Ethics of our Temple

Though we are not a predominantly Wiccan group, Temple of the Standing Stones has chosen the Wiccan Rede to be the spine upon which our code of ethics rests.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Wiccan Rede, the most popular incarnation was published in 1975 in the Green Egg Magazine by Lady Gwen Thompson. Lady Gwen attributed the then named “Rede of the Wiccae” to her grandmother Adriana Porter. It is as follows:

Bide the Wiccan Laws we must
In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.

Live and let live.
Fairly take and fairly give.

Cast the Circle thrice about
to keep the evil spirits out.

To bind the spell every time
let the spell be spake in rhyme.

Soft of eye and light of touch,
Speak little, listen much.

Deosil go by the waxing moon,
chanting out the Witches’ Rune.

Widdershins go by the waning moon,
chanting out the baneful rune.

When the Lady’s moon is new,
kiss the hand to her, times two.

When the moon rides at her peak,
then your hearts desire seek.

Heed the North wind’s mighty gale,
lock the door and drop the sail.

When the wind comes from the South,
love will kiss thee on the mouth.

When the wind blows from the West,
departed souls will have no rest.

When the wind blows from the East,
expect the new and set the feast.

Nine woods in the cauldron go,
burn them fast and burn them slow.

Elder be the Lady’s tree,
burn it not or cursed you’ll be.

When the Wheel begins to turn,
let the Beltane fires burn.

When the Wheel has turned to Yule,
light the log and the Horned One rules.

Heed ye flower, Bush and Tree,
by the Lady, blessed be.

Where the rippling waters go,
cast a stone and truth you’ll know.

When ye have a true need,
hearken not to others’ greed.

With a fool no season spend,
lest ye be counted as his friend.

Merry meet and merry part,
bright the cheeks and warm the heart.

Mind the Threefold Law you should,
three times bad and three times good.

When misfortune is enow,
wear the blue star on thy brow.

True in love ever be,
lest thy lover’s false to thee.

Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill:
An ye harm none, do what ye will.

Some claim that parts of the Wiccan Rede are influenced by a speech given by Doreen Valiente. Others claim that it references a passage written by Gerald Gardner. Still others attribute influence to Aleister Crowley. Regardless or the origins of this lovely poem, it has become widely accepted as a basis for interpreting ethics and moral standards in Wiccan and broader Pagan culture.

This is not to say that the Wiccan Rede is considered doctrine within our Temple. For we must look at the origins of the word “Rede.” The word Rede is a Middle English word that means to give counsel, advise, interpret, or explain. Therefore we use this poem as advice, rather than a strict interpretation. We also believe that it’s lines hold wise council.
Though there are many lines in the Wiccan Rede that speak of magical practices, and ways to honor the Sabbats, let us focus on the lines that speak of right behavior, and moral action.
“Bide the Wiccan Laws we must
In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.”
Temple of the standing Stones takes this introduction to the Wiccan Rede to be a cornerstone to our practice. Our members come in perfect love and perfect trust to our circles, and our Temple gatherings. “Perfect love” means that we truly care for our fellow Temple Brothers and Sisters, and accept them for their true selves. “Perfect trust” means that we honor the bonds between our members, and act in each others favor.
Our Temple believes that these concepts of love and trust are the energies that bind and strengthen our group, as well as our individual members. We believe that strong foundations of these two elements are essential to fostering productive and healthy relationships.
“Live and let live.
Fairly take and fairly give.”
To our temple, fairly taking and fairly giving speaks to our actions within our temple and our community. Our interactions with each other, and with others, are to be fair. And when we take in, we must also give out. It is important that we as individuals and as a temple practice the art of charity to facilitate that giving back. Temple of the Standing Stones is committed giving back to the community from which we benefit so much.
In addition to giving back to our local community, and our Temple itself, we believe that we must also use this concept of taking and giving in our interactions with planet as a whole. Our resources and our home are derived from our planet. Therefore, as takers from the Earth, we must also be givers to the Earth. Our Temple strives to not only give back to our planet, but also to reduce our taking from the planet.
“Speak little, listen much.”
In our temple we believe that words are spells. The old joke goes: “Why do you think they call it spelling?” While this concept may be a little tongue in cheek, the idea of decisively using your words is considered wise council by us. Also, the concept of listening to all those around you is considered wise. Though many may have a different view point, or even a similar one, their experience should be listened to with much respect.
In practice, these values are most often asserted in the classes our Temple offers. We ask that Temple members and guests share their personal stories with our group so that we might all benefit from their experiences with various topics. We ask that those with knowledge share with their fellow Temple Brothers and Sisters, and we ask that all in attendance listen respectfully to what each individual has to say.
“When ye have a true need,
hearken not to others’ greed.”
Our temple takes these lines to mean that you should not let other people’s negative will influence your own – even in times of need. In other words, you should never give up your moral fiber.
In this couplet we also see that the Wiccan Rede refers to the individual’s personal responsibility for their actions. In fact, this is a common theme throughout the poem, and is another trait that our Temple wishes to highlight for it’s members. Personal responsibility is considered by us to be a key factor in ethical behavior. One always has the option to choose to do right, for everyone is responsible for their own behavior.
“With a fool no season spend,
lest ye be counted as his friend.”
Our Temple believes this to be another version of the phrase “Choose your friends wisely.” We find that it is true that a person or a group is often associated to the company they keep. Therefore, your friends should be wise, and not engaged in foolish behavior.
Temple of the Standing stones also takes these lines to mean that your friends should be chosen by their thoughts and deeds, rather than any other characteristic. And, we use these traits to determine initiation into our Temple above any others.
“Merry meet and merry part,
bright the cheeks and warm the heart.”

