In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust

Just about anyone who follows this path has at least heard of the Rede. If you haven’t, then you’re about to be introduced to it.

So what is the Wiccan Rede?

Simply put, the Wiccan Rede is a code of conduct for current and aspiring witches.

Where did it come from?

Well that is a topic of debate. Some say it’s Crowley, Valiente, or Thompson among others.  But the truth is that it doesn’t really matter who coined it first or if it’s older than dirt. All that matters for our purposes here is the ethical implications. This is a shorter ideal of what witches and some pagans stand for.

Two Versions?

Yes there are two versions. The first only contains the first four lines of the second (which is only eight lines long to begin with).  Some groups use one and some use the other. If you’ve been introduced to the Rede, you’re more likely to have the first four lines together as the Rede and the last three lines together as the Rule of Three. Personally, I like the combined version, but that’s just me.

What do we mean by Rede?

The word Rede comes from an old English word: Roedan.  It just so happens that this word is the origin for the words Road and Route. If we roughly translate it into modern English however, it translates to path or direction.  I have to thank Miles Betty once again for teaching me about some of the most random things on top of the relevant pagan topics covered in his book.

Reading the Rede

So here is the text of the Rede:

Bide the Wiccan Law ye must,

In perfect love, in perfect trust.

Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill:

An harm ye none, do what ye will.

Ever mind the rule of Three:

What ye send out comes back to thee.

Follow this with mind and heart,

And merry ye meet and merry ye part.

(and there are a lot of modern people who do substitute the ye for you I just wanted to stick to the pure original)

What does it all mean?

Bide the Wiccan Law ye must:  This is a creed or vow that is generally accepted among our kind.  If you truly follow this path there are things that you do….and don’t do.  There are things you have to understand. While this poem doesn’t encompass all of them it is a reminder of some of the biggest concepts in this faith.

In perfect love, in perfect trust: Here we are being asked to do our best to do two things that are fundamental to our faith as stated before.  There are groups that use these words in their rituals and even in their initiations. And it’s asking something that isn’t easy for anyone. First is it asking us to act in perfect love. This is hard for many of us to understand as most kinds of love are conditional or a compromise.  Perfect love is asking us to try to love ourselves and others without compromise or condition.

Perfect trust, the second concept is even harder to grasp.  Trust is a hard won prize.  You have to be worthy of your word before others will even consider being worthy to theirs in regards to you. The Rede is asking us to make our word our bond in all circumstances. Something that nearly everyone must work on.

Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill: This is poetic license. The Rede is not fulfilled in eight words, but established with the following eight words.

An ye harm none, do as ye will: This is the hardest part of the Rede for most people, even myself. In paganism, Wicca, and most Earthbound paths, ALL things deserve RESPECT.  So to harm none means that we do our very best to not harm anyone or thing in any way. Miles Betty takes this very seriously saying that it means “not to harm, hurt, grieve, beset, annoy, badger, harass, disturb, exasperate….(insert at least ten more words in here related to messing with someone) any living thing.”

This is why we must be very careful in spell work and why many pagans try everything else before resorting to it. There is no way to truly do no harm. A spell to get you a job can cause someone else with just as many problems and bills to not get a job…and whether you see that loss or not, we have done harm. That is why I don’t focus on spellwork in the blog, because honestly, there’s a lot to learn before you ever consider working a spell and this is a part of that.

We have to do everything within our power to avoid causing harm. We can’t prevent everything, but we can do our best to make our ripple in the pond as small as possible.  More specifically however, the Rede is asking us not to do any intentional harm.  Essentially the Rede says that you can do what you want so long as you do your best not to intentionally harm someone.

And as a final note on this one….that doesn’t mean that you can pretend or just justify away what you’ve done. In your heart, you know when you have harmed someone else. And when you harm someone else, you have to do your best to either apologize or correct the mistake. More importantly, you need to LEARN from that mistake.

Lest in self-defense it be: So sometimes we have to do something bad to stop something even worse from happening. If you are being attacked by a mugger or worse, a blast of pepper spray will cause harm. However, you have done something harmful to protect yourself or another.

Ever mind the Rule of Three:  Most people don’t quite get the rule of three. They think more in terms of an eye for an eye, which Miles Betty likes to think of as the Rule of One. The Rule of Three is more like throwing a stone in a pond (like I was talking about earlier) and the rippling effect that it has.

The severity of your actions good or bad has a widening affect to those around you. If you eat your mom’s food it affects her, which can cause her to have an effect on others. The bigger your action, good or bad, the greater the ripple spreads.   And it goes along with our next line.

What you send out, comes back to thee: In a nutshell this is karma. When you do something good it comes back to you in the form of good reputation or maybe in good luck. The same goes if you do something wrong.

Follow this with mind and heart: This is basically saying that you should hold this dear to your heart and live within these guidelines.  It means to follow the intent of the Rede. We all know that no one is perfect, but just like the Bible, faith asks us to try to become better than what we are and to live up to our best potential. Our actions do affect the world around us.

And Merry ye meet and merry ye part: When we live according to the Rede others will welcome our presence in the community.  It’s like the Golden Rule. You get what you give.  Not to mention that magick is easier to work when you are sure and confident in yourself. It also works easier and better when you conscious is calm and clear.

As a final note, some versions do omit the self-defense line entirely, but I have trouble with that.  Do you think it changes the meaning of the Rede? That is entirely up to you.  I hope this has cleared up what the Rede is, where it came from, and what it means.

Hope you’re having a good week so far.

Blessed Be.

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