I’ve been mulling in my head how to approach the idea of Pagan Values most of this day.
I don’t want to present my thoughts in terms of what I am “not”. If you are reading my blog and you still have it in your mind that Pagans are all devil worshipping baby killers who will burn for eternity in Hell, then this is possibly not the best place for you to be reading.
On top of that, I really dislike the whole “Good witch/ Bad witch” concept. Yes, I get asked this question a LOT. Mostly I ignore, unless I think my point will actually be heard. Asking a Pagan if they are black or white, good or bad is no different that walking up to a Christian, or a Muslim, or a Hindu, or a practitioner of any of the other hundred or so religions of this planet and saying “But are you a good Christian/Muslim/Jew/Hindu/Sikh/Buddhist/_____ or a bad one?”
Because I am Pagan I have been told that I can not be an ethical person. Because I am Pagan I have been told that I cannot hold any “true” morals. Because I do not believe in the concepts of Heaven and Hell, I can not tell the difference between right and wrong.
If you are an atheist, a lot of these ideas will have been applied to you as well. Erroneously.
I hold within my heart some very basic truths and values. I do not hold these because I am Pagan. And I have not made the choice to identify myself as Pagan because I hold these values. Between the two though, there is a lot of intermingling.
In Wicca this has been elaborated on by Doreen Valiente and others who came before her. Do as you will, but harm none.
I prefer another version. Harm none, but take no shit.
These are my truths, my values. This is where I draw my ethics and morality from. Not from a fear of what will happen to me if I don’t – be good or you’ll go to hell. Not from a fear that if I step wrong I’ll get a whammy from the Gods – take your pick from the threefold law, the fivefold law, the ninefold law and others. But because I have examined each and know in my heart they are the right way.
Paganism is unique as a religion because it has no Holy Scripture, no written texts on the Spoken Words of God. There are no laws governing behaviour. Practitioners of Pagan religions are supposed to be mature enough to figure out the proper way to behave without all that lark, and without the threat of punishment or reward based upon compliance.
Harm none, but take no shit.
Nearly every value I hold can be narrowed down to this simple fragmentary sentence.
In itself though it isn’t a law. It isn’t a shouting of “Thou shalt not…”
Harm none is a call to think, and to consider. It is weighing up the consequences of behaviour, and asking myself am I willing to accept those consequences, for good or for bad.
I know that it is near impossible to go through life without ever causing harm to anyone or anything. Every time I pick a plant so that I can eat it, I am harming that plant. Animals are harmed so that I can have food to eat and shoes to wear. When I walk around outside, I may inadvertently step on bugs in the grass, squishing them. The ants who made their way into my kitchen this past week were quickly killed.
But.. but, I can consider my actions. Instead of using a can of commercial bug spray, I use a mixture of borax and sugar or kill them by hand. I ensure as much as possible that the foods I eat are grown and killed as humanely and ethically as possible – fairtrade, free range, and organic. But also, locally grown where possible. I’ll buy foods grown in Kent before those grown in the rest of the UK, and foods grown in the UK before those grown in the rest of the world.
I believe in respecting the beliefs of others, even if I disagree with those beliefs. This doesn’t mean I have to respect the person holding said beliefs. I will even respect your right to be a card carrying practising Whovian, even if I think you personally are an arse.
I believe that consenting adults should be free to marry whom they chose amongst their peers, love whom they chose amongst their peers, and generally have sex in any manner they chose amongst their peers, as long as by their actions they are not causing harm to another. Note the use of the words consenting, adult, and peer.
..but take no shit
It takes a lot to piss me off, but mess with me or my family in such as way as to cause harm to us and you will feel my full wrath. If, having looked at a situation and weighed up the consequences of different actions, I decide the best course is to curse you, I have no qualms whatsoever about doing just that.
What is good and what is evil very much depends on where you are looking, and sometimes it is nearly impossible to differentiate between the two. This is why we are given the ability to think and to reason. The values that I hold today are not exactly the same as the values I held 20 years ago, and in another 20 years they will have continued to change. At the core though I will still hold tight to the idea of considering possible actions and determining whether or not I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions.
Am I a good witch or a bad witch? Yes, I am a very good witch, and I will cure or curse as fits the purpose and situation.
- Pagan Values Event 2013 (5th Annual!) (paganvalues.wordpress.com)