Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Nuances of Harm None

While all Wiccans agree upon following Harm None, they are not all in agreement on what it means.  For some it is very literal meaning that absolutely no creature must be harmed no matter how great or small.  That means everything in life, the fur, the finned, the winged ones, the four legged, two legged and no legged - absolutely everything living and breathing has a right to life and should never be taken.  It goes without saying that followers of this vein of Harm None would not uphold the death penalty no matter how heinous a crime the perpetrator had committed.  And more than likely they would not be eaters of flesh and well versed in vegetarian or vegan living.  Self defense for these Wiccans would be of the simplest variety of shielding in the magickal world and avoidance in the real world.

Other Wiccans believe that Harm None is an ideal that should be strived for but in actuality is an impossibility to follow literally.  These Wiccans may be hunters and eaters of flesh.  Likewise they believe in the right to protect self and loved ones and even their property when pushed to do so.  They are not agressors but neither are they door mats.

Being an American living in a state considered part of the South, I was raised around guns and hunting.  The way guns and hunting were handled in my upbringing was very normal and natural to me and I continue with those values today.  No animal was ever killed entirely for sport and pleasure.  Any animal that was killed, any fish or fowl taken, had to be something that went to our table to eat.  The kills were to be quick and as painless as possible.  My father was a just and kind man.  He emphasized over and again that if you could not make a kill shot you didn't take the shot.  Nothing angered him more than to have a hunter call for others to help track a wounded animal so the kill could be finished. In my father's eyes, if you could not kill it with one shot, you had no right to hunt at all. Period. This was nonnegotiable to him.  When he suffered eye degeneration, he stopped hunting. It was a great loss to him for that part of life to be closed off to him while he was in his prime but he no longer trusted his one shot/one kill ability.  And so it was over for him.  He turned his attention to fishing and that was more of a relaxation in nature for him than taking food for the table.

With regards to defending family and property, my father was a staunch supporter.  His weapons for hunting would have been wielded against his fellow man had he ever been pushed to it.  Thankfully no such occasion ever arose during his lifetime.  But on camping trips or long drives, my father always had a pistol at the ready should it be needed.  The Second Amendment right to bear arms was a very sacred matter in our household.

I am now married to a military man, recently retired from the Marine Corps.  His values regarding weapons, home and family protection run parallel to my father's, as you can well guess from his being a Marine, that extends to defense of his country as well.  With all of this as my upbringing and continuance into adulthood, it isn't any wonder, that despite my choosing to become a Wiccan, I do stand behind the right to own weapons and the right to defend self and property.

While I do not hunt and personally never have, I do honor and uphold my father's sportsmanship beliefs and will share his philosophies with my young grandchildren when the time is appropriate.  I have always enjoyed a well cooked steak, love chicken cooked almost any way, and love ham, bacon and pork roast.  Venison has been a delightful favorite in years passed but is no longer an available delicacy for my table since neither my husband nor I are hunters.  I haven't fished in many a year but I do love a well cleaned and cooked catfish.  Being landlocked, seafood is a rare delicacy, but when opportunity provides, I indulge heartily. I do find, however, that as awareness of slaughterhouse procedures and inhumane treatment of animals comes to light, that meat has less appeal.  I am expanding my diet to vegetarian dishes and exploring local meat sourcing from farmers' markets.

As for my position regarding the death penalty, I whole heartedly support it.  This may sound like a shocking position for a Wiccan but my reasoning is "accountability."  Perhaps it is my former Christian upbringing that called for "an eye for an eye."  But to me, it is more about balance and accountability.  If a person has shown themselves to have a reckless disregard for the life of others and willfully killed in non-defense, they should forfeit their life.

On the flip side of that, if a person is confronted with force, they have the right to use as much force as necessary to protect themselves, their loved ones and their property.  In other words folks, don't break into my home and expect me to play nice.  The minute you violate boundaries and enter my home by force, I have no reason to believe you will respect any boundaries at all, so deadly force to protect myself will be my option at that point.  Thankfully, in my 55 years, I have not been placed in such a position and I am hopeful that I will get to live the rest of my life in the same peaceful manner.

Some Wiccans find my beliefs to be aberent concepts from the Wiccan Rede's Harm None.  Therefore in WiseCraft I express the Wiccan Rede this way:
Do as you will if it harm naught, but if it harm some, then do as you ought
This version serves me well.  I balance it with Do that which is right and Just Enough, both of which I will speak further on in other posts.

So, there you have it, the nuances of Harm None.  And now you know where I stand in them.  Do I expect my students to mirror my position on Harm None?  No, absolutely not. It is my belief that this is a personal decision reserved for each individual Wiccan.  If joining a Coven, one should explore the position held regarding Harm None to find out whether your individual beliefs are a good fit.  In Yesterways WiseCraft Wicca, all the nuances of Harm None are embraced and those of differing positions are expected to honor the choices of others.  Sadly, discussions tend to get heated sometimes with differing positions feeling the need to staunchly defend their choice -- I often stand guilty of this as well.  However, this is one of those topics where people should agree to disagree as there is no right or wrong position -- just a right position for each person.  In the end, we each live with the consequences of our actions and answer to our own conscience.

Bright Blessings and Blessed Be,
Rayven Michaels

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