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          (811)   Mon 29 Apr 91  3:26
          By: Madoc
          To: Chris Anderson
          Re: What's this "Right" stuff, anyway?
          @PID: RA 1.01
          @MSGID: 8:7703/8 4dba2fe8
          >What would a Wiccan provide as an explanation for behavior that was
          >"contrary"  in the  sense that  you've given?   We've all  seen folks
          behave in a way that is *apparently* inconsistent with stated beliefs,
          even  those that are closely held.   What do you  believe is the basis
          for the difference between  a "positive direction along the  Path" and
          actual behavior that is  contrary to this  by one who earnestly  seeks
          "the Path"?   The  answer  is stated  clearly  enough for  many  other
          religions, but I've  never had  the opportunity to  hear a Wiccan  add
          his/her windage on this  topic.  Flip Wilson's answer  obviously isn't
          going to apply, so where do we go with it? ;)

          Chris,  sorry for the delay in answering your question. I have written
          and re-written my response, and although I still may not have answered
          your question herein, I feel that I must reply at last.

          First, I must stipulate that what follows is my own interpretation of
          Wiccan belief, and my own sense of "morals." You know, the usual

          Second, I wish  to deal briefly with the concept  of separation of Law
          and Moral.  What I am writing  here has absolutely no  relation to the
          practice of law. I do not advocate murder, for example, nor do I think
          that murder  should go unpunished  by the State.  I recognize that  we
          live in  a society which  must have  rules in order  that the  maximum
          amount of  freedom may be enjoyed by  all. I would not  hesitate, if I
          were a  juror, to vote to send  a proven criminal to  jail, or even to
          death, if the situation warranted it.  Therefore, let none who read my
          words  mistake my moral convictions with my beliefs about our judaical
          system - I  am not in disagreement  with the majority  of our laws  as
          they exist.

          Finally; the point:

          To save space, I'll  omit the dictionary definition of  'sin.' I think
          we all understand that Christians believe  in sin, Wiccans do not.  As
          you have stated, members  of other religions have their  rules clearly
          stated,  so that  one may  easily decide  if one  is in  error or  not
          (although it's often not  quite *that* easy). Wiccans claim  to follow
          only the Rede, which states, "An it harm none, do as thou shalt."

          You have asked how a Wiccan can stray from such a path. The answer is
          complex and far-reaching, and even  delves into (ugh) philosophy. I'll
          try to keep it succinct.

                         Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 


          If one  thoughtfully examines  the Rede,  it quickly  becomes apparent
          that almost  every action has  the potential to harm  some creature in
          some  way.  Drawing breath can kill micro-organisms that float unseen,
          in  the  atmosphere. Drinking  water does  the  same thing.  One could
          choose to marry,  and ultimately  bring pain and  suffering on  future
          generations of children by way of an unhappy union. There is literally
          no way that  one could  possibly foresee all  circumstances and  avoid
          harming  anyone.  Yet, that  is  what the  Rede  demands. What  is the

          In my opinion, the answer is obvious. The Wiccan must choose. Each and
          every  Wiccan  is  responsible for  their  own  actions,  and will  be
          accountable to themselves for the results of those actions. The wheels
          turns, and  each Wiccan reaps what they have sown. No Godly mandate or
          indulgence can  save us from the  results of our own  actions, be they
          good or bad. But, with ultimate responsibility comes ultimate freedom.
          No God can shackle  my soul or subject me to that which I do not Will.
          I am supreme  within myself, and I am the "captain of my soul." I have
          chosen to obey  certain of society's laws and mores.  I have chosen to
          be a "good" man. Mine is the reward for choosing such action, and mine
          will  be  the   punishment  if   I  fail  to   meet  my   self-imposed
          responsibilities. As you jested, I cannot claim Flip Wilson's
          famous defence. Nor do I claim that such things as I do well stem from
          my Creator -  in ultimate hubris, I claim that "As  I Will, so mote it

          Every day,  I am met with  new decisions. I make  those decisions, and
          then I live  with the consequences of my actions.  In my opinion, that
          is what makes me human, what sets me apart from the animals. Man alone
          can  choose,  man  alone  is  not  chained  to  genetically  imprinted

          I have been asked why, if there is the possibility  that the Christian
          deity exists, do I not choose Christianity  on the possibility that it
          is  correct? This  is  Pascal's famous  wager.  If I  wager that  (the
          Christian) God exists and I  am correct, then I win all. If I am wrong
          and  God does  not exist,  then I  have lost  nothing, and  have lived
          (hopefully)  a  good and  productive life  in  the bargain.  Why would
          anyone not  accept this wager? My  answer to that is that  I would not
          willingly serve any  God that  would choose one  of His/Her  creations
          over another,  the good over the bad, the shriven over the heathen. If
          I had  definitive proof  that such  a  God existed,  I would  actively
          oppose  Him/Her. I would rather  suffer the cold  comfort of damnation
          than continue to  exist in a hereafter peopled with  only the "saved."
          This is my choice, and again, as I Will, so mote it be.

