Are The ’13 Goals of the Witch’ Being Thrown Out the Window Today?
The 13 Goals of the Witch has been attributed to Scott Cunningham and other authors, but is treated by traditionalists and non-traditional Pagans alike to be the cornerstone of what a Witch is. However, many Pagans pay lip service to these rules in public while going against them once they are in their own groups and private lives. Even our group leaders, who are supposed to support and encourage us, fail in passing on these goals and living by example. How can we be great Witches if our leaders are backstabbing and living chaotic lives? Simple. We can’t. So we have to be those leaders.
Each goal is listed with a modern explanation below, most having to do with how I see those goals being violated in our Pagan community and how to stop such behavior.
Know Thyself – This is the most important of the goals. This goal is often taken as if you are a jerk in life and you know it, then you “know yourself”. People do believe this. Know Thyself, however, means to be constantly working on yourself, to know your shortcomings and not give in to them. It means also not to make up excuses for bad behavior. If you do not know yourself or work on yourself to make yourself better and therefore be in a spot to help others become better, you might as well not be a Witch.
Know Your Craft — The Craft is a vague word for getting to know your world; because anything you learn in the world can be applied to Witchcraft. I have known natural Witches in my time that would say they could do magick without reading a single book, but these Witches I found had no sympathy or empathy with the world around them. You need to learn about religions, even Christianity, the good points and the bad, in order to see how paganism fits in the time frame of history and religion. On top of this, you need to practice, meditate and keep notes of your observations. That way you can reflect on them and share them with others.
An open mind is key, but there are a good number of Witches out there that can be as judgmental as those closed-minded. A Witch who isn’t educated in the sense of being a “world student” isn’t a true Witch.
Learn — How many of us learn from our mistakes? How many Witches redo the same hurtful actions to others without thinking, “Maybe I shouldn’t start any ill will in the Pagan community?” The role of learning goes way beyond books and knowing your Craft, but how you apply the knowledge gained. It is to learn how to fix problems, heal hurt and bring people together instead of gossiping, sneering at the nemesis coven down the road or sitting back and doing nothing when you want a problem to be solved. This learning is key to being a moral Witch. We only will repeat ignorant actions if we never learn to stop them.
Have Patience — Patience is essential for the Craft. You have to have the patience of a spider, still in its web in order to deal with others and your life goals. People take advantage of patience, such in covens where one person does all the work and the others come and go when they please, not understanding the violation of trust they are causing. They hurt this person by thinking that the person will always have patience with them. It is up to every single witch to be patient and also not violate the patience of others, even if they have a lot of it. It is the one goal that is used most by others disrespectfully.
“Don’t like the childish way I am acting? Don’t you have patience? A Witch has patience, so you shouldn’t be upset I am here two hours late.” Don’t be one of those people. Don’t turn patience on those in your life.
Apply Knowledge With Wisdom — A Witch can know a lot about the world. But Witches that run off at the mouth about this knowledge can be show offs. A true Witch takes what he or she has learning and tapers it with wisdom, also known as tact. If you are a leader, don’t put down others because they don’t understand what you know.
If you are a student and your coven is being immature, speak out about it; use your knowledge to help to solve the problem. Add action into the mix of knowledge and wisdom, and you can be a Witch who does good for yourself, your group, the Pagan community and for humanity and the world. Use your knowledge for good too, not to put someone else down. Set a good example to others about what a Witch is.
Achieve Balance – Witches try to live lives of balance, not chaos. Yet many Witches try to live lives of drama and anger. Some think being a Witch will add spice or drama to their lives. Some of these Witches do it intentionally; some may have an inner problem they need to work on. They might not mean to cause harm by the chaos in their lives, but give into it.
A Witch’s life should be like the calm sea. Not that storms can’t rage in the sea, but problems are taken care of. Stress is controlled and moderate. A Witch tries to combat anxiety and depression, not let illness take over them. A Witch tackles problems head on and doesn’t let others do it for them. Sometimes in the Pagan community, people try to hurt those who have balance. Maybe it is human nature, but it is a sad display of our Witchcraft community to hurt someone just because your life is chaotic and theirs isn’t.
