The "archaically worded" construction "An it harm none, do what ye will," rendered into modern English is literally, "if it doesn't harm anyone, do what you want."Many modern Wiccans "reverse" the construction, however, taking the first part and putting it after the second to read: "Do what ye will an it harm none," or in modern English "Do what you want if it doesn't harm anyone."Many people give the word "an" or "if" a value of "so long as" - which is acceptable substitution, because it doesn't alter the meaning of the Rede itself. However they then proceed to read "solong as" as "only if," and that is *completely different*, because the Rede has ceased to be a "wise counsel" [anyone checked the meaning of "Rede" in the dictionary lately?] and become an injunction: prohibitive commandment, rather than permissive advice.
words, the original archaic construction actually says "if it is not
going to hurt anyone, it is OK to do" - this is *not* the same as "if
it hurts anyone it is *not* OK to do."
What is the significance of the change? A larger one than you might see, at first glance.
The "actual construction
Rede," or AC Rede, says it is OK to do something that won't harm
anyone, but it *does not say anything* about those things which do
cause harm, except to set an ethical standard ofharmlessness as the
criteria to judge by.
The "modern reconstruction Rede" or MR Rede, explicitly says that any and all actions that cause harm are forbidden.
The two constructions do
*not* mean the same thing at all.
And it should be obvious that this
has implications on our thinking, and discussions of the possibility of
"obeying" the Rede.
Most of you will have heard
or read, as I have, people saying the Rede is something to strive to
live by, even though mundane reality makes it very difficult, if not
impossible, to do so to the letter. *This is only true of the MR Rede,
not the AC Rede!* As examples, they cite situations such as
self-defense; *this violates the MR Rede*. Period. But it does *not*
violate the AC Rede. Period.
Earlier, I stated that the
AC Rede does not rule onactions that d......
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