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DISCUSSION: Opinions on the Threefold Law & The Wiccan Rede

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Re: Your Opinions on the Rede and the Threefold Law

Postby Kyrie » Wed Jan 15, 2014 8:47 am

Philomena wrote:If they have done me wrong, and I feel passionately about this, I have faith in the basics of law of return and that it effects everyone.


This is where I slightly disagree.

While to do feel that the Law of Return will come back to bite them eventually, I won't just sit back while someone is trying to hurt me or someone I love. I don't intentionally hurt anyone, but self-defense is the exception in my book.
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Re: Your Opinions on the Rede and the Threefold Law

Postby Philomena » Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:05 am

I don't want you to think I don't stand up for myself, and I would never sit idly while I or someone I loved was hurt. I agree with self-defense. I'm trying to think of the best wording... Some things we need to accept are just out of our control and I believe if we or someone does something purposely hurtful it eventually comes back to them. On the other hand some situations we have to take action. How you interpret a situation and decide wither to take action or not, or even how and how much; is really what helps determine what kind of person we are. If we do something, it has to be for what we believe is going to help, and not to say 'get even' or purposely hurt anyone (self-defense is different). I hope this was clearer :)
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Re: Your Opinions on the Rede and the Threefold Law

Postby Xiao Rong » Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:24 am

As a whole I have very mixed feelings about the Wiccan Rede. I am not a Wiccan, but I do understand its importance in our community, and it is an interesting ethical proposition that I have encountered in non-magical settings as well (libertarianism, anyone?) I understand why it is very liberating, especially for those of us who grew up in Christian environments that put arbitrary taboos on behaviors and choices that we don't believe are inherently evil or sinful (e.g. premarital sex or same-sex relationships). It is also helpful because it places the onus on us to consider and judge our own moral actions not by universal commandments but by the consequences that they have on those around us, and it challenges us to expand our ideas of who we can harm (in "harm none", for example, this doesn't just mean people, but could also mean the earth). These are the good qualities of the Rede.

On the other hand, I have always felt that the Wiccan Rede is simultaneously a ludicrously high ethical standard which is impossible to achieve AND sort of a bare minimum of decency. It is ludicrous because how can you go through life without harming anything? As the article states, the T-shirt you wear could have been manufactured in exploitative labor conditions; the bus you drive in releases carbon emissions that harm the environment. Can you even take antibiotics to fight an infection? Doesn't that bacteria colony count as "life" that can be harmed? And what can you eat? Even if you were a fruitarian who ate nothing but the fruit that already fell from trees, you might be "harming" other animals by depriving them of the same fruit. The fact of the matter is, everything you do, even the air you breathe, causes all sorts of effects, some of which are harmful and some of which are beneficial, and most of which you can't ever even possibly begin know.* So in this sense I think that the Rede is impossible to achieve.

So most of us have no choice but to take a more moderate stance on the Rede in order for it to be any sort of useful ethical guideline, and we take it to mean broadly that we should avoid harming other things intentionally, but other than that we're free to do whatever. This, I think, is a pretty doable way of life, but in this case I think that it's really a low ethical standard (which may be part of its appeal). "Do no harm intentionally" sounds nice, but I think that most of us strive to do more than "net zero impact" - we can try to make an intentional, positive difference in the world. I've heard lots of stuff about "sustainability", for example, but some people argue - and I agree - that we shouldn't be striving for maintaining the status quo, but for "regenerative development" - maybe we should instead be thinking about ways to increase the Earth's bounty and flourishing, not just "let's keep things from getting any worse".

As for the Law of Return, the skeptic in me cannot really accept that this is a real, physical law of the universe (as much as I would hope that my butthole roommate got his comeuppance for being an entitled jerkface - yes, I'm still bitter!). I can only see it as a general sort of guideline, like if you are kind to others, you increase the likelihood that other people will be kind to you (not as any sort of physical reaction or energy ricochet, but just the way that I think humans work). And even then, bad things still happen to good people, and in my opinion you should strive to be a kind and compassionate person just because those are good things to be, and not because you are hoping for some kind of reward, energetic or otherwise. (it's a huge part of the reason why I could never become Christian - we should love our neighbors because love is a great thing, not because we hope for eternal bliss in heaven).

