by Doug and Sandy Kopf
Samhain (pronounced Sow-wen), also called Hallowmas, is the final festival in the Witches’ year. It is celebrated on October 31st. The word Samhain means ‘Summer’s End’. It is the first day of Winter and the Witch’s New Year. In earlier agricultural societies, Samhain was also the end of the Harvest, the time to put aside the seed corn for the coming Spring. It was a time for feasting, too, as the weaker animals were culled and killed. Only the livestock most likely to make it through the hard Winters were spared. Feasts consisted of any parts of the animal that couldn’t be salted and preserved. It was also considered by the Celts to be one of the Spirit Nights. It was a time to remember the ancestors and tell stories about them. At this time, when the Veils are thin, we honor our ancestors and invite them to attend our celebrations.
Although the modern calendar counts four cross-quarter seasonal celebrations, some early Celts recognized only two: Gamain (Winter’s End), on May 1st, and Samhain (Summer’s End), on November 1st. As Gamain (or Beltane) is marked by the rising of the Pleiades, so Samhain is marked by it’s setting. Many of the old Festivals were timed according to the movement of the stars, a calendar available to everyone, even to the illiterate peasantry.
Now, we are aware of howling winds, the days are short and the nights are long. Fruit trees are bare and Winter coats come out of mothballs. Storm clouds gather in the sky. Coming home in the evenings, we are aware of the darkness, the light disappearing earlier with each passing day. Checking our supermarket shelves, very little is available in the way of fresh produce. More and more often, we find ourselves in front of the frozen food counter (for some of us, our only encounter with ice)! This is not a subtle seasonal change, even in the city.
Today, at Halloween, you probably open your door and dispense candy and treats to children in adorable or frightening costumes, as their parents watch, in both pride and concern, from a respectable distance. But why do they do it? Well, today, they do it because children love candy and are game for any excuse to play dress up. (Wait a minute…that applies to most of the adults we know! Modify that to read ‘people’ love candy and costumes, not just children!). However, that wasn’t the real reason for going house to house at Samhain.
The earlier custom was called Soul-caking. Soul-cakers would go to each house, singing either a begging song or a plea for prayers for the dead. They would put on a mummers play for the residents of the house, which would consist of a challenge, a battle, a death, and a magical revival. Specially-made cakes were given to the Soul-cakers at the conclusion of their performance. Soul-caking is still the custom at Antrobus, in Cheshire, but there has been a change or two. Instead of going house-to-house, the Soul-cakers go pub-to-pub, by car! Leaving cakes and wine out for visiting ancestors is also an old custom that has carried over into many British households, even today.
The Hooden Horse, a similar but more threatening counterpart of the Beltane ‘Obby ‘Oss, is another Samhain tradition. The Hooden Horse often accompanied the Soul-cakers, with its head made from the skull of a horse, its eyes from bottoms of glass bottles and a hinged lower jaw that could snap or bite. It was held by a man, draped in a blanket or a sheet, known as the ‘Hoodener’. The origins of the word Hoodening are unknown. It may have come from ‘Wooden’ horse or ‘Woden’s horse’, or possibly from ‘Robin Hood’s horse’. According to Janet and Colin Bord (‘Earth Rites’), it most likely meant ‘hooded’, referring to the covered Hoodener. There are thirty-three recorded sites in Kent for Hooden Horse performances, but they are all before the turn of the century. The custom has been revived in Folkestone and Charing, during this century.
Like the more comic ‘Obby ‘Oss, the Hooden Horse has, as companions, a groom with a whip, several musicians and a man dressed in women’s clothing, called ‘Mollie’, who carries a besom (broom). They go from house to house and are rewarded with food and drink. The horse snaps it’s jaws and chases young women, while being restrained by the groom. In Cheshire, the horse is attached to the Soul-caker’s mummers play.
The name Soul-caking probably came from the Christian All Souls Day, but it is obviously a carryover of an earlier custom. The Church adopted November 2nd as All Souls Day in the year 998 c.e., but Frazer shows, (in ‘Adonis, Attis, Osiris’) that this was simply another case of the Church creating a holiday to explain the Pagan customs they were unable to suppress. All Saints Day, on November 1st, was recognized in the seventh century, when the Pantheon in Rome was turned into a place of Christian worship and dedicated to Mary and all the martyrs. This was probably a first attempt that didn’t quite work. The Reformation abolished All Souls Day in the Church of England, but Anglo-Catholics have revived it. All Saints Day still exists as a date in the Christian calendar.
