Hell, sin, and the pagan boogeyman

Most pagans I know do not believe in Hell, the devil, or even the concept of sin. They often say these are Christian concepts and have no place in pagan practices.

However, Wiccans have the Threefold Law of Return, that whatever you put out in the Universe returns threefold. They also have the Wiccan Rede of ‘An it harm none, do what thou wilt’.

As I’ve mentioned in prior posts, the Rede is not a law. Its not a rule. The word itself means ‘advice or counsel’. And its good advice. Harming none- including yourself- is a pretty good general idea to follow no matter who you are.

But what happens if you break the Rede?

What if you harm someone?

I present the idea that basically nothing will happen. You won’t see Hellfire, you won’t find punishment or go to a bad place after you die for harming someone. I do, however, believe that in many cases the idea of ‘sin’ is a personal one. Therefore, the punishment is often self inflected.

Take for instance you curse someone; this goes against the Rede by harming another.  The intention gets directed to someone else. Spells incorporate our wills, our intentions, and in essence, our souls into the magick. By cursing someone else, you bind yourself to that person in some form or other.

If this goes against your moral fiber, you might face repercussions such as bad luck, no flow to thoughts or energies, and possible other means caused by this ‘personal sin’. In a sense, you end up punishing yourself. You might not be conscious of it.

Morals do not hinge on the black and white simplicity of ‘right and wrong’, so defined in other faiths. In pagan faiths, we do not have a book to dictate judgment or rules to live by. We must decide for ourselves, even make mistakes to discover what works (or what doesn’t work) for us.

So what are your thoughts on repercussions of working against your own morals? Do you have a concept of sin or personal sin? Does the Rede or Threefold law reflect a more harrowing verdict than my thoughts here? Please share- I’d love to hear from others on this subject.

Book of Shadows Assignment: Write about your theories and thoughts on right and wrong. Where do morals lie? Did you learn from parents or do you feel that people follow a natural, inborn sense of good and evil? Have your morals changed over the years? Do you think they’ll continue to change?

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2 responses to “Hell, sin, and the pagan boogeyman

  1. “Working against your own morals”… Not recommended:)

    I’d like to point out that as the rede is “an it harm none, do as ye wilt” it is permissive rather than saying “harm none” It means if you harm no one you can do whatever you want, it has no rules or whatever for if you DO harm.

    The three fold law is so unbalanced if viewed literally, I rather believe in good ol’ Newton as scientific laws are actual, with every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Things will not come back to you three times as bad or good, but everything will have some consequence even if not a direct one, and it may not necessarily be one that rewards or punishes you either.

    I have cursed, hexed and have not suffered consequence from them, as I felt it was just, and deserved, and that a witch who cannot curse, cannot heal. It does not go against my moral fibre.

    If I did something that went against my moral fibre- which I actually have not done magically, then I would assume a huge guilt, a huge weight and the price would be my own peace of mind, just like when I’ve done something against my moral fibre non magically.

    I do not like punishment/reward systems of belief, they reinforce negative attitudes that hold us in place against doing what may be in our nature to do.

    I do not believe in sin at all, It is not a concept I have room for in my beliefs. I follow nature, not a human construction of morality.

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