With this post, the Wiccan Rede becomes the first religious text for me to write a book review of – but I am using the word ‘book’ very liberally here. In actuality, the Wiccan Rede, the text which summarises the moral code at the heart of the Wiccan religion is a twenty-six line poem, which is certainly a lot shorter than the central texts of many other religions, but this is by no means a bad thing.
With religion being a very personal matter to many people, it makes a lot of sense to have an important text be so short and accessible. To take the Holy Bible of Christianity as a contrast, that’s an absolutely enormous book that most Christians aren’t ever going to have time to read all of and with so many different texts written at different points in history, it’s moral lessons aren’t consistent throughout, leading to confusion and conflict.
Meanwhile, the Wiccan Rede succinctly summarises the ethos of the religion in a quick and easy to digest way. Nicely, it’s a poem that rhymes, making it fun to read and its meaning is fairly straight forward. The second line starts with “live and let live” and that kind of gives you all you need to know. The ultimate message is that you should live life however you want, while making sure that you aren’t harming others in the process – and by ‘others’ it includes the environment around you.
As you might imagine, it also gives information on when to celebrate the different Wiccan holidays throughout the year. I’m neither here nor there on this addition, but including this in a nice rhyming poem is a rather good one of making note of it. There are also parts about casting circles to keep evil spirits away and other supernatural elements – I don’t believe in evil spirits or supernatural things, so these don’t have much meaning to me, but I do find it interesting to read about the rites that other people believe in.
Of course, it could be argued that the moral system here is too basic and that’s a fair point. Having said that, I feel like its basic principle is a useful enough guiding point and that no text, no matter how big, could ever possibly give guidance for every single scenario, so brevity isn’t too much of a problem in my opinion.
All in all, I’d say it’s something that’s worth giving a read: it’s a good introduction to Wicca and helps provide a quick introduction to the guiding moral principles of Wiccans. As such a short piece of writing, I’d recommend it simply so that you can understand Wiccan people more. As somebody who likes to consider themselves as liberal and progressive, I certainly appreciated the all-accepting tone of it because it aligns closely with my own beliefs.