The question of sin was a heated conversation in my religious studies classes. We were Buddhists, yogis and a Wiccan who did not believe in a God outside of creation ( or did not believe in God at all), who did not believe in punishment or damnation.
Sometimes, the aversion to the concept of sin would make it difficult to relate to Christian text. Eventually, it became clear that we had to think differently about sin in order to really engage the texts. We began to think about what sin meant from our own religious perspectives.
In my case, I had already lessened my anger around the term. It happened when I was introduced to the idea that sin was “whatever takes you away from God”*. Boom. It was a miracle. That one phrase was like poetry to me because it took out all the damnation and punishment. It also made rejecting sin sound like a daily practice. You do what brings you closer to God to avoid sin. It was also so much more relatable. While someone Christian might take that to mean do not have sex before marriage because it takes you away from God. I could relate it to when I am not doing practices that bring me closer to the Goddess.
When we substitute God for divinity or sacredness, then sin holds a whole other notion of personal responsibility and wisdom. In the Buddhist tradition, we can likely “sin” to what leads you away from enlightenment, service to others or a healthy mind. An example of this would be virtuous or non-virtuous karma. These are not a good/bad reward system. They are not a punishment system. Instead, non-virtuous Karma is what is created by and leads to unhealthy emotion patterns (Kleshas). Kleshas stand in our way of having a healthy mind (somewhat like that sin that keep us from God).
In Wicca, God is Divine Immanence. God is and is in nature. God is in us and all creation. So what would be sinful in Wicca. To me, Wiccan “sin” would be whatever causes imbalance in nature and whatever makes us experience disconnection from The Goddess, The Divine, Nature and Humanity. If I did a spell that causes an imbalance or was against nature or if I was cruel to an innocent human, I would see that as “sinful.”
With all that said, Christianity, Buddhism and Wicca are not completely comparable if at all. Also, sin is unique to certain religions like Christianity. The theology of sin does not really work in religions like Wicca. However, it is so helpful to ponder religious concepts that challenge us, to translate into our religious words. In this case, the concept of sin can be a doorway into to thinking about what is important in our Wiccan practices. And what makes us have regret, fear or imbalances. What do we “punish’ ourselves for. And what can we do to be closer to The Goddess and Nature.
* I do not remember where I first heard this but it seems to be a take on " Sin separates us from God" (Isaiah 59:2).