When I first began to earnestly follow the pagan path, I found the Wiccan rede, "Do what you want but harm none in the doing," to be WAY harder than it first appeared to be. Just sitting down and thinking thru all the ramifications of each action was mind boggling. The rede, when looked at carefully, is so complex its actually the WHOLE of the law!! Eventually, I came to the conclusion it is impossible not to cause SOME harm. With this revelation, I began to realize the rede isn't meant to be taken literally, but figuratively. It is a tool to stop you short before any knee-jerk reaction and help you cause the LEAST harm -- and take responsibility for your actions.
This places you smack dab in the other person's shoes (person could be anything/one). Being a gaia type, that means, to me, I have to consider how the other entity (bird, bug, plant, human, pet, whatever) would be affected by my actions and act accordingly - also taking into consideration that ME is also included in the "harm none" directive. It helps me, when I sit down and deeply ruminate on the law, learn just how my actions do have a ripple effect even when I think Im not affecting anyone.
Take a simple smile and compliment to a stranger and just think upon the reaction and subsequent actions the other person will have as a direct result of your casual greeting. Now - what if that person had a phobia of other people communicating with them in public? Such a person would be terrified of such an interchange and commiserate over the episode ad nauseum, filling themselves with horrible dread and insecurity about their own success in their end of the exchange. So - do we stop smiling and making small talk with strangers because someone MIGHT be a phobic? Gosh - what happens to those folks who could earnestly use that bright, shining look on your face? And round and round and round we go
When I became confounded and couldnt figure out the answers to the puzzle of the rede, I would give up and let it perk subliminally. This paid off for me. One day it was slaps-forehead clear where to find the answers. Look to The Innocents. The Innocents are the wild things. What would a bear, wolf, rabbit, meerkat, fish, bird do in such and such situation? The Innocents boil everything down to the basics, skipping all the trappings of society, and take care of any situation with accurate and immediate resolution. If its a negative response, you can bet your bottom dollar, SOMEone is gonna get harmed. And yet, they are guilt free of the harm they cause because their reaction to the other creatures action was dictated by the perpetrators behavior. In essence, the perpetrator asked for negative results. Ditto with positive reactions. You go in fresh faced and all wiggly and happy, creatures will normally respond in like kind. Ok, that makes some sense to me!
That takes us to killing and when is it justified? IS it justified? Yes, I think it is, but there are always ramifications and repercussions when one takes a life. Do you get an equal reaction - like the smile or negative behavior mentioned above (now think Karma here)? Well, maybe. It depends on what life youre taking, how youre taking it and why youre taking it. Im a meat eater. I have no problem killing food to eat. However, I always sit down and have a huge cry when I harvest an animal. Then I give reverence to the creature who sacrificed its life that I may sustain my own. I have a serious problem with people who just trophy hunt, gleaning the head and casting off the meat. I can also hear plants and I have huge feelings of guilt when Ive caused undo harm to someone in the plant kingdom. Im a papermaker and harvest plants for my artwork. I always ask the plant and give thanks after removing a portion of the plant. Because of the Rede, I have learned not to wipe out most of a stand so the survival of the community continues or to remove the entire community of invasive plants to insure the survival of the natives. It also makes it hard to walk on plants, but I have to remember theyre resilient and, if I walk lightly, I will cause minimum, if any, damage.
But what about ants and bugs and spiders and snakes? * shudder * They are living things with equal importance to the gods as we. Oh yyyeeeUUUUUCK. Ants are what drive me nuts and spiders make my skin crawl. It is HARD not to reach out and swat them dead if theyre anywhere I can see them. So Ive reached a compromise - again looking to The Innocents. If theyre not in my personal space, I leave them alone. If they ARE in my personal space I will do what is necessary to remove them, to include killing if I HAVE to. An ant invasion of my home warrants killing, but an errant spider or bumblebee can be caught and released and, if possible, should be handled so. Felines, canines and fish - among other creatures - fiercely protect their turf. This insures survival of the species. Just imagine how difficult it would be for a fox to have her kits and raise them with any success if she allowed other creatures into her den. Granted, some bugs are beneath notice, but so they are also beneath notice - generally - in our own homes. My home is my den. I have a responsibility to insure my own health and well being and this means I keep vermin, ants, spiders and anything else that could carry disease, cause harm or be at risk from my pets out of my living space. And I now do this guilt free. The compromise was to not kill unnecessarily. If I do have to kill the creature, I must remember the gods placed that creature there and I am the instrument of its demise. Not a pleasant role, but it is all part of the circle of life.
This brings me to one of my paths in life. I am an Angel of Death. It took me awhile to realize this was a good thing. Death fascinates me and I shine when someone needs end-of-life care. I have the patience of Job and an over-welling of love to pour out to the person making the transition from corporeal to ethereal and for the people surrounding that individual. For me, witnessing and giving dignity to someone making the journey to The Summerlands is an honor. Hence, one day, I realized I was literally an angel there to guide and support people during the cycle of death. Mayhap it's a dubious title and mayhap being drawn to death is macabre, but that is the truth of me and it does no good to hide it or deny it.
