Pagan Ethics and Morals
Last year we asked the members of our circle to think about Pagan Ethics & Morals and what those words/ideas meant to them… Rowan expressed “One of the questions that people ask (or silently wonder about), especially in the ‘good ol’ South’ is something along the lines of, ‘if you don’t believe in the Bible, then where do you get your morals/ethics from?”, or ‘how do you know the difference between right and wrong?’”
Here were my thoughts on this topic:
My morals & ethical code don’t come from my spiritual beliefs, they come from my parents. I was lucky enough to grow up with parents who allowed me the freedom to explore many different spiritual paths as a child, but before they sent me out in the world to explore they made sure that I knew certain things about how to behave and the difference between right and wrong. My dad was in the Navy and appreciated a sense of order and his expectation was that respect was earned, not freely given (despite age/status/position). Both my mom & dad taught my brother and I to respect them through love, not fear or power. We learned early on that dad was easier to make budge than mom when it came to what we wanted, but they were both fair for the most part. I don’t remember them sitting me down to tell me what was right and what was wrong, but I do remember living & learning as I went.
If I made a mistake, i.e.: was sassy to a great aunt or grandparent, they would correct me and explain what was and wasn’t acceptable and over time I came to appreciate praise over reprimands. I was taught to share with others, to help when asked, to be kind to others, not to use language around other adults that I wouldn’t with my parents, to listen without speaking, not to steal, not to lie, leave the land as I found it, treat animals with reverence and kindness, say please and thank you, keep my hands to myself, don’t give up, try… try again, admit when you’re wrong & apologize… you know, all those things most kids learn without really realizing they were learning them.
As an adult and as a witch, I reflect on the times my parents, other family members, teachers or friends taught me a life lesson and I realized that not much has changed. Those are the same things I still try to strive for in my life today.
Kindness. Respect. Honesty. Integrity. Reverence. Hospitality. Perseverance. Love. Personal-Accountability. Fairness.
In addition to those, there is a code of ethics that I abide by as a nurse. It deals with treating patients with dignity, practicing with respect & compassion, treating patients as equals despite socioeconomic status, race, religion, gender, sexual identity, etc., about being an advocate for the patient, protecting health, safety and rights of the patient, to practice competently, collaborating with nursing peers, ancillary staff, doctors and therapies when necessary on behalf of patients, represent nursing positively through articulating core nursing values & maintaining the integrity of the profession and practices.
I think about what kind of example I want to be to others in my personal and professional life, as well as in the greater community. While I know that some of what I have learned has shaped the kind of witch and nurse I am, that has more to do with where I came from than what I learned from the Craft.