Articles/Essays From Pagans
April 3rd. 2016 ...
An Alternative Conception of Divine Reciprocity
Becoming Wiccan: What I Never Expected
Rebirth By Fire: A Love Letter to Mama Maui and Lady Pele
The Fear of Witchcraft
Blowing Bubbles with the Goddess
The Evolution of Thought Forms
Magic in Sentences
February 28th. 2016 ...
Revisiting The Spiral
Lateral Transcendence: Toward Greater Compassion
February 22nd. 2016 ...
Spring Has Sprung!
January 22nd. 2016 ...
Coming Out of the Broom Closet
Energy and Karma
Community and Perception
December 20th. 2015 ...
Introduction to Tarot For the Novice
Magia y Wicca
October 24th. 2015 ...
Facing Your Demons: The Shadow Self
Native American Spirituality Myopia
The Dream Eater--A Practical Use of Summoning Talismans
A Dream Message
Feeling the Pulse of Autumn
October 16th. 2015 ...
Sacred Lands, Sacred Hearts
September 30th. 2015 ...
September 16th. 2015 ...
Nature Worship: or Seeing the Trees for the Ents
Vegan or Vegetarian? The Ethical Debate
August 6th. 2015 ...
Lost - A Pagan Parent's Tale
July 9th. 2015 ...
Love Spells: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
The Magic of Weather
June 7th. 2015 ...
A Pagan Altar
A Minority of a Minority of a Minority
The Consort: Silent Partner or Hidden in Plain Sight?
Why I Bother With Ritual: Poetry and Eikonic Atheism
May 6th. 2015 ...
Sex, Lies, and Witches: Love in a Time of Wiccans and Atheists
Gods, Myth, and Ritual in Naturalistic Paganism
I Claim Cronehood
13 Keys: The Crown of Kether
March 29th. 2015 ...
A Thread in the Tapestry of Witchcraft
March 28th. 2015 ...
On Wiccan Magick, Theurgy, Thaumaturgy and Setting Expectations
March 1st. 2015 ...
Choosing to Write a Shadow Book
Historiolae: The Spell Within the Story
My Concept Of Grey
February 1st. 2015 ...
Seeker Advice From a Coven Leader
The Three Centers of Paganism
Magick is No Illusion
The Ancient Use of God/Goddess Surnames
The Gods of My Heart
January 1st. 2015 ...
The Six Most Valuable Lessons I've Learned on My Path as a Witch
Manipulation of the Concept of Witchcraft
Publicly Other: Witchcraft in the Suburbs
Pagans All Around Us
Broomstick to the Emerald City
October 20th. 2014 ...
Thoughts on Conjuring Spirits
A Microcosmic View of Ma'at
October 5th. 2014 ...
The History of the Sacred Circle
Abandoning Expectations and Remembering Your Roots
September 28th. 2014 ...
Seeking Pagan Lands for Pagan Burials
Creating a Healing Temple
September 20th. 2014 ...
GOD AND ME (A Pagan's Personal Reply to the New Atheists)
September 7th. 2014 ...
Deer Man- A Confounding Mystery
August 31st. 2014 ...
Coven vs. Solitary
A Strange Waking Dream
August 24th. 2014 ...
Thoughts on Cultural and Spiritual Appropriation
The Pagan Cleric
A Gathering of Sorcerers (A Strange Tale)
August 17th. 2014 ...
To Know, to Will, to Dare...
On Grief: Beacons of Light in the Shadows
August 10th. 2014 ...
As a Pagan, How Do I Represent My Path?
The Power of the Gorgon
August 3rd. 2014 ...
Are You a Natural Witch?
You Have to Believe We Are Magic...
July 27th. 2014 ...
Did I Just Draw Down the Moon?
Astrological Ages and the Great Astrological End-Time Cycle
The New Jersey Finishing School for Would-Be Glamour Girls and Boys
July 20th. 2014 ...
Being an Underage Wiccan
Malleus Maleficarum - The Hammer of the Witches
July 13th. 2014 ...
A World Of Witchcraft: Belief Is Only The Beginning...
