Golden Rule and Wiccan Rede


Nearly every faith tradition in the world has some variation of the Golden Rule, which is usually stated “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.” In the Christian tradition, it is found in Matthew 7:12 “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets,” and Luke 6:31 “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Jesus implies that all of Jewish Law is fulfilled by this one ethical statement. He would also go on to reformulate the Golden Rule by saying that two commands fulfill Jewish Law: 1) Love God with all your heart, soul and mind, and 2) Love your neighbor as yourself. (See Mt 22:37, Mk 12:30 and Lk 10:27)

The Pagan version of the Golden Rule is known as the Wiccan Rede. The word “rede” is Middle English and means “advice” or “counsel.” It is the ethical touchstone of many of those who practice Wicca and goes like this: “An it harm none, do what ye will.” NOTE: “an” is Middle English for “if.”

The Golden Rule and the Wiccan Rede seem simplistic, but they’re not. The practical application of this moral law takes a lot of serious thought. In Jesus’ form of the “love commandments,” one must ask themselves “Are my words and actions bringing me closer to the Divine and my neighbor, or are they having the opposite effect?” Another consideration is if we don’t love and accept ourselves, how can we possibly love the Divine and our neighbor fully?”

With respect to the Wiccan Rede, the first question Wiccans need to ask themselves is “What does harm mean?” Sometimes we need to show people tough love in order for them to heal. They may feel like we are harming them, but, in the end, it’s for their own good and benefit.

The second part of the Rede “do what ye will” is hardly a call for hedonism and self-indulgence. “Doing harm to no one” also means we are to do no harm to ourselves. A Wiccan friend of mine recently said “Wicca demands self-awareness, self study and connection to spirit.” The question this part of the Rede raises is “What is your life’s purpose? What does your soul want out of this lifetime?”

So both traditions connect strongly with this moral guideline. Both spiritual paths ask us to think deeply about who we are and how we impact our neighbors and our planet.

Copyright ©2022 by David Taliesin,

About David Taliesin

My name is David Taliesin. I'm an writer, teacher and retreat leader who explores the connections between Christian and Pagan Spirituality. E-mail me with any personal comments you'd like to share and I will do my best to answer them. You can also contact me through my Facebook page
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