What Does it Mean to ‘Harm None’?

“These eight words The Rede fulfill

An’ ye harm none, do what ye will”

But what does it mean to harm none? The world is far from being a black and white place and the situations we may find ourselves faced with reflect this. We may be in a situation where, no matter the decision we make, harm will befall someone by either our action or inaction. Is it even possible to live by these words at all times?

The best way to ponder this question and attempt to reach a conclusion is to examine a hypothetical situation. The situation is as follows: You are out with a friend when a man approaches and holds a gun to them with the intention of shooting them. This requires you to make a decision; whether or not to intervene. If you fail to intervene, your friend will be harmed. If you do intervene, assuming you must use force to disarm the perpetrator, they will be harmed.

No matter how you decide to react, you will be causing harm. If you choose not to intervene, you will not directly be harming your friend. However, your failure to act will result in them being harmed. When you have the ability to prevent harm from occurring, but choose not to prevent it, you are still causing harm by way of your inaction. Because you had the ability to prevent harm, but actively chose not to take action, this is no different from directly causing harm as you would be doing if you choose to intervene and attack the perpetrator. The end result is the same, it matters not if you were the direct or indirect cause.

Now that this is established, it becomes clear that no matter what you choose to do in the aforementioned hypothetical situation, you will be causing harm. If this is the case, you must now base your decision on new criteria. Because the perpetrator actively chose to put himself in a situation in which his intention is to cause harm, he becomes responsible for any harm that befalls him as a result of his decisions. Essentially, your friend is an innocent whereas the perpetrator is not. Under such circumstances, attacking the perpetrator to save your friend, an innocent, is the morally correct decision. Innocents must always be held in a higher regard and harm that befalls them seen as worse than harm that befalls a perpetrator of injustice.

In a complex world of complex situations and dilemmas, ‘harm none’ must sometimes be understood to mean ‘cause the least harm possible’.

Three Responses Pagans Get From Non-Pagans

In this article we will be discussing the three primary responses that Pagans receive from non-Pagans when their religious affiliation is learned.

1. Fear/Hatred: “You’re going to hell”

Unfortunately, this response is all too common. Fundamentalist Christians believe that anything even slightly different from their own beliefs is ‘Satanic’. (It should also be noted that not many people, especially Christian extremists, even understand what Satanism really is). Imagine what goes through their minds when they learn someone identifies as a Pagan or Witch. They will either become fearful or outright angry, start quoting the bible, and say that you are going to hell. It would also seem that they don’t understand that quoting the bible to people who don’t already accept it as an authority is completely pointless. The best way to deal with these types is to first attempt to explain your beliefs and how they are clearly in no way ‘evil’. If this fails, as it all too often does, simply ignore the person. Fundamentalist Christians have usually gone through a lifetime of brainwashing and find it incredibly difficult to accept new ideas.  You’re almost inclined to feel sorry for them…

2. Bewilderment: “You know magick isn’t real, right?”

Some people are unaware that Paganism is a spiritual path that even exists in today’s world. Others, while being aware of it, may think that believing in such things as magick means that the practitioner is somehow out of touch with reality (but believing that the Abrahamic god had to send his son to die for our sins because a lady ate an apple is totally reasonable). I once told someone that I was preparing for a ritual and the utter confusion on their face was hilarious. Had I told them I was getting ready to go to church, I am sure I would not have gotten the same reaction. The best thing to do is to tell these people that your practice honours nature and celebrates the seasons in order to make it sound a little less ‘strange’ to someone who is first hearing of it. Those who think that Paganism is nothing but ‘fairy tales’ can be dealt with by explaining that we believe that the earth and Universe is made of energy that we should strive to attune ourselves with. This has a scientific basis and will help the person understand the difference between ‘movie magic’ and real magick.

