Today many Wiccans adhere to the ethical code known as the Wiccan Rede, which is typically expressed in the eight words “An it harm none, do as ye will.” Although the Rede does not seem to have been part of the early Wiccan tradition, it quickly evolved as a popular ethical code, fulfilling the role of moral compass which is found in different magickal traditions.
Witches “… are inclined to the morality of the legendary Good King Pausol, ‘Do what you like so long as you harm no one...’”.
Gardner’s comments in The Meaning of Witchcraft indicate that he took at least some of his inspiration from King Pausol. But who was King Pausol? Searching for him revealed Pierre Louÿs's work of 1901, The Adventures of King Pausole which seems to be what Gardner was writing about, making an error in the spelling of his name. In this book the character of King Pausole recommends that one should: “Do no wrong or harm to thy neighbour, and observing this, do as thou please.”
Another concept for the Wiccan Rede however, seems to emerge from one of Gardner’s Books of Shadows in the line “And for long we have obeyed this law, Harm none”. This appeared at the end of the so-called “Craft Laws” which contain the laws of conduct presented to covens. These laws are generally believed to be a later addition to the Book of Shadows.
However, how plausible is it that the Wiccan Rede originates with the obscure writings of Louÿs? From various accounts we know that Gerald Gardner also met, on more than one occasion, with Aleister Crowley. In 1904 Crowley received The Book of the Law through his wife Rose whilst in Cairo. The Book of the Law was a transmitted text that declared a new aeon, the new age, was upon us. Herein we find the core axiom of Crowley’s later work:
“39. The word of the Law is THELEMA.
40. Who calls us Thelemites will do no wrong, if he look but close into the word. For there are therein Three Grades, the Hermit, and the Lover, and the man of Earth. Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.”
And a few lines later:
“57. Invoke me under my stars! Love is the law, love under will. Nor let the fools mistake love; for there are love and love. There is the dove, and there is the serpent. Choose ye well!”
The lines “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the law, Love under will” were to become one of the most famous occult doctrines of the entire twentieth century and continue to be so today. Some believe that though The Book of the Law was said to have been dictated by a praeterhuman entity, named Aiwass, it is possible that Crowley was inspired in his use of the term by Francois Rabelais' novel Gargantua, which was first published in 1534 and in which we find the following:
"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 honour."
Extract from: Wicca: Magical Beginnings written by d’Este & Rankine, 2008 (Avalonia.) PB / Kindle @ https://amzn.to/3Ay4HJr. Shared here with the intention to inspire and inform the now and future generations interested in Wicca and other Pagan traditions inspired by it.