                         Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 


          >What  do  you believe  is  the  basis for  the  difference  between a
          "positive  direction  along  the  Path" and  actual  behavior  that is
          contrary to this by one who earnestly seeks "the Path"?

          A fine, difficult  question, Chris. As you've  stated elsewhere, we've
          been dancing all around this one for some time. Here goes:

          I cannot  determine what any one  individual's Path is. I  am not even
          sure of my own. I often follow forks in  the road until they come to a
          dead end, and  have to double back. Of course,  that's the problem one
          faces in  following one's own Will,  and not a set  of directions laid
          down by God. My concept of the Path is that it is like many roads, all
          of  which lead  eventually to self-knowledge  (enlightenment, Godhead,
          nirvana, and so on). In my theology, my ultimate goal is to become one
          with the  God of my creation  by gaining divine  knowledge, or gnosis.
          We've  discussed the concept of "hidden knowledge"  in the past, yet I
          feel that my understanding of gnosis differs from yours.

          The entire concept  of the  ancient mystery religions,  and of  modern
          "occult" (which mean only 'hidden' after all)  religions and practices
          was based on  the concept of the  inverted filter. Each  person passed
          through   successive  layers   of  filters,   gaining   knowledge  and
          understanding at each  stop, until they could  absorb no more (and  so
          could  not pass through the next layer  of filter). Of course, at each
          level,  the  initiate  was given  to  believe that  they  were  now in
          possession of secret knowledge, and ultimate truth. If they could find
          legitimate questions that led  them to reject or doubt  those 'truths'
          and seek deeper meaning, then they passed through to the next level of
          understanding. If they did not question, then they were satisfied that
          they had gained truth.

          This 'hidden knowledge' can be obtained outside of the constraints of
          organized religion; in fact  it originally was obtained independently.
          Just as Newton's  Laws could  eventually be  figured out  by a  person
          ignorant  of his discoveries, one  could find a  Path to enlightenment
          separate  from  any of  the mystery  religions.  However, just  as one
          attends school  to learn that which  is already known,  so one pursues
          illumination  from the teachings  of those  who have  already achieved
          more than oneself.

          Further,  I do not  believe that there  is one 'right'  Path. I accept
          that the OTO has valuable knowledge to impart. I accept that Christian
          Mystics,  Jewish Quabalists,  Muslim Sufis,  and so  on all  have some
          piece of the puzzle, and that all will eventually converge on the road
          to wisdom. I  know because I  have been to  that intersection once  or
          twice,  although I  am not there  now. My Path  is my own,  and as Van
          Morrison said, I have "No teacher, no guru, no method."

          Can  I  move in  a direction  that  is contrary  to  positive movement
          towards  the Laughing  Light?  You bet.  The tough  part  is that  the
          definition of what is or is not 'positive' is not  static. An example:
          it might  be proper that I  learn what it means to  take another human
          being's life by killing an intruder in my home. It might not be proper
          that I learn that lesson by following the orders of a superior officer
          in time of war. OR VICE VERSA.  I must choose at every instance, and I
          might  not immediately know  if my choice  has given or  taken from my
          search for truth.

                         Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 


          There are also times when I might know that I am actively choosing to
          deviate  from my Path.  I might choose  to sooth a  feeling of anxiety
          about whether or not  I can pay the rent  this month by yelling  at my
          wife.  I'm not  using this as  an example because  it is traditionally
          "wrong,"  but  because  I know  that  I  cannot solve  my  problems by
          transferring my anxiety to others.  If  I choose to ignore what I have
          already learned, then not only have I lost ground, but I  will have to
          deal with the anger that I've given out at some point.

          In conclusion, I believe that I am responsible for my own actions, as
          others are for theirs. I also believe that if I commit an action which
          may  seem 'right' to me, but  which society has deemed  to be a crime,
          I'll be  punished by society  for breaking  that law.  I would  punish
          those who break the laws which are meant to hold our society together,
          such as prohibitions on murder, burglary, and so forth. I believe that
          my moral convictions are  binding only on myself,  not on others,  and
          that I'll ultimately  deal with  the consequences of  my thoughts  and
          deeds.  I believe that I  have no right to judge  the moral content of
          another's actions. I believe in the  Wiccan Rede, "An it harm none, do
          as  thou shalt,"  and I further  believe that  it is meant  to make me
          consider  my  actions  and their  consequences,  and  to  make my  own
          decisions, rather than as a prohibition against any specific action.

          There  is much that I  do not know  about Godhead; much that  I do not
          know about Right and Wrong. I  have only my instincts and intellect to
          guide me, but I trust myself to make the right decisions eventually.


                         Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 


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