“An’ it harm none, do what ye will.”
The Wiccan Rede.
By the Oxford dictionary definition, rede means “advice or counsel given by one person to another.” Some Wiccans say that you must follow this rede to the letter, harming none ever. By definition though, rede means advice. No one can truly harm none.
When I taught the Rede to Bacchus and Hestia, their first question was, “Harm none? How can you do that? You kill the ants in the house.” I knew this would be their first question, because it was also mine when I heard the Rede. I was surprised that they didn’t ask about harming animals and plants in order to eat. Yes, by the way, I have been known to go on a rampage or two against the house ants that keep finding various ways to infiltrate my pantry and cupboards.
As Wiccans, we should strive to avoid harming others and ourselves. This is especially true if we are following the “Three-fold Law” or “Law of Return.” If we harm others, then whatever we send out we will get back three-fold. I explained to Hestia and Bacchus that we should try our best to avoid causing harm to all others and ourselves.
Growing up, my teacher told me that she lets the spiders stay in her house, but she warned the spiders that if they come down into her space, she can’t guarantee their safety. That’s kind of how I feel toward our house ants. I did warn them to not get in our food, but they chose to get into many bags of food which I have had to throw away. If I had an effective way to deter them from coming inside, then I would use it. You can’t save everything though and at some point you have to stick up for yourself. As Wiccans we have to make a really good effort to harm none, but if we’ve made our best effort and don’t have results, then we may have to harm some.
It is your greatest intention to do good and that is what really matters.
To explain what I really mean, I made a little poem for the kids. Maybe one day I’ll illustrate it for them to make it more fun.
“An’ ye harm none, do what ye will.”
Following this phrase can make you ill.
Harm no others as best you can,
to include no plant, beast, or man.
But to live you can’t ignore,
the food you eat, grown or bought from a store.
If you like to eat veggies only
or you eat beefy, noodly minestrone,
keep in mind the sacrifices that were made
by the plants and animals whose lives they gave.
If you accidentally step on a bug
or break a plant from an accidental tug;
it’s not the end of the world, accidents arise,
but don’t do it on purpose, I advise.
Give your gratitude and remember
thanks-giving should not just be in November.
You will harm some, this is true,
but avoid harm if you can and blessings will come to you.
It's not the best poem I'll admit, but I felt it was really important to explain the Rede in words they would understand. I didn't want them going through life with major anxiety over accidentally stepping on a worm, but I do want them to understand that all life is precious.