The Difference between Morals and Ethics
The Basics of Pagan Morals
The Pagan "Golden Rule"
„They [witches] are inclined to the morality of the legendary Good King Pausol, “Do what you like so long as you harm no one ". But they believe a certain law to be important, “You must not use magic for anything which will cause harm to anyone, and if, to prevent a greater wrong being done, you must discommode someone, you must do it only in a way which will abate the harm." This involves every magical action being discussed first, to see that it can do no damage, and this induces a habit of mind to consider well the results of one's actions, especially upon others, This, you may say, is elementary Christianity. Of course it is; it is also elementary Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, and Judaism, to name only a few.“
Relative Freedom - What Does It Imply?
Within philosophy, there are two prominent, contrary systems which talk about free will. One of them is determinism according to which everything is predetermined. Therefore, a person's free will and human activity have no effect whatsoever. In this sense, free will doesn't even exist. A contrary belief system is indeterminism which speaks of the existence of absolute free will. That is to say, people can do anything they want because causal reactions do not exist. It's also worth mentioning predestination which is very similar to determinism, but according to predestination, God is the one that decides the fate of everybody and everything.
Pagans are somewhere in between these two extremes because they mainly believe that free will exists, but as a part of a determined world. This could be called the philosophy of compatibilism. Since Paganism doesn't have a strictly prescribed moral codex, opinions may vary, but no one opinion will go to extremes. But even Pagans believe in some sort of conditioning. This can be seen in the Pagan version of the golden rule which, although it confirms the existence of free will, also posts a condition for its existence (" 'an ye harm none"). Our actions, lives and fates generally can be conditioned by many factors; some of them will be external (the world around us, general life conditions in which we find ourselves, or the surroundings into which we are born), and others will be eternal (we can condition ourselves). In this sense, a condition is something that we cannot influence. But this is why all the things that we can influence are subjected to our free will. Nevertheless, we mustn't let ourselves get drunk with free will and in the process stop thinking about the repercussions of our actions. Remember that free will and moral responsibility are inevitably linked together.
Karma - As You Sow, So Shall You Reap
"Pagan ethics can be compared to a tree which has several big branches. (...) Everything starts with love. Love is the tree out of which the first branch grows: our respect and adoration of the cosmos (order, unity, harmony) from which stem beauty and an affinity towards aesthetics. The second branch is absolute freedom which sends the message that everyone should do what their will tells them to do. The third branch is relative freedom, that is conscious restriction of our own freedom with the freedom of others. This is the principle of nonviolence (harm none). The fourth branch is the branch of compassion, that is the feeling of obligation to help someone who is in distress. The fifth is the branch of avoiding false sentiments and giving up on the people that don't deserve either help or compassion. By doing this, you are actually protecting yourself, which is your most sacred duty. This is how Pagan ethics is entirely rounded and complete." (translation, Iolar, p. 223)
- FARRAR, JANET. FARRAR, STEWART. A Witches' Bible: The Complete Witches' Handbook. London: Robert Hale Ltd. 1984.
- IOLAR. Paganizam u teoriji i praksi: doktrina paganizma (knjiga 1). Zagreb: Despot Infinitus d.o.o. 2013.*
- VALIENTE, DOREEN. Witchcraft for Tomorrow. London: Robert Hale Ltd. 1978.