At this time of celebration, Christians in many countries leave lamps and candles burning overnight to commemorate the dead. This reminds us of the Egyptian Feast of Lamps, thought to have been approximately November 8th, during which lamps were also burned through the night in honor of the dead. So, in this case, the Christian custom may have been had it’s origins in the Egyptian one.
In Mexico, November 2nd is a National holiday. This is The Day of the Dead. For the week preceding the Festival, the face of Death can be seen everywhere, in the form of fantastic skulls and skeletons decorating store windows and homes. In the bakeries, you will find decorated loaves in the shapes of men, women, children and animals. These fancy breads are ‘ofrendas’ or ‘offerings to the dead’. They are placed on elaborate Day of the Dead altars in every home. These gifts are offered to those who have crossed over, along with the favorite foods of the departed loved ones, who are thought to visit on this day. Elaborate receptions are held to welcome them. The offerings of food are first given to the dead, then eaten by the living.
The souls of small children are called ‘angelitos’ and they arrive earlier, on October 31st. The little one are given toys and sweets and parents light fireworks to guide the souls of their lost children. These celebrations also include visits to cemeteries and parades in honor of the dead. The Day of the Dead customs are recognized by the Catholic Church, but their Pagan origins are hard to ignore.
Bonfires were part of the Samhain celebrations (this is another of the four great Fire Festivals) in many areas. They were prepared during the day and lit at dusk on a hilltop, if possible. Celebrations were held round the fires and apples and nuts were roasted. This was a time when the spirits were nearby and the events of the coming year could be foretold. Marked stones were cast into the fire and the prophecies made according to the condition of the stones in the morning. If a stone could not be found the next day, it was believed that the person would soon die. These fires were believed to consume all the miseries of the year gone by, and leave the people free to make a fresh start for the New Year.
Often, an effigy was burnt in the fire, representing any malevolent forces which might have been causing ill to the community. This effigy was called ‘The Hag’. In recent centuries, it has come to be called ‘The Witch’. Why did they change the effigy’s name to ‘Witch’? Because, during the Burning Times, Samhain was thought to be the best time to burn the real thing!
It was felt that Witches, who were well hidden through the rest of the year, would venture out of hiding for this, the most important gathering of the year. (At Samhain, they might be able to get aid from the spirits of the dead in handling their many problems, or throw those problems into a bonfire to be consumed.) Therefore, this was the time to burn Witches, because it was the time to FIND Witches. (And there were nice, ready-made fires, too!)
We queried a friend in England as to whether the bonfire custom existed anywhere, today. She replied:
“In a village with which I am familiar, picture this event. The celebrations have of course been moved to November 5th, and called Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes Night, but a bonfire is built, as it used to be. It is composed of anything for which the villagers have no further use, broken equipment, tree prunings, ancient furniture – just about anything which will burn. The children carry lanterns made from hollowed out swedes (no pumpkins here!!) There is a fireworks display, after which they all go into the village hall for the feast. What do they eat? Sausages, stew, potatoes, parkin (cake), toffee and apples. The sausages and stew contain meat which could not be preserved; the stew contains offerings from various farmers who have grown swedes (rutabagas), carrots etc. The ladies in the village cook potatoes (also donated by the farmers) in their skins and bring them to the hall. Everyone talks to everyone else; those who have not met socially for a long time get caught up on family news, and tell stories about what has happened to them during the year. After the feast, people wander to the fire, and can be seen quietly gazing into it What are they seeing? Pictures? Do these pictures mean anything to them?”
“Isn’t this familiar? The bonfire and fireworks to send help to the declining sun, the feast, the stories, divination in the fire, and the mutual support and co-operation. We still hold parties, where we bob for apples, roast chestnuts, tell ghost stories and sing the old songs. Food and wine is left on the hearth for our unseen kinsfolk, past, present or future!”
Guy Fawkes Night is a commemoration of the famous ‘Gunpowder Plot’ which occurred on November 5, 1605. According to Trefor Owen (‘Welsh Folk Customs’), the Samhain festivities were moved to this date in 1758. He refers to a letter, written by William Morris in that year, stating that this year the bonfires and nut-burning had moved to the new date, for the first time. November 5th is in keeping with this cross-quarter Festival, because if you divide the year between the Equinox and the Solstice, you will come up with something closer to the 5th than to the 31st or the 1st. It seems to us that Samhain in England isn’t gone, it’s just wearing a bit of a disguise!
In Wales, this night was ‘Nos Galan gaeaf’ or ‘Calan gaeaf’, (the eve of the Winter Kalend) and the feast was ‘ffest y wrach’, (The Hag’s Feast). As the fires burnt low, people would call out ‘Home! Home! Let each try to be first! May The Tail-less Black Sow take the hindmost’, and run as fast as they could for the safety of their homes. Not only would the good spirits aid them, but bad ones would harass them, and they felt safe only as long as the fire burned. The ancient Celts saw this as a very dangerous time of year, indeed, when all manner of spirits ran rampant. Their rituals served to protect them, as well as aid them.
