Some Wiccan detractors have interpreted the Wiccan Rede to mean, "Do whatever feels good." Over the years I've encountered some people at Pagan festivals and public Circles who have demonstrated by their words and deeds that they seem to have arrived at a similar interpretation. Those who have the least to lose by being public are usually the first to go public. Unfortunately these sort of irresponsible public antics have sometimes made it very difficult for those of us with a lot to lose to follow suit.

The moment I became a cop I put myself under a spotlight of public scrutiny. The moment that I became public about being a Wiccan, this scrutiny was intensified. After all, people have been bombarded with propaganda about Witches being Satanists for years. So it was only natural to expect my department, and the public, to examine me closely and at length to see if I was really some dangerous Satanic cult member. In my case, I knew that the only way that these people could reassure themselves was to allow them to investigate me. The greater the responsibility attached to your profession, the greater the likelihood that scrutiny of this sort will be turned in your direction.

As a Wiccan Warrior, I accept this. A Warrior must be impeccable. To earn respect, you must make yourself respectable. This has meant a certain amount of sacrifice for me. I suppose I could easily have felt sorry for myself for being subjected to such scrutiny and attention. I could have called such treatment unfair and unjust. Others in my place might have felt themselves to be at the mercy of the fates; or would have felt this way, if they did not take responsibility for their actions as a Warrior should. "A warrior takes his lot, whatever it may be, and accepts it in ultimate humbleness. He accepts in humbleness what he is, not as grounds for regret, but as a living challenge." I don't seek pain and frustration. But if they come, a Warrior puts them to use.

This brings to mind two more of Al-Anon's Twelve Steps:

8. Make a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.

If my actions unexpectedly result in a harmful conclusion, I do my best to make it right again. I don't try to lay the blame on others. Saying I'm sorry is a start, but by itself it is not enough. Praying, making secret confessions, or paying alms to some deity or church may ease your conscience. But it doesn't make you more responsible and often it does not correct the problem that you created in the first place. It simply gives you a way out, a way to avoid responsibility. Accountability is an absolute necessity for a Warrior. It is a sacred trust that allows you to learn from your mistakes.

I am not saying here that Wiccan Warriors must be public about their beliefs. I am not suggesting that Wiccan Warriors should all become involved in antidefamation work or public demonstrations. What I am saying is that the Wiccan Warrior examines the circumstances of his or her life, and makes informed, realistic decisions based on the facts available. Wiccan Warriors must thoroughly evaluate the neighborhood in which they reside to determine if the risks of being public outweigh the possible gains. If you're a solitary Wiccan in a predominantly Bible-belt town, being public might not be such a wise idea. Sun Tzu once said: "Good warriors take their stand on ground where they cannot lose."

This doesn't make you any less of a Warrior. Warriors don't take stupid risks. Don Juan Matus cautions us: "A warrior ...cuts to a minimum his chances of the unforeseen... [he lives] strategically." It is not a matter of a Warrior being fearless. Only fools do not fear. But the Warrior faces his fears and deals with them. "True fearlessness is not the reduction of fear, but going beyond fear.

A friend of mine, Paul Tuitean, once told me that the difference between a soldier and a Warrior is that "soldiers march and Warriors dance." Warriors dance along the knife edge, maintaining balance of their totality. They celebrate their strength while keeping rigidly under control, only bringing it to bear when it is appropriate and unavoidable. There is an old principle in Aikido: When pushed, you pull; when pulled, you push; you find the natural course and bend with it.

This does not mean that you simply let yourself be governed by impulses. A Warrior thinks before acting, but it's not just a matter of thinking either. Some people say that it has to do with honor. Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary defines honor as "a sense of what is right, just and true; dignified respect for character, springing from probity, principle, or moral rectitude." The Wiccan Warrior must develop a fine sense of what's called "right action." Simply stated, right action is "what is right, just and true."

What is "right action" for the Wiccan Warrior? It's a sum of all of the things discussed above. A Wiccan accesses the Warrior archetype by accepting reality and making a thorough self-examination. Right action is accepting the Wiccan rede and the self-discipline and responsibility that it evokes. It's about earning respect and facing your fears.

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