I was a Wiccan hermit for a long time. I did this on purpose, primarily because the in-fighting was exhausting and the witchier-than-thou pissing contests were aggravating. Not to mention the level of cray-cray people in my life seemed to expand exponentially when I came out of the proverbial broom closet. Paganism attracts fringe people—it’s a community of socio-economical outliers. You have no idea how much it excites me that I have a soccer mom from the suburbs in my coven.
When my High Priest passed, I began to question the wisdom of that hermitage. I started this blog. I joined a few Facebook groups. I got a new coven off the ground. Goddess help me, I even hope to have a booth at Cleveland Pagan Pride Day this year. That’s one huge shift from hermitage in barely over a year.
Now I’m beginning to question the wisdom of trying to remain P.C. Pagan. I’ve tried to write this blog in such a way as to be “professional”—articulate, a little artistic, minimizing value statements, using inclusive terminology, and so forth. I am still of the opinion that there is value in remaining objective, especially in the public forum, and that’s what a blog is: public. I am not here to argue and debate. Seriously, I do enough of that in my real life (I’m constantly reminding why husband why he can’t throw his douche-bag of an ex-friend down a flight of stairs, which is primarily because I can’t afford for him to go to jail).
Increasingly, however, I find myself confronted with evidence that shows that this tactic may be fueling an ongoing misunderstanding of what it means to be Wiccan. For instance, when discussing Wiccan ethics the Rede is usually the foremost topic discussed. Somehow during my time as a hermit “An it harm none” has been translated into “An ye be a doormat.” My High Priestess’s head would have exploded at this notion–Sylvana was not one to take ANYTHING lying down, and to this day my brother says she was the best ball-buster he ever met (and he was living with a bunch of college dudes at the time). My favorite story was the time she tried to use a traveler’s check at Value City–and the girl looked at her blankly and said it wasn’t a valid check (being unfamiliar with traveler’s checks), and my High Priest’s eyes got big and round and he left because he knew EXACTLY what was coming when Syl got very quiet and asked for the manager–who, by the time she was done with them, personally carried her bags out to the car. This doesn’t sound very “harm none” to most people, but let’s get a Wiccan-grip for a moment.
The Rede is often referred to in order to soften the ethical issue with a religion that has a long list of right vs. wrong because those people often mistakenly believe that morality only comes from religion—and many times they are then left to interpret that our “harm none” philosophy must therefore indicate what is meant by their laundry list style moral code because people believe that said code IS how we minimize harm and behave as “good” people.
But it’s just not true.
I’m not going to say their morals are wrong. That’s not my point. My point is that “harm none” is not a simple edict to never do anything that would cause any kind of negative, or harmful, effect. The notion itself is utterly ridiculous. I have probably killed thousands of ants by walking in my yard. They didn’t do anything wrong, and I would be a strange Witch indeed if I never touched a blade of grass. However, knowing that there are living creatures in my yard, I have walked every inch of my humble quarter-acre.
I am not going to be squished by a pile of ant bodies for breaking the Rede. In fact, I haven’t done ANYTHING wrong, period.
Would I cast a curse?
Would I hex?
You bet your sweet witchy-ass I would.
Would I be violating the Rede?
And I’m not sure that continuing the politically correct, “Oh but our main ethical code (law?) states to Harm None so really there’s nothing wrong with my religion,” diatribe is getting us anywhere.
I don’t have a solution. It’s something I’m contemplating. I do not much care still for the in-your-face tactics, and I believe there are modes of communication that are far more effective than others (I like civilized discourse but have strong pro-taboo language beliefs).
But I am not a doormat.