This is also known as the "Rede", which translates into "rule", and is the rule by which Wiccan's live. "Harm None" also includes yourself, as well as other living beings, and indeed the planet itself. There are almost as many different interpretations as to what constitutes harm as there are Wiccans, and it may get confusing at times. It is the responsibility of each person to look at their actions and their intentions and decide if harm will be done. You are responsible for all of your own words and actions, and you may do whatever you want to do within that framework. Which brings us to two other beliefs of Wicca, that of Threefold Return, and Karma.
The Law of Threefold Return basically states that whatever you do returns to you threefold, good or ill. Karma is the manifestation of that law in action. It isn't punishment, because it is simply a balancing out of what you have earned. Similar to "as you sow, so shall you reap" or "what comes around, goes around". This Law also states that you are bound to return good with good, and ill with ill, but there are people who don't believe in that and don't practice it. There are ways to defend yourself by sinply sending the negative energy back to it's source. For more on that read Negative Magick and How to Reverse It, in another file.
Here again is the same theme, you have the sole responsibility for your words and deeds. And also for how you choose to live your life, and how you react to what happens to you. Part of this comes from the belief that we choose our lives and our circumstances (yes, our parents too!) before we are born so that we will have the opportunity to learn the life lessons our soul wishes to learn in this incarnation. That being the case, we are here to learn, to grow, to love, and to be happy doing it. We do not believe in a "devil" who makes us act wrongly, nor do we believe that we only have to say "I'm sorry" and everything is all better either. The best way to make amends for harming someone is to admit to the person you were wrong and to ask them how you can make it up to them. Sometimes that just isn't possible, but with some thought and meditation on it, a enlightened person can find a solution that helps in a concrete way.
As you probably guessed from the previous paragraph, most Wiccans believe in reincarnation in some form. Whether or not we all believe that our souls return as plants and animals, or just as humans, is debated among different groups. But we do believe that we return, again and again, to learn our life's lessons on this physical plane. Nature is cyclical, all things that die are reborn, as in the flowers that return year after year, and the sea that becomes clouds, that becomes rain, that becomes rivers, that returns to the sea again. Nature teaches us that nothing ever truly dies, but that it keeps returning, perhaps in another form. So death holds less sting for us, as we believe that we will live and love the same people again. We will miss them for a time, and then be rejoined.
This means actually two things. One is that we believe in male and female energies in our deity, both God and Goddess. Again we look to nature, which shows us that it takes both energies to create life. Also, nothing is ever all good or all bad, and our deities contain creative as well as destructive forces in them. Nothing new gets created without something being destroyed first, this is the balance of the Universe. Even scientists tell us that matter and energy can never be destroyed, just changed from one form to another. And so, take the leap here, Good and Evil are judgements that we make. Destructive or constructive is dependent upon your point of view, and our deities contain both these energies. There is no all good God nor all bad one, there is only the ALL.
You may hear many Wiccans use different God or Goddess names, and indeed we have whole Pantheons of Goddesses and Gods. But our inner self is aware that these are all aspects of the ALL. Let me explain it this way: you may be a mother, an employee, a sister, a daughter, and a wife, and you will act differently in each of those roles; yet you are one person. Just as you will have different attributes depending on the title you are called, so do the Gods and Goddesses. Since God/dess is ALL, we can call upon whatever attribute or name we need at the time, knowing that this is but a small part.
Immanent means that God/dess is within us - within all of us. And also within all of nature, which is why we revere nature. Heinlein wrote "Thou art God" and "Thou art Goddess", and some Christians will call this the "Christ Conciousness"; it means the same thing. Deity lives within us, we are the God/dess incarnate.
If deity is within all life, then it follows that all life is sacred, doesn't it? So, then, do we starve? Mother Nature's children don't starve, but they do show honor and respect to the beings they have to eat to survive. That chicken you had for dinner a couple of nights ago wasn't made in the supermarket, it was born from another chicken. It was alive, and then sacrificed, so that you could eat it to live. Honor that sacrifice, at least silently. That salad you had for lunch didn't start life in a plastic bag, but as a living, growing plant. Remember that these are also the Goddesses' creatures, and deserve to be acknowledged and thanked for their sacrifices. Honor can be a simple thank you, or watering a plant you see on the side of the road that needs a drink, or maybe picking up trash that someone else carelessly dumped somewhere. Honoring the earth as our mother goes along with this concept.
This happens to be our covens' motto, and we picked it for good reason. Reverence should be balanced by mirth, too much of one or the other, and your life is either too serious, or too frivolous. The "Charge of the Goddess" tells us to balance our lives, and to live our lives fully, and to be happy. Bliss is not a "sin" in our religion, and what brings you happiness is to be cherished.
Most Wiccans celebrate the eight Sabbats of the Year, though there are some traditions that only recognize the four Major Sabbats. The word "sabbat" comes from the Babylonian and mean's "heart's rest". In our tradition we honor all eight, and we do no personal magic for mundane needs on those days. We still have the other 357 days for whatever we need to do! On the Sabbats we honor the Lord and Lady and the season of the earth that we are in. We try to tie them into both the agricultural times and what is happening in our own lives. "To every thing there is a season".
The following concepts are what we teach in our tradition, and may or may not be subscribed to by most other Wiccans. Although I have heard them taught often enough, and not just by Wiccans, these beliefs do not define one as a Wiccan in any way. They are shared here because we teach them, and no beliefs class of mine would be complete without them. Many tie directly into magick, and you may see them repeated there in the Spellcraft classwork also.
This has been known for centuries. In fact, throughout history, rulers and despots kept the "masses" ignorant and illiterate on purpose to prevent "peasant" uprisings. Knowledge applied with Wisdom gives you control. You can be in control of your own life, your own destiny, and yourself. There are many differents paths, of which Wicca is only one.
This is so true, and one of the reasons why magick, and positive affirmations do work. Everything that has been invented, started with a thought. Scientists today are starting to be able to measure "thought energy" and there is no doubt that it exists. This maxim has been taught for years in magickal circles. Postive thoughts will bring positive results, and negative thoughts will bring negative reults. You get what you expect to get, basically. People who are constantly complaining and having negative thoughts, always have something more to complain about, don't they? And people who are happy most of the time, and think that they CAN accomplish things usually do so.
Underline this one, mark it in red, remember it! This maxim cannot be stressed enough! If you can develop observation as a habit, it will pay off for you again and again in so many ways. One example is if you want to accomplish a goal, look at people who have done what you want to do, and observe how they did it. You can learn what to do, and what to avoid without having to make all the same mistakes over again. Be especially observant of other witches, in circle, and out of circle. You can learn alot just by being observant. Also learn to be observant of nature, and you will learn her secrets.