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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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