Ok, so I cannot say I am so naive as to not know where hell is. However, whenever I have concerned Christians discussing my Wiccan ways they always come back to the same theme- that I my eternal soul is going to hell. While I must say that these individuals (some of whom are not related and are pure strangers to me) do seem to generally have my welfare as their concern there is a fundamental flaw in the conversation, I as a Wiccan (and pagans from a greater sense) do not believe in a hell as described by the Christian community.
This shocks my cross-bearing brethren when this truth is known. How can anyone not subscribe to the belief that a pit of eternal damnation exists for those who have sinned on earth? Well… it’s true. Is it because my Wiccan beliefs leave me without a moral compass to guide me through the path of right and wrong? No, in fact that cannot be further from the truth. While I do believe in transcendence of the soul after death (more on that in a later post) our deeds, both good and bad, are settled in this life- freeing up the soul to continue its journey either up or down the tree of life. So let me explain three Wiccan beliefs to contextualize my moral compass and how I choose to gauge my thoughts and actions.
While popularly noted as originating in eastern religions the idea of Karma is firmly rooted in Wicca. Simply put it is the rule that states whatever you may do, both good and bad, comes back to you in some way. I think of it as a behavioural bank account- constantly being weighed with good and bad actions, thoughts, and words. These items are weighed on the severity scale, and returned in like means. Therefore, if I steal a pen at work I might lose a favourite DVD; should I look to donate time at the local food bank I may find that a small windfall of money appears when I need it most. This is in conflict with the Christian belief of sins and asking forgiveness. As we answer to ourselves and the universe there is no pity, we simply reap what we sow.
The Law of Three
But our behavioural bank account is not that simple. The law of three takes the idea of Karma one step further to say that whatever you do both good and bad is returned to you three-fold. Makes a pretty good case for good, doesn’t it? Therefore, that pen stealing incident could turn into a failed work proposal. The food bank charity may turn into several friends assisting on short notice when we are in desperate need of child-minding.
I believe it is these two principles which hold Wiccans (and pagans generally) to a higher standard. We do not get a ‘penance get out of sin free’ card. Responsibility must be accepted for all of our actions. Because of this many pagans are very humble, aware of their footprint on mother Earth and mankind. We are in many ways passive knowing that aggressive action does not help us down the track. With Karma and the Law of Three a final rule is formed: the Wiccan Rede. Simple to say, but difficult to practice the Rede guides us as a mantra through our daily lives.
The Wiccan Rede– ‘And it harm none, do what ye will.’
Of course almost every action, every sentence, and sometimes our thoughts can have an effect on others. However, it is the constant process of weighing up the benefits and consequences which keep me in check. If you would like some more information about the Rede here is a link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiccan_Rede.
Until next time,