“An ye harm none…”
“An ye harm none, do what ye will” is one of the best-known tenets of Wicca, but it is also one of the most misunderstood. Why you ask? While poetic, far too many people take it to mean that as long as your intent isn’t to harm, you’re fine, but what happens when things don’t go the way you planned? The other part of this credo is accepting personal responsibility for the power you use, no matter how it turns out. As beings of light, whether you call yourself Wiccan, Witch, Pagan, etc. (I’m pretty fond of Witcchan though I’m still waiting for it to catch on), we understand that power originates within us, it isn’t something we take from outside of ourselves. When we wield that power, we need to do so mindfully.
In the Spiderman comics, Stan Lee creates a situation where Peter Parker is forced to understand that “with great power comes great responsibility.” When we accept the power within us, we must understand that we are responsible for how we wield that power as well as the consequences that come from that use. We are accountable for our thoughts, our words (because words can have immense power), and our deeds. We must do our due diligence and consider the potential consequences of our actions before we act.
Whether you believe in the Three Fold Rule or not, whether you expect to receive back the type of energy you put out into the world, keep in mind that all of our actions have consequences. Throw a stone in a pond and the ripples radiate out from the point of impact. If those ripples topple a boat or cause a flood, even if that isn’t what we intended, we are responsible because of the causal relationship between our actions and the end result. As a kid, I would weigh the consequences of any act I contemplated, even those that went against the rules; if the benefits of the act outweighed the consequences, and if those consequences were something I could live with, I would then act. If not, I stayed my hand.
It is vital for you to understand the costs and consequences of any use of power, magical or otherwise. These costs may be obvious and clear but they can just as easily be unexpected. A harsh word at the wrong time can change a relationship, break a heart, burden you with guilt, etc. so most of us try to manage what and how we say what we do, what words we choose to use. We must be as judicious in the ways we use magic, when we use it, and even why we’re using it. “Ye harm none” isn’t just a quaint little phrase, it is an admonition and a directive for living a responsible life.