Fun Fact Time:
Like many uncertain baby witches, I spent a block of my youth getting my wand wet in Wicca.
Let’s face it, there’s not a world where an outcast girl growing up in a single wide trailer wouldn’t be infatuated with the idea of Wicca. The songs, the rituals, the connections with the gods and goddesses, it was everything to me. I was a huge fan of To Ride A Silver Broomstick by Silver Ravenwolf. Everything about her and the book seemed immensely cooler that than the life I was living. The book became almost another appendage of mine, I was hardly seen without it. But like most things deemed THE MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER!!! In those precious pre-teen years, it eventually lost its shine. Like a pair of second-hand shoes, Wicca became something too tight and strange. It just didn’t fit me.
One of the lessons that did stick from my splash in the kiddie pool of Wicca was the Wiccan Rede. The full rede is long in that Terms and Conditions kind of way. It’s sing song-y advice about the Old Ones, the Moon’s phases, and speaking little but listening much. Basically, it’s LifeProTips with a NeoPagan slant. Most people boil it down to an easy to remember eight word maxim:
An it harm none, do what ye will
Basically, it’s the same philosophy as the 1969 hit “It’s Your Thing” by the Isley Brothers (record label drama aside). If you aren’t hurting anyone, by all means, go on with your bad self. It’s an acknowledgement that you are free to do what you need and/or want to do without having to worry about a series of expectations hanging over you. It’s the idea that you are free of sin or commandments and are able to live the best life you can.
I want to stop here and mention Thelema. Developed in the early 1900s by everyone’s favorite eccentric Aleister Crowley, Thelema is the spiritual belief structure based on the Western Mystery Traditions. Basically, Aleister went to Egypt with his then wife and had a spiritual occurrence that paved the way for his development of this sometimes religion/sometimes philosophy that he brought back and spread to his influential friends. The basis of Thelema, also known as the Law of Thelema is
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the law, love under will.
You can see how this and the Wiccan Rede are similar. The difference is that with Thelema, harming none is left out and love is added. There’s enough here to for its own post, so I’ll tackle that at another time. Stay tuned.
From that basic validation of the Wiccan Rede and Law of Thelema comes the often quoted and frequently over shared “Do No Harm But Take No Shit.”
No doubt you’ve seen this one on your daily scrollings on social media. It’s a solid philosophy that is kind of the bastard child of the two other ones. It has purpose and meaning as well as a much needed importance placed on the individual. Yes, we should not harm others, but we should also protect ourselves. Sometimes doing what thou wilt is not taking shit. It makes sense right?
So if “Do No Harm But Take No Shit” is the child of the Wiccan Rede and The Law of Thelema, my new adage is its redneck cousin:
Bless Their Hearts, But Take No Shit
Any Southerner worth their salt knows that the phrase “Bless your heart” has a whole mess of meanings. The phrase can mean anything from “Well good for you!” to, “I’m so sorry” to “Damn, you’re an idiot” and to my personal favorite, the trying to look sweet when you’re really being ugly “ go fuck yourself”. It’s a phrase that fluctuates from love to sympathy, to passive aggressive hostility by vocal inflection alone.
That versatility makes it the perfect partner for the “take no shit” mindset. No matter what your intentions are for the other person, you are prepared not to take an ounce of their nonsense. And while you may not always be supporting them lovingly, you and your smug opinions probably aren’t doing much harm. We all entertain our own personal judgments from time to time. But in a perfect world, we do what we can to keep them personal. And like the Law of Thelema, the phrase indicates we are in fact doing what we will, even if it is in a backhanded, sided eye sort of way.
There’s a lot of obligation that comes with expressing concern and showing empathy towards someone. Often because we feel sorry or attached or even in love with someone it’s expected that we allow them their vices. Even if those vices are harmful to us, we are supposed to overlook them. Love prevails over all, right? In believing that, abusive behaviors are granted a pardon. Wounds are allowed to fester to save face and prevent the assailant pain. It’s not long until the rose-coloured glasses that society gave you wreck your eyesight permanently.
While it’s true that everyone has a dark side, a less than pleasant persona, it’s also true that we don’t have to put up with it. We can love and care for them without putting up with their shit. You can’t keep someone else warm by setting yourself on fire. You’ll burn out, but it will be long after they’ve already walked away.
So bless their hearts, in whichever way that works for you. But remember, no matter what path you follow, don’t take any of their shit. You have enough to carry, you don’t need to add more.