In my time on the Pagan part of the Internet I’ve seen plenty of posts about whether or not you have to be vegan in order to be Wiccan, or whether or not it’s OK to euthanize a critically injured animal. I’ve even seen people go as far as to say non vegans practicing Wicca aren’t actually Wiccans at all. What it basically all boils down to is the true meaning of “harm none”. It’s actually impossible to go through your life without causing any harm.
You harm microbes when you wash your hands and when you clean. You squash ants when you walk. If you eat meat then an animal had to die. If you are a vegan then a plant in many causes had to die. They are living things as well. Vegetables and other crops must be planted, the equipment used for this kills mice and bugs who live in the fields. Bugs hit car windshields, animals accidentally hit by cars and so on and so on.
My point isn’t to be depressed or upset by this harm. Animals can’t go through their life without harming others either, it’s just the world we live in. The Rede is very important but it’s not the be-all end-all. It’s not our version of the 10 Commandments.
It is extremely good advice, something to strive for in our lives. Do not however expect perfection, do your best to be a good person and to minimize the harm you cause but realize that you will cause harm to someone or something just in the course of living. This doesn’t make you a bad person or a bad Wiccan. This makes you human. The world isn’t black-and-white, it’s filled with shades of gray.
I remember a couple years ago a person had started a thread in a Wiccan group I was a part of on social media. Essentially the woman was interested in taxidermy and crafting jewelry out of bone, claws and other animal parts, all humanely sourced from natural deaths. Inevitably someone started a second thread about this talking about how shocking and “unWiccan” this was. How “disgusting” this person must be and how they are wannabes for “enabling this behavior” and that they should “go read some Wiccan books”.
To be quite blunt? It struck a very raw nerve with me.
Honestly this narrow mindedness and absolute refusal to acknowledge the natural world (which includes death) while proclaiming to honor it is why other Pagans bash us Wiccans. People of different traditions have always used animal parts in jewelry and sacred ritual, our god (The Horned God) is even a hunter! Heck, The Goddess is often portrayed as one too.
By judging others for engaging in practices that are not causing undue suffering and are in accordance with their own traditions people like that are the ones who aren’t acting Wiccan. Other disrespectful and insulting comments on threads such as this one? How about “Read some Wiccan books”? Which ones? Just the ones that agree with your thinking or any of the hundreds published by different authors with different opinions?
What of people whose ancestors are Native American and have used animal products in jewelry and sacred rituals since the beginning of their people? I am in no way comparing any form of Wicca to any Native tradition but that kind of Puritanism towards other belief systems makes me all kinds of uncomfortable.