We have recently discussed the use of a Practitioner’s powers during warfare. The manipulation of energy can be a very effective weapon when necessary. It helped the British Navy defeat the celebrated Spanish Armada in 1588 A.D. by generating powerful winds and by influencing the Spanish captains’ decisions for the worse about which route they should take and their retreat plans. It also prevented an attack from Napoleon Bonaparte in 1807 A.D. by instilling fear within the French Soldiers that they would end up in Davy Jones’ Locker if they followed their General’s orders. There are certainly other accounts of Magickal happenings at times of combat, likely a result of some Practitioner’s handiwork.
But does this not contradict the staple of one’s Neopagan Faith? The Wiccan Rede simply says, “An ye harm none, do what you will.” This does not seem to be too much to ask. An individual may pursue their Path to Spirituality as they so choose as long as they treat others with respect along the way and impose no intentional harm upon them.
To defend the Practitioners in the above noted cases, they took great precautions to ensure that they caused no direct harm. They could have Cast Spells with the intent of placing an individual in great physical pain, or even death. Or they could have abandoned Magick all together and picked up a gun like the other soldiers and shot another individual. However, they kept true to their Faith the best that they could and tried to preserve their own safety and the security of their country merely by influencing the weather or placing a belief in another’s mind that it would be best if they did not attempt to make a dangerous crossing. Though these Castings caused eventual harm, I think that following these battles, the Practitioners could view the results with a clear conscience.
To this extent, there are exigent circumstances in which the Rede may be overlooked. For example, if a dangerous creature, human or otherwise, threatens the imminent safety of you or a loved one, neither Wicca nor any other Faith asks that person to sit unresponsively and perish. Above all comes the right to survive. But what about an individual who willfully violates the Rede when not in imminent danger, even for a seemingly good cause? Can this person consider themselves to be a Wiccan?
In most places, the armed forces are well received. Within the anarchy of the international system, most countries provide themselves with an army, navy, and other units in order to protect their borders from invasions, and sometimes keep the peace within their own country or between others. This is no doubt an important function for the humanitarian goals of international mediation. However, it cannot be denied that by enlisting in the armed forces an individual has made the conscious choice to put themselves in a position in which they might be asked to harm another as part of their duty.
About four years ago a chaplain (noncombatant minister) had informed the United States that he intended to leave his Christian roots and follow the Wiccan Path to Spirituality. Before he could become the first Wiccan in the army, he was asked to resign from his position. This decision was somewhat sensible as a chaplain is no use preaching to those who do not follow his Faith. Since this time, a few Wiccans have joined the U.S. forces, but have been discriminated against as we have seen time and time again. But some believe that Wiccans should be able to serve. Proponents have emphasized that the individual must come to terms with the fact that they will need to violate the Wiccan Rede in order to serve in the army. Upon this recognition they will be accepted.This is not so clear cut as it would seem. Wiccans joining the army is a very controversial issue amongst Wiccans and other Faiths who not only preach peace but demonstrate this stance through their actions. Who is to say what is right and what is wrong, but do you believe that once an individual accepts a duty in which he may harm another he ceases to be a Wiccan? How might a Wiccan in the army justify their decision to serve their country?