Samhain, when people felt a closeness to the Otherworld, was seen as a time for divination of all sorts. Many of these activities can be tried in our celebrations today. One tradition, from Merioneth, in Wales, is the ‘mash of nine sorts’. The ingredients for this dish are potatoes, carrots, turnips, peas, parsnips, leeks, pepper, salt and enough milk to bring it to a good consistency. A wedding ring is carefully hidden in the mash. All participants stand around it, spoons in hand, and eat. The fortunate person who finds the ring will be first to marry and will have good fortune.
Another divination game requires placing three bowls on a table. One is filled with clear water, one with cloudy water and one with earth (or with nothing at all). A contestant is then blindfolded and asked to dip his or her hands into one of the bowls. A prophecy is based on the choice. The clear water signifies success throughout life, the cloudy water means marriage, followed by strife and the other bowl signifies death before marriage. We would think that other meanings could be applied to the choices, though.
Of course, apples are involved in many of the traditional Samhain games. Did you know that both bobbing for apples in a tub and catching an apple suspended from a string are very old traditions? Here’s another form of this game, but look out, it won’t be easy. A stick is suspended from the ceiling with a string tied around the middle. An apple is attached to one end of the stick and a lit candle to the other. Spin the string so both items are rotating, then try to catch the apple in your teeth. Good luck!
Samhain is also known as ‘Nutcrack Night’ in parts of England, because of the many divination games using nuts. One that is simple is to toss a nut into the fire and see how it burns. If it burns brightly, the thrower’s wish will come true. If not, it won’t. Another idea is to see how many nuts can be picked up in one hand. An even number indicates a faithful love, an odd number is betrayal.
On Okinawa, an Asian island, this is the time of Obun, an Ancestors Worship Festival. The Okinawans prepare special packets consisting of ‘Spirit Yen’ (incense wrapped in white rice paper) and put them out with fruits and flowers to honor their ancestors. The Spirit Yen is burnt as an offering at the end of the celebration.
Samhain is a Festival that has survived ’round the world. Call it by any name you like, but whether you bob for apples, practice some of the many forms of divination, light a fire (or just a candle) or spend the evening greeting costumed children at the door, you are celebrating in The Old Ways. Celebrate with your Honored Dead and have a wonderful Samhain (and May The Tail-less Black Sow take the hind-most!).
The Witches Correspondence for Monday, April 21st
Deities: Thoth, Selene, Luna, Selene, Diana, Re, Gaelach, Ida, Artemis [Whom The Greeks Associated With Bast], The Witches, Yemaya, Erzulie, Bast
Aromas: White Poppy, White Rose, Wallflower
Today’s Influences: Agriculture, Domestic, Long Life, Medicine, Travels, Visions, Theft
Color: Silver, white, light blue
Gemstones: Pearl, opal, moonstone
Herbs & Plants: Wintergreen and other mints, catnip, comfrey, sage, chamomile
Associations: Childbearing and family life, purity and virginity, healing, wisdom, intuition
We all know and have read the poem or chant, “The Witches’ Rune.” But did you know there is another kind of “Witches’ Runes.” Sound confusing, not really. When I was younger I started out as a Tarot card reader. With time, I grew bored. So I was surfing around on the internet and ran across The Elder Futhark Runes. I read how Runes can give a much better reading and if you make your own, you have a magickal bond with them. I made my first set of Runes and the magickal bond that was established between the Runes and me was unbelievable. When you make a set of Runes and follow the making ceremony, the magick happens. The Runes actually spoke to me while I was painting the design on them. It was wonderful. And I couldn’t believe it. So my fascination with the Runes began. I read everything I could find on them. One day, I ran across something I had never heard anyone mention, that was the Witches Runes. Why no one talks about them or mentions them, I don’t know. Perhaps because there is only 13 of them, and they think that is not powerful enough for any divination. Or perhaps, they are just something in our past that has been forgotten by all of us.
Needless to say being a witch, I started researching and digging for every bit of information I could find. I found out there is hardly any information on them at all. Which leads me to believe they were just simply forgotten. No matter what the case, I made a set of the Witches Runes. The magick in each symbol I painted on the stones was breath-taking. I made them their own special black pouch and they live happily there to this day. Wondering why I talk about them like they are a person? Make a set and feel the magick for yourself. I pull the pouch out and without even opening it, I can feel their magick and power through it. The Witches Runes are very powerful divination tools. I might have just hit the nail on the head, perhaps they were considered to powerful and put away. Who knows? We probably never will either.
