An It Harm None: What To Do When Harm Is Caused?


Okay so my question is since one of the most basic Wiccan morals/ beliefs is the “harm none” concept I was curious about two different things. 1. What should you do other than accept the consequences when harm has been done through one of your actions? 2. What is to be done when another inflicts harm on you? Nothing? Just curious because I haven’t see this clearly stated anywhere.

The thing with “harm none” is that it has been grossly misinterpreted and misrepresented by so many people over the years that, in most cases, what the average person thinks it means is likely vastly different than what it actually is supposed to mean. So we’ll start with that, just to lay out the basics.

First and foremost, at no point (ever), does the Wiccan Rede prohibit one from causing harm, and in fact, it is literally impossible for any of us to go through life without causing harm to someone or something. The Rede, which in full states ‘An it harm none, do what ye will, simply tells us that if it doesn’t cause harm, we can do whatever we want. But nowhere in that statement does it say if it causes harm, don’t do it. The actual point of it all, is for one to carefully consider their actions before taking them, and to be willing to accept the potential consequences of such actions – for good or bad. In the end however, if one feels that a harmful action is justified/necessary, and is willing to accept the consequences, then there is nothing preventing them from taking the action. For more information on the history and meaning of the Wiccan Rede, I suggest reading The Wiccan Rede: A Historical Journey.

To your specific questions…

(1) If the harm was unintentional, we still need to accept the consequences and acknowledge that harm was done. Then we need to look for ways that we can make reparations (if possible). Saying “sorry” often makes us feel better, but in many cases it does nothing for those we have hurt. Taking actual positive action (assuming that there is one that can be taken), is the best choice.

If the harm was intentional, hopefully we thought carefully before taking the action and were able to anticipate the consequences and are prepared for them. If it’s something that we had considered, again – part of that consideration would be pre-planning what to do. Generally though, if those consequences occur in a way that were unanticipated (maybe we didn’t think carefully enough beforehand) or in some other way cause more harm than we were intending, we should refer back to the info on what to do when causing unintentional harm. Otherwise, if we have intentionally harmed someone/something, then there is nothing else to do as we’ve accomplished what we set out to do.

(2) The answer to this one is really going to depend on the individual. Some will look for positive ways to counteract the harm (such as shielding or looking for ways to invoke justice being served, etc…), while others will 100% strike back as hard and fast as they can with every curse and hex available, and some may be a mix of both. Since there is absolutely nothing preventing anyone from defending themselves and protecting others from harm, at least in terms of the Rede, if one feels that they need to take a harmful action in response to something that has been done to them (and again, being willing to accept any consequences) – then they should take it.

Personally, in the rare times that I feel that they may be necessary, I prefer “curses” that are sort of all purpose – like a “may you get everything that’s coming to you” sort of a thing. That way if they don’t do anything wrong, they have nothing to worry about (and it could even send positive things their way if they are doing good), but if they are doing harm to others, then anything negative that bounces back on them will be a result of their own actions. It doesn’t absolve me of dealing with any potential consequences, but it does put a lot more of the onerous on them for instigating it in the first place.