Bending the rules

This article is about my own vision on rules and how I handle different situations. A disclaimer: this only shows my own vision and not necessarily that of Silver Circle, Wiccan Rede or even witches in general. I don’t attempt to know “the truth” but through this article I hope to inspire you to think about your own set of rules.

My own rules

People who have met me and got to know me a little know that I adore rules. I love structure and I thrive knowing what is going to happen. What I enjoy even more is bending the rules so that they match my own life and they fit me perfectly. For me rules are like the theme within someones life and as long as you harm none I don’t mind throwing the rules overboard.

During my teenage years I broke the rules more than once. Quite frequently actually. I think every child struggles with what their parents lay down as ground rules. And sometimes just ignores them all together. As the years passed I developed my own set of rules, also known as core values, or principles. I try to follow these as much as possible but sometimes I slip up. Which is completely fine since this keeps me sharp and makes me think about my rules: “do I still feel comfortable with this rule?”

Rules in Wicca

When someone comes into contact with Wicca or reads things about it on the internet it will quickly become clear that there are very little rules. Where other religions often have very clear rules for daily life witches have to make do with general guidelines.

Rules within Wicca

  • Do what you want, but harm none
  • What you do will return to you times three
  • Be careful with what you ask. You might get it.

Most people who read these rules will immediately have certain associations with them and instinctively feel what is meant by them. Until situations arise which aren’t obviously black or white. And those gray area’s, those are the ones I want to talk about.

Witches have power. And with great power comes great responsibility. Where do your own ethical boundaries lie? And how far are you willing to bend these rules?

“Do what you want, but harm none”

Whoppa! This rule seems so obvious at first glance. And for tons of situations it is. Being angry at someone and wishing them dead is not the way to go. A ritual for your plants so that they grow and thrive is fine. Right?

The examples are pretty clear and the right choice is rather obvious. But who decides what is seen as harm for another? It’s a common practice that for example love spells are not done. You would be influencing someones free will and that is not okay.

But what about the situations where the consequences are not so clear and direct? For example: are you allowed to do magical work for someone who isn’t able to give consent like a young child or someone who is unconscious? If you perform a ritual to gain more financial stability in your life, can you foresee all the consequences? Where do you draw the line?

For me it’s obvious. If it’s possible I will ask consent for doing magical work for someone. If that person knows nothing about magic I will probably translate it into something like “do you want me to burn a candle for you?”. I won’t do elaborate rituals unless I have very explicit consent. And even with that certainty I will always remember that if something is really not meant to be, the universe will follow the natural flow of events the way it’s supposed to go.

For me working with magic is like working with a river. The universal energy is like a stream of water which will follow gravity. With rituals and spells you can put stones in that stream so that the water will follow a slightly different path. Or you can build a dam so the water won’t be able to reach a certain place. But build a dam on the wrong spot and the water will flood the area of ruin your dam.

I’ll always try to oversee what my work can put in motion and limit myself to general things like giving someone more strength to handle a situation instead of changing the situation itself. For instance: when someone has a broken heart I won’t try to take away the cause of that pain, but give someone more self-love, compassion and support.

What you do will return to you times three

For me this is the easiest rule. “What goes around comes around”. When your intentions are pure and good this will return to you somehow. For me this doesn’t even have to be anything related to magic but can also be during our daily life. How many people will wait in a supermarket queue only to snarl at the lady behind the register when she isn’t swift enough with counting your change? What is the direct effect? Perhaps you’ll feel guilty afterwards, you might have a nasty energy hanging around you that can certainly influence you and the people around you for a while. But when you approach that same lady behind the register with a smile the vibe instantly changes and you will certainly feel different about yourself and the world. This is exactly the same when you work with magic. Keep it positive, no matter how depressing the topic might be.

Be careful with what you ask. You might get it.

Most people will know the example of someone who lost their cat and did a ritual so the cat could find its way back home. But without being specific enough about which cat they meant the garden was flooded with all the strays from the neighbourhood. A school book example regarding “be careful what you ask for”. Doing a ritual purely for financial gain could result in inheriting money. You would have the financial gain, but most probably not the way you would want it. The best way to handle this is to be extremely clear in what you want to accomplish. So say, if you want a bigger house, take a good look how you would fulfill this dream without using magic and then support that work with magic. If you need another job think about how you can make yourself as attractive as possible for your future employer. Looking for a new partner? Go to a singles meeting and do some magical work beforehand where you can ask for the universe that -if- your perfect match will be there that you will end up at the same table for instance.

Magic work and daily life

For me, one of the most important things is making sure that magical work is an addition. The ritual work you do should be a reflection of the actions you take in your daily life. Of course you can do a ritual so that someone feels safe and comfortable, but you will also have to take care of that same person in your everyday moments. Just like magical work for a new job. If you sit around all day and don’t go to any job interviews the chance of a job magically falling into your lap will be quite slim.

Being a witch means being a witch 24/7. Not just during rituals or celebrations or whenever you feel like it. And for me that means that I try to follow the rules as much as possible during my daily life. The part “do what you wish but harm none” is the tricky one in everyday decisions since almost everything you do as a human will harm someone or something else. Buying a shirt from the Primark will accommodate child labor. Driving a car will harm the environment. Taking birth control pills will put a strain on our drinking water. Eating a ham sandwich will harm animals.

So where do you draw the line? Personally I try to “do the best I can”. Everybody has limitations concerning time, energy and money. Look at your own situation and determine where you can improve your lifestyle. I try to eat as little meat as possible and try to avoid using animal products. For me that is a huge contribution to the living beings here on earth. For someone else that might be volunteering somewhere. Or grabbing the bike instead of the car. Or being genuinely nice to that stuck up neighbour even though he was blasting music until 3am.

When can you bend the rules a little more?

Rules go out the door in an emergency in my opinion. If you’re attacked on the street and you kick someone in a reflex that sounds completely reasonable. That’s called self defense. It’s a whole different story when you have a moment to overthink the consequences of your actions. In my point of view revenge is never an option. You won’t gain anything and intentionally harming someone won’t give any pretty side effects. Also: when someone is seriously injured the rules don’t apply as far as I’m concerned. I won’t be able to ask someone “hey, is it okay if I do some magic for you?” When I am waiting for the ambulance to come I will help someone with magic. Help myself (not to panic, ability to think straight) and help the victim (pain management, take away anxiety etc). Thankfully these situations hardly ever occur and 99% of the time you will have at least a moment to think about what you are about to do.

Conclusions and some points of discussion

By evaluating your own behavior every now and then you’ll discover what is okay for you. Some covens have a rule set which you will learn about when you want to join that coven. Values can shift and your own opinion will become clearer and clearer over time. Here are some more opinions which you can use to think about where you stand on different topics. Also fun to use as a nice way to get a discussion started within a group!

  • Doing magic for children or animals is always the right thing to do.
  • As a witch you shouldn’t use any animals for personal gain. So never eat meat or use animal products like eggs, cheese, milk and leather.
  • As a witch you have to have your own negative emotions under control.
  • A ritual for personal gain is always a bad thing.
  • Attack is the best defense.
  • You have to give up a certain level of comfort to live as pure as possible.

Thank you for reading and don’t hesitate to let me know if you (dis)agree with me. I love getting feedback!

Over Rhianne

Witch by birth, student by choice. Born into the loving arms of Merlin and Morgana as a little witch, now a person of her own. She took on the task of protecting the heritage of Merlin when he passed on. Rhianne is a big lover of animals, people, music, books and jummy food.
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