The Rede

I really am beginning to wonder what people believe the difference is between Wiccan and non-Wiccan. I suspect that many people who say that they are not Wiccan, may have Wiccan leanings. I’ve found that most people think that what delineates the Wiccan/Non-Wiccan traditional boundary is the rede. If they don’t follow what they see as the Wiccan rede, they feel that they aren’t Wiccan. Even if they follow a Wiccan ritual structure, honor the eight sabbats, honor polarity in their gods, etc., if they do any harm (or manipulation) as part of their practice, they feel that they aren’t Wiccan. Some are sad about that, others are happy, since many think Wicca is a fluffy sort of tradition. They couldn’t be more incorrect.

One of the biggest Wiccan misconceptions is that of the rede. The rede- eight words- “An it harm none, do as ye will.” That’s it. The misconception is that this is an ethical law that all Wiccans must abide. Or else! The first point, unfortunately, is that there is really no possible way to harm none. I’m pretty sure that the head of lettuce that your salad was made from is pretty pissed off about being killed for your food. I’ve read a few studies that illustrate that plants have feelings, too. We have to eat, it’s part of the natural cycle, and we must harm something to eat, and stay alive. Would you squash a black widow spider who made the poor choice of weaving her web on the your baby’s crib? We all harm to different degrees- it’s impossible to follow the rede as an ethical law.

The second point is that the rede isn’t a law at all. It’s a piece of advice. The word rede means advice. It advises you to do no harm, mainly because it will come back to you. Regardless of trad, most Pagans believe in some sort of Law of Return, Law of Three or karma. This is no different from the rede, really. The witch takes in the situation, calculates the possibility of any consequences, and acts accordingly. Wiccans may do harm, if the situation calls for it, same as any other witch. Each witch, regardless of what path they align themselves with, will have their own personal ethical code.


Kristin said...

Can't speak for everyone but the difference to me is a Wiccan generally has some sort of belief in a God/Dess duality, at least in the forms I've seen. They make work with other deities or consider all deities as one, but that's what I always assumed. (Though I won't assume anyone Wiccan unless they first claim so themselves.)

I also assume some sort of following of the Rede, I suppose, but mostly it's the God/Dess that implies Wiccan to me.

(I'm a hard polytheist myself and don't revere a God/Dess duality at all, nor do I think there is every a duality on this planet, nor have a set system of morality since I don't follow any concrete laws at all.)

Of course if someone is a Wiccan and doesn't conform to "my" assumptions I will still call them by whatever they prefer. But that's how I see it...if it helps...

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