Oftentimes, people following non-traditional spiritual paths (meaning anything that is not one of the book religions: Christianity, Judaism, or Islam), feel a little lost without ancient books and angry men telling them what to do. (I know I did!) They wonder what their moral code should be now that they are “on their own.”
The Wiccan Rede is “An it harm none, do as thy will.” This is great. And simple. The problem comes with figuring out what “harm” is and isn’t.
Other issues surrounding morality are: Does it matter? Is morality outdated? What do we mean by morality? Who determines whether something is moral or immoral?
I can only answer for me, of course. But I wanted to share how I go about determining these things.
By morality, I mean living by a set of self-imposed rules that are in line with my deepest-held values, that I could easily defend against criticism if I had to, that are a match for how I wish to be treated, and are a match for how I present myself to the world.
I believe that morality matters for the following reasons:
1) Violating our own morals affects our emotions. This is why lie-detectors work. For non-sociopaths, lying is generally perceived as wrong. When we do it anyway, we feel something that can actually be registered by sensitive instruments such as those on a lie detector. Our insides tell the truth even when we don’t.
2) Because violating our own morals affects our emotions, it also affects our spiritual practice, spell work, and intention-setting. We cannot meditate properly, cast effective spells, or set uplifting intentions when our emotions are out of sorts.
3) Because it affects our spiritual practice (or even our desire to have a spiritual practice), violating our own morals affects the level of respect we have for ourselves.
4) Because it affects the level of respect we have for ourselves, it affects the level of respect we demonstrate towards others.
5) Because it affects the level of respect we show towards others, it affects the level of respect they have for us in return, and the level of support others are willing to provide us.
So, morality matters. But how do we determine whether or not something we want to do is “harming” someone?
I try to be very honest with myself and ask myself if the action I’m considering is necessary. If not, then maybe it doesn’t matter whether or not it “harms” someone. If it’s not necessary, maybe I just don’t do it.
Another question I ask myself is “Does the action serve a higher purpose?” For example, what will be the outcome of my actions? Will it be positive for all concerned or just me? If it’s just for me, will it improve my life in some way? If not, maybe it’s not something I need to do, especially if it will cost me time and money.
A third question I ask myself is “What are the ways this action MIGHT be harmful?” Sometimes we think an action is innocent, but if our motives are selfish or impure, we might actually be causing harm and not realizing it. For example, if we’re only helping others to make ourselves look good, to gain a favor from someone, or to receive praise and applause, perhaps this activity is just fattening our egos and starving our spirits.
Lastly, and most importantly, the reason for having a moral code is not to avoid hell. Hell is an ancient concept used to keep people in line. It is effective, the same way that threatening kids with being grounded is effective. But it is not for the spiritually mature. If the only reason you avoid doing something is fear of hell, I would say that your moral code needs some work. The spiritually mature do things because they are beautiful, beneficial, or beneficent. They avoid doing things that are hazardous, hurtful, or hateful. No never-ending flames are necessary.
On the contrary, living according to your own moral code gives you confidence, freedom, and an inner Light that no one else can put out. When you’re living in integrity, you don’t care so much what other people have to say about you because you fully approve of yourself. No guilt equals true freedom.
But if you are living out of integrity, no affirmations of self-love, no amount of sermons, and no amount of positive memes will help you feel better about yourself. Fix the problem at the root and get back into alignment with your Higher Self. Then you are a candidate for real intimacy with the Divine Presence.
Peace and love,