Below I have described each Rune and their meaning. Take a moment to look them over. Also if you are into making your own divination tools, I will include a ritual for making your set in the next post. I hope you enjoy the Witches Runes as much as I do.
The set includes the following symbols, with a brief meaning description:
- Relationship – Chemistry and working together
- Woman – Women, nurturing, and healing
- Man – Men, conquering, and defending
- Harvest – Rewards for work, the right path
- Sun – Protection, attention, and wealth
- Moon – Changes, cycles, and ancestors
- Flight – Information, travel, and movement
- Rings – Connection to others, contracts, marriage
- Crossroads – Choices, opposition, and conflict
- Star – Hope, wishes, and destiny
- Waves – Intuition, mystery, and emotions
- Scythe – Endings, transformation, and danger
- Eye – Vision, realization, and wisdom
The Witches Creed of Chivalry
Insofar as the Craft of the Wise is the most ancient and most honorable creed of humankind, it behooves all who are Witches to act in ways that give respect to the Old Gods, to their sisters and brothers of the Craft, and to themselves. Therefor, be it noted that:
1. Chivalry is a high code of honour which is of most ancient Celtic Pagan origin, and must be lived by all who follow the old ways.
2. It must be keened that thoughts and intent put forth on this Middle Earth will wax strong in other worlds beyond, and return… bringing into creation, on this world, that which had been sent forth. Thus one should exercise discipline, for “as ye sow, so shall ye reap.”
3. It is only by preparing our minds to be as Gods that we can ultimately attain godhead.
4. “This above all… to thine own self be true…”
5. A Witch’s word must have the validity of a signed and witnessed oath. Thus, give thy word sparingly, but adhere to it like iron.
6. Refrain from speaking ill of others, for not all truths of the matter may be known.
7. Pass not unverified words about another, for hearsay is, in large part, a thing of falsehoods.
8. Be thou honest with others, and have them known that honesty is likewise expected of them.
9. The fury of the moment plays folly with the truth; to keep one’s head is a virtue.
10. Contemplate always the consequences of thine acts upon others. Strive not to harm another.
11. Though there may be differences between those of the Old Ways, diverse covens and circles may well have diverse views. These views, even if they are different than yours, should always be given respect. When a coven, circle, clan, or grove is visited or joined, one should discern quietly their practices, and abide thereby.
12. Dignity, a gracious manner, and a good humor are much to be admired.
13. As a witch, thou hast power, and thy powers wax strongly as wisdom increases. Therefore exercise discretion in the use thereof.
14. Courage and honour endure forever. Their echoes remain when the mountains have crumbled to dust.
15. Pledge friendship and fealty to those who so warrant. Strengthen others of the Brethren and they shall strengthen thee.
16. Thou shalt not reveal the secrets of another Witch or Coven. Others have laboured long and hard for them, and cherish them as treasures.
17. Those who follow the mysteries should be above reproach in the eyes of the world, and should always seek to make this so.
18. The laws of the land should be obeyed whenever possible and within reason, for in the main they have been chosen with wisdom for the well being of all.
19. Have pride in thyself, and seek perfection in body and in mind. For the Lady hath said, “How canst thou have honour unless thou give honor to thyself firstly?”
20. Those who seek the Mysteries should consider themselves as select of the Gods, for it is they who lead the race of humankind to the highest of thrones and beyond the very stars.
Spiritual Reaffirmation for the Witches New Year
During the Witches’ New Year, or Samhain, take time to stop and evaluate your faith and beliefs. Make a sacred ritual or retreat out of this evaluation. Light white candles and burn sandalwood, myrrh, or frankincense. Brew a cup of herbal tea. Sit down and ask the God and Goddess to guide you on your path. Write down your beliefs in a journal or your Book of Shadows. Some questions you can meditate on are: What is life? How do I view the universe? Why am I here? What affirms my spirituality and what lessens it? How can I bring spirituality into my everyday life? After writing, you can create a statement of faith based on your answers to the questions. Recite what you write by candlelight for the universe to hear. Rediscover and rededicate yourself to your spirituality.
