Harm None - The Golden Rule of the Craft



And "Do what thou will" be the challenge, So be it in love that harms none,

For this is the only commandment

By magic of old, be it done!

–Final Verse of The Witches' Creed by Doreen Valiente


Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill,

An' harm ye none, do what ye will.

–Final Verse of The Wiccan Rede as related by Lady Gwen Thompson, from her grandmother, Adrianna Porter.


The only commandment in the Craft of the Wise

From the earliest days of Wicca, there is the admonition to "do what you will, but harm none." Many a student and even some teachers have argued that this is impossible. They say you can't step outside without crushing an insect with your foot, or breaking a dandelion. They say that even taking antibiotics causes harm to whatever bacteria they are killing in your body.


I say look a little bit closer.


Do what you will

Let's not skip this. Many of us ignore the first line of as if it's just there to set up the second one. But it's part of the law. In fact, in the Thelemic religion, a path founded by Aleister Crowley in the 1900s, it is stated this way:Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the law, love under will.


There is no "harm none" added, perhaps because if "love is the law" then clearly harm would be no part of that.


The word "do" is important. It implies action, motion, movement.

The word "will" is important. Without will, action is useless.


For example, taking action on something we don't really care about because we believe it's something we "should" do, would carry no force. Or, taking action on something we don't believe will work, i.e. taking action before we have aligned our energies with the goal we hope will be the result, would likewise be like pushing a boulder uphill.


So the very first line of the Rede, which is what we call this law for short, tells us two vital things. We must know what we want. We must align with what we want. We must take action from that knowing, aligned place.


So far, none of this seems impossible, and in fact are more like shorthand for our chosen way of life. Staying aligned with what we want, believing it's already a done deal, focusing on the parts of it we already have, instead of on the parts we lack... We seek clarity of our own desires so we can direct our will to create even more of them.


Harm None

On to line 2. How do you go through life without causing harm? The secret to first define "harm."


What is harm? If you step on a bug, is that harm?

It cannot possibly be. Death is not harm. It's not an ending. It's not a tragedy. It's not unnatural. It's part of the cycle for every living thing. There's no such thing as an "untimely" death, though we use the term often. In fact there's no such thing as death at all, if by death we mean a cessation of life. Life is eternal.


Our Soul, or what I call our "Higher Self," that part of us that is non-physical, streaming into our body from Source, pure Consciousness, divine energy, life force--that part –is constantly calling us toward our bliss, even when that bliss is to be found by exiting this body. Nobody ever dies before their time. We cannot know why anyone moves on when they do, although sometimes we might feel we can guess. We really won't know until we cross over ourselves, and even then it's not really our business. It's so personal, this relationship between an individual being and her Higher Self.


However, death is not what we think it is and there is no power on earth that can send someone on their way "before their time." So if it was not the ant's time, he would not have been under your foot when you stepped down.


So what sorts of things would qualify as harm?

Personal responsibility is a crucial part of our lives as powerful, magical, spiritual beings. Any action we take with malicious intent would qualify as harm. Walking outside and deliberately stomping on every ant we see, for example.


Casting hexes or curses in order to inflict pain or suffering on others is an attempt to cause harm. It not only violates the core law of the Craft, it also flies in the face of the natural force we call the Rule of Three: Three times what thou giveth, returns unto thee. This is not a law like "Thou shalt not steal." It's a physical law, a simple restating of "Like attracts like."


One must match the vibration of the goal of a spell in order for it to work. So if casting a spell to cause pain to another, we must match the vibration of pain, of anger, of rage. Cursing and hexing are really no different from walking up to the person on the street and punching them in the nose.


Since we attract what we are, matching that vibration will absolutely bring us the very thing we are sending out.


When we hate, we harm.

When we attack, we harm.

When we act in ways not in alignment with our Higher Self, we harm.


And "harm none" also includes ourselves. That's one we often forget.


Love is the law. Love under will.

I think Crowley left out the "Harm none" part out of his version because he wanted to make it a little more clear. He could see that the whole harm thing is rather in the eye of the beholder.


But love is clear. Love is simple. As long as we always act, both in life and in magic, (same thing) from a place of love, we are not causing harm. Even our missteps will be guided. We'll end up calling them happy accidents. When we are aligned with Source, with love itself, everything we do is in alignment, too. And nothing that results from that can be considered harm.


We might not even know our actions are helping others, but they are, every day, everything we do and say from a place of alignment. Everyone we interact with when we are aligned will benefit from that interaction.


However, the opposite is also true. If we walk through our lives aligned with anger, with hate, with impatience, with tension, with any negative emotion as our default setting--then everything we do and say might be causing harm to others and to ourselves. Everyone we interact with when we are mis-aligned will suffer from that interaction. Even our most aligned friends will feel a wobble in their vibration, and if they're smart, will back away.


How to Maintain Alignment

  1. Pay attention to your feelings. When what you are watching, hearing, saying, or doing feels bad, stop watching, listening, speaking, or acting. Shift your attention to something that feels GOOD instead. This is a habit that will become second nature with practice.

  2. Meditate daily. Devote yourself to this practice of quieting your mind for 15 to 20 minutes each morning before things get too busy. Make it a part of your routine. It's powerful and takes very little time

  3. Practice presence: Develop the habit of stopping and noticing. Stop what you're doing and notice where you are, how you feel, what's happening around you. Feel the seat underneath you or the floor. Taste the air. Hear the sounds. Just BE. As frequently as you can, stop and just be. If it helps, repeat "I am here. I am now." Remind yourself that no other time exists other than this time, this moment, and relish it.

  4. Treat yourself like the Goddess you are. That life force, that live-stream flowing into your body, making it move and groove and think and act, that is the same energy we call God. Source. Divinity. Soul. Inner Being. Higher Self. We are spirit in body. Act accordingly. Every delicious experience is an act of worship. All acts of love and pleasure are my rituals –The Charge of the Goddess


 

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