Pagan Musings – What are Ethics?

This post may appear to be straying from theme somewhat as it is neither overtly Pagan or about fiber arts and crafts but stick with me, we’ll get pagany next week.

The Pagan Experience has set the topic of Ethics for the month of December and as I sat down to muse upon my own ethics as a human and a pagan I realise that I didn’t really understand what it was I was trying to outline. Sure I understood the dictionary definition of the word

… a moral philosophy or code of morals practiced by a person or group of people.

But I wasn’t sure I was ‘getting’ it as I have never been a student of philosophy.

I found this site sumed up, in a sound bite, ethics clearly for me. Ethics are …

…the rules or standards governing the conduct by which I live my life and make all my decisions.

It’s interesting to think about my ethics in terms of my spirituality. Ethics don’t pop in and out of existence, they emerge over we live our lives and encounter new experiences and shift as we come to contemplate our beliefs and understandings in the context of what we experience. They begin to be established in our early childhood as we interact with our immediately family, friends, learning cohorts etc and are directed as much by social convention as anything else. I remember my mother saying ‘if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all’ and it’s things like this that establish our sense of ethics at such a young age. Religion, philosophy, cultures; sll these inform the basis of our individual code of ethics.

This brings me to my first road block with regards to discussing my ‘Pagan’ ethics; my beginnings are not pagan, rather my earliest experiences of life are through a lense of Christianity. This left me pondering whether or not I can truly call my ethics ‘pagan’ or not.

As I have read further and pondered more I realise that whether they are, quote unquote, Pagan or not is really irreverent rather the important thing is how my sense of ethics help me approach the “big” questions in life.

Something else that made me hesitate was the fact that looking at things from a personal ethical point of view may result in many answers and different people with their individual code of ethics may come up with something entirely different to me when looking at the same issue. My anxiety kicked off here and I thought “what if I say something that is ‘wrong’?” vut that is not really an issue when talking about personal ethics. They are exactly that, personal, and no two people are going to have perfectly shared personal ethics.

This is where we have to distinguish between group and personal ethics. Groups, organisations, companies etc will sometimes have an expressed ‘Code of Ethics’ making broad ethical statements about beliefs and behaviours. In those instances, people who identify with that group (so on and so forth) will agree to share this ethical code yet they will still hold individual views and understandings in terms of details. That broad shared ethic can be used to take a lot of heat out of arguments however it can cause other issues.

For some reason we are hardwired to try and find the ‘right’ answer but even with an ethical map as our guide thosr nitty gritty problems in life rarely have a single, or even right answer. Moral ambiguity is a fact of life, though one that can be extremely hard to deal with especially when it means accepting total responsibility for ones actions and choices.

The BBC has a useful reference on ethics which I found useful in grounding myself in the subject.

Next week I am going to look at a couple of different ‘Codes of Ethics’ from Pagan groups and organisations and in the following week outline my own ethics with regards to Paganism.

In other news? Well the wheel has been turning, both the Wheel of the Year and my spinning wheel.

We’re nearly all ready for the holidays ahead and this year the girls are participating in various Nativity plays. I only mention it because Lilith is in two and has been cast as an angel in one (how ironic) and a star in another. This wouldn’t be overly remarkable except for the fact that she overheard that her costume requirements were black clothing and insists she is the “Black Star”. Freya will be playing the role of fourth Wiseman/King… we still haven’t quite worked that one out.

Our usual ancestral observations will take places, with added weight as we lost another relative last year, and the Spirit of Winter (aka Me) is crafting away to make various personalised gifts for the turn of the season.

My spinning wheel has been busy after an enforced break so I had time to crochet baby blanket orders and assorted welcome baby gifts.


This fluffy dream from nunoco distracted me recently and I am nearly ready to spin tge scone single. Not that I’m making a dint in my stash! I spin yarn then Im afraid I won’t find the right project for it… inspiration necessary.

About knotmagick

Weaving Magick and Crochet in the madhouse I call home. I am a devotee of Hekate and a follower of Pan.
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