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  • What is Wicca?
  • What are the spiritual principles of Wicca?
 
A social and spiritual activist, Phyllis Curott has been an attorney and Wiccan priestess for more than 20 years.
 
 
 
 

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.

From Witch Crafting. Copyright (c) 2001 by Phyllis Curott. All rights reserved.