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by Silver Knight

At a Beltane festival I attended some time ago, I heard that a few of the festival-goers were having barbequed rabbit. I joked, "having fluffy bunnies for dinner, eh?" The adults who heard the joke fell over laughing, but the kids looked confused. One asked, " What is fluffy bunny supposed to mean?"

"Fluffy Bunny" a term that is tossed around in pagan chat rooms and joked about by some and taken offense at by others. In short, a "Fluffy Bunny" is a newager or pagan who applies inflexible absolutism to the moral guide known as the Wiccan Rede. The Rede states, " An ye harm none, do as thou wilt." The Wiccan Rede is the divine scripture that was handed down to them from the Goddess on high from the very beginning of time; or so the typical "fluffy bunny" would try to convince you to believe.

Like Wicca itself, the Rede is a modern reconstruction of practices that draw from ancient sources and very good new sources as well. Wicca, the modern religion, dates from 1951, with the works of an OTO member named Gerald Gardner. Gardner learned from many teachers of varying adeptness, including such figures like Aleister Crowley. Does that make Wicca less valid? No, newness of belief does not invalidate a belief. At one time, the society at large believed the Earth was the center of the universe, flat, and supported on the backs of gigantic elephants. The new belief that the Earth was somewhat spherical, and hung in the vacuum of space proved to be the more valid belief on the strength of direct proof experienced since the Renaissance.

The Rede, like Wicca, also did not come into existence until later. Later enough that books from the 1960's did not mention it. The Rede was written as a guide in the 1970's because of a lack of a measure for beliefs. The principles of belief were written in 1974 and the Rede was soon before that. Does that make the Rede a fake? No, the Rede is a guide, not the Decalogue from on high. The Decalogue is the Ten Commandments, given to Moses, according to the Torah. The Rede expanded on the Thelemic Law: "Do as Thou wilt is the whole of the Law." Some people need a more detailed explanation of simple concepts like personal responsibility, so Gardner added, "Harm none." Ethics 101 dumbed down slightly so even baby boomers can figure it out.

The Rede is a superior start point in any ethical training. Pagans who mature use it as the starting point of the inner ethical discussion over any act they may do or choose not to do. "Fluffy Bunnies" apply rigid absolutism to this ethical process, an unfortunate piece of baggage from their pre-pagan beliefs (usually a monotheistic religion such as Christianity). The result is spiritual bondage, not unlike the bondage the followers of the Pharisees experienced with their rigid interpretations to the Torah.

The Torah, also known as the Old Testament to you goyim types, was the Law given by God to Moses. It included an entire penal code for the nation of Israel , with many penalties ranging from restitution to death. The death penalties can be explained in the context that nations were defined by their lead deities. Worshipping another nation's god was treason. Treason in any nation (even the USA ) is punishable by death.

Trying to apply ancient laws to today's nation state usually, results in gross injustice, and draconian penalties that are not appropriate. Applying inflexible interpretations to ancient scriptures to control the actions of the congregation is how the Taliban ruled Afghanistan . I hope we pagan people know better than that with our own "Laws of the Craft." Worship of the Goddess is supposed to be fun.

The Rede has more words in it than the famous eight that any pagan can quote. There is also the line: "Live and let live, fairly take and fairly give." This line teaches me that no one has the whole story completely right, and tolerance is one of the highest virtues.

According to some very adept mages, "Nothing is true. Everything is permitted." Freedom like that is priceless.

Absolutism carries the one price no pagan should be fooled into paying: absolutism allows no dissent and this lack of dissent silences the internal ethical dialogue. This silencing can maneuver masses into actions that in afterthought are very harmful indeed.

In 1933, in a free republic, a man was elected to government office. By feeding on the fears, hatreds, and prejudices that the citizens already had, this man silenced their internal ethical dialogue and created a zealous nation that believed in their personal supremacy. Doubt about the rightness of their actions was shouted down. The battle for control of the nation was fought in the mind. The result of the rigid lockstep thinking: many millions of people dead, from war or murder, entire cities erased by firebombing, and the ruin of that nation. The man was Adolph Hitler.

Comparing new-age spiritual masters to the murderers of Nazi Germany may be harsh, but one dangerous thing they have in common. They don't allow you to disagree with their core beliefs, and this hostility to heterodoxy is what could create in the pagan community the same tyranny the Inquisition did in the Church. Goddess would want us to worship in as many diverse ways as possible. That is why a "one final truth" can never truly be found, or even should be found.

Now the Rede can be used as a good guide without worshipping the letter of it. The letter of any guide rule can kill, but the spirit of the rule is what makes a rule a good one. The Pharisees were a sect of Jewish scholars who made rulings over the Torah in the same way lawyers and courts made rulings on the US constitution. Some of the results had no connection to common sense. Other results had no connection to the original concept. By the time Jesus arrived on the scene, most of the congregation was perpetually ritually impure, and to buy, at full retail of course, sacrifices to be allowed in the temple area. Jesus cut through the complications, and reduced ally the commandments to two rules: Love God, love your neighbor. Your neighbor included any other person with whom you may interact. The bottom line is attitude, not ritual, not labels, and not "membership."

What can a pagan do when dealing with a militant "fluffy bunny?" First thing, don't try to correct them. Correcting other people's errors is how "fluffy bunnies" became that way. The only person any person has the right or obligation to control is oneself. "Fluffy bunnies" and Christians fail to remember this so frequently they create their own world of hostility where they feel like they are the persecuted few.

Secondly, if you have no obligation to the sanctimonious crusading "bunny", then avoid her. The "fluffy bunny" has no right to control your actions. You have no obligation to control hers. Not all pagans like each other in the community. The community survives by a policy of tolerance. Tolerance sometimes means agreeing to disagree on some foundational point.

Thirdly, keep an attitude of positive toleration. Most "fluffy bunnies" actually mean well, and some even grow out it when life puts them through unsolvable dilemmas. Keeping an attitude of positive toleration allows you follow the Rede in spirit. It also gives the bunny a good example to follow. Light and dark are both valid points in life and magick. Keeping them in harmony is the real trick.

What do you do if you are the annoying little rabbit? Grow up. Try challenging your assumptions by asking what if the opposite is actually true. Don't assume that other people will "recognize your authority" and follow your lead. Human nature being what it is, learn to grow skin as thick as armor plate. "Sensitivity" is a code word for intolerance. It is an overrated virtue, and usually it gets pushed into being a grievous vice.

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