Introduction to Witchcraft
Let me begin by saying that most of those who reach this page looking for answers will not find what they believe they will. For those looking for “Hogwarts” or a Harry Potter world, this is not it. The Harry Potter books are fictional stories written by an author who had a good idea. Nothing in those books is real. Flying on broomsticks, waving sparkly wands around and changing things in the blink of an eye are all part of a fantasy that does not exist in this world. If you have come here with pre-conceived notions based on things you have seen on “Charmed,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “The Craft,” or any other work of fiction, I have sad news for you. Real magic isn’t nearly as dramatic or showy. Being a witch is a way of life. There is real magic in the world and there are real witches. You probably know a few. Unfortunately, they don’t spend their spare time locked up in their castle tower changing themselves into animals, zapping people with curses, turning their eyes and hair different colors, running around with demons, or just generally messing with the whole space-time continuum. There is plenty of good news, however. You will be happy to learn that yes, fairies are real and so are dragons. You probably will never have the rare treat of meeting one, but it’s nice to know that they exist. There are plenty of spells to learn and enchantments to make, but you won’t be seeing any sparkles or make candles light on their own. There is a myriad of potions to brew, but none of them will turn you into a toad or bring you back from the dead. Fantasy is unfortunately much more appealing that the truth.
Who can be a Witch?
The word “witch” is used for both male and female practitioners of magic. Male witches are NOT called warlocks. I have no idea who coined that term, but it is very insulting to call someone a “warlock.” Not just anyone can be a witch. Indeed, it takes a very special kind of person. Witchcraft is the study and use of magic and this magic comes from the Earth. Magic does not help anyone who has no respect for it, so it is important that you respect the “powers that be” at all times. This is not a game and spells should not be flung about like they are in some popular television shows I refuse to mention here. Power comes from years of experience. The more you practice, the better you will get.
Going along with the whole idea of respect, it is important that you determine how much respect you have for the Earth before undergoing any type of magical work. It is not wise to bite the hand that feeds you, so to speak. People who go on to become great witches are those with a very deep-seated love and respect for the Earth and all of her inhabitants. If you have a strange connection to plants, and animals, and growing things makes you happy, you may very well be looking in the right place. If you are in love with nature then you might just find yourself at peace within the magical world. I advise that you take concern over environmental problems, look into living a healthy natural lifestyle, and give service to our Mother Earth if you decide to undertake these lessons that have been outlined here.
What is Wicca?
Contrary to popular belief, Wicca is not evil. Wiccans do not follow the devil. Wiccans do not even believe in the devil. Wicca is a nature oriented religion which centers around a single deity (known as the All) which encompasses all things in the universe and without. This All is divided into two equal halves much the same way as the universe is divided into two halves. There is light and dark, male and female, good and evil, etc. These are often evident in the two deities called the Lord and the Lady. Each represents a perfect and equal half and complement each other much like the yin and the yang. The Lord is a father figure. He represents animals, the soul, fathering, passion and the wild. He is symbolized by the color gold, air, fire, and by the Sun. The Lady or Goddess represents the earth mother, motherhood, nurturing, femininity, and that which we can touch. She is symbolized by water, earth and the moon. Wiccans believe in honoring their deities and in living in harmony with nature and the universe. Witches sometimes practice in groups of up to thirteen called covens. Covens are used to bring different people of a faith together so that they may learn from each other’s experiences. Witches can also work alone. They are called solitaries. Wiccans are generally considered witches because they practice the art of magic. Not al witches, however, are Wiccans. Wicca is a religion and witchcraft is simply the practice of the magical arts.
Because Wiccans worship nature, their holidays coincide with significant days of the year. All of the four seasons are celebrated as well as four other holidays which fall between each. All of the eight holidays are spaced at exactly the same number of days apart and do not always fall on the same day each year. Most of these holidays coincide with Christian holidays such as Christmas (Yule) and Easter (Ostara). These holidays are called the Sabbats or Sabbaths. Witches also may or may not celebrate what are called Esbats. Esbats are specific lunar dates that are of major importance. These are the new moons and the full moons. There are 13 full moons during the year, each representing one month. Thus, the pagan calendar has thirteen months and not twelve. Most today represent these lost days in the thirteenth month to leap year. These holidays are meant to celebrate the earth and her cycles of nature.
Wiccans follow one basic fundamental rule: “harm none.” The Wiccan Rede or “Law” states: “Abide the Wiccan law ye must, in perfect love and perfect trust. Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill: ‘An’ it harm none, do what ye will.’ And ever mind the rule of three: what ye send out comes back to thee. Follow this with mind and heart, and merry meet and merry part.” The main goal of Wicca is to harm none. Wiccans base their lives on self discipline and helping others. Most spells are done for healing, love, friendship and to help others. You will not find Wiccan spells for harming others or spells which are destructive in any way.
