The Wiccan Rede is a great tool for judging the ethics
of our actions, be they mundane or magickal. By applying the principle
of "harm none" to whatever we do, we can strive to lead a Wiccan life
that is respectful of all that is around us. It is difficult, however,
to consider what harm there might be when no action is actually taken.
This is the trouble in considering the ethics of divination, for just
peering into a crystal ball hardly seems like it could harm anyone.
One of the common and perplexing ideas of divination is
that by relating the hidden information to the querant, they can then
change their destiny and possibly avoid that very event that you've
foretold. Were you wrong in the first place, or was it that the knowledge
of the event that prevented it from happening? Can someone forcibly
seek out a particular destiny, or are we at the whim of cosmic forces
that change our lives through what would otherwise be considered random
Given the unknown nature that the existence of information
will have upon us, it is impossible to say for certain that having access
to otherwise secret information wouldn't change our behavior. We must
accept the responsibility for our actions as a result of having this
knowledge. Because we know something, even if we remain silent about
this knowledge, it is all too possible that our actions may change,
Let's consider some possibilities of how we might choose
to handle this new found information that we'd gained through divination
about a person without their knowledge. The most obviously egregious
thing would could do is to pass this information around to other people.
Clearly, it's none of their business and sharing such knowledge would
most likely harm the person (or persons) involved. Besides, Wiccan philosophies
tell us that one of the most important things we can do is "keep silent,"
so let's presume that we don't even go down this path.
What else might we do? We might try to take actions into
our own hands. This knowledge might tell us that the person is having
a problem. Why not secretly step in and try to fix this problem for
the person? Wouldn't that count as a good deed? Many of you by now understand
that it's not that simple. The person having a problem doesn't necessarily
need to have it solved, especially considering that it may very well
be their journey to learn how to solve this problem, and for us to take
that away from them would be arrogant.
Perhaps the simplest and safest approach would be to contact
the person and let them know just what you've found out. After all,
we're not taking any action by doing this and we're leaving it up to
them for what to do with the result of our divination. The problem is
still the fact that we may very well be changing the natural course
of events. If this information is news to the person, then we're changing
things by telling them, just as described earlier. On top of that, there's
the very likely chance that we might be offending them by having done
this divination without their permission. That would certainly count
Perhaps one of the easiest ways to handle this sensitive
information is with a proposed military-like policy:
Don't seek out information for which you do not have permission
to obtain. Such permission may be explicit if someone should ask you
to do a reading for them, or it might be implicit such as a parent looking
for parental guidance spiritually.
When you have done a reading, keep the information private.
It belongs to the querant and it's up to them what happens to that knowledge.
It's not for you to decide who should know about someone's business.
The last one is the hardest. It's very easy for us to
come across things in the course of a day through inadvertently overhearing
a conversation or even just getting a feeling when you pass by someone.
If you feel that someone is not well, you might want to find out what's
wrong so that you can find out whether you can help. Unfortunately,
if you don't have permission, it's not a good thing to do. If you really
want to proceed, then simply ask the person for permission. You can
explain that you've got a funny feeling and that you'd like to help.
It's so very easy to be a psychic voyeur. We've all run
into situations where we've stood next to someone, felt their "vibes,"
and maybe even gleaned some particular bit of information, just from
being around them. Some people seem to be natural antennas, broadcasting
their energy to anyone who might be around. And why not just feel a
bit further into the person's aura? No one is stopping you and, truth
be told, no one may ever find out just what you've been peeking into.
And if you're lucky, no one will ever be harmed by your divinatory glimpses.
Of course, it's not just whether or not you should use
divination that requires an ethical decision. Even if you have permission,
there are considerations you must make in handling the divination. It's
important to consider your responsibility when you pass on the information.
You've heard the expression, "Don't shoot the messenger!" There's a
reason for that. The knowledge that you've gained as a result of your
divination has power, and must be handled carefully, for treating the
knowledge without the proper respect it deserves can surely bring harm
to someone. Take some time to frame the divination properly and ensure
that the message and the way that you present it are both coming from
a place of spirit.
That covers the "before" and "during," now let's talk
briefly about "after."
The hardest part of divination to pin down ethically your
level of responsibility for what the querant might do as a result of
having learned what you had to share. In a more traditional view, if
you trip someone, and as a result they have to walk on crutches for
the next two weeks, that's your responsibility. If they cannot bowl
with their team, and their team suffers as a result, then that, too,
is pretty much your responsibility, too, since it was your action that
caused the team to be short a member. Much like the expanding ripples
of a pond into which we have tossed a stone, the ripple effects of your
action go on and on.
So, what if after the querant's divination experience,
they decide as a result of what you've shared to quit their bowling
team and the team similarly suffers? Are you responsibility? How much
does free will play into the alleviating your level of responsibility?
Again, if it weren't for your (divinatory, this time) action, they might
not have chosen to quit. Should you take responsibility for what happens
after the divination is done?
Many people to whom this question has been posed said
that it's impossible for us as diviners to anticipate, and therefore
accept, all the possible actions that the querant might take after such
a reading. They have free will, and may very well choose to do things
entirely counter to what would otherwise be expected of most people.
Because of their ability to choose their own actions, anything that
they then choose to do is their responsibility and not yours.
I disagree with this sentiment. I strongly believe in
the ripple effect and I think that our very presence on this Earth causes
an enormous number of tiny ripples. Every breath we take removes just
a little bit of oxygen from the world around us. These ripples might
very well be inconsequential, but they exist nonetheless. The "butterfly
effect" states that a butterfly's flapping wings can cause a storm thousands
of miles away. Now, that's a pretty big ripple!
Just as we strive to minimize our negative impact on the
environment, for we can never truly eliminate all harm from what we
do, we should similarly accept our responsibility, but realize that
we are limited in our ability to lessen our impact in some circumstances.
If I have a really strong divination reading and share with the querant
that they will be getting a divorce soon, and they decide to do something
terribly drastic, I believe that it is still somewhat my responsibility
even though I had little control over their choice of actions within
their free will.
As with other things well suited for discussion as part
of the Wiccan Rede study, the ultimate point is that we all have free
will, and we choose what we're going to do in our lives. It's essential
that we at least acknowledge that our actions, be they physical, magickal,
or by means of divination, are our responsibility and that, like those
ripples in the pond, we are therefore responsible for those things that
happen in reaction to what we've done.
1. According to the theories of quantum physics, all things
that are possible are true. Some facets of destiny are fixed and you
can navigate your life events toward those particular facets. Others
are fleeting and require many intermediate steps, some of which may
seem completely inconsequential. Think about the relationship you have
with your significant other or your best friend. Did you actually plan
to meet them and set things up so that you'd be able to start your friendship
right away? Perhaps instead you met as a result of some other happening
and you developed your relationship without any planning at all.