sociopaths, we all want to feel that way. A simplistic interpretation of the Wiccan Rede does not allow this feeling unless one is content to go through life without incident, challenge, or accomplishment.

If Wicca is truly a nature-based religion, the Wiccan Rede could not possibly instruct that we may not cause harm. Consider natural law. If a fox catches a rabbit for his dinner, is the fox living in compliance with the Wiccan Rede? After all, he did harm the rabbit. The answer is simple: The Wiccan Rede does not instruct that we may not cause harm. It simply instructs that if no harm is taking place, then there is no reason that we should not do as we will. And what happens when our will does cause harm?

This was probably the question that was on Doreen Valiente's mind when she wrote the Poem of the Wiccan Rede. Within her poem, we find further instructions that include both "live and let to live" as well as "fairly take and fairly give." Without examination, these two statements do not appear to be able to exist harmoniously in the fox and rabbit situation. Examination is the key. To do so is a function of the mind. This is exactly what Wiccan morality calls on us to do.

No one can be completely sure where the Wiccan Rede came from, but we do have enough clues to make a very educated guess. Aleister Crowley wrote, "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law." As Crowley and Gerald Gardner were colleagues, it doesn't seem like much of a leap to say that the origins of the Wiccan Rede can be found in Crowley's Law of Thelema. By disassociating the Rede from its most likely origin, we also disassociate the principles that were once associated with its creation. Crowley believed that if one followed his own will, it would be very unlikely that there would be conflicts with the will of others. If, and only if, the rare occasion that the will of two men were in conflict, resolution should be found in fighting as brothers.

Because I am a vegetarian, the Rede instructs me not to eat meat. But because I interpret the Rede only for myself, I have no problem eating tofu delight at the same table as a friend who is eating a hamburger. However, if anyone should ever try to force me to eat meat, I assure you I will fight like a brother to prevent the occurrence. Because my natural mother placed me in an adoption service that found me a wonderful home, I also interpret the Rede as instructing that abortions are wrong. But because I interpret the Rede only for myself, I tend to vote pro-choice.

Many of the ethical decisions that we are faced with come with a tremendous emotional toll. So much is this the case that it is typically difficult for us to predict ahead of time what our responses to any given situation will be. What happens should I find myself the father of an unborn child whose mother intends an abortion? I hope to never find myself in that situation, but if I do, I trust that my ethics will pull me through.

Religious morals can be a hindrance or strength in any effort, but because spellcraft and magick are so deeply dependent on the functions of the mind, how you think about a particular magickal aspiration will greatly affect its outcome. Thus, in order to afford the highest chances for success, every Wiccan spell must be cast in accordance with the ethics of the person who is casting the spell.

If you have practiced Wicca for any length of time, you have probably had a few stray ethics thrown at you time and time again. A couple of these ethics have become so popular that some might consider them part of the Wiccan sense of morality. I do not. Wicca is a religion of the individual. As such, the individual must decide what is and is not a Wiccan moral and in so doing, the decision is only made for that individual.

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