Wicca is a recognized religion worldwide and is protected by the United States Constitution. Contrary to popular belief, Wicca is not an ancient religion. Some of the ideas and rituals follow what is believed to have been practiced by the early Nordic tribes, but the religion was founded in the early 1960’s and was at the time considered a “New Age Religion.” Many unseasoned Wiccans will often refer to their following as “The Olde Ways.” This is often the result of misinformation from other witches either on the internet or in books who claim that they follow ancient traditions. Some will even claim that their beliefs were handed down from century to century and guarded against Christians and others who might seek to waylay witches and traditional witchcraft. Unfortunately, virtually no information has survived to this day and we must rely on skepticism to learn how ancient peoples worshiped.
Witchcraft is often understood to be evil, demoralizing, and immoral because it goes against the beliefs of the catholic church. This is due mostly to a misunderstanding of the modern use of the term “witch.” In earlier times, witchcraft was essentially the term used for “devil worship.” Witches of old were said to be in league with the devil. They hurt people, traveled to gatherings where they engaged in evil spell-casting, demoralizing acts, and Satan worship. At the same time, there were wisepeople in villages. These people were the healers, the midwives, and the elders who knew things which might be considered witchery today. These people were not, at the time, considered or even called witches. Today, for some reason, these people have chosen to take on the name of witchcraft. Even in medieval times, people engaged in witchery. These things included charms to predict love or the weather, good luck charms, and psychic sight (gifts of the angels). For example, people knew charms that were used in prediction such as limericks and poems. These went something like: “cat’s paw upon the water, first sigh of storm-king’s daughter.” This limerick means that if you see a cat place its paw in water, then there will be a storm. These are sometimes called “old wives’ tales.” Other superstitions are: walking under a ladder is bad luck and smashing a mirror is 7 years bad luck. Magical charms were and are also used: four-leaf clovers, found pennies, locks of hair, horseshoes when turned upside down, and lucky and unlucky numbers. These things were never considered witchcraft the way we use it in witchcraft today.
Many Christians are beginning to understand the differences between what is now called witchcraft and the old word witchcraft which was used for “devil worship.” No one is really sure why the healers of today have chosen this once derogatory term to describe themselves. Likely, it has stemmed from small groups of adolescents forming “covens.” Early Wiccans were not called witches.
Today, witches are known for their good deeds. Witches believe in eternal learning. Witches believe in truth and truth telling. We are always trying to help those around us and find ways to better ourselves. Witches also follow many of the traditional views of Christianity. We believe in harming no living being. We believe in fidelity (loyalty), we love our families and raise our children to have good moral standards. We do not believe in forming cults or any other harmful or mind-controlling groups. We stand against killing and oppression of all kinds. We believe in the freedom to love who we choose to love. We believe in self-sacrifice for the good of others. We believe in charity.
The Wiccan Rede (short form)
The Rede is the closest thing in Wicca to being a law. The rede is a testament to what we stand for. The short form is as follows:
Abide the Wiccan law ye must
In perfect love and perfect trust.
Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill:
“An’ it harm none, do as ye will.”
And ever mind the rule of three:
What ye send out comes back to thee.
Follow this with mind and heart
And merry ye meet and merry ye part.
In essence, the law is to love and trust the Craft. Do what you will, as long as you harm no one, no matter how evil they may seem. Fate will take care of them and it is no concern of yours. Never do harm to others. Whatever you do to or for others will come back to you threefold. If you curse or harm someone, you will receive bad luck thrice as bad as you have made it for them. If you help others, it will also come back to you threefold. You can call this Karma if you like.
The Full Wiccan Rede
Bide within the Law ye should
To keep unwelcome spirits out.
To bind the spell well every time
Let the spell be spake in rhyme.
For tread the Circle thrice about
In perfect love and perfect trust.
Live ye must and let to live
Fairly take and fairly give.
Light of eye, and soft of touch
Speak you little, listen much.
Honour the Old Ones in deed and name
Let love and light be our guides again.
Deosil go by the waxing moon
Chanting out the Wiccan Rune.
Widdershins go by the waning moon
Chanting out the Baneful Rune.
When the Lady’s moon is new
Kiss the hand to her times two.
When the moon ridesat Her peak
Then your heart’s desire seek.
Heed the Northwinds mighty gale
Lock the door and trim the sail.
When the wind blows form the East
Expect the new and set the feast.
When the wind comes from the South
Love will kiss you on the mouth.
When the wind whispers form the West
All hearts will find peace and rest.
Nine woods in the Cauldron go
Burn them fast and burn them slow.
Birch in the fire goes
To represent what the Lady knows.
Oak in the forest towers with might
In the fire it brings the God’s insight.
Rowan is a tree of power
Causing life and magick to flower.
Willows at the waterside stand
Ready to help us to the summerland.
Hawthorn is burned to puify
And to draw faerie to your eye.
