The Wiccan Rede forms the cornerstone of our belief in that it places responsibility for our lives solely with each of us. While we get to do exactly as we want--and not obey someone else's agenda--we must take responsibility for our actions. In detail:
The second part: Do as ye will tells us that we have total freedom to act as we see fit and not what someone else tells us to do.
The first part: An it harm none says we must not harm any living thing, the planet (which harms future generations) and especially ourselves.
This gets a bit tricky as the act of living often harms living things. Here we must weigh for ourselves all outcomes so that the greatest good is achieved with the least harm. Life is about the choices we make.
The Rede, while similar to the core tenants of the majority of religions is slightly different from the Golden Rule in that we are not commanded to do unto other. We leave that up to the individual as long as we do them no harm.
The word Rede does not mean law or commandment as is sometimes presumed but comes from Middle English meaning "advice" or "counsel". Wicca has no laws, no dogma, but rather provides a path toward enlightenment and oneness with God/dess based solely on our own individual beings.
The first origins of the Rede are from a 1534 work by François Rabelais"DO AS THOU WILT because men that are free, of gentle birth, well bred and at home in civilized company possess a natural instinct that inclines them to virtue and saves them from vice. This instinct they name their honor"
Aleister Crowley's in his 1904 work The Book of the Law expresses the Rede Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law
More recently, the Rede became the center piece of Doreen Valiente's 1964 poem derived from Gerald Gardner's statement that witches "are inclined to the morality of the legendary Good King Pausol, 'Do what you like so long as you harm none'"
There is also a long version of the Rede poem from Green Egg magazine by Lady Gwen Thompson published in 1975.
Bide within the Law you must, in perfect Love and perfect Trust.
Live you must and let to live, fairly take and fairly give.
For tread the Circle thrice about to keep unwelcome spirits out.
To bind the spell well every time, let the spell be said in rhyme.
Light of eye and soft of touch, speak you little, listen much.
Honor the Old Ones in deed and name,
let love and light be our guides again.
Deosil go by the waxing moon, chanting out the joyful tune.
Widdershins go when the moon doth wane,
and the werewolf howls by the dread wolfsbane.
When the Lady's moon is new, kiss the hand to Her times two.
When the moon rides at Her peak then your heart's desire seek.
Heed the North winds mighty gale, lock the door and trim the sail.
When the Wind blows from the East, expect the new and set the feast.
When the wind comes from the South, love will kiss you on the mouth.
When the wind whispers from the West, all hearts will find peace and rest.
Nine woods in the Cauldron go, burn them fast and burn them slow.
Birch in the fire goes to represent what the Lady knows.
Oak in the forest towers with might, in the fire it brings the God's
insight. Rowan is a tree of power causing life and magick to flower.
Willows at the waterside stand ready to help us to the Summerland.
Hawthorn is burned to purify and to draw faerie to your eye.
Hazel-the tree of wisdom and learning adds its strength to the bright fire burning.
White are the flowers of Apple tree that brings us fruits of fertility.
Grapes grow upon the vine giving us both joy and wine.
Fir does mark the evergreen to represent immortality seen.
Elder is the Lady's tree burn it not or cursed you'll be.
Four times the Major Sabbats mark in the light and in the dark.
As the old year starts to wane the new begins, it's now Samhain.
When the time for Imbolc shows watch for flowers through the snows.
When the wheel begins to turn soon the Beltane fires will burn.
As the wheel turns to Lamas night power is brought to magick rite.
Four times the Minor Sabbats fall use the Sun to mark them all.
When the wheel has turned to Yule light the log the Horned One rules.
In the spring, when night equals day time for Ostara to come our way.
When the Sun has reached it's height time for Oak and Holly to fight.
Harvesting comes to one and all when the Autumn Equinox does fall.
Heed the flower, bush, and tree by the Lady blessed you'll be.
Where the rippling waters go cast a stone, the truth you'll know.
When you have and hold a need, harken not to others greed.
With a fool no season spend or be counted as his friend.
Merry Meet and Merry Part bright the cheeks and warm the heart.
Mind the Three-fold Laws you should three times bad and three times good.
When misfortune is enow wear the star upon your brow.
Be true in love this you must do unless your love is false to you.
These Eight words the Rede fulfill:
"An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will"
Other forms of the Rede:
Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill, An it harm none do what ye will. Note: this is the first published form of the couplet, quoted from Doreen Valiente in 1964. Later published versions include "ye" instead of either "the" or "it": "Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill – an ye harm none, do what ye will" (Earth Religion News, 1974); "Eight words ye Wiccan Rede fulfill – An' it harm none, Do what ye will" (Green Egg, 1975)
An it harm none, do what thou wilt
An it harm none, do as thou wilt
That it harm none, do as thou wilt
Do what you will, so long as it harms none
However you say it, the Rede is an essential part of the Wiccan experience. Honoring the Rede allows each of us to live our lives in peace and harmony with our selves and our world.
So may it be