As mentioned last week I’m going to look at a few examples ethics within paganism, moving from the broadest, and occasionally contentious, examples to some very detailed specialist group ethics. I will touch on my thoughts of each example very briefly though I am gong to (try) avoid getting too far in depth with any one at this time. My aim here is to share my research from my own attempts to codify my own personal ethics as aive found it hard to define in writing what I live everyday.
Harm ye none ….
This phrase echoes through the values of the internet. The eight words of the “Wiccan Rede”.
Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfil, An’ it harm none, do what ye will
I am not got in to detail regarding the history of this statement, if you are interested I suggest reading this article by John J. Coughlin, my focus today is the Rede as a statement of ethics, specifically as a broad statement which in of itself is short on detail.
One of the reasons for contentious reactions to the Rede, it’s association with Wicca notwithstanding, is its very nature. The Rede has been cited as the reason for everything from not casting curses to vegetarianism and everything in between. It’s often allied with the negative consequences of spell craft for personal gain such as, for example, a spell to help you get that interview. The Rede is a ideal, to live life without causing harm but it is far too broad to create unity on big issues either within Paganism or on issues outside of it. The Rede was never intended to be held as an ethical guide in isolation so lets move on to other examples.
The Pagan Federation
The Pagan Federation is an international organisation aimed at promoting Pagan righted and equality. Primarily the focus of the organisation is on Britain however it has a presence on both sides of the Atlantic and throughout Europe.
As a membership organisation they have an established Code of Ethics which can be reviewed here but it can be boiled down to three points.
Respect – valuing dignity and diversity.
Responsibility – to the Earth/nature and each other
Integrity – being honest and fair in all aspects of life
The Pagan Federation sets out a greater level of detail along side these broad values and it is easier to see how they apply in day today life. As broad definitions for approaching life they are good ones but they represent group ethics rather than personal ones.
Rökkatru is a term that was coined by Abby Helasdottir and describes a northern tradition focused on the Underworld deities of Norse tradition, such as Loki, Hella and Fenris.
Raven Kaldera has shared his very detailed code of ethics which incorporates his Rökkatru practices and they can be found here. This ethical code covered the treatment of others, treatment of self, treatment of the nature and the world and of the spiritual path walked. In comparison to the previous two examples Raven outlines a ethical map which provides many more tools to consider other situations which might be encountered through life.
For me, as I sit down to write my personal ethics for personal consumption, I realise that I am attempting to create a tool set for approaching the wider world. Yes, my code will be influenced by my petsonal practice now but it will also br grounded in my upbringing and the society I find myself living in. It will be an ideal but flexible enough to recognise that a single code will never hold all the answers.
Given that next week is week three I wonder if I can give it a Heketean flavour?
In the course of my reading I found this article written by
Liz Williams on the issue of Pagan Ethics. It is part of a larger series of articles she has written for the Guardian which I recommend reading at your leisure.
The closest I could get to a credit was various articles on stem cell research (which is an ethical debate in itself). Regardless, all credit goes to the copyright holder and I can update this with direct credit on request.