Ethics is a huge topic, and something that we could do an entire year on. At the heart of Wiccan ethics is the Rede- “An Harm ye none, do what you will.”
In class we discussed the evolution of the Wiccan Rede, and how the long version was formed, how it connects with the “Code of my craft” in Scottish Witchcraft (part of the reading) and also the history of how “Do no Harm” has evolved as a part of classical education, the age of enlightenment etc.
For a more information please consider:
Article that the original poetic version of the Rede was published in Green Egg magazine
Article about the historical origins of the Wiccan Rede:
Or this opinion piece from a Garnderian:
How to interpret the Rede
If we go with the short Rede from Gardner, “An Harm Ye None, Do what you will”
This statement, on its face value, is somewhat challenging, as it asks the practitioner to determine what is harm.
Is it even possible to live without causing any harm?
Is the Rede asking us to go live in the woods and only eat food that falls off of trees?
How do we balance the reality that in modern life it is extremely challenging to understand what actions we are taking, and how they create harm?
Contemporary life makes this challenging- especially in the context of purchasing goods. Complex supply chains are a huge part of why harm has become abstract. We no longer know who makes our goods. What went into them, or if the creation of the thing we are purchasing created harm. Consumers are told to vote with their dollars, but the actual way to do this is murky at best.
Somewhat similar to trying to reduce ones interaction with plastics, or Amazon, these things can be much more challenging to implement in reality than in a thought experiment. Here is an interesting article about how pervasive Amazon is in our lives.
In my own practice I do the best I can, and when I know how to do better, I try to implement that into my life.
Some other important issues that came up in either the reading or our discussion of ethics:
This label has been overused and is a touchy topic. Nonetheless, it is something that needs to be addressed in the context of Wicca. We need to make sure that we are doing our best to be stewards of our experience and not perpetuating harm.
For a good definition and reasoned discussion of cultural appropriation and how it differs from appreciation, please look at https://bento.cdn.pbs.org/hostedbento-prod/filer_public/whatihear/9-Cultural_Approp-Viewing_Guide.pdf