THE FOURTH REDE – THE GREAT WORK
Keep pure your highest ideal; strive ever towards it; let naught stop
you or turn you aside.
To Moondaughter, men and women were children of the Lord and Lady in more senses
than one. Not only are we the offspring of Their sacred joining, but we are also
children in the sense that we are immature. We have not yet grown into the
spiritual and ethical maturity of which we are capable.
Moondaughter taught that the human children of the Lord and the Lady are in the
process of growth, a time during which they must build for themselves that
nobility of character that is their natural inheritance. Moondaughter’s students
learned that we cannot look elsewhere for salvation, but must build our
characters by our own actions. This is the Great Work.
Nobility of character, however, was only the outer aspect of the Great Work,
according to Moondaughter. The inner aspect was mystical union with the Lord and
Lady. Mysticism and ethics were for Moondaughter converging lines, each of which
must be energetically pursued. To neglect one would obstruct progress in the
The Threefold Law
It is to Moondaughter that I owe my understanding of the Threefold Law, the
Wiccan precept that whatever a person does, good or evil, returns to her
Every action, Moondaughter taught, first affects the self directly by leaving
its imprint on the character of the actor. Second, it affects the target of the
action, with whom the actor is in relationship, and the effects feedback upon
the actor through that relationship. Finally, every action affects the
environment in which the actor must live — ultimately, the entire universe —
and thus feeds back again upon the actor.
Thus the Great Work is a transformation of self which we pursue through our
actions and our relationships. It is the realization of our nature as children
of the Lord and Lady; and — since each of us is part of the web of
relationships which connect all that exists — it is at the same time a
transformation of the universe as a whole.
Mind and Body as Lover and Beloved
Moondaughter taught that the Great Work could be divided into three interrelated
aspects, each of which establishes a relationship of lover and beloved. The
first aspect of the Great Work consists of bringing one’s own mind and body into
the relationship of lover and beloved. Externally, this relationship results in
the opening of the inner senses, and therefore much of magical development is
concerned with this small part of the Great Work.
The union of mind and body, however, has an ethical dimension as well as a
magical one. Moondaughter taught that perfect unity of mind and body could only
be achieved when the actions that result from the mind/body interaction are
consistently based on Will rather than desire — a transition that requires more
than a little self-discipline.
It is possible (and unfortunately not uncommon) for mind and body to form a
relationship in actions that contradict the Will. Rape, for example, is a
perversion of sexuality which develops a dysfunctional relationship between the
mind and body of the rapist and corrupts the Work within him. Thus, living by
the Wiccan Rede — an’ it harm none, do what ye will — is a first step toward
accomplishing this first aspect of the Great Work.
The Sacred Marriage
The second aspect of the Great Work is the Sacred Marriage. Moondaughter taught
that for most of us this means that a man and a women come together as lover and
beloved, not merely physically and for a time, but on all levels and forever, in
a relationship that is in harmony with their individual Wills.
While each of us already has both Yin Self and Yang Self, union with the sacred
spouse brings Yin and Yang together in ways which transform each partner. Lover
and beloved act as priest and priestess for each other, and together they become
an embodiment of the Lord and the Lady.
The Unity of all Life
The third aspect of the Great Work is unity with all beings. This, Moondaughter
taught, is accomplished when an individual takes the entire universe as her
beloved, in a relationship in harmony with her Will.
In the lesser sense, this aspect is achieved when the individual comes to
spontaneously regard all beings with the love and compassion that the Lord and
the Lady feel for their children. In the greater sense, however, this aspect is
not achieved until humanity as a whole regards all beings with that love.
The culmination of this Work on the individual level, according to Moondaughter,
is a state in which the individual inherits the character of the Lord and the
Lady, and lives constantly in the presence of Lord and Lady. This is not a state
which I believe has been achieved by very many incarnate human beings, but I
have found it a most worthwhile goal toward which to strive.