I’d like to begin by thanking everyone who commented on my previous post concerning the Wiccan Rede. All of the comments received on it, save one, have been posted. I hope you’ve read them and that they’ve triggered debate and discussion.

The one comment that was not posted was far too long to include in the comment section. In fact, it was longer than my original post. This comment came from Rain Dove, the Priestess of The Dragon and The Rose Coven of Georgia. A quick look on The Witches Voice shows that “Rain Dove has been practicing and walking the path of Wicca since 1996, but has been studying since 1994.” The Coven practices the Jordanian Tradition of Celtic Wicca. By this she means they “are referring to attempting to practice, to the best of our abilities, the same religious path and follow the same religious beliefs of our Celtic Ancestors…The Jordanian Tradition was developed and designed by Rain Dove’s own experiences and training in this path. The Tradition is a mixture of Irish Paganism, Celtic Studies, Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca.”

As you will see, Priestess Rain Dove was rather upset by what I posted. Well, that happens. When you write a great deal and/or are willing to take a stand you’re going to upset someone. Although I could be wrong, I get the feeling from the tone of what she wrote that were I to edit her comments in any way she might get upset, so I’m going to publish it here exactly as it was sent in. For ease of understanding I will make my comments in between her paragraphs. To differentiate what she wrote from my comments, her words are in blue while my responses will be in black.

I would like to thank Priestess Rain Dove very sincerely for the time and effort she took to respond. Obviously, this means a great deal to her and I’m glad she was able to write this. As you will see, we have some differences. That doesn’t make either of us right or wrong, just different. She clearly considers the topic important and so do I. It is my hope that this will further open discussion, thought, and consideration.

This is a long post—a very long post!—so settle back and enjoy the ride…

Before I even begin this response, I want to let you know .. I am not a “writer”. I am not a “journalist” .. I am simply a practicing Wiccan Priestess. A practicing Wiccan Priestess who is also APPALLED .. at what I am reading.

Once again and as usual … the Rede has been taken out of context, been exaggerated, and is being viewed from ONE angle. Your first mistake was writing about something that apparently you don’t understand or know about. It might have been a good idea to have gotten with someone who is a High Priestess or a High Priest of WICCA .. ((and I don’t mean someone who is the HIGH PRIEST OR PRIESTESS OF THE PAGAN WICCAN CHRISTIAN BUDDHIST UNIVERSAL ANIMA ANIMUS TEMPLE OF ALL WALKERS OF THE OCCULT CHURCH !!!!!

I am talking about someone who has been on this path for many years .. as a WICCAN. Someone who KNOWS what our REDE means .. and what it applies to and HOW.
A Wiccan HP or HPS who perhaps … is also a writer or journalist .. so they could explain to you ((and alot better than I am getting ready to do)) … what the WICCAN REDE actually means.

Well, according to the information about you and your group on The Witches’ Voice, I have been studying, practicing, and was initiated into Wicca for over 15 years before you even began looking at it. I trained and was initiated into Wicca by Raven Grimassi and Scott Cunningham. I have “gotten with” and studied with, talked with, and practiced with Wiccans of numerous traditions long before you ever became interested in the Craft. And I have discussed the Rede with many of them.

The Rede applies to our MAGICAL lives. It doesn’t hardly ever … pertain to our MUNDANE lives .. such as “shopping in a grocery store”. This article just proves ONCE AGAIN …how badly training is needed in the Wiccan path. It is very evident that you not only do not understand what it means, you do not know or understand the PURPOSE of the Rede , either.

Kids *and* young adults, as well as … people who have had no training … want to get in our path, read a book or two … take a look at something that was written by any of our most respected Elders , and many years ago … .. and dissect the crap out of it, tear it apart, criticize it, downplay it .. or change the stinking words to it ….. just to suit THEM and possibly a handful of others who might *see* things the same way. I must ask, don’t you have something better to do with your time .. than to attack our Rede?

What is up with that???? Why don’t you go and try and do that with the Bible…??? I am sure there are many things written in it .. that you could dissect, criticize … downplay … analyze … tear apart!!!

I certainly agree with you that training is needed for Wiccans, Pagans, and magickal people of all sorts. One of the problems, however, is that sometimes people mistake the specific—their own, personal approach—for the general—what they assume must be true for everyone.

