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Botyfltiger

How Do Wiccans Know What's Right and Wrong?

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I wanted to share with you an email I got recently, in the hopes that it will help to educate some of our non-Pagan friends a little bit. From the context of the email, I suspect the writer had ulterior motives, but the part that actually matters is this: I was raised Christian, and have been trying to study Wicca and Paganism. For Christians, there is the Bible and the Ten Commandments to tell them what is right and what is wrong. Wicca doesn't have anything like that, so how do Pagans and Wiccans know what is moral and what is not?

 

What's interesting is that this is the same argument that is often applied to atheists. There's an assumption that just because we don't have a Big List O' Rules, that clearly we're incapable of deciding for ourselves what actions are good and which are not. I find this an odd concept, because my parents -- who are agnostic -- managed to raise two reasonably well-adjusted children to adulthood, all without benefit of the guidance of the Bible.

 

Just like anyone else, we determine our actions by a variety of things -- experience, reasoning, empathy, and rational thought. To assume that people only behave lawfully because the rules say they have to is to, quite frankly, dumb down all of humanity. Anyway, here's my full response to the person who wrote the original email: How Do Wiccans Know What's Right and Wrong?

 

What do you think? Do you actually need a rule to tell you not to steal or kill, or is it something you know for other reasons?

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What do you think? Do you actually need a rule to tell you not to steal or kill, or is it something you know for other reasons?

 

 

Hmmm... that is an intriguing question, Peggy.

 

I don't know my answer yet but I will think about it and get back to you. :)

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Oooh, good topic! I'm agnostic and come from a very secular family. I'm always offended when people assume that because I don't believe in a "one true God" I can't be moral. I personally find it absolutely preposterous. My friend was once asked by his roommate "well, if you're an atheist, what's going to stop you from killing someone?"

 

Personally, I think that if the only reason you're not doing something is because you believe some big paternal figure in the sky is going to punish you for it in the afterlife, that's not really a moral choice as I understand it. If you're not killing or stealing because you're afraid of the punishment, you're making a choice to prevent your own pain and discomfort; not a choice to do what you believe is right for its own sake.

 

The way I see it, making the choice not to steal something you want as a child because you're afraid your parents will find out and punish you is not on the same level of morality as making the choice not to steal something you want because you have a respect for the private property of others and know that it would make your own conscience feel bad. Well, that's my opinion, anyway.

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The way I see it, making the choice not to steal something you want as a child because you're afraid your parents will find out and punish you is not on the same level of morality as making the choice not to steal something you want because you have a respect for the private property of others and know that it would make your own conscience feel bad. Well, that's my opinion, anyway.

Yes I would say that real morality can only come from not having rules. If you act afraid of punishment from your parents, or even worse, punishment from "god," are you really being moral? On the other hand making a choice to do what is right without someone watching, especially if no one even ever finds out it was you, that is the peak of morality in my opinion.

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I think a developed consciousness has awareness of how what we do to others affects ourselves. I think the rules have been there for people who were not as developed, and still are for those who choose to revert back to primitive behaviours. That same primitive brain is within us all, but when our consciousness expands we more often choose not to act on fear, anger and feeling territorial.

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There is a wiccan code of conduct. I also have one I got out of Witchcraft magazine quite a few years ago.

 

 

1) IF no one is harmed by your action (physically, emotionally, or spiritually) then do as you will to do in life, in accordance with your Higher Self. Seek your identity and your purpose.

 

2) WHEN someone does something good for you, then repay the kindness by doing something good for another person, so that the seed that was planted will bear fruit.

 

3) KEEP your word and your oaths, when you give them.

 

4)DO NOT kill anything except when food and protection are required.

 

5)ACKNOWLEDGE and give due reverence to your gods, observing all of the sacred times and festivals.

 

6)BELITTLE no one's belief, but simply offer what it is you believe to be true.

 

7)STRIVE to live in peace with those who differ from you.

 

8)STRIVE to be aware of those around you and seek compassion within yourself.

 

9)BE true to your own understanding and strive to turn away from what is opposed within you.

 

10)HELP others according to their need and according to your ability to give of yourself.

 

11)RESPECT nature and strive to live in harmony with her.

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Interesting thread!

 

I was raised catholic (I feel like a cow when I say that) and right now I really do not like organized religion. I never really thought about what you said so I am assuming that there are many people who are religious and are members of specific religions who cannot fathom not being a member of that religion and make assumptions about people who do not agree with them.

 

I always thought the Wiccan moral code was- "An it harm none, do what ye will." I always liked it. If we stuck to that back in the day, I don't think the crusades would have occurred!

 

Soriminah, I had no idea there was a code. That was interesting. I guess I don't like to practice anything. Its really interesting to even try to understand where my morals came from. I feel like I was born with them but I do think I most likely learned them. I suppose when we read stories with lessons and our parents teach us how to act, this is where it starts. I know as an adult, I obtain a lot of my ethics from my professional code.

 

Gosh that was an interesting, thought provoking thread!

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Some of the ancient greek philosophers theorized that morality was either a universal concept or one inherent to the human spirit, and that it would in one form or another struggle to develop in any society that gives its members the opportunity to reflect on their actions and motivations.

 

I hold with the latter explanation. What applies here needn't be the way of things elsewhere, but I find a very clear and compulsive moral prerogative at work in the human being - one that runs contrary to human nature at times. Honor and self sacrifice over personal pleasure. Pity it isn't nurtured adequately by most people, and they let themselves run wild.

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Will you explain why morality would struggle to develop in that kind of society?

 

What is the best way to nurture ethical behaviour?

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I think it is all the same source, so what we are really discussing is the constructs created by man to attempt to understand and deal with the source. Whether or not a construct is needed is a personal question each person has to answer for themselves.

 

I don't believe your actions are based on any construct, but on who you are, and that comes from your genetics, environment, way you were raised, etc.

 

Personally, I think the construct can help you to be more moral if you put a lot of stock in it and sincerely try to live by the "rules", but then there are those that become neurotic from not being able to handle the construct, thus always feeling like they have fallen short.

 

True freedom in my opinion is doing what you believe is right regardless of any construct, and to my mind, those people will do their best to treat others the way they want to be treated, because they have no excuses, there is nobody they can run to and ask for forgiveness if they break a rule, there are no rules to break.

 

Those who subscribe to a particular construct and then break all the rules are not true representatives of that construct anyway, since they obviously put very little to no stock in what it stands for. If they use the construct to absolve them when they repeatedly break the rules it stands for, then they are just fooling themselves.

 

Then you have the arguments about the big questions of life, a big one of those is whether abortion is murder, where does life begin. I think the bigger question is, what human should be so certain they know the answer? Yet, for what I just said, many would call me immoral.

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Fooze; I am happy to explain my reasoning to you further. But I am examining this from a mystical perspective - I solemnly believe that virtue as a philosophical concept takes its roots from a difficult to define force in the spirit world, and that it enters into an individual in this world in oftentimes stark contrast to what natural selection would have us do to ensure our own survival.

 

But I also believe that the function virtue holds here in this world is a definite one, with a clear purpose more easily explained than the metaphysical abstract it was birthed from. If you would like a more detailed explanation, I request that you provide me with the structure you would like this discussion to take. Would you like me to explain in shaky terms my own fledgling understanding of platonic love and cosmic justice, or would you like me to keep it real (dog, word up) and explain the immediate anthropological value of morality in our species?

 

June; abortion! There's a fun subject to wrestle over. I'm going to make another topic for this. Do come participate with me, please.

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