3. Fascination/Interest

Certainly the best out of these three, this group is fascinated with the idea of magick. There is no doubt that occult mysticism has a certain allure that catches the interest of those who are not so closed minded. Although they may not practice the craft themselves, some people find the idea intriguing. They will not tell you that you’re going to hell or that magick isn’t real, but will instead ask you many questions about it. They see us as mystic people who have some special ability to be in touch with the great mysteries of the occult. Answer all of their questions, for they are generally interested, and be thankful that they exist. It’s nice to be able to have positive interactions with non-Pagans who true fascination with our craft.

Magickal Work for Family Harmony

In this post we will explore a couple of ways you can help manifest family harmony. Perhaps a family reunion or holiday is coming up and you don’t get along with one or more family members. Or perhaps there has been a series of fights in your household recently. Whatever the case may be, the following magickal workings may prove helpful.

Meditation

Get into a meditative state and visualize the place that your family will be interacting. Perhaps this is your home, the home of a relative, or somewhere else entirely. You can visualize the exterior, interior, or both; moving from the exterior to the interior. Now, visualize a blue mist/rain/fog/etc. (whichever you prefer) come over the area, washing away any negativity and replacing it with a calming, harmonious energy. Blue is a color of peace and harmony. By doing this meditation, you are sending these energies to the location.

Spell

Materials Needed:

Regular Altar Tools

Light Blue Candle

Cauldron

Water

Stones (preferably moonstone, but generally any stones will do) (1 for each family member including yourself)

Spell Work

Ideally, this spell is done under the waxing or full moon. Cast the circle and fill your cauldron with water. Place your stones in the cauldron. Each one represents a family member, including yourself. The water cleanses them of any harmful energy that may prohibit them from interacting together harmoniously and lead to hostility. Place the light blue candle in the cauldron (it should not be completely submerged) and light it. Visualize yourself and your family members together; laughing, smiling, and generally getting along. Hold this visualization until the candle burns down and the water extinguishes the flame. At this point, the harmonious energy of the candle and the cleansing energy of the water are infused in the stones. Remove the stones from the cauldron as they are now cleansed and charged with harmonious energy. Release the circle and return the water used in the cauldron to the earth. Keep the stones together in a safe place.

The above meditation and spell have worked wonders for me, and I hope that I can help others by sharing them.

Nothing is Coincidence

Absolutely everything happens for a reason. It may not always be the reason one might expect, but reason nonetheless. Everything that occurs in life, from grand events to the most miniscule incident, has meaning. Those who practice magick know that their work often manifests itself subtly. What secular individuals call coincidence, we know to be much greater.

For example, imagine you stub your toe on the way to your car. You pause for a moment to scream a few obscenities and wait for the pain to subside. This disrupts your routine by about thirty seconds. Driving along to wherever it is you’re going, you realize that you’re thirsty from screaming earlier and decide to stop at the local 7-11 for a drink. You pull into the 7-11 and meet a friend inside. The two of you make plans to get together later that night. You meet up with your friend that night to find he has also invited another friend of his. This friend of a friend happens to be a sword salesman, and after discussing your mutual interest in swords, he offers to sell you a scimitar at a great price, something you’ve been searching for quite awhile. If you would not have stubbed your toe, you would have never gotten the opportunity to buy a scimitar.

The situations in the above example have a direct causal relationship. Stubbing your toe caused you to yell; yelling caused your throat to dry, the dry throat caused you to stop at 7-11, stopping at 7-11 caused you to meet up with a friend and make plans; this caused you to be given an opportunity to obtain a much sought-after scimitar. None of this was coincidence, it was a series of direct causal relationships that all served a purpose.

Another, more significant, example might be the following. Suppose you stubbed your toe, but the following day you wake up to find that your toe still hurts and has become swollen. This goes on for awhile until you decide to go to a doctor. During this doctor visit, your physician recommends a standard physical as you have not had one for quite some time. During this routine examination, cancer is discovered. Luckily, it was caught early enough that treatment proves viable. If you had not stubbed your toe, you would have not gone to the doctor and treatment may not have been as successful if the cancer was discovered much later.