From Christian to Pagan (Part III)
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
The Charge of the Goddess: Listen to the Words of Leland and Crowley
Article ID: 14895
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Author: Sorita d'Este [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: January 1st. 2012
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The Charge of the Goddess is probably one of the best known and loved poems used by contemporary Pagans. Its origins within the initiatory tradition of the Craft, or “Wicca” as it has become known, have been largely attributed to either Gerald Gardner or the priestess who worked with him for a couple of years, Doreen Valiente. The Charge of the Goddess is traditionally recited by the High Priestess as part of the traditional rituals of Wicca - at every Full Moon (Esbat) ceremony.
During this important ritual of initiatory Craft the High Priest of the Coven invokes the Moon Goddess into the body of the High Priestess through a set of invocations and gestures known as "Drawing Down the Moon". Whilst some covens today have adapted the way in which they perform this ritual, the traditional rite is still widely used within the initiatory traditions and has a strength to it that is difficult to reproduce.
My own introduction, as so many others who have experienced an initiation into the Craft, to Drawing Down the Moon and the Charge of the Goddess, came at my own initiation into the Craft. Years later when I started taking on trainees for my own covens in London I realised that I didn't always have the answers to the questions my students were asking me - and quite a few of them wanted to know about the origins of the rituals and texts of Wicca. Whilst I was able to answer with the kind of information I was given during my own training, supplemented with bits and bobs I learned from books available at the time, I realised that a lot of what I thought I knew and what others were writing and teaching had some serious flaws! Essentially Wicca, and many of the other contemporary magical and pagan traditions, were filling themselves with dogma, passing on 'knowledge' without questioning it. So with my high priest and husband, David Rankine, I set off on a journey to discover where what was being said and done in a traditional ceremony originated from - most of our findings were published in our book Wicca Magickal Beginnings (Avalonia 2005, 2008)
Now I do know that teaching a tradition means passing it on as you were taught it, but at the same time I do not believe in passing on flaws if that can be avoided. Another reason for understanding the origins and symbolism of what we do is that it enables us to adapt or change (or indeed omit!) parts of the rituals to suit our circumstances better, with an understanding of the reason (s) it is there in the first place. This means we are building on solid foundations, allowing us to evolve - rather than devolving through misunderstanding - the rituals. Creating a better and more relevant system for ourselves and for future generations.
What we found was that much of what was found in the traditional Book of Shadows preceded the emergence of the tradition at the hands of Gerald Gardner by decades, sometimes centuries and in some instances, we could show that the same practices were being used millennia prior to Gerald Gardner and his friends in the 1950's! The Charge of the Goddess is one such example. The use of similar types of prose in ritual dates back to many hundreds of years before Gerald Gardner, and the text of the actual Charge of the Goddess originates at the hands of the American Anthropologist Charles Godfrey Leland and the British Victorian Occultist and notorious magician, Aleister Crowley.
Leland claimed that much of the material in his work ARADIA Gospel of the Witches was given to him by an Italian Witch in the late 1800's, which is also when the book was first published. The material from the speech of the Goddess Diana to her messianic daughter Aradia is cited already in 1908 in a published book as something being used by contemporary witches, and again in the 1930's. Leland's work builds on a long history of folk magic practices in Italy and other parts of Europe. There is no doubt that his work has been incredibly inspirational to the development not only of Wicca, but has also contributed to other contemporary Pagan traditions today - worth reading if you have not yet done so!
Likewise, Aleister Crowley's work has been influential, as you will see clearly from the analysis of the Charge that follow at the end of this article, words written by him are amongst the most inspirational found in modern Wicca. In addition to material originating with him being found in the Charge, it is a poem by Crowley which provided the basis for the actual ceremony of Drawing Down the Moon and material from one of his most famous rituals, The Gnostic Mass, which formed the basis for the ceremony known as the Great Rite (which forms a significant part of the Third Degree initiation ritual) . His influence has not been insignificant, yet he is often still seen as an evil, deranged and very unbalanced magician of the early 20th century within modern paganism. Whatever our personal opinion of Aleister Crowley, it is important that we acknowledge and understand the influence he has had on Wicca and indeed on paganism as a whole.
The analysis of the Charge of the Goddess that follows is taken from Wicca Magical Beginnings (2008) and was developed from an article I wrote with David Rankine in 2000:
Analysis of the Charge of the Goddess
“HP: Listen to the words of the Great Mother, who of old was also called among men, Artemis, Astarte, Dione, Melusine, Aphrodite, Ceridwen, Diana, Arianrhod, Bride, and by many other names.”