 

Temple of the Standing Stones believes that we should all greet each other with joy, and part with joy as well. This extends to old friends as well as new. Our Temple strives to create a peaceful atmosphere, but should any grievances arise, we have an open door policy, so that they may be dealt with swiftly. We want none of our members or guests to leave us unhappily, if it can be avoided.

 

“Mind the Threefold Law you should,
three times bad and three times good.”

 

These lines refer to what is known as the “Threefold Law.” This is sometimes also called the “Rule of Three” and has been linked to the phrase: “Ever mind the rule of three, whatever you send out comes back to thee.” This means that should you send out energy, it will return to you threefold.

 

Many have different view points on how this “law” actually works. Some believe that positive energies sent out return triple the blessings, while negative energies sent out return triple the consequences. Others believe that the energies sent out affect the sender in three ways (usually in mind, body, and spirit). Still, others do not believe in any sort of karmic reaction at all.

 

It is the opinion of Temple of the Standing Stones that this couplet refers to the concept that one’s actions affect their character. Therefore, to be a moral and just person, one must act like one.

 

“When misfortune is enow,
wear the blue star on thy brow.”

 

Temple of the Standing Stones takes this couplet to basically mean “ask for help.” If you are enduring misfortunes, let others know. Let your fellow Temple Brothers and Sisters aid you if they can, or at least support you in your troubled times. Our Temple believes that burdens are made lighter when they are shouldered together.

 

“An ye harm none, do what ye will.”

 

Some consider this last line to be the “short version” of the Wiccan Rede, and say that this verse alone should be the basis of ethics for all Wiccans and/or pagans. However, it is the opinion of our Temple that while this line has importance, it is truly only part of a whole.

 

“Harming none” has many different meanings to many different people. Some see this concept as a justification for veganism while others cannot relate to that leap at all. Some see this idea as relating to a stance of pacifism, and yet others (particularly those that see themselves as “warriors”) do not see it that way at all. So who is right?

 

It is the stance of Temple of the Standing Stones that this final passage of the Wiccan Rede once again reminds us of our personal responsibility. It is up to each individual what one does, and the Rede advises that we cause no harm. We therefore advise our members not to cause what we call “willful” harm to others, in that they should not unjustly forcibly exert their will or energies over any person -to include themselves- for the purpose of causing pain or misfortune.

 

And thus, we conclude the Wiccan Rede. As was stated at the beginning of this article of the Seekers’ Orientation, our Temple looks at this poem as a spine. This means that the values and ethics contained within are just a starting point. Temple of the Standing Stones believes that no one poem, and no one article, can completely describe an entire group’s code of ethics. We therefore invite you to continue the discussion with our members, talk with our clergy (templehp@templeofthestones.org), and perhaps come to one of our classes on the subject if should this topic interest you further.

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