These things happened because you were meant to buy that scimitar or discover your health issue. The series of ‘coincidences’ were merely used by the universe as a means to an end. They were not merely random occurrences or accidents; they were meaningful events leading up to following events that were indeed meant to happen.

Magick also often works in the same way. If you were to do a spell for a job, a job would not simply ‘fall into your lap’, but you may receive an invitation to a party where you will meet a business owner who has an opening. Or perhaps you do a spell to keep a harmful person away from you. A week later, you hear that this person was offered an opportunity to move to another state, and they were doing so. This is not coincidence, it is the manifestation of your magickal work.

Everything that happens to you, no matter how large or small, is all part of a higher purpose. Nothing happens merely by accident. Nothing is without meaning or purpose. Recognize this, and you will become aware of just how perfect the universe is and how magickal the workings of it truly are.

The Problem of Pagan Infighting

All too often, it seems that Pagans are constantly belittling one another. For example, there was a video shared on the internet that documented a Pagan ceremony. The group that posted the video did not support Paganism, nor did they criticize it, but simply created it for educational purposes. One might expect a few fundamentalist Christians to comment such things as ‘Repent!’ or ‘These devil worshippers are going to hell’, yet most negative comments came from fellow Pagans.

The group in the video partaking in the ceremony was dressed in full ritual garb, with elaborate dress and jewelry. Several self-proclaimed Pagans commented that these people ‘look ridiculous’, ‘are the reason people think us Pagans are freaks’, and ‘no real Pagan actually dresses like that and dances around’.

Needless to say, I was shocked, disappointed, and rather upset by these comments. How could a fellow Pagan speak so ill of those who choose to wear proper ritual wear for their practice? If someone chooses to perform ritual or ceremony in casual street clothing, that is perfectly fine. It is their pr78051469actice and their choice. However, they have no right to bash a fellow practitioner because they choose to wear robes, jewelry, or other formal ritual wear. Doing so does not make that person a ‘freak’, it simply means that they take their practice seriously and choose to express their practice in a certain way.

As Pagans, we come under attack enough from the outside. Fundamentalists continue to preach that Witchcraft is ‘evil’ or ‘devil worship’. Materialistic atheists and other secular individuals think that our beliefs and practices are nonsensical foolishness. There is still such a lack of understanding, and sometimes overt hatred, by those outside of the community, therefore it is not wise for Pagans to belittle each other over such trivial things as how we choose to express ourselves in our practice.

If a fellow Pagan chooses to wear a robe or dance around a fire, they are not ‘freaks’. If you choose not to do so, that is your right and you should not be condemned for it. However, you have no right to condemn those who do. We are misunderstood by so many, it is absurd that we would attack one another in such a way. Communities are made up of individuals who may do certain things differently, yet all have certain core things in common. Common attributes of our community include; a reverence for nature, reverence for the Goddess and God, a belief in magick, etc. For a community to survive, it must be strongly united. If the Pagan community is to grow in strength and unity, we have no time to waste on bashing our fellow members based on what they wear during ritual.

Lessons from Paranorman

13295407_1351686234858351_908417662_n
Paranorman tattoo

There are several lessons, both magickal and mundane, to be learned from the 2012 film ‘Paranorman’. The setting, Blithe Hollows, MA, is clearly based off of Salem, MA, with the witch trials and subsequent unjust executions as a central theme. The story follows a boy, Norman, who is ostracized from his community for his interest in the paranormal and his ability to communicate with spirits. The people of his town, along with his own family, bully him relentlessly for being ‘weird’. Like so many in the real world, they are simply afraid of what they do not understand. It is not until he uses his abilities to save the town that people finally celebrate him and his gift.

For those who are deemed ‘normal’ by mainstream society, Paranorman teaches acceptance and respect for those who are deemed ‘weird’. For the purposes of this article, however, I will focus on lessons that can be learned for those who are themselves the ‘weird’ ones.

