Scalar concept of the Wiccan Rede

The Wiccan Rede or Threefold Law has been the subject of disagreement. I’m not intending to add to that, but I did want to offer a perspective that might be useful to others. I have done no scholarly research, and my source is my own thought. Take it for what it is worth to you, and May It Harm None.

In my job, we use scales a lot. This isn’t a finished product and the idea will likely evolve, so for now I will use a scale of 1 to 5 rather than 1 to 10.

Wiccan Rede Adherence Scale

5 - Strict. You are responsible for everything you think, say and do, even privately. You are responsible for unintended consequences, even those that occur from your use of protection magic.

3 - Moderate. When we cast spells, we connect with the universe and focus our intention to create an outcome. We use herbs crystals and other tools to enhance our spiritual connection and intention, but without connection and intention crystals and herbs are just pretty rocks and tasty ingredients (mostly. I know this is oversimplified, but stay with me).

If you laugh privately at someone else’s misfortune that you did not cause, you are not subject to the Threefold Law because you did not connect and intend. There may be negative energy, but its effects remain local (you). You are responsible for malicious intent that you put out through connecting with the universe at large, and you have an obligation to consider and avoid unintended consequences, and perhaps correct them if possible. Protection magic that shields, deflects or returns negative energy is not subject to the Threefold Law.

1 - Minimal. Wiccan Rede? Pff! Superstitous nonsense! I am witch, not a Wiccan. You mess with the bull, you get the horns. I am responsible only for what I do, there is no Magic Karma Police coming to punish me. Consequences are things that happen. If I wanted rules, I’d go to church.

There will certainly be lots of in betweens and things I haven’t yet considered, and you’re free to totally blow this off. I just wanted to give a framework in the hopes that it might be to useful to someone else, even if it is only as a starting point for research into your own beliefs. Obviously by the amount I wrote, I consider myself moderate. In the end, you must determine what level of responsibility fits for you - and hold yourself accountable to it.

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Thank you for this post it’s an interesting topic of discussion. I can follow your thought process & I would have to say that if I was Wiccan, I am a moderate minimal follower of the Rede.

My journey has taken a hard left toward Celtic/Irish Paganism & there are some differences there between the paths, I don’t follow a lot of the basis of Wicca OR I just haven’t connected with it yet & it will come back around once I have reached a certain level of learning & discovery :butterfly:

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I’ve got to agree with the Moderate Wiccan scale. That’s where I consider myself. I think it’s important not to go around being a butt, however, sometimes you hurt someone accidentally, and yeah, you pay for that, but not as much as if you did it intentionally.

If that makes any sense. LOL.

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I like how you put this together, as @Siofra said I can see your thought process as well.
And just as @Siofra & @Amethyst , I would consider to be Moderate/Minimal Rede Believer .
I don’t really connect with saying I’m Wiccan, more so a Paganistic Eclectic Witch.
However, I do believe "Do what ye will, Be it harm none… Unless deserving. My craft is a considerable amount of protection crafting so I believe, if needed in defensive situations if harm must come to those deserving, then it must be done.
I’ve yet had to make that decision.:grin:

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Any ideas and comments in this paper are mine and mine alone. No offense is meant, or preaching. Thanks.
Good topic Ron.
I’m a solitary practitioner, not wiccan, although I pretty well adhere to their guidelines.
If I were to classify the line I try to follow, I’d say I’m Strict. I am responsible for everything that happens to me. If I own my own actions, I’m not blaming anyone else for my woes.
As a nurturing mother and wife, as a retired professional, I can’t tell you how irritating “It’s not my fault!” can become. If not your fault then who is responsible for whatever you do?
You may say, so & so made me do it." Perhaps but you chose to do it.
I think I’ve written before about the responsibility you should acknowledge in practicing Magick. How will this effect those around your spell? How can this come back and bite you on the a$$.
I don’t say anyone should practice this or that, that’s your ‘choice’, and in the long run, that’s what life is all about, choice.
Garnet

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I think it’s a useful scale considering that most people will fall somewhere in between those points. The Rede is a complex moral framework (even though it looks simple) but I think most people will have a nuanced take, not necessarily a clear-cut view.

I believe we are the active controls of our lives. The Rede is a guideline to live by, but our free will is more important. On a similar note, I see the threefold law as applying when the harm originates with you, not necessarily when it’s returned to or provoked by someone else.

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I fall somewhere between strict and moderate. There’s a reason we make the choices we make. Some of them are made under duress, by misinformation or simply what we thought was best at the time. But at the end of the day, the choices we make are ours and ours alone. If these choices weren’t made with ill intent, I’d think you’d be safe from the Threefold Law. On the other hand, what about the people whose perception of reality is so skewed that they think that the harm they’re causing you is actually in your best interest? Is it possible that the Universe sends back whatever harm they’re causing times three as a wake up call? :thinking:

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I really like the idea of laying it all out on a scale- it makes the concept less black/white and much more adaptable to individual practices. Also, it’s organized and helps those new to the Wiccan Rede to understand a bit more about how the Rede might appear differently for different people :+1:

For me personally, I don’t identify as Wiccan, but my own system of ethics does closely follow key points of the Wiccan Rede, so I’d put myself at Moderate on this scale :blush:

This! :raised_hands: I think this is such an important point- not only in witchcraft, but in spirituality and religions across the board. For me, I find it much less important what system of ethics someone chooses, and much more important that people hold themselves responsible to whatever they choose to believe in.

