In Wicca, we govern our magical practices and aim our intentions through the lens of the Wiccan Rede which says, “An it harm none, do as thou wilt.” But what might the Rede mean for contemporary practice? And what does it mean to “harm none?” Does harming none bind us and ethically immobilize our magical work?
The purpose of “harming none” is singular, and it leads us to true magical power. In the mundane view magic is about “gaining” something we want. “I want a new car!” “I want a husband (or wife).” “I want to win the lottery.” There is nothing wrong with starting our magical practice from this perspective. But if we contemplate the Rede deeply, we notice that it advises us to view our magical work through a broader lens and take into account the full play of life.
…the Rede advises us to view our magical work through a broader lens and take into account the full play of life.
Over time, if we attune ourselves to the mystic rhythms of the Mother by celebrating the seasonal Sabbats and ingesting their energies, their “messages,” we begin to view the whole of our practice in a new way. The unfolding of the seasonal passages show us that life must play itself out. And aiming our efforts, our magic, to stopping life from fulfilling itself is perhaps misguided, ineffective, and possibly even harmful. When we engage in spellwork aimed at some personal fulfillment without accounting for the whole grand play of life, which may not be able to “fulfill” our personal “order,” it is easy to become disappointed. “Magic doesn’t work,” we think in those moments. We lose heart, lose our way, and some may abandon their spiritual path altogether.
But if we align ourselves with the immensity of life itself, our magic results in great transformation. Dion Fortune, an early 20th century mystic and magician, said that magic is “the ability to change consciousness.” That statement can wisely inform our magical work. Fortune’s words guide us to consider magic as a process (not a product) of personal transformation. Magic is a spiritual method to align our thoughts, views, and actions with the Great Mother and her grand design.
…magic as a process, not a product
From Fortune’s view, magic is a way of approaching life. Changing consciousness from exclusively (or predominantly) “me” to “the great whole of life,” changes our efforts. It frees us up to act directly on the immediate moment in front of us, and to fulfill the moment’s requirements. Changing consciousness in this way helps us become agents of life, of the Great Cosmic Mother.
Therefore, if the moment requires breathing, then just breathe. If the moment requires walking, then just walk. If life requires us to hold someone’s hand, or listen deeply, or offer comfort to someone in pain, then that is what is called for. We cannot stop the life-flow of the Mother. Her way is too vast and complex. There are causes and effects well beyond our knowing or imagining at work. Our most powerful-spiritual position is to relinquish ourselves to life, and address each magical moment as it arises with attentive action that addresses the immediate needs.