An it harm none do what you will at first glance seems to be an invitation for any kind of behavior. However, this founding concept for most nature based religions is not as simplistic as it first appears. Paganism has two leading ethical principles, the Wiccan Rede and the law of return. According to Marion Green in A Witch Alone “An it harm none, do what ye will. None in this case implies everyone and everything! An in old English means In order that and will is your soul’s own true will, not the whim of the moment.” (pg 41) In other words - In order that no harm comes to anything or anyone do what your soul’s own true desires. The law of return basically means that whatever energy you put out it will come back to you, three, ten or a hundred fold depending on what path you follow. As with other religions, this is interpreted in a variety of ways. The law of return, which is a western version of karma expounds personal responsibility. According to Rabinovitch and MacDonald in An Ye Harm None there are two central concepts on morality “1) that there are causes for and reasons why something happens and 2) that every action you take will have effects.” (page 5) In its simplest form the rede is the guide for making life choices. The law of return is the penalty or prize for any action taken.
In any discussion concerning Pagan morality and justice it is difficult to pin down the one overriding belief the entire community has. Paganism, Witchcraft, and the other nature-based belief systems are very individualistic, which is part of their appeal. This means that those practicing these systems have to determine their own ethical and moral beliefs based on the minimal guidance found in whatever path they choose to follow.
Libertarians have a long history with modern NeoPaganism. In the early years of our rapid growth science fiction writer Robert Heinlein ‘s Stranger in a Strange Land,helped inspire creating the Church of All Worlds. and the libertarian spirit and strong female characters in his The Moon is a Harsh Mistress was popular with many.Historically the connection between libertarians and Pagans is deep.Today many Pagans are libertarians and still more are sympathetic to what they imagine that philosophy to be.
On the surface that connection makes a lot of sense because libertarianism’s ethical principle is remarkably compatible with the Wiccan Rede. Libertarians generally say no one has a right to coerce a peaceful person and our rede states “An it harm none, do as ye will.”
Help! Recently I went into a new age store looking for some supplies for my Wiccan altar, and a woman at the store told me Wicca was dangerous and I should stop practicing it right away. I’m new to Wicca, and this woman really freaked me out and got me worried that I could harm myself or my family. Is Wicca really dangerous?
Wicca is a life-affirming, celebratory path. Its focus is on understanding our place in the natural world and living better lives by being more in harmony with nature. In my opinion, it’s a path that can help seekers with self-empowerment and self-improvement. Most of the negative ideas about Wicca are born out of fear and lack of understanding, rather than knowledge.