Okay, let’s be honest here. We need to get rid of the Rede completely.
Yeah, I said it. What’s more I’ll defend it.
The Rede is antiquated. It’s been the source of more than a little confusion to those who are new, and a LOT of confusion to those who aren’t Wiccan. It has come to be a “Pan Pagan” assumed ethic when it is not. It has been taken out of context and translated literally and even worse, translated figuratively for generations of people. And you know what? We still harm each other all the time.
I harm my family when I go to work since I am not there for their emotional support. I harm my family when I come home since I am not at work earning money to fill their bellies. No matter what I do I harm my family. It’s a Catch 22 situation.
There are those who have stated that the Rede is a continuation of the law that Alister Crowley laid down “Do as thy Will shall be the whole of the Law.” But there is a HUGE caveat to this, you have to know what your own Will (in this case being desire) is. You have to know that and do it. But as long as we cling to the antiquated Rede then that Will will never be known. How can it when we have one ethic saying “do what you want to do” and another saying “do what you want but don’t hurt anyone or anything”? That’s contrary to the Rede too.
So my point is this: The Rede has come to a point where it is actually harming us, and according to the Rede it must now be thrown out since it is harming.
Radical? You betcha. But looking at this dispassionately there are MULTITUDES of faiths out there that don’t have the Rede. Druidism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Asatru, Voodoo, Santaria and many others have ethical statements or codes, but have NO Rede that they hang everything on.
Wicca needs to grow up and stop using the Rede as an excuse for everything and redefine their ethics in concrete ways. Just sharing a soundbyte is not enough anymore, because it’s become debased and too simple. And when others use the Rede as an excuse to commit harmful actions (like saying in that oh so pious tone of voice “I won’t heal them because the Rede says I can’t harm others, and it will harm them to be healed since it is their destiny to suffer from this fate.”) or as an excuse to not care, then something is radically wrong.
And yes, I have heard that excuse many times from those who should know better.
Honor, commitment, living a life that you can be proud of, having children who are proud of you, passing on your knowledge and morals to others, THESE are the kinds of things that should be codified into a set of ethics. Even chaing the Rede to “Cause the least harm you can” is SO much better than what is out there now.
Even doctors know that there are times when you have to cause great harm to fix what is wrong, and they don’t let the Hypocratic Oath stop them (which states in the first line “First, cause no harm.”)
I’m tired of this debate in the Wiccan community. I’m tired of having to say the Rede is not a literal statement, I’m tired of being told that I as a Druid and Pagan have to obey the ethics of Wiccans, and I’m tired of seeing this come up all the freaking time on discussion lists. It’s time for a change.
The only thing the Rede gives us that is good is the Sound Byte, and that can be designed into the new Rede easily enough.