For many years I have been a control freak and have always partnered with people who were/are even more of a control freak than me. I finally learned to give up the control to feed my current partners more urgent need and discovered I have far more control over what goes on in my life than ever before. In turn, this makes the Buddhist mantra of giving up all desire come into perfect light. I had once believed giving up desire meant giving up passion, the ups and downs of joy and disappointment, of acheiving the attainment of peaceful apathy where a person's reactions to things were on a narrow emotional window of response. I have found this is not true. Passion, love, laughter, sadness, grief, anger - the whole gamut of human emotion - is to be experienced and enjoyed to the fullest. By giving up desire or control, we are completely living in the Now. Yes, we can make future plans and still have goals and expectations, but if there's a curve ball we simply catch it and roll with it. By not forcing our lives to adhere to our rigid road or to our implacable goals, we are free to truly experience and immerse ourselves into this lifetime.
During our lifetime in corporeal form, Time is linear. We cannot see any further into the past than our own lifetimes (except for the occasional glimpse in past life regression) and we cannot see into the future (except for those rare precogs). There is a master plan, but we are definitely here just to Experience - knowledge of the master plan is discouraged. If we could see the master plan, the purity of our experience would be compromised. Plus, corporeal form gives us lessons and adventures we can never have in noncorporeal form. This leads us to Karma/Destiny and free will.
Karma is a complicated and controversial concept. I believe there is ample room for free will. Remember the bards from the Arthurian era (and before)? They would travel from town to town and retell the myths, legends and epics. Each bard would put a different slant on the tales and sometimes they would vary from town to town with an individual bard. Ysee, they had the outline - the basic story line where certain things must remain consistent - but how they fill in the details and embellish is entirely up to the individual bard and his/her environment. A bard had the freedom of choice to slant the story to the particular village/family/audience. I believe the same goes for Destiny and Karma. We choose our corporeal lives and we have certain things to accomplish during that linear timeline. How quickly or slowly we achieve these goals depends entirely on our freedom of choice. With just one choice, for instance, I could still be a multimillionaire in the cream of society in the capital city of California, but I chose divorce and became a pauper in southern Oregon. Regardless of which path I ended up on, I would STILL have a specific goal to achieve in this lifetime. My methods as a millionaire are simply different than those as a pauper. Destiny/Karma are as intertwined as breathing/lungs. Also, Karma is multilevel - spanning both this corporeal lifetime and multiple lifetimes regardless of who/what/where you are. Sometimes the results of karma are immediate - like the result of a temper tantrum, bad planning or anger during Mercury in Retrograde. Sometimes you reap what you sow months, years, decades down the line. I believe if you have an unreasoning, unfounded fear/hate/love then past life experience is a player. I also believe what you do now will have consequences in a future incorporation. Since Im an unabashed hedonist, I prefer to put out positive energies and warm, happy thoughts thus replenishing the pool of energy we're all tapped into. In turn, that's what I get back. For example: let's say I have to learn how to give up controlling, fear of success and understand the effects of cruelty. That's it. Not the schedule of how I will obtain these goals, simply that I will accomplish them, hopefully, during this incorporation. I do choose the birth conditions that will be optimal for launching me on the path to success, but it's completely up to me in my corporeal manifestation on how I learn these things. I was not predestined specifically to hook up with a physically abusive man in my mid-twenties, but I didn't learn what I needed to without suffering. As a result, my life choices led to circumstances where he became the optimal learning tool. So - does that mean his dastardly ways should simply be accepted and I should surrender to them? Absolutely not. Survival is the single most driving force in all living species on this planet and, I think, why we choose this location to learn in. To survive in relative safety and comfort is something all living things struggle to attain. If I had learned the lesson of self-worth, confidence and independence from the woman beater, my life choices would have led me elsewhere than into the arms of my last husband. But, as it was, he was the final stone on which my temperament and understanding were honed on in order for me to appreciate the blessedness of the relationship I have now with my Sweet Joy, my pets, family, land, acquaintances and everything/one I come into contact with. If I had not learned from the abusive relationships, my life choices would lead me to another cruel relationship. From there to influence and learn from instead of being rewarded with my Sweet Joy where I can practice what Ive learned in a nurturing environment.
When I went to a retreat on the coast for Beltane 2004, the group of women I met and I shared many magickal moments. The hostess pulled some medicine cards for me. It confirmed for me my destiny and it explained why my life has been so full of unpleasant people and relationships. My purpose is to teach. To show people alternatives to anger, foolishness, greed, egocentricity, cruelty and thoughtlessness. To draw people out of themselves and to guide them to new concepts in compassion, kindness, thoughtfulness. People who need these traits are brought into my life not so much to try me, but to learn from me. Once I read that, it was like a slaps-forehead experience!! How many times have I beaten myself goofy trying to figure out what I was supposed to learn from such an aggravating person and only ending up with the ever ready grab-bag called Patience? Now it all falls into place. It is more for someone else's edification and Im honing my teaching skills - which also rhymes with social skills.
I live each and every day as if it were my last. Every time I go to sleep it is with no regrets, no loose ends, no anger and no secrets. I share that with everyone whether they want to be a part of it or not. I am an open book and have nothing to hide. I walk in peace, compassion, joy of life, tolerance, unconditional love and laughter. Lots of laughter. I walk as gently on Mother Earth as I can and treat all of her creatures, even those I'm not partial to, with respect. I do not eschew modern technology, but I do not use or participate in things I feel would cause harm or negative impact. All is as it should be. All is right in my world. God is great. God is good. Hail Herne.
Go to the following links to find out how I met My Lord, Herne, and My Lady, Caillaich.
For more of my ruminations, check out my blog.
Email Me: webmistress AT sunnibergeron DOT com
Copyright 1998-2010 Colleen D. Bergeron.
Last revised: November 2 2010