Keep Your Words In Good Order – This means, no gossip and gossip runs rampant in our community. I’ve known Witches who have gone out of their way to say insulting things to others. If you wonder why the Pagan community isn’t taken seriously, this is why. You can’t be a good Witch if you are smiling and talking to someone at a Pagan event, only to stab him or her in the back once you are done. I’ve had people praise a Pagan ritual only to laugh at it to others once it was done.
If everyone would lock their lips and not try to hurt others with words, more problems would be solved or probably wouldn’t happen in the first place. Your words are your honor and those who use them badly don’t have honor for the Craft. If your words don’t ring true, people can’t take you seriously. They will never know if you mean you will show up for event or can be trusted if your words don’t match your actions. So say what you mean and follow through with your actions. If you say you are going to do something, do it. No excuses.
This goal can be lifted if you are having abuse problems with your coven. By all means if someone is hurting you mentally, psychologically or physically or threatens you in a pagan group or coven, let the Pagan community know. This not only helps you, it also helps those who might end up getting the same teacher or stop them from having a bad experience. Don’t let the seriousness of this goal stop you from using your words to make things right. Sometimes a little speaking of the mind works miracles, even if it is tough love.
Keep Your Thoughts in Good Order – Try to solve problems. Sometimes people don’t care how you feel so you have to take the time to get over that and move on. It is hard not to hold malice if someone hurts you, but holding in means thoughts about a person inside yourself will only hurt you. Try to talk and if that person doesn’t wish to listen, move on. Don’t dwell on bad things in your life. This goal is much like keeping your words in order.
Speak out when a situation is bad; use your thoughts to try to heal it. Think good of people. If you can’t then try not to think about the person or situation at all, if you tried your best to clear it up. But please, use your thoughts and words to try to problem solve instead of doing nothing. Make your thoughts strong and positive. Focus on goals. Live those goals. And be aware getting over problems can take a long time. Give yourself that time.
There are comments in our community that state there will never be any more Scott Cunninghams or Doreen Valientes. But we can be. Why can’t I use that as a goal? Why defeat myself with the thought I can never be grand? These thoughts are what hurt our community. We need thoughts with more ambition. We need to think we can all be leaders and that starts now!
Celebrate Life — Celebrate your own life, the lives of others, the lives of animals and nature. This means not harming nature. This one can be tricky if you own a car. But try to respect nature by being as eco-friendly as you can. Some Pagans I have encountered smoke like chimneys, flicking their butts into the street and littering the road with pieces of paper from their cars. It is like kicking the Goddess in the face. She made you this great world and you litter and make it toxic.
Take care of others, work in the community, donate items to your Pagan community, and ask how you can be of service. It isn’t only about having fun, but when you celebrate life, you should have that too. You are a Pagan, connected to all life. What hurts humanity, should hurt you. You should want to take action, even in small ways, like recycling or spending time helping those less fortunate.
Be happy for what you have. Maybe of us Pagans come from countries where we think luxury items are needed for our survival, but we don’t take time to reflect how lucky we are to live in places where we can get an education and have our wants taken care of. One should pray to the God and Goddess for these gifts.
Observe insects and other animals. Pay attention to the value of life. Take joy in the flight of a month or the jumping of a cricket. Or the smile of a friend.
Attune With The Cycles of the Earth– I am surprised by the number of Witches who don’t celebrate the Sabbats or Esbats. Even if you don’t have a ritual, one can toast Demeter during Lammas, for example or harvest berries during Strawberry Moon. Talk to animals and trees. It may sound overly hippie, but you will find you connect. As I said before, many Pagans I have seen, even leaders, throw trash into the street or don’t keep the Sabbats. How will students learn if their leader doesn’t care if it’s the full moon or not? Again, they won’t.
Not keeping the Sabbats also creates a wishy-washy year for students and missing pages in their Books of Shadows. If a group can’t meet, a ritual should be provided for those to do at home. Solitary rituals should be encouraged. I find writing my own rituals helps me develop as a person, because I put myself and my goals into them. They transform me into a better person.