Therefore, while I acknowledge that you want to separate your magickal life from your mundane life, many others see them as united or at least vitally interconnected; they see the world as a wonderful, magickal place. Our understanding of the magickal nature of the universe “informs” our approach to daily—or what might be called “mundane”—life. In fact, part of my Wiccan training was to do exactly that. Certainly we each have a collection of different personas, putting on “faces” that we present to different people. We relate to parents, spouses, teachers, co-workers, friends, etc., in different ways. However, if we do not have a unifying and underlying principle upon which we base all of our actions, we are justifiably called hypocrites.

Even if we were to completely separate our magickal and mundane lives, there is nothing in any form of the rede that states it’s only for our magickal lives. It’s meant as a guide for all of our lives. I would not want a person to claim they represent Wicca when they are “shopping in a grocery store” and push elderly people to the floor to get the last bag of discounted apples, saying such behavior is allowed in Wicca because it’s not part of their magickal life, would you?

Let me see if I can put this most ridiculous article … in its place.

The Rede was simply put in place to help those who are “tempted” to go in the WRONG DIRECTION with magic, to think twice. Do not harm another .. *INTENTIONALLY AND WITHOUT JUST CAUSE* … BECAUSE … the three fold law does and can, and will respond. It doesn’t pertain to anything else. It doesn’t mean we can’t walk on the grass .. or we’ll *harm it* .. it doesn’t mean don’t eat meat, “you’ve harmed yourself and the animal” .. it doesn’t mean “don’t go to the grocery store and purchase those vegetables because they were grown by underpaid workers” ….. It does not mean ANY of those things.

I am sure that is your interpretation. But that’s exactly what it is: your interpretation. There is nothing in the history of the rede that says it must be interpreted this way. So what you are doing is abandoning the rede, as written, and created a new version of it, with more details, as you’d like it to be. I think that’s a good thing. Or perhaps it would be better to say, “The rede is a concept we should discuss,” which is exactly what my post did. That’s why you’re responding to it. You felt you needed to talk about the way it should be reinterpreted. 

It is not hard to understand what the Rede means. It is not hard to understand … that if you are going to practice the Occult , if you are going to practice magic, if you are going to go to places that ANGELS AND DEMONS DARE TO GO …… that FIRST, it might be wise to get with someone who is EXPERIENCED … and who has been doing this for a substantial amount of time .. before you try and strike out on your own. Just as … it might be wise to get some training before we write about something we do not understand.

I agree. Sort of like it might be a good idea to do a web search on someone before assuming they’re of a certain age or background. By the way, you might enjoy my eBook on my friend Scott Cunningham, The Magical Life of Scott Cunningham, available through the Kindle Store [LINK], Kobo [LINK], Nook Bookstore [LINK], Sony [LINK], and iTunes [through the store in iTunes]. And on June 26, 2013, I’m being interviewed on Seasons of the Witch by Raven Grimassi and Stephanie Taylor-Grimassi. The link to this live, FREE program, is here: LINK.

Second …. you must use common sense, logic and be practical and smart about it .. or else …. those things which *are* hidden .. may very well come back to bite you in the ass. (Hidden; i.e. Occult).

And again, I agree with you. That’s why I made my previous post. I was looking at the rede logically based on what is there, not what people might think is there.
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What??? This is absolutely RIDICULOUS. If a pet is suffering, it is ETHICAL AND MORAL to put the pet down .. so not to prolong the suffering. THAT IS NOT HARMING THE PET. That is MORALLY the right thing to do.

And I agree. It is the ethical and moral thing to do. However, to define something out of existence doesn’t make it true. My dictionary defines the word harm as “physical injury, esp. that which is deliberately inflicted.” Indeed, that is what happens when we euthanize a pet. We deliberately inflict a fatal injury (stopping breathing and the heart) in order to prevent pain and misery. The rede, as written, does not allow for this decent practice, allowing our beloved pets to pass to the summerland in peace.

You are literally applying our Rede in situations where it DOES NOT apply. First, you are taking the Rede’s words .. for LITERAL FACE VALUE, for *exactly* what they say .. instead of seeing the REST of the Rede .. you take these few words and cut it up in shreds. When you place the REST of the words WITH the “harm none” clause … I believe you can clearly see it means .. UNJUSTLY CAUSING HARM to another. NO WHERE … does it say to “go against your moral code of ethics”. Common sense, being practical,. and using logic … as well as using a MORAL COMPASS … all play a role in the WICCAN Rede. Anyone knows … that if one has any kind of moral compass, they would not allow a pet suffer. Our moral code of ethics would not allow us to have a disease and not do something about it, either.