Hazel – the tree of wisdom and learning –
Adds it’s strength to the bright fire burning.
White are the flowers of the Apple tree
That brings us fruits of fertility.
Grapes grow upon the vine
Giving us both joy and wine.
Fir does mark the evergreen
To represent immortality seen.
Elder is the Lady’s tree
Burn it not or cursed you’ll be.
Four times the Major Sabbats mark
In the light and in the dark.
As the old year starts to wane
The new begin; it’s now Samhain.
When the time for Imblolc shows
watch for flowers through the snows.
When the wheel begins to turn
Soon the Beltane fires will burn.
As the wheel turns to Lammas night
Power is brought to magick rite.
Four times the Minor Sabbats fall
Use the Sun to mark them all.
When the wheel has turned to Yule
Light the log The Horned One rule.
In the spring, when night equals day
Time for Ostara to come our way.
When the sun has reached it’s hight
Time for Oak and Holly fight.
Harvesting comes to one and all
When the Autumn Equinox does fall.
Heed the flower, bush and tree
By the lady Blessed you’ll be.
Where the rippling waters go
Cast a stone, the truth you’ll know.
When you have and hold a need
Harken not to others greed
With a fool no season spend
Or be counted as his friend.
Merry Meet and Merry Part
Bright the cheeks and warm the heart.
Mind the Three-fold Law you should
Three times bad and three times good.
When misfortune is enow
Wear the star upon your brow
Be true in love this you must do
Unless your love be false to you
Eight words the Rede fulfil
“An it harm none, do as ye will”
The Witches Rune
Darksome night and shining Moon
East then South then West then North
Harken to the Witchs’ Rune
Here we come to call thee forth.
Earth and Water, Air and Fire
Wand and Pentacle and Cup and Sword
Work ye unto our desire
And harken ye unto our word.
Cords and Censer, Scourge and knife
Power of the Witch’s blade
Waken all ye into life
And come ye as the charm is made.
Queen of Heaven, Queen of Hell
Horned Hunter of the night
Lend you power unto our spell
And work our will by Magick rite.
By all the powers of land and sea
By all the might of the Moon and Sun
As we do will so mote it be
Chant the spell and it Be done.
Eko, eko Azarak
Eko, eko Zamilak
Eko, eko Cernunnos
Eko, eko Aradia.
The Witches Creed
Hear now the words of the witches,
The secrets we hid in the night,
When dark was our destiny’s pathway,
That now we bring forth into light,
Mysterious water and fire,
The earth and the wide-ranging air,
By hidden quintessence we know them,
And will and keep silent and dare.
The birth and rebirth of all nature,
The passing of winter and spring,
We share with the life universal,
Rejoice in the magical ring.
Four times in the year the Great Sabbatt,
Returns, and the witches are seen.
At Lammas and Candlemas dancing,
In May Eve and Hallowe’en.
When day-time and night-time are equal,
When sun is at greatest and least,
Thriteen silver moons in a year are,
Thirteen is the coven’s array,
Thirteen times the Esbet make merry,
For each golden year and a day.
The power that was passed down the age,
Each time between woman and man,
Each century unto the other,
Ere time and the ages began,
When drawn is the magickal circle,
By sword or athame of power,
It’s compas between the two worlds lies,
In land of the shades for that hour,
This world has no right then to know it,
The world beyond will tell naught,
The oldest of Gods are invoked there,
The Great Work of magick is wrought,
For the two are mystical pillars,
That stand at the gate of the shrine,
And two are the powers of nature,
The forms and forces divine,
The dark and light in succession,
The opposites each unto each,
Shown forth as a Goddess and a God;
Of this our ancestors teach.
By night he’s the wild wind’s rider,
The Horn’d One, the Lord of the Shades,
By day he’ sthe King of the Woodland,
The dweller in green forest glades.
She is youthful or old as she pleases,
She sails the tan cloud in her barque,
The bright silver lady of Midnight,
The crone who weaces spells in the dark,
Immortal and ever-renenwing,
With power to free or to bind,
So drink the good wine to the old Gods,
And dance and make love in their praise,
Till Elephants fair land shall receive us,
In peace at the end of our days,
And Do What ye Will be the challenge,
So be it Love that harms none,
For this is the only commandment,
My Magic of old, be it done!