I am more of a fan of the, "Consider your actions for the next seven generations" ethical formulation. It challenges us to think beyond the short term and as far as we can imagine, but not so far that it is a useless intellectual exercise. It asks us to be considerate of the way that our actions can be harmful AND beneficial in a multitude of ways, to all kinds of other people and things, and across time, and it acknowledges that we are the ones who have the choice.

/rant

*Then there's the self-harm aspect of the Rede that lots of people wonder about, but as we've discussed elsewhere, "harm" in the short term and most obvious sense may be beneficial in the long term. And what about even more benign things like getting a tattoo? That's "harm" in the sense of physical pain, but it's also artistic expression. How do we even make any judgements of what "harm" means?
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Re: Your Opinions on the Rede and the Threefold Law

Postby Kyrie » Wed Jan 15, 2014 11:09 am

Do any of you believe that not following the Rede makes you less of a Wiccan?

And just out of curiosity, what spiritual "laws/ethics" do you follow in your practice?
I follow the 13 Goals of a Witch, the Witch's Pyramid, and the Native American Code of Ethics.
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Re: Your Opinions on the Rede and the Threefold Law

Postby Xiao Rong » Wed Jan 15, 2014 11:19 am

I prefer these:

1. Nurture life.
2. Walk in love and beauty.
3. Trust the knowledge that comes through the body.
4. Speak the truth about conflict, pain, and suffering.
5. Take only what you need.
6. Think of the consequences of your actions for seven generations.
7. Approach the taking of life with great restraint.
8. Practice great generosity.
9. Repair the web [of life. By this she means to do your best to heal the injuries done to our world and everyone in it, including cruelty, hate, and selfish destruction].

(as written by Carol Christ)

Nera, can you share the Native American Code of Ethics?
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Re: Your Opinions on the Rede and the Threefold Law

Postby Kyrie » Wed Jan 15, 2014 11:37 am

Xiao Rong wrote:Nera, can you share the Native American Code of Ethics?


Absolutely.

1. Rise with the sun to pray. Pray alone. Pray often. The Great Spirit will listen, if you only speak.

2. Be tolerant of those who are lost on their path. Ignorance, conceit, anger, jealousy and greed stem from a lost soul. Pray that they will find guidance.

3. Search for yourself, by yourself. Do not allow others to make your path for you. It is your road, and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.

4. Treat the guests in your home with much consideration. Serve them the best food, give them the best bed and treat them with respect and honor.

5. Do not take what is not yours whether from a person, a community, the wilderness or from a culture. It was not earned nor given. It is not yours.

6. Respect all things that are placed upon this earth - whether it be people or plant.

7. Honor other people's thoughts, wishes and words. Never interrupt another or mock or rudely mimic them. Allow each person the right to personal expression.

8. Never speak of others in a bad way. The negative energy that you put out into the universe will return to you.

9. All persons make mistakes. And all mistakes can be forgiven.

10. Bad thoughts cause illness of the mind, body and spirit. Practice optimism.

11. Nature is not FOR us, it is a PART of us. They are part of your worldly family.

12. Children are the seeds of our future. Plant love in their hearts and water them with wisdom and life's lessons. When they are grown, give them space to grow.

13. Avoid hurting the hearts of others. The poison of your pain will return to you.

14. Be truthful at all times. Honesty is the test of ones will within this universe.

15. Keep yourself balanced. Your Mental self, Spiritual self, Emotional self, and Physical self - all need to be strong, pure and healthy. Work out the body to strengthen the mind. Grow rich in spirit to cure emotional ails.

