You will find these ideas more fully explored in Chapter Seven
of Witch Crafting. I wish to extend my thanks to the thousands
who have attended my lectures where I was developing this critique
of Wiccan the Threefold Law, and who responded with thought provoking
questions, occasional irritation, and ultimately, standing ovations.
Ask any Witch from any tradition of Witchcraft, why they don't
cast evil spells, do baneful magic or use their powers to manipulate
or harm others, and most of them will quickly respond: "Because
Witches believe in the Threefold Law: What you send out will return
to you three times over."
Well, that's a concept that will certainly keep you in line!
But is it really Wiccan ethics?
Not even remotely. Why? Because the Threefold Law is actually
a rule of conduct based on punishment, and therefore fear, and
because it's leftover from biblical morality and because it does
not reflect Wiccan values.
Let's start with the first problem with Threefold Law: punishment
and fear. Stop and think about it for a minute. The Threefold
Law is actually saying that you better behave yourself, because
if you don't something worse will happen to you. In other words,
misbehave and you'll be punished. So it's just your fear of punishment
-- of something worse happening to you -- that keeps you from
abusing the powers of Witchcraft. That's not ethics -- it's expediency
and self-interest, based on fear of reprisal and nothing more.
Here's the second problem: Where does this idea of fear of punishment
as a motivator for morality come from? It is a remnant of biblical
thinking, dragged from the past and misdirecting our future. In
the biblical religious view, God is not present in the world,
He's transcendent, dwelling "above" in heaven. Where does that
leave us? Living in the Lord of the Flies. When God is not present
in the world, you need a set of rules to live by. Hence the Ten
Commandments, Papal edicts, Talmudic interpretations, and Mullahs
dictating the meaning of the Koran. The threat of damnation, sin,
hell fire, and fatwahs for your disobedience certainly
motivate compliance with the rules of morality. Just like the
Threefold Law -- behave or you'll be punished. But just turn on
the television set and you'll see how well that system of rules
and punishment is working.
Now the third problem: Wicca doesn't believe in a transcendent,
exclusively male, and punishing God. Instead, Wicca is a spirituality
with accessible practices that enables you to experience the Divine
dwelling within you and all around you in the natural world. For
a Witch, the world is not fallen from grace -- it's paradise,
it's the body of the Divine. And when you are able to experience
the presence of the Sacred in the world, in yourself and others,
you don't require a rule based upon punishment, fear and self-interest
to motivate you to behave in an ethical manner.
The real Wiccan ethic is simple: Witches live in a sacred
manner, treating all of life and the world itself with reverence
and respect, because they live in a sacred world.
This is an ethical approach to Witchcraft, to magic, spellcasting
and daily life that is truly a reflection of our deepest spiritual
principles, and our practices. And it is an understandng that
can remedy the wrongs threatening the survival of the Earth. So
the next time someone asks you why Witches don't cast evil spells,
or what the basis for your ethics are, you can reply: I live
in a sacred manner because I live in a sacred world. I treat that
world, and all the creatures in it, with reverence and respect
because everything is an embodiment of the Divine.