To Know Thyself is to Know the Way

To Know Thyself is to Know the Way.

That was written above the Oracle at Delphi, in Greece. What does it mean? Let's take the first part: Know Thyself.

I expect we all think we know ourselves better than anyone else possible could. But Humans have unique talents and one of those is the ability to lie to oneself.

Given the task of listing our good and bad qualities, (and you will be given the task!), some of us can come up with long lists of bad points (mostly imaginary and not one being "Too negative"); some others long lists of good points (again with lots of imagination and wishful thinking). We can run off such lists so quickly, examine them so cursorily, that they mean little.

Part of the problem is, these lists divide a person's nature into "good" and "bad"; people are more truly a sum of these, that cannot be divided. Some "good" aspects taken to extremes are very bad for a person. A giving, selfless person may tend to give so much she has nothing left for herself and some "bad" aspects in appropriate measure are healthy and necessary. Imagine how much better off above person would be with a touch of selfishness! Both go into making each of us a unique individual.

Acknowledging the good things in our lives that come from "bad" qualities or habits, and discovering the amount of bad in our lives caused by our "good" qualities or habits, makes us more aware of actions and thus better able to act well; makes us happier, more balanced people. We accept that we are not perfect. We accept the "bad", instead of trying to hide it, deny it, whatever; and use it for betterment of self.

So, what does this have to do with Witchcraft? Lets now look at the rest of the quote — to Know the Way. Without satisfying the first part — To Know Thyself, we never be more than posers and wanna bes on any religious Path that calls for direct experience of Deity. If we know Self, we can see where Self and Divine meet, where they diverge. If we know Self, we can interpret omens, divination, oracles better by knowing what is there, separate from what we feel.

Discovery of Deity is discovery of Self — one can know Deity only as well as one knows Self.

Every lesson in this course will teach about Self- how we perceive things, how we feel about things, why we see, think and feel the way we do.

So now that we've dug out our nasty sides and found they're not so bad, let's continue finding out what kind of people we are.

Before we walk on the Path we need to know about our Ethics and Morals. These affect what we see on the Path, and the ease of walking it. We need to know where we stand on such issues as deforestation, fur wearing, meat eating, abortion, capital punishment, genetic engineering and we need to know why. Any idiot can have an opinion. Walking the Pagan Path requires thinking.

It's all well and good to say "I don't eat meat because it violates the Rede, which says Harm None." But a thinking pagan will realize that vegetables are no less alive than animals. A thinking Pagan might come to the conclusion that perhaps the Rede is meant for Human social interaction, and means 'harm no Humans'. Or a thinking Pagan might consider that perhaps the Rede is not meant to be taken literally, since eating harms something and not eating harms Self. How it’s viewed is determined by personal ethics and morals.
Ethics N That branch of philosophy which studies the principles of right and wrong in human conduct the moral principles which determine the rightness or wrongness of particular acts or activities.
Morals 1Adj 2N pl 1 Concerned with right and wrong and the distinction between them 2 Principles of conduct

(both from Webster’s)

The Wiccan Rede is an Ethical/Moral guideline for living well.
"An it harm none, do as you will."

It is similar to the Christian Golden Rule
"Do unto others as you would have others do unto you."

It has been my experience that all positive, life-affirming religions share a similar ethic. Yes, yes, we're all familiar with Christian Fundamentalists, but there are Pagan Fundamentalists, too — Witch wars wouldn't start if we gave each other the tolerance we're so fond of preaching. Personal "flaws" have a way of screwing up a perfectly good moral guideline.

Why are our moral guidelines so hard to follow? Because we need to aspire to be better than we are. We need to write it down in catchy phrases so we can remind ourselves daily to compare our actions to it, and see if they measure up. The greatest damage Satan causes is, in my opinion, that He allows people to refuse responsibility for their actions or lack thereof.

If to Know Thyself is to Know the Way, exploring the parts of the Way already known and how we feel about it, how we interpret it reveals more of both — Self and Way.

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