I respectfully disagree with you. The intent of the rede is to apply to all actions. However, you are correct. I am taking the rede’s words literally. If that is not done there can be dozens or hundreds of interpretations of it, including interpretations I’d disagree with and I imagine you would disagree with, too. If you want to change the rede to say, “An it does not unjustly cause harm to another, do what you will,” that’s fine. I would suggest that you start a website or at least blog on why you think it should be changed to say this.

I agree that most Wiccans love their animal friends. We consider them part of our families. There is even a long-held belief in some Wiccan traditions that unlike any other creature, cats are unique and can go in and out of circle without disrupting it. Our pets our special to us and, like most decent people (Pagan or not), we do not want to see them suffer. But that’s not what the rede says. That’s the way you are interpreting it. Fine. Why not re-write the rede so it is clear and doesn’t need such interpretation? After all, if you can interpret it according to your moral compass, others can interpret it according to their moral compass.

You have torn these beautiful words to shreds and have tried to turn them into something they are not. What you have said here is very indicative of no guidance in this path. It is utterly ignorant and ridiculous some of the *examples* you have used to explain our Rede. Our moral compass is used in conjunction with the Rede. But the Rede itself is applicable to our magical lives more so than our mundane. I would have a tendency to believe that most Wiccans use their moral compass in every aspect of their life. Like … if someone is being raped, or if a child is being abused … we don’t think of the Rede and use those words at face value. Naturally, we would do what our moral compass GUIDES us to do. There is no “repercussion” for HELPING someone or PREVENTING someone from being harmed. There is the three fold law, but the three fold law is not always a bad thing. Good things happen to us too. Good things return to us, just as the bad would return to us.

The rede is one of the bases for the Wiccan moral compass. It informs it and guides it. If it’s the other way around, then the rede is unneeded. We could function quite well following our moral compass without the rede. Of course, then you have to determine the source of our moral compass. It seems to me you are presenting some confused ideas, such as when you say there is no repercussion for helping someone in one sentence and in the next sentence you contradict this by citing the three-fold law.

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Dear, if you knew the history of the “bible”, you would also know that the words written in those texts … were written LONG before anything called “Christianity” came along.
The “we reap what we sow” statemetn … is considered to be a spiritual law. It is written in ALL spiritual and/or religious paths. No matter which one you go to, you will find that same idea. Maybe not in the same words, but the same message is most definitely there.

When it comes to “law of return” .. whether that be the “three fold law” .. or the “ten fold law” .. it does NOT mean that the way you have put something OUT .. is going to return in the same FORM. We might take our winnings or our inheritance and loan someone some money to get through a rough spot (a very kind act) .. and it may or may NOT .. return to us in the form of money. It could be .. that someone ELSE comes along .. and takes us out to dinner. Or .. maybe we get in a rough spot .. and someone comes to HELP US. It does NOT mean .. that we would get money in return THREE TIMES. And SPEAKING of “three fold” …..

That does not mean you will receive something THREE TIMES. It simply means that what you do, what you think, what you put out there .. shall return TIMES THREE (x 3) .. not THREE TIMES. It may not return in the same form, but be rest assured, it will return and likely “times (mulitiplication) .. three”.

Its like placing water in a glass … and dropping a pebble in the glass. It cause ripples to go to the *edge* of the glass .. and we have no problem seeing that. What we do have a problem seeing .. is the ripples returning to its source. They always return to the middle where the pebble was dropped into the glass. But what happens to the pebble, you ask? Well,. the ripples follow that pebble … all the way to the bottom of that glass. Even though YOU don’t see it … they are there.

Well, I don’t claim to be an expert on the history of the Bible. I’ve only been studying that since the early 1970s, and there are people with far more knowledge of the subject than I. Nor do I claim to have studied “all spiritual and/or religious paths” as you seem to be claiming you have done. How else could you state that “ALL spiritual and/or religions paths” believe a certain thing? And you are correct that times three doesn’t equal three times. Perhaps what you’re saying—contrary to my example where if I break someone’s arm my arm will be broken three times—is that if I break someone’s arm, my arm will not be broken three times, but in three places?

The problem I question is with the dogmatism of the three fold or three times. What if it is only 2.9 times? What if it is 3.1 times? You talk about other spiritual/religious paths, but I know of no others that necessitate a specific number of times the energy of an action is returned to you. Perhaps some others reading this know of a religion or ancient tradition that believes this way.

More importantly, in my opinion, is not merely that energy is returned, but why that energy is returned. If it’s simply, “if you do X you will get 3X back, so don’t do X,” it’s implying that the universe wants to treat us like little children, or like the those who interpret the Abrahamic faiths as telling people what to do and not do just because that’s what God says.

