Harm None

by Parker Torrence

The Rede Of The Wiccae by Lady Gwen Thompson & Adriana Porter, was first published in Green Egg Magazine Vol. III. No. 69 (Ostara 1975).

This work is composed of two-line couplets numbered one through twenty six, and contains a total of three hundred seventeen words. So how can any rational person imagine that by distilling this collection of maxims down to only the two words, Harm None, that they have a grasp of the total extent of the philosphy and teachings of the rede?

The Wiccan Rede, as it is more commonly know, is thought by many to only be Eight words, - an it harm none, do what ye will1 (or words to that effect). As for how wide spread these eight words were in traditional Wicca before 1975, please read The Rise Of The Rede.

Then there are some like Merlyn of Our Lady of the Woods, who feel that a more detailed code of ethics is needed2. I might be mistaken but didn’t Lady Galadriel3 write A New Wiccan Book of the Law back in 1985 (2nd edition revised and expanded 1992)? If memory serves, you can’t get much more detailed then that.

So where am I trying to go with this?

The Wiccan Rede is not a commandment! It is an ethical philosophy to measure your actions against. It teaches that in order to practice magick you must take responsibility for your actions. The words “an it harm none” cautions us not to act with malice, or from a place of anger. The second part “do what ye will” is not a license for lawlessness, but a metaphorical sign post, pointing us towards finding our true purpose in this life.

The other twenty five couplets that compose the original Rede Of The Wiccae are a codex of Trad teachings. Some authors have grasped this and made the Wiccan Rede specific to their Trad, accounting for the many variations that circulate.

The Wiccan Rede is more then just Harm None! It is an entire magickal and ethical teaching system codified into three hundred seventeen words. Those who seek to turn two words out of three hundred seventeen into some form of Wiccan Commandment are missing the whole point, and should stop fooling themselves into thinking that they are practicing magick and not causing harm someplace. Unless you have somehow achieved the level of supreme god-head, no one can forcast the total effect of their actions (or non-actions). It is better to act and accept the responsibility for that action. Then to not act, and not acknowledge the effects that your non-action created. Sometimes, not acting can create more harm then acting.

“When the proper man does nothing (wu-wei), his thought is felt ten thousand miles.”

~ Lao Tse

So to all of those who would rob the Rede of its true teachings, I can only say “Stay in bed” that is the only place that you can be sure you will Harm None.

1) Line 26 Rede Of The Wiccae
2) Is the Wiccan Rede Enough? (dead link)
3) Lady Galadriel