In my first article on the Wiccan Rede I explored its history, and spent a lot of time basically debunking the idea that it’s a sacred commandment which must be obeyed at all costs. In this article I’m going to look at the short-form Wiccan Rede and explain why it is still relevant for modern Wiccans.
“An it harm none, do what ye will.”
As I said in my first article, in this context “an” actually means “if”, so the short Rede is telling us to examine our actions and if they harm none, we can do as we please. This isn’t a commandment from God, but advice on how to live well and be a good person. Given that I’ve emphasised the fact that the Rede is not divine law, you may be wondering why I’m now saying that it has relevance for modern Wiccans.
The threefold law completely supports my core beliefs – not just about Wicca, but about life. You are the sole captain of your fate, and you are the only person who can decide what is right for you. This is true in Wicca and it is true in everyday life.
In Wicca you have to put the time and effort into trying new things, experimenting, seeing what feels right to you, and what you feel comfortable with. You can’t just lip sync along with someone else’s words, with no connection to what you’re saying and no understanding of what you’re doing, and expect to be wowed by the results.
Similarly you can’t copy someone else’s life and expect it to make you happy. You have to work out for yourself what makes you happy and what you want out of life, instead of focussing on what worked for your parents, or your neighbours, or your favourite celebrity.
The corollary to this is that if what you want out of life can only be achieved at the expense of others, you may want to reassess your priorities. I don’t think you can be truly content unless you achieve a balance in your life between self and others; if all you think of is yourself then you’re not actually leading a particularly full or rich life. By considering the impact your actions have on the people and world around you, you are actually opening yourself up to a wealth of new experiences and information.
Acting with consideration for others is also the morally right thing to do. There are not many things I would consider immoral, but I do think that a life focussed on unpleasant and hateful actions cannot be at all rewarding or fulfilling. If there’s happiness to be found in it, then I can’t believe it’s anything more than a thin veneer over a rotten core. Instead, I think that by only considering selfish, transitory pleasures, you miss out on the deeper more fulfilling contentment that comes from living a good life.
So there you have it; the key to happiness – consider the impact your actions will have on others and concentrate on the things you want out of life without allowing anyone else to dictate to you. Or to put it more succinctly, an it harm none, do as ye will.