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This is yet another misconception. Wiccans do not *follow* the law of karma. The law of karma is a Hindu belief. While we do not deny the existence of karma, nor do we not *acknowledge* the theory of it, we do not follow that belief. It is not part of our *foundational* beliefs, in other words. THE THREE FOLD LAW .. and KARMA .. are TWO TOTALLY DIFFERENT THINGS.

What are the differences , you ask? Karma deals with past lives. The belief is .. what you are going through in THIS life.. is a result of what you did in a past life. Whether that be GOOD, BAD OR INDIFFERENT. The THREE FOLD LAW .. deals with NOW. The PRESENT. The three fold law means that what we do., what we think .. what we put out there … shall return to us TIMES THREE (again multiply x 3) … IN THIS LIFE. It does not WAIT until the next life. Does this mean we don’t believe in karma? NO. It simply means we have experienced the three fold law in our own personal lives … to happen in the present. It could be that some things … happen in our next life, we don’t know. What we DO know .. is that we’ve experienced the three fold law .. IN THIS LIFE. In other words .. its actually happened. We’ve received something for something we’ve done.

Respectfully, this information is incomplete. First, the concept of karma precedes Hinduism. Second, part of karma deals with a carry-over of the results of actions of past lives on the current life. However there are traditionally four types of karma, most of which are related to our current lives. Rather than repeating them here I would direct readers’ attention to my article on this available at this LINK. Now it is true that some authors, such as Ray Buckland, do consider the three-fold law as limited to the present life. However other authors, such as the Farrars, believe that our actions carry over from life to life. Who is right? That’s going to come down to our beliefs. All I can say is that within their current lifetimes many people do not receive either a positive response in some way for their good actions or a negative response in some way for their bad actions. I believe that most people are aware of this. If we limit karma and/or the three-fold law to one lifetime, it would appear not to be accurate.

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You said it yourself RIGHT HERE .. in this paragraph. And it is EXACTLY how we apply the Rede in our lives. ” I’ll try to stop them without hurting them. However, if I must, I will use force.” ..

The Three Fold Law is something that works in our favor .. or against us .. depending on our INTENT of what we do. If you INTENTIONALLY stop another from hurting someone else .. or… to save another … this is not hurting or harming without JUST CAUSE. The Rede applies if we set out to harm someone WITHOUT JUST CAUSE. Again, so simple .. but everyone wants to complicate the hell out of it. No where .. does it say in our Rede .. to go against our moral codes or compass. In fact, it is saying USE your moral compass and/or code of ethics.

And again, it reads to me as if you want to change the rede to say “intentional harm” rather than just “harm.” Further, you are contradicting your claim that the rede only applies to magickal practices when here you’re saying your interpretation also relates to more mundane causes.

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I don’t think you want to know what I *really* think. If I wrote it, it wouldn’t get posted. What I do wish .. is that everyone would stop dissecting our religion and our ethics and morals that we live by. As a practicing Wiccan Priestess who has been on the Wiccan path for almost 18 years, I feel that there are way too many “wannabes, dabblers, trouble makers, know it alls AND new agers” … coming into our path and tearing it apart. If you don’t want to be Wiccan, then don’t be. IF YOU ARE NOT WICCAN, what is your concern of our Rede? No one told you that you had to live by the Rede. Most who are NOT WICCAN .. DO NOT claim it, nor do they live by it. It’s called the WICCAN REDE .. for a REASON. Its WICCAN. It is not PAGAN, it is not BUDDHIST, IT IS NOT CHRISTIAN .. IT IS WICCAN.

It sounds to me like what you’re saying is that your interpretation of the rede is correct and that nobody has the right to question you about it, because if anyone dares question you they are merely “wannabes, dabblers, trouble makers, know it alls AND new agers.” If that’s the belief system within your coven, fine. My attitude is somewhat different. When I give workshops (and I’m giving two worldwide webinars in the near future, one on Tarot & Magic and the other, which I am repeating by popular demand, is on Magickal Self-Defense), I always begin with the letters: TFYQA. That stands for “Think For Yourself. Question Authority.” I invites questions and disagreements and try to present my positions so people can understand them. I have stood in front of screaming Christian fundamentalists, as well as some very polite ones, asking questions about beliefs and why I dare to stand up for the Lord and Lady.

