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[personal profile] flwyd
From an off-topic email on the Dragonfest discussion group.

See... the Wiccan Rede isn't actually a guide for living your life. It says "If you don't hurt anything, do whatever you want." There are two main problems with this rule.

(a) It doesn't give you any suggestions. Eating Cheetoes on the couch watching reruns of Leave it to Beaver is following the Wiccan Rede to the letter.

(b) It doesn't give any guidance on how to behave when harm is involved. There's nothing in the Rede about joining the Army. There's nothing in the Rede that prohibits punching your best friend. The Rede doesn't even address the Trolley Problem. And really, what's the point of an ethic that can't be used on an out-of-control trolley?

Now I'm the sort of eclectic frood who uses philosophy to provide moral and ethical direction and religion to provide experiential and metaphorical direction, so a loosey-goosey religion like Neo-Paganism is just the thing for me. But for people who are looking for direction in their lives, the Wiccan Rede provides little more than a Magic 8 Ball.

Date: 2006-03-16 03:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bike4fish.livejournal.com
I always took it more in the light of "Think for yourself, schmuck!".

"Do what you Will" implies active engagement of the Will (did Old Gerald and Uncle Al listen to Nietzsche too much?), or so I thought.

I guess there is a wishy-washy will and a directed Will. Not that many people are clear enough to know what to do with the latter, anyway.

Date: 2006-03-16 06:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] clarsa.livejournal.com
Disciplining your will under love, and your love under will. Isn't that what evil Uncle Alistair said?

The whole "harm none" phrase really is pretty useless, once you have the active Will-Love dynamic going on.

It works okay as a generic prescription for happiness: "If it's not hurting anybody, don't get worked up about it." In fact, I think Thomas Jefferson said something like that, regarding the federal government. Something about, "If a man believes in one God, none, or many, it neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket." Same could be said of gay marriage. So I guess it would work as a basic federal mandate.

Date: 2006-03-16 03:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mackys.livejournal.com
"An it harm none, do as thou wilt. But also try to be good to your fellow human being."

Is that neatly packaged enough? ;]

Frankly, I kinda like the "this and this are bad; everything else is fine, have at it to your taste" aspect of "an it harm none...". Not everyone's moral imperative is identical, and it leaves enough wiggle room for different people to find different paths to morality. The fact that it doesn't prohibit being a lazy bum is a price I'm willing to pay for not straightjacketing someone into a specific and possibly outdated interpretation of what's moral.

In morality, specific too often leads to dogmatic. And if there's anything I think the world could use less of, it's dogma.

Date: 2006-03-16 03:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] trism.livejournal.com
Serves neo-pagans right for taking Crowley seriously.

The original rede hung over the autonomous zone in Rabelais' Gargantua, the Abbey of Thelema. It was not intended as instructions for life but a symbol that some heavy freakishness would transpire behind these walls. Crowley adopted it as a general motto to indicate his attitude (or pose) that all of life should be a disinhibited carnavale.

The "an it harm none" is a squeamish addendum; entirely ineffective against mutated 20th century moralism which forbids whole classes of activity not just on the basis of taboo, but on the presumption that they are harmful in some sense.

I suppose if you really want to produce a defanged, university-committee modern Thelemic motto you should go the whole hog:

"Do what thou wilt, an it harm none, unless they enjoy being harmed and have signed a disclaimer to that effect."
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