In keeping with the recent reorganization of my blog I am intending to post about more spiritual/pagan matters on (or close to) Sundays from now on.
This week I want to write about something that is frequently on my mind and that is;- how to live a morally authentic lifestyle as an eclectic pagan? And, what are those morals based on? Whether I agree with them or not, Christians, Muslims and Jews can at least claim a fixed point for their moral beliefs in the Ten Commandments. Most other religions also have certain scriptures which give quite specific moral guidelines. Paganism does not. Yes, Wiccan’s have The Rede but even that tends to be very open to interpretation. Most pagans though are not wiccan. There are so many strands of paganism and perhaps there are moral guidelines in some, but what for those of us whose paths are eclectic? On what do we base our morals? Aleister Crowley is supposed to have said, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” Does this mean we are essentially amoral or that whatever we feel in our hearts is right for us? It seems to me that, especially for those of us who practice magic, it is important to have a moral baseline of some sort.
My own morals are indeed very personal. They are based mainly on the concepts of Ma’at (balance and judgement) from ancient Egyptian religion and on ideas from Taoism. I have been wondering if that is really enough or if there might possibly be something more universal that I could pin my moral beliefs, actions and attitudes to. During a recent conversation I was involved in at Earthsong Forums, Feranaja said some very wise things which I’ll quote later in italics. Perhaps reverence for the Earth is in itself more than enough basis for morality?
There are a lot of us whose beliefs and practices have changed and evolved beyond what originally brought us into witchcraft and yet we don’t fit in to any particular named tradition… Our ideas are eclectic but not fluffy, morally aligned differently but not trendily black or fluffily white… We are Witches walking an ethical path, with varying and fluid understandings of deity and magic, but united in our belief that the earth is sacred, that deity can be understood in a wide variety of ways but always with female inclusion, that magic is an art that takes years to perfect.
Fera went on to say the following and expressed what I was thinking perfectly.
The entire polemic between “Dark and Light” is to be blunt, pretty juvenile to me.
The Initiatic path seeks to bridge these illusions. To work with a developed and developing moral code (which much of the Spookies seem to lack in their willingness to ‘teach lessons” and curse etc) and yet not to be deluded into an “All is Love and Light” mindset of denial and wishful thinking.
As a Witch, I am Darkness and Light. I am tough as nails and soft as a feather.
I will stop curses with a force that takes my own breath away – knowing full well it will return on the sender – but I will still send up prayers for the conflict to end peacefully.
My work is for kindness and justice to prevail and needless, mindless suffering to ease. But if I need to take out a perp while I’m at it – that will be done with deep consideration and much care, not the childish pseudo-power of threats and curses flung at people over relatively mild transgressions. I’m an adult; I deal with the crap of daily life in the usual ways. Time and experience have taught me that the use of my power should be reserved for healing and bringing balance to the world, where I can. This is not to say I will never do harm, only that it will be a last resort and done with sacrifice and forethought and purpose and care.
Dark and evil? I think not. I resent the association of the beauty of Darkness with Evil! (I so endorse that sentiment)
Wisdom is not bestowed on everyone by virtue of wanting to appear wise. It is earned, and the path will take us deep into the caverns of the Earth,the powerful cthonic forces that reside within – and high into the wheeling constellations, the exquisite power and beauty of the Celestial Realm. . Every step we will learn from the Green World that surrounds us, feed us, nourishes our inner beauty and teaches us how to live in these mortal bodies.
We seek to do no harm, knowing harm is all around us.
We listen and learn from the earth, from the world of spirit, form our own personal depths.
We know the I and the Beyond I.
We are not tied to anything but our own heart’s truth, and the Great Work of restoring humanity’s rightful role on this planet.
As such we are Healers and Shamans and Warriors and Teachers, lovers and Mothers and Fathers and Guides.
And still I focus on love.
That is my power.
Broken in a million pieces, the Witch heals herself.
Abandoned by all she trusts and holds dear, again she heals.
The healing she takes in and knows, she passes on.
She or he. Green men and Warriors and Shamans, re-wilders and Magicians, there is room in this Path for all.
The common ground is the Earth and Her cries for help – and our own deep and powerful personal integrity.
It is a path for the few; let the Many pose and argue and divide. We will carry on as we must.
And I feel the time has come for us to unite.
(Fera’s own wordpress blog can be found here.)
So that is where my morals are based; in the earth beneath my feet, in the lessons I have learned and in the knowledge that I have gleaned. They don’t need scripture, they need honesty and grit. They will always be a work in progress but they are rooted in the history of the rock and soil of our planet itself.