First, Paranorman teaches self-acceptance. Unique abilities, style, and worldview are gifts that should be embraced. They may even be used to serve the community as a whole by doing something no one else is able to. You should have confidence in yourself and not allow others to dictate how you think or act.

This brings us to the next lesson, forgiveness and understanding. It is important to understand that those who act in a hostile manner toward you because of your differences are doing so only because they are fearful of what they don’t understand. By understanding this, we realize that their actions are often a reflection of their own insecurities, rather than a reflection on you. This understanding can lead to forgiveness. It is important to remember that forgiveness is best when it is done for your benefit. When you forgive, you are releasing negative feelings that do not serve you, such as anger and hatred. In this way, forgiveness is in your best interest, not only in the interest of the other party.

Finally, we learn that it is best to act kindly to others, even if they act unkindly to you. When you treat someone poorly, you are only giving them further reasons to treat you badly. However, when we treat others with unconditional love and kindness, we show them that even though we are ‘weird’, we are not bad people. This is especially important for those of us in the magickal community. There are still many people under the unfortunate and false idea that we are evil devil worshippers. By treating these people kindly, we are showing them that we are good people. We are taking fuel from their fire; their accusations of us being evil become even less reputable when we display acts of love and kindness.

Others, while perhaps not considering us evil, will still consider us weird. It is our job to show them that being ‘weird’ is not a bad thing. It just means that we have our own styles, ways of thinking, abilities, or spiritual practices. Showing these people that while we are different in some ways, we are not dangerous or threatening. We may look and believe differently, but we are still humans who treat others with kindness, and there is no reason to fear us.

This is not to say that we should be pushovers and not stand up for ourselves, quite the contrary. We must remember to be proud of who we are and continue to be ourselves. However, when confronted with hostility, we must combat it with love. Understand that these people are only attacking us because they are afraid of what they don’t understand. Prove to them that you are not a bad person. Fighting fire with fire only burns the whole world; fighting fire with water will eliminate the destructive force and bring peace. Be the water and extinguish the hate with love. And above all, never be afraid to be who you are.

Spirit Guide: Gargoyle

13022303_1323776200982688_351156406_n

Name: Gargoyle

Element: Earth

Guide, Protector, Guardian

 

 

 

 

Gargoyles, while most associated with gothic architecture and Catholic churches, can arguably be seen in ancient Greek, Egyptian, and Celtic civilization. Churches traditionally used them as water spouts and to keep evil spirits at bay. They serve a similar purpose in Pagan traditions.

The gargoyle is both a protector and guide. They keep negative energy from entering the home and magick circle of those who welcome their presence and who they have chosen to act as a protector to. They work to protect you from both physical and spiritual danger. Their element is earth, and are therefore very grounded, deliberate, and careful in their actions. They may sometimes appear to be moving and acting slowly, but this is their nature as contemplative beings. They rarely act hastily, usually acting only after they have deliberated and found the best course of action that will be for your highest good. They are very competent and loyal, so you can always be sure that they will stand by your side and complete their tasks in due time.

As a guide, the gargoyle will provide information on difficult situations. They act as counselors leading you to find the best course of action at times when difficult decisions must be made. They also act as loyal friends, letting you know they are ever present and will protect you from any danger you may encounter in the situation you find yourself in. On the lighter side, they are not always somber and serious. In my experience, gargoyles have even been known to crack jokes, and don’t always prevent those pesky dwarves and gnomes from messing with your belongings, and may even join in on the fun.

If you are lucky enough to be chosen by a gargoyle, know that you have a competent protector, a wise guide, and loyal friend.  Little is written about gargoyles on most Pagan sites, and some even shy away from them because of their association with the Roman Catholic Church. If you are approached by a gargoyle, acknowledge and embrace them, and you could be led to a very rewarding relationship.