It is a choice, after all, so I think it is essential that people respectfully follow the rules of whatever path they choose. If you’re struggling to keep to the rules, perhaps it is time to step back and re-evaluate if the system you are in is truly the right one for you.

Great topic, Ron! :clap::grinning:

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Thanks for this valuable information!

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@TheTravelWitch @christina4 thanks everyone! I’m glad you find this useful!

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Huh. That’s a good question. I’d say after the first few blunders, yes, it would start affecting them. But that’s just my opinion.

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I absolutely agree with this, you ultimately have to hold yourself accountable for your own belief system. :heart_eyes:

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I like your thinking @Undomeher everything seems to move on a scale or spectrum or have a sense of fluidity and the rede, threefold law and our perspectives on them are certainly no exception. For the most part in the past I’ve tried to simplify and not overthink it and convince myself that my “common sense says don’t hurt anybody to serve yourself and all my actions have consequences.”

But I know that my old view is ultimately not satisfying because eventually my mind is going to want to go deeper. Always with the Why? Why? Why…

Well I’ve been really quite drawn to the writing and work of Phyllis Curott lately, mostly due to her view that I share that the most important thing that Wiccans can offer the world at the present time in history is the awareness that Mother Earth is sacred and we must act accordingly.

It is her take on the Wiccan Rede and threefold law that now holds my attention. In her book “Wicca Made Easy” she writes on page 206-7 the following:

“Some Wiccans say that the reason not to cast spells to harm others(baneful magic) or to hex someone(a misuse of the word hex as harmful magic) is because of the “Threefold Law” - what you send out returns to you three times over. I’ve been challenging this notion for many years. The threefold law is not a proper basis for Wiccan ethics. Why not? Because it’s a rule enforced by punishment - I won’t do harm because if I do, I’ll experience worse harm myself. In other words, I’ll be punished.
It’s a remnant of patriarchal thinking - when God isn’t present in the world you need rules to determine right from wrong and rules need to be enforced by the threat of punishment. Break the Ten Commandments and you go to Hell. But behavior motivated by punishment isn’t ethical: it’s just self-interest in avoiding pain. It’s the wrong approach for a spirituality that experiences all of creation as Divine.
My Wiccan ethic is simple: We seek to live in a sacred manner because we live in, and are part of, a sacred world. It’s the right foundation for right action. And it’s the real reason behind another ethical precept often cited by Wiccans: And you harm none, do what you will. Why should we do no harm? Because we live in a sacred world.
Still, it’s not enough to simply refrain from doing harm. Living in a sacred world motivates us to positive action. It means living with reverence, respect, gratitude and reciprocity towards others and towards Mother Earth. Living in a sacred world means living in harmony and balance; it means learning to live, as all living things do, in ways that make the world more conducive to life. Living in a sacred world means paying careful attention to and being guided by the wisdom and ways of Nature as it embodies divinity.
We still have a lot to figure out about what it means to live in a sacred manner. For example, seeking justice rather than revenge or deciding whether or not to eat animals, when and if to go to war or break the law in civil disobedience. These are now conversations we can have from the right premise as we rediscover how to live in a sacred and right relationship with Mother Earth and with each other.”

So that’s where I’m at. The premise of living in a sacred world of creativity leads to actions of making the world a place more conducive to life, just as all of nature does.

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I like this view very much! Indeed. The Threefold law is presented often as a punishment rather than a guide to moral use of the Craft. In my opinion, this is an expanded and properly nuanced motivation in the ethical use of magic. Thank you for this elegant response. I’m prompted to think of children needing to be told not to do something when young, and as they grow learning the higher moral reasoning. You’ve shifted my view a bit, and for that I am grateful.

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As long as the threefold law goes both ways, I think it is also an incentive to do good deeds. I wouldn’t look at it as “punishment” for doing something wrong but rather a natural consequence or continuation of the energy we sent out in the first place.

I agree with you that a self-centered approach to ethics can’t work and that something more holistic and sacred is probably the answer.

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I believe to be moderate/ minimal as I feel every action has a reaction good or bad it’s the ying/yang . Yes I feel I am responsible for my actions but not the intent or actions of others so I feel if someone were to intentionally put a spell on me for the intention of harm and I returned it back to them I feel like it would be justified and I wouldn’t be responsible for what happens to them it would be based off of the intent that they had for me. How would you view this?

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Hi princess! (I’ve always wanted to say that!). Based on the scale above I’d say you fall into the moderate range - but it is not up to me. It’s up to you to decide. I would really recommend @Valen’s post above. While the scale gives a view of the Rede from the perspective of repsonsibility, unintended consequences and protection, the broader view is that we don’t use baneful magic because it is not compatible with the harmony of life, love and light that we choose. Please read the post, where it is said better. It definitely fits in well with my view and wish I had thought of it - but then I’d have less to learn!

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