When you’re a voice in the community, people will look at how you present yourself and how you respond to questions. Saying that you won’t answer people because they’re wannabes or dabblers, etc., or that their questions (which may challenge our perceptions) are trying to dissect our religion and that is bad gives the implication that there are only certain “right” people who are entitled to information. When someone tries to dissect our faith it may be because they’re trying to understand it. When someone tries to tear apart our faith I choose to stand up for it by answering their questions.

I think it’s wonderful that you’ve been on the Wiccan path for almost 18 years. Having walked the Wiccan path for about 35 years, I say that your choice to join us is fantastic. The thing is, I love the Lord and Lady enough to think that even if people don’t want to follow our faith, if they adopt some of our ethical and moral beliefs and practices they may be better for it. So I choose to share with people within and without the circle. If we simply blindly follow tradition without asking questions our living faith becomes mere dogma. That is something I hope never happens.

The words of the WICCAN REDE .. are for WICCANS. They are not for anyone else … unless they CHOOSE to apply them in their lives. If you CHOOSE to live by the Rede, then get with someone who can better explain to you … what the Rede actually means. Especially before you go writing about it.

We all choose whether to apply them in our lives. To follow blindly and without questioning turns Wicca into just another dogmatic belief instead of a living, growing faith. Even you have reinterpreted the rede to meet your needs. That’s great. That should be discussed.

I have a friend who told me about a time when her young daughter was performing with a group at her elementary school. The performance began with the Pledge of Allegiance. When everyone paused after saying, “One nation, under God,” her daughter piped up saying, “and Goddess.” I think that’s great. She’s thinking. She’s questioning. Maybe it will help others open their minds and lead them to think and question, too.

The one request that alot of us Wiccans have at this time … it to stop coming into our religion and dissecting, analyzing and tearing it apart … just to suit your own beliefs, to suit your own personal spiritual needs , wants or desires.. Wicca has worked and is STILL WORKING.. with the REDE,. THE 161 LAWS, THE PRINCIPLES and ALL OF THE DIFFERENT TRADITIONS in place for LOTS AND LOTS OF YEARS … and … its been working JUST FINE !!!

If you want something DIFFERENT … then make up your OWN religion.

That’s just it. Contrary to the belief held by some people, there are dozens of traditions that call themselves Wiccan. Are they actually Wiccan? How far from Gardnerian or Alexandrian or some other tradition can they be and still justifiably be called “Wicca?” This is a debate I believe we should be having, but are not. These are questions we should be asking, but are not. Personally, I believe that if we don’t ask these questions of ourselves, others who are not Wiccans will make those decisions for us (or attempt to do so). I don’t consider that a good thing.

We’ve never had this problem before .. with folks coming into our path and trying to change it, to morph it into what THEY want it to be .. until recently. Over the last 5 to 10 years, we’ve had HUNDREDS .. coming into this path trying to destroy it.
We do not FIX something that isn’t BROKE.
LEAVE IT ALONE.

Actually, we’ve always had this problem. I have dozens of books by people claiming to be Wiccans and that supposedly enlighten us about Wicca even though they have little or no relationship to the Craft. Most of the people who have been involved in Wicca for a long time love to laugh about some of these books.

The dinosaurs existed for about 165 million years. They weren’t broken. They just couldn’t evolve to meet the changing environment. I would hate to see Wicca vanish like the dinosaurs because of fear of introspection and change.
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This statement is ridiculous. First and foremost, there’s no TRADITIONAL SOURCE that holds ANY position … for anything pertaining to karma, the three fold law .. or any other spiritual theory or belief. ITS CALLED FAITH. And EXPERIENCE in life. When you get ENOUGH experience in life … you might come to understand this.

Rain Dove
Priestess of The Dragon and The Rose Coven of Georgia

Well, the reference to your comment isn’t clear. But I’d like to thank you very much for raising your concerns and expressing your ideas. You seem to be saying that you have an interpretation of the rede which isn’t in the rede itself. I think that’s fine. I would strongly encourage you to write your version and post it on your website or blog. I would encourage discussion and debate about it by Wiccans and non-Wiccans alike.

I wish you and your coven continued success and peace.

Well, readers, what do you think?
Should we accept the rede without change or should it be updated?
Should we accept something else?
Do we accept it as written or as interpreted?
If we believe it should not be accepted literally whose interpretation should we follow?

Please leave your comments below.

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Written by Donald Michael Kraig
Donald Michael Kraig graduated from UCLA with a degree in philosophy. He has also studied public speaking and music (traditional and experimental) on the university level. After a decade of personal study and practice, he began ten years of teaching courses in the Southern California area on such ...