16. Make conscious decisions as to who you will be and how you will react. Be responsible for your own actions.

17. Respect the privacy and personal space of others. Do not touch the personal property of others - especially sacred and religious objects. This is forbidden.

18. Be true to yourself first. You cannot nurture and help others if you cannot nurture and help yourself first.

19. Respect others religious beliefs. Do not force your belief on others.

20. Share your good fortune with others. Participate in charity.

Now for the disclaimer: I don't know if this is a valid code of ethics for Native American spirituality, nor do I know if this is common between all Native American tribes or just one in particular. I am part Cherokee and I wanted to incorporate Native American spirituality into my practice and this is what I stumbled upon. I found that it resonated with my personal ethics, and that's how it became part of my practice.
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Re: Your Opinions on the Rede and the Threefold Law

Postby IrishStrong » Wed Jan 15, 2014 1:41 pm

I have done much thinking on this, and I am sure that I wholeheartedly agree with the Rede and the Three-Fold Law. I also believe that they pretty much go hand in hand. Harm ye none, or else you're in for some major bad karma. Plus, it has really helped me be a better person once learning about it. Now instead of acting out of spite, and being vengeful, I just think of how karma will take care of everything. It's honestly done me well.

And Nera, I think the Native American Code of ethics is very cool :) I've always found the Native American culture to be pretty fascinating.
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Re: Your Opinions on the Rede and the Threefold Law

Postby Rainbowkiss » Wed Jan 15, 2014 3:41 pm

I totally feel comfortable about the wiccan Rede and the three fold law. You mentioned how someone told you that breaking the wiccan law means they are not a true wiccan, I agree and disagree. I agree because wiccan comes from witch and the word witch was once used to say ''wise one''. If a witch uses harmful magic or harms another in any way, they are not being wise. Even though witchcraft is the craft of the wise, even wise persons make mistakes that's what makes us human. Wise people exhibit much common sense and are very cautious but still they can trip and fall. If a wiccan recognized her/his mistakes and owns up to it than they are a true wiccan. Being wiccan also means owning up to your mistakes. Happy blessings!
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Re: Your Opinions on the Rede and the Threefold Law

Postby p3nathan » Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:46 am

My problem with that article is that language evolves and beliefs change. As the article admits itself, few people see Wicca and Witchcraft entirely synonymous anymore and that is because times have changed. There was a time when all Christians were Catholic, it doesn't mean they all are now and we certainly wouldn't expect them all to identify as such simply because that was once the norm of Christianity. The way we think of certain words develops, belief systems are no exception. The term Wicca has evolved in a way that has more people perceiving it as a branch of Paganism and Paganism in itself has evolved and developed in ways that allow the term "wicca" to be perceived as such, because it is clearly not seen as just being another word for witch anymore. The meanings of words often change throughout history. Their origins often won't fit in with exactly what they mean now, but that's a fact of language evolution that won't alter.
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Re: Thoughts on the Threefold Law/Law of Return

Postby p3nathan » Tue Jan 21, 2014 5:56 pm

I believe that there is a law of return as far as our souls and spirituality is concerned... by that I mean that I believe we all learn lessons through life and face challenges and the better we are at dealing with those challenges and the more we grow from them; the more spiritually rich our soul becomes in this life and moving into the next.

However I don't honestly believe in the law of three or even that what goes around always comes back around. I wish I did believe it, I just can't bring myself to. Sure there's the basic idea of work hard = get more, being nice = getting niceness back and so on and I'm certainly all for that on a human level. But as for a cosmic system that deals all of that out and makes sure the scales are balanced... I don't see it personally.
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Re: Thoughts on the Threefold Law/Law of Return

Postby -Dark-Moon- » Tue Jan 21, 2014 7:37 pm

I think the law of return is created by you depending on your attachment to your actions, consciously or unconsciously. I also think that when you create a negative space, for example by removing something or someone from your life, if you don't fill that space with anything else... then something else will rush into that space, just like removing a flower from a vase.
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