The 13 Goals of a Witch
1. Know yourself
2. Know your craft
4. Apply knowledge with wisdom
5. Achieve balance
6. Keep your words in good order
7. Keep your thoughts in good order
8. Celebrate Life
9. Attune with the cycles of the earth
10. Breath and eat correctly
11. exercise the body
13. Honor the Goddess and the God
The Charge of the Goddess
Listen to the words of the Great Mother, who of old was called Artemis, Astarte, Athene, Dione, Melusine, Aphrodite, Cerridwen, Diana, Arianrhod, Isis, Brighde, Freyja, Frigg, and by many other names:
“Whenever ye have need of anything, once in the month, and better it be when the moon is full, then shall ye assemble in some secret place and adore the spirit of me who am Queen of all witches. There shall ye assemble, ye who are fane to learn all sorcery yet have not won its deepest secrets; to these will I teach things that are as yet unknown. And ye shall be free from slavery; and as a sign that ye be really free, ye shall be naked in your rites; and ye shall dance, sing, feast, make music, and love all in my praise. For mine is the ecstasy of the spirit, and mine also is the joy of the earth, for my law is love unto all beings.”
“Keep pure your highest ideal; strive ever toward it, let naught stop you or turn you aside; for mine is the secret door which opens upon the door of youth, and mine is the cup of the wine of life, and the cauldron of Cerridwen, which is the Holy Grail of Immortality. I am the gracious Goddess, who gives the gift of joy unto the heart of man. Upon earth, I give the gift of knowledge of the spirit eternal; and beyond death, I give peace and freedom, and reunion with those who have gone before. Nor do I demand sacrifice; for behold, I am the Mother of all living and my love is poured out upon the earth.”
“Hear ye the words of the Star Goddess; she is the dust of whose feet are the hosts of heaven, whose body encircles the universe. I am the beauty of the green earth, and the white moon among the stars, and the mystery of the water ,and the desire of the heart of man. Call into thy soul: arise and come unto me; for I am the soul of nature who gives life to the universe. From me all things proceed and unto me all things must return and before my face, beloved of Gods and of men, let thine innermost divine self be enfolded in the raptures of the infinite. Let my worship be within the heart that rejoices; behold, all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals. And therefore let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within thee.”
“And thou who thinkest to seek from me know thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not, unless thou knowest the mystery ; that if that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee. For behold, I have been with thee from the beginning; and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.”
The Charge of the God
Listen to the word of the Great Father, who of old was called Osiris, Adonis, Zeus, Thor, Pan, Cernunnos, Heren, Lugh, and by many other names:
“My law is harmony with all things. Mine is the secret that opens the gates of life and mine is the dish of salt of the earth that is the body of Cernunnos that is the eternal circle of rebirth. I give the knowledege of life everlasting, and beyond death I give the promise of regeneration and renewal. I am the sacrifice, the father of all things, and my protection blankets the earth.”
“Hear the words of the dancing God, the music of whose laughter stirs the winds, whose voice calls the season.”
“I who am the Lord of the Hunt and the Power of Light, sun among the clouds and the secret of the flame, I call upon your bodies to arise and come unto me. For I am the flesh of the earth and all its beings. Through me all things must die and with me are reborn. Let my worship be in the body that sings, for behold, all acts of willing sacrifice are my rituals. Let there be desire and fear, anger and weakness, joy and peace, awe and longing within you. For these too are part of the mysteries found within yourself, within me, all beginnings have endings, and all endings have beginnings.”
The Four Powers of the Magus (magician)
TO KNOW – noscere – air – to know what you are doing
TO DARE – audere – water – to dare to practice the Craft
TO WILL – velle – fire – to will the power
TO BE SILENT – tacere – earth – to keep silent about what you are doing
To Know – noscere – air – to know what you are doing. Witchcraft is rarely dangerous, but when you do not know what you are doing, what you do can turn out wrong. Know the difference between good and bad. Know what you are doing and what is your intent. Know who might get hurt. Think long and hard about your words and your actions before you fling them, unheeded, into the world.
To Dare – audere – water – to dare to practice the Craft. Never be afraid of what you are. If you are not afraid of your religion, you have a freedom within it. No one should ever try to make you afraid of your god(s) or goddess(es). Your power comes from you and you should not fear that which comes from your body because it is a part of you.
To Will – velle – fire – to will the power. Magick is all power that comes from the mind. This power comes from your strength in believing and willing something to happen. If you do not believe it will happen, then it will not. Your strength is your will and your willpower. Nothing is so strong as the human mind.
To Be Silent – tacere – earth – to keep silent about what you are doing. Magick is not something that is used to make you popular or to scare or impress others. Magick, like lovemaking, is a very personal, very private act and anything said about it makes it less sacred. It is the sacredness of the act that gives it its power. The more you talk about what you have done, the less power it has. Do not discuss your spells with others until after you have cast it and gotten the effect. Also whatch who you tell. Not all eyes and ears are as understanding as yours.