Saturday, 13 November 2010

The Witches Rede

I have the first two lines of the Witches Rede incorporated into one of my tattoos, although I use the word 'witches' instead of Wiccan, that's just my personal preference.

The Witches Rede acknowledges the right of all people to practice their own path of spirituality. As long as that path does not bring harm or injury to any living being.

The exact origin of the Witches Rede is uncertain, but no one can argue it has grown and kept pace with the many influencing traditions practiced today.

Not all traditions of Wicca or Witchcraft, nor all individuals who practice, adhere to the Wiccan/Witches Rede. It is considered by some to be an unobtainable and unreasonable moral code when taking into consideration “cause and effect” which essentially means that for anything good there is a bad somewhere to balance it.

The Witches Rede is the moral code or “golden rule” of the Wiccan Tradition. Regardless of the version of the eight words you take for consideration, or if you like to develop your own in time, having a golden rule to measure your actions by can be a valuable guide when you decide to wield the power of magickal work. This becomes even more important if you work alone as you will not have a peer group to help keep you balanced and grounded.

The word Rede is an archaic word meaning “to give advice or council” and as such we can translate the phrase to mean “advice for Wiccans”. It is not a rule, but rather some advice from those who have walked this path before us. Each individual should interpret the Wiccan Rede for themselves, it is not a charter to do whatever you feel like doing; instead it stresses personal responsibility. It is your responsibility to “harm none” when you “do as you will”. It is your responsibility to figure out what it means to do your will. And it is you who have to take responsibility for the fruits of all your own actions – good, bad or indifferent; magickal or mundane.

The Witches Rede provides you with a personal guideline which you can use whenever you need to make an important decision. Not just decisions in regard to magickal workings, but also in your every day life. The Witches Rede places the emphasis on personal responsibility for all your actions. It says ‘hold on a minute, do you need to do that? How will your actions affect you? Are you sure you want to go ahead?”

Taking personal responsibility means that you cannot blame anyone or anything else for your actions. You are responsible for the things you cause to others, and your environment as well as to yourself. Although of course we are influenced by what happened to us as children or how we were treated by parents and teachers, personal responsibility means taking active decisions to make positive changes to our lives.

The Wiccan Rede itself is only 2 lines:
Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill,
An' in it harm none, do what ye will.

The Wiccan Credo however, is considerably longer. The Credo dates to more recent times.

The full version:

Bide within the Law you must, in perfect Love and perfect Trust.
Live you must and let to live, fairly take and fairly give.

For tread the Circle thrice about to keep unwelcome spirits out.
To bind the spell well every time, let the spell be said in rhyme.

Light of eye and soft of touch, speak you little, listen much.
Honor the Old Ones in deed and name,
let love and light be our guides again.

Deosil go by the waxing moon, chanting out the joyful tune.
Widdershins go when the moon doth wane,
and the werewolf howls by the dread wolfsbane.

When the Lady's moon is new, kiss the hand to Her times two.
When the moon rides at Her peak then your heart's desire seek.

Heed the North winds mighty gale, lock the door and trim the sail.
When the Wind blows from the East, expect the new and set the feast.

When the wind comes from the South, love will kiss you on the mouth.
When the wind whispers from the West, all hearts will find peace and rest.

Nine woods in the Cauldron go, burn them fast and burn them slow.
Birch in the fire goes to represent what the Lady knows.

Oak in the forest towers with might, in the fire it brings the God's
insight. Rowan is a tree of power causing life and magick to flower.

Willows at the waterside stand ready to help us to the Summerland.
Hawthorn is burned to purify and to draw faerie to your eye.

Hazel-the tree of wisdom and learning adds its strength to the bright fire burning.
White are the flowers of Apple tree that brings us fruits of fertility.

Grapes grow upon the vine giving us both joy and wine.
Fir does mark the evergreen to represent immortality seen.

Elder is the Lady's tree burn it not or cursed you'll be.
Four times the Major Sabbats mark in the light and in the dark.

As the old year starts to wane the new begins, it's now Samhain.
When the time for Imbolc shows watch for flowers through the snows.

When the wheel begins to turn soon the Beltane fires will burn.
As the wheel turns to Lamas night power is brought to magick rite.

Four times the Minor Sabbats fall use the Sun to mark them all.
When the wheel has turned to Yule light the log the Horned One rules.

In the spring, when night equals day time for Ostara to come our way.
When the Sun has reached it's height time for Oak and Holly to fight.

Harvesting comes to one and all when the Autumn Equinox does fall.
Heed the flower, bush, and tree by the Lady blessed you'll be.

Where the rippling waters go cast a stone, the truth you'll know.
When you have and hold a need, harken not to others greed.

With a fool no season spend or be counted as his friend.
Merry Meet and Merry Part bright the cheeks and warm the heart.

Mind the Three-fold Laws you should three times bad and three times good.
When misfortune is enow wear the star upon your brow.

Be true in love this you must do unless your love is false to you.

These Eight words the Rede fulfill:

"An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will"


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