So attune yourself with Mother Gaia, plant native plants, treat animals with respect, acknowledge and learn the cycles of the moon and names of the seasons. Even their symbols. If you don’t live in a place with four seasons, use the ebbs and tides of your areas or imagine how it must be to live in a place with snow in December.
Being a transplant from the Midwest to Southern California, it is hard to do, but must be done. There are lessons for each season to that reflect into one’s own life. It is hard to be a Witch without knowing the land, the grass, the sun, the moon and the stars.
Keep Yourself Healthy – This means, healthy food, no smoking, no excessive drinking, exercise and no harmful activities affecting the body. Yes, I know pagans who tan in tanners, who smoke, who drink and who have even done drugs. This violates the temple the Goddess has given you.
I am not saying you can’t have a burger if you want it, or a cigar at a party, but constant use of these or addiction to them can hurt your temple and also hurt your mind and your outlook on life. I don’t think one has to be a vegan to be a better witch, but a healthy diet helps. I do eat meat, but sparingly. I would smoke a cigar at a party. Yet I don’t have addictions to these things.
As your body ages, you realize you may want to become healthier and quit even the occasional cigarette or dinner of fast food. That happened to me! I even know people I tried to teach meditation too that coughed when they took long breaths because of smoking. So how can you meditate if you can’t even breathe?
Take care of yourself. Be a healthy weight. Note I didn’t say starve yourself either. A person can be a size 0 and be very unhealthy. Witches look healthy and alive. Even the Goth ones. (I would consider myself Gothy by nature.) Take care of yourself before you have to see the doctor.
Meditate – Meditation is a state of mind. It can be from a book or walking along a shady path in the woods. All Pagans should make time for personal meditation and reflection. They should make time to talk to their deities or to nature. This can be a time to write out one’s problems in a journal or to be creative. To me, this should be at least an hour a day, or more ideally, an hour in the morning and an hour at night.
If you don’t think you have time for meditation, you do. Turn off the TV, get off the computer and find a silent place to be. Let your thoughts go. Sit quietly and hear the world around you. Fall into that noise and be. Get books on meditation if you can’t focus. All Witches should be able to meditate because you need to be able to focus in rituals and to direct magickal energy, for example, in spellwork. It is a very crucial part of our religion, being able to focus our will.
Honor the Goddess and God — I wonder when this one went out of style? I have run into a lot of people who tend to speak very vaguely about Gods. As if I need to hide my Athena worship from someone who is into Freya as not to offend their sensibilities. There are a lot of Gods out there and some pagans who don’t even have Gods, but to me, there is nothing more spiritual than making an altar to a God and praising them. I feel it connects action to ritual. It tells the ritual where to go.
So what if someone does a ritual to Shiva when I only worship Diana? Can’t I get something out of that ritual as well? I also find Pagans calling and dismissing Godforms like they are puppets to do their bidding.
What happened to thanking the Gods? Thanking the Sun and the Moon, being grateful for each day given? Listen to what the Gods say to you. If you have a pantheon, read up on the Gods in it. Sometimes I go to rituals and people, even though they are in a coven with a certain pantheon, the members of that group can’t even recite the names and myths of their Gods. It’s a shame.
Study up on the Gods, read mythology and folklore; learn how stories connect to people in real life. You will learn much. Planting an organic apple in the ground for Venus or pouring spring water in the ground for Elen of the Ways is good practice to showing the Gods you appreciate them.
Looking at these goals, I can see why they have stood the test of time and people use them as public domain, though I know that Scott Cunningham’s Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner has these goals phrased like this but I have seen it in many other forms. Using this goal list as a moral framework, a Witch can succeed in magick and working in the community, both the Pagan one and world of humanity and nature.
As Witches, we need to go back to structure in our practice and not freeform, to turn our passivity and bad character traits into ones that benefit life, from without to within. I urge you to print these goals out and follow them. I challenge you. And in meeting the challenge, we can be better Witches and better people.