I hadn’t the right to exist. I had appeared by chance, I existed like a stone, a plant or a microbe. My life put out feelers toward small pleasures in every direction. Sometimes it sent out vague signals; at other times I felt nothing more than a harmless buzzing.
Wicca has no commandments. We have no rules, no laws, no tenets. We do of course have the Rede; “an’ it harm none, do as ye will” - “should it harm no-one, do what you want”. But, it’s not a binding contract. It’s not a divine sacrament to which we must adhere.
The Rede is a guideline. It’s a very good guideline, a guideline I hope you follow in all things as much as you reasonably can. But at the end of the day… it’s optional. There is no Hell if you disobey, no eternal damnation for not believing in the Wiccan spirituality. You won’t be rewarded with eternal life for becoming a Wiccan - at least, no more than anyone else, since we’ll all enter the Summerlands eventually no matter in whom we place our faith.
So if you disobey the Rede, if you harm with malicious intent, if you act in a manner that hurts yourself or those around you… well at the end of the day, there is no Karmic retribution. No smiting from on-high by the almighty. Nothing.
There’s just you, being a hateful little shit.
You see, the Wiccan perspective on morality is very different to that of say, Christianity. Christians believe that YHWH is the ultimate moral authority, that all morality, truth and rightness in the world stem, ultimately, from him. Thus in order to do what is moral you must do what YHWH’s laws require of you, no matter how counter-intuitive or confusing or even downright offensive those laws are to your own ethical sense. You are told that your ethics are irrelevant, that only those of your deity are worth considering. You are told to stop thinking for yourself, and to start acting blindly and damn the consequences. You’re told you’ll go to Hell for all eternity if you fail.
This is not morality.
Wiccans view the world differently. We see it as being full of many things - hope, pain, joy, sorrow, pleasure, grief, ecstasy. But the thing it’s full of more than anything else to us is choice. We are not bound by laws, restricted by commandments, instructed to “do this, and only this”. We are ultimately, impossibly, incontrovertibly free to be ourselves. To be the truest, freest, realist possibly self we could ever hope to be.
We choose to love, and we choose to hate. We choose to gift, and we choose to take. Our choices define us, because the Wiccan morality is made of nothing, nothing other than choices. The Goddess didn’t command us not to kill. She told us to make our own choices, but wherever possible to try to choose those things that brought pleasure, love, and peace into the world. She is a Goddess of the wild savannas and the deep waters. She is the Goddess of the predator just as much as of the prey. She knows that there is no way to live life perfectly, to harm nothing, to injure no-one. She knows there are no laws that survive unbroken.
So instead, we make our own laws. We choose our own fates. We do good deeds not because our Gods have commanded us to do so. We sew seeds of love and peace not because it is an ethical tithe. We believe in the Gods, we believe in doing what is right, we believe in being fundamentally good people not because we are trying to avoid eternal damnation.
We do it because it is the right thing to do.
Moral actions taken to avoid punishment are not moral. Good deeds performed out of contractual obligation are not good. If your morality stems from a fear of punishment - be it divine or mortal - you are not a good person. You’re just a scared person.
Fear does not make morality. Choice - utterly uninhibited choice - makes morality.
As Wiccans, we have no commandments, no laws, no tenets. We are asked, wherever possible, to harm none in the course of doing what our hearts desire. There is no punishment for failure, no damnation for disbelief. We simply do what is good because it’s a good thing to do.
And ultimately, that’s the highest good there can be.
John Dee: Scholar, Astrologer, and Occult Practitioner that Captivated the Royal Court of 16th Century
Born into the era of intellectual and artistic reawakening, John Dee quickly rose through Elizabethan society as a scholar, philosopher, navigator, doctor, and astrologer of the Queen of England. Fascinated in so many fields, including a deep fascination with the occult, his vast interests resulted in his unintentional creation of the largest personal library in Elizabethan England at the time, visited by renowned scholars from all over the world. Luckily for modern historians, Dee was a prolific enough writer that his life is well documented, however the way in which he was tasked with so many important roles in the British court is still an incredible dilemma.
Most of us understand that “God” (or its equivalent) means the one God who is the source of all things, whereas “god” (or its equivalent) indicates one or another of a plurality of divine beings who inhabit the cosmos and reign over its various regions. This is not, however, merely a distinction in numbering, between monotheism and polytheism, as though the issue were merely that of determining how many “divine entities” one happens to think there are. It is a distinction, instead, between two entirely disparate conceptual orders…
At a trivial level, one sees the confusion in some of the more shopworn witticism of popular atheism: “I believe neither in God nor in the fairies at the bottom of my garden,” for instance, or “All people are atheists in regard to Zeus, Wotan, and most other gods; I simply disbelieve in one god more.”…If one truly imagines these are all comparable kinds of intellectual conviction then one is clearly confused about what is at issue. Beliefs regarding fairies are beliefs about a certain kind of object that may or may not exist within the world, and such beliefs have much the same sort of intentional shape and rational content as beliefs regarding one’s neighbors over the hill or whether there are such things as black swans. Beliefs regarding God concern the source and ground and end of all reality, the unity and existence of every particular thing and the totality of all things, the ground of the possibility of anything at all. Fairies and gods, if they exist, occupy something of the same conceptual space as organic cells, photons, and the force of gravity, and so the sciences might perhaps have something to say about them, if a proper medium for investigating them could be found…God, by contrast, is the infinite actuality that makes it possible for either photons or (possibly) fairies to exist, and so can be “investigated” only, on the one hand, by acts of logical deduction and induction and conjecture or, on the other, by contemplative or sacramental or spiritual experiences. Belief or disbelief in fairies or gods could never be validated by philosophical arguments made from first principles…The question of God, by contrast, is one that can and must be pursued in terms of the absolute and the contingent, the necessary and the fortuitous, potency and act, possibility and impossibility, being and nonbeing, transcendence and immanence. Evidence for or against the existence of Thor or King Oberon would consist only in local facts…it would be entirely empirical, episodic, psychological, personal, and hence elusive. Evidence for or against the reality of God, if it is there, saturates every moment of the experience of existence, every employment of reason, every act of consciousness, every encounter with the world around us.
“Don’t you see?” Meg asked, after a few moments. “Choosing your own path is what makes you
free. Making our own decisions is what
allows all of us to be free. In truth, freedom
cannot exist without choice.” She waited,
but again he did not speak. While gazing
at her, Arnie pondered the meaning of freedom.
Yet he found no context for the word within his own life experience.
Willard Van Orman Quine, Ontological Relativity & Other Essays, Columbia University Press, New York, 1969, pp. 84-85
/ «Cerchiamo di comprendere la scienza come istituzione o come processo nel mondo senza pretendere che questa comprensione sia migliore della scienza che ne è l’oggetto» W. V. O. Quine,
Ontological Relativity & Other Essays, Columbia University Press, New York, 1969, p. 84; in Redondi, P., Epistemologia e storia della scienza. Le svolte teoriche da Duhem a Bachelard, Feltrinelli, Milano, 1978 /