To vote, or not to vote. That is the Question!

As some of you may have noticed there is an election looming, and all the parties are fighting for our vote. But almost every election the numbers of people not voting is a significant proportion of the electorate, since 2000 its been running at over 30% not bothering to vote. [2]

But do we, as citizens, have a duty, an obligation, to vote? And more particularly does a Pagan have a moral / religious obligation to vote?

I would argue that we do, but to support that view I would like to look at one or two reasons for voting. Firstly within Wicca, and quite a few other Pagan traditions there is the concept of some sort of ‘law of return’. The idea that every decision we make, every action we take has an impact that one way or another will impact back on us. From the ideas around Karma to the rule of 3 in Wicca [3] we see that Pagan traditions support the idea of our actions coming back to us.

But remember that deciding not to vote is exactly that, a decision and an action, though in this case the ‘Action’ is not to do something, and as a decision / action the law of return tells us that there will be a consequence. Not voting will not isolate you from the election or its consequences, the return will be felt in both the normal world and the magical realm. There is unfortunately no hiding from the election.

Perhaps we think that what happens today really wont impact me, that beyond the usual tax rises / cuts I won’t be impacted by the longer term decisions of government. Sometimes it’s tempting to think you wouldn’t be impacted to changes to the big ticket items, education, health, social security, personal freedom and privacy or other policies remember this is not our only existence. Most pagans believe in reincarnation so while changes to education may not impact you in this life now, If in this life you have good health and never needed to rely on the state for financial support, what about the next life (1)? – No unfortunately there is no hiding from the election and its ramification, both long and short term!

Many of us experienced discrimination or simple difficulties in living our faith. Not being given the respect in the workplace accorded to other faiths, time off for religious holidays perhaps? And its not so long ago that Paganism was linked to abuse and even now the press that any chance they can to link things to paganism, Linking Pagans to horse mutilations for example! – not voting is accepting the situation, accepting that society, and those in positions of power, can continue to marganalise and discriminate against pagans rather than working to change it no matter how small the change made by voting may be – There really is hiding from election.

And as Pagans we generally accept that all things are linked, we see this in ideas around sympathetic magic and homeopathy. This holds try between people, even people of other faiths and statins in life. The duty to consider has been expressed as part of pagan philosophy as far back as the first century C.E. [4]. There is an obligation to think of the rest of society even if you can think of no reason to vote for your own needs / reasons – no there is simply no hiding from the election

But what if there is simply no party / candidate that you feel happy to vote for? There is no cause to pick the best of a bad lot, you do not have to choose the lesser of many evils. Go to the polling station and spoil your ballot paper. Scribble on it, write rude words or draw a picture. It won’t count as a vote towards any party but it is recorded and reported on. The number of spoilt ballots can be used as a protest, you are telling ‘them’ that you want something different.

So in answer to my original question, as a Pagan, a witch or a druid, a citizen there is an obligation to vote, even if it is for ‘None of the above!’


[1] The witches are firm believers in reincarnation, and they say that ‘once a witch always a witch. – Gerald Gardner


[3] ‘Mind the Three-fold Laws you should three times bad and three times good.’

[4] As thou thyself art a component part of a social system, so let every act of thine be a component part of social life. Whatever act of thine that has no reference, either immediately or remotely, to a social end, this tears asunder thy life, and does not allow it to be one, and it is of the nature of a mutiny. – marcus aurelius IX, 23


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