Livingtree Books

Llewellyn Worldwide

When, Why ...If


Book; Reader. Reader; Book

I know introductions are often boring, but please read this one.

In this book, we shall explore the moral and ethical basis for Wicca, Paganism, and the New Age.

Long ago, when the Old Religion was the Only Religion, all of this was taught during infancy and childhood, and everyone understood their ethical obligations to the world around them.

With the rise of the Patriarchal Religions, ethics and morals were gradually replaced by an increasingly complex code of behavior. Laws and rules to govern every aspect of life were written down and every letter of the law was strictly adhered to. Lists of "do" and "do not" appeared until people lost all sense of the reasoning behind the laws, and obedience became the highest virtue. At last, the law became everything, to be followed blindly; and most people conformed either to the camp of "anything not strictly forbidden is allowed" or "anything not specifically allowed is forbidden" depending on their own temperament and that of their society.

Anyone who erred in following the code either asked for forgiveness from God, which he granted instantly and completely through his divine mercy; or asked for forgiveness from God, performed the penance his priests required of them, and then were granted forgiveness instantly and completely, see above.

In either case it was God that had to be appealed to, because it was His Law that had been broken.

There are no gray areas here, no moral dilemmas, just right and wrong simple and clear cut. There are no natural consequences for your actions, no personal responsibility for any outcome, no reasoning, no thinking of any kind required; in short no ethics at all, just a list of things to be memorized, and a simple formula of repentance and forgiveness if you forget or decide to skip one.

How simple. How easy.

You can see why it caught on.

It's how most of us were raised.

But there is something about it that you don't like, or you would not be reading this book.

Don't think for a moment, though, that ours is the easier path. On this road, you are required to have your brain with you at all times.

Here we have no written laws to follow, no codes, no repentance and forgiveness. Unless this is the first book about the Craft that you have ever read, chances are that you have already encountered the "do as you will" bit, and may have grown rather heady with the freedom of it. Most of us do.

This was fine, as long as everyone who was seeking had a teacher; an actual flesh-and-blood to have conversations and long discussions with. Someone who was an experienced counselor and practitioner of our Art. Then ethical codes could be discussed, problems could be presented for solving, practice cases could come up, and all of this stuff could be explored and guidance given right along with everything else that makes up our Craft.

But more and more students are learning from books alone, unable to find a teacher or even to find out how to find one. And many of the books available seem to concentrate on the "how to" instead of on the "why would you?" or even "should you?" behind the Craft.

As I travel around the country, selling prints and tarot decks at science fiction conventions, I increasingly find that folk are coming to me with questions. Folk who have initiated themselves, and then initiated their friends, into a system based partially on a book or two about the Craft, and partially on science-fiction or fantasy novels and movies – and then moving on with no moral sense beyond a vague, fuzzy "harm none" or "let the Force be with you."

Dear friend, this is not enough to base your actions on.

Everything that you do, or don't do, has consequences that ripple through the world like a pebble dropped into a pond, and you are responsible for them!

There is no instant repentance and forgiveness. The three-fold law is a law like gravity, not a statute. Everything you do, either for good or ill, will come back to you three times. And if you choose to ignore this, or are ignorant of it, or just plain make a mistake and harm someone, the only way to avoid getting three times as much harm back is to run right out and fix it! You have to help them three times as much as you harmed them, as quickly as possible.

Far from acting with complete moral license, an experienced Witch should be one of the most moral creatures on the planet.

And yet, from the questions I am asked and the stories I am told, I fear that this is not so.

So, for all of you who are earnestly seeking and have no one to teach you, for all who long to be the best you that you can possibly become, for all who are seeking to win through to the light, and all who are trying to find the balance point, I offer this book, with all my love.

Listen, and learn to find the wisdom hidden within.

And because I hate dry, boring, pedantic books, and because I love laughter, and because all acts of Joy are Holy to Her, I will try to make it as interesting and funny as I can.

Even though I am altogether too fond of run-on sentences and bad jokes!

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If this looks interesting to you, and you'd like to read more, please feel free to visit Livingtree Grove, my pagan grove on this site, where you can learn more about Wicca in general, and the way we practice it in my tradition in particular.