The opening introductory statement by the High Priest is clearly presenting the idea of a universal goddess. This piece seems to be original, though there is a historical basis for the concept and name of the Great Mother, as can be seen in the writings of the Roman historian Lucian, in the second century CE, who wrote of the goddess in his work De Dea Syria (‘The Syrian Goddess’) as:
“She is our Mother Earth, known otherwise as the Mother Goddess or Great Mother. Among the Babylonians and northern Semites she was called Ishtar: she is the Ashtoreth of the Bible, and the Astarte of Phœnicia. In Syria her name was ‘Athar, and in Cilicia it had the form of ‘Ate (‘Atheh) . At Hierapolis, with which we are primarily concerned, it appears in later Aramaic as Atargatis, a compound of the Syrian and Cilician forms … for in one way and another there was still a prevailing similarity between the essential attributes and worship of the nature-goddess throughout Western Asia.”
The Roman historian and magician Apuleius, a contemporary of Lucian, expressed a similar theme. In his novel of initiation, The Golden Ass, he has Isis describe herself as the goddess of whom all others are aspects.
“For the Phrygians call me the mother of the gods: the Athenians, Minerva: the Cyprians, Venus: the Candians, Diana: the Sicilians, Proserpina: the Eleusians, Ceres: some Juno, others Bellona, others Hekate.”
The Qabalah also needs to be considered when we look at the idea of the great mother goddess. There is a very mistaken concept amongst those who have not studied its mysteries that the Qabalah is entirely patriarchal. This is not the case and it never was. The Sefer ha-Zohar (“Book of Splendour”) places great emphasis on the Shekinah or divine feminine, and it brought sexual polarity very much to the forefront of Qabalah at the time of its publication in 1290, and the subsequent publication of the Sefer ha-Bahir (“Book of Brilliance”) in 1310, when the Hermetic and Neoplatonic texts were also being translated, resulted in both traditions feeding into alchemy, the Grimoires and other magickal traditions of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Significantly this also predated the main period of the witch trials, and the conflation of prejudice against Jews, heretics and witches.
“From Her do they receive their nourishment, and from Her do they receive blessing; and She is called the Mother of them all.”
The word Shekinah is from the root Shakhan meaning ’to dwell’, and refers to her presence within all humanity. In the ninth century the German branch of Qabalists described the Shekinah as the circle of fire around God, their union causing the throne, angels and human souls to come into being.  The Shekinah has been seen as manifesting in two ways. As the Lesser or Exiled Shekinah she is perceived as being the world soul, somewhat akin to the concept of Gaia as postulated by James Lovelock. However as the source of souls, Shekinah is also present in every person, as the spark that seeks to reunite with the Greater Shekinah, the great goddess.
“Her ways are of pleasantness, and her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her; and happy is every one that retaineth her.”
The Kabbalistic Shekinah, the Gnostic Sophia and the classical goddesses all enjoyed notable attention through the Renaissance, and it could convincingly be argued that the deities of Wicca are expressions of an inevitable resurgence of the divine powers seeking an outlet, as they have done for the last fifteen hundred years.
This idea of a universal goddess or great mother goddess was to continue through the Renaissance, as can be seen in writings by authors such as the German humanist Konrad Mutian (1471-1526) . In correspondence he observed, in a manner that would have been seen as sacrilegious by the Church at the time:
“There is but one God and one Goddess,
But many are their powers and names:
Jupiter, Sol, Apollo, Moses, Christus,
Luna, Ceres, Proserpina, Tellus, Maria.
But have a care in speaking these things.
They should be hidden in silence as
are the Eleusinian Mysteries;
Sacred things must be wrapped in fable and enigma.”
This view is one that would be repeated in writings of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. In 1901, Sir Arthur Evans became convinced of the idea of a single great goddess in prehistoric times when he was excavating Knossos in Crete. From this idea he subsequently chose to interpret all divine female figures at the site as a single goddess, and all male figures as a single subordinate son/consort god. This idea was expanded by the French archaeologist Joseph Dechelette, who suggested that the cult of the Great Goddess had originated in the Neolithic period in Asia Minor and the Balkans and expanded across the Mediterranean to the whole of Western Europe.
Occultists would also incorporate these ideas into their world-views and hence their writings. The author George Russell (AE) in his classic work The Candle of Vision, published in 1918, espoused the original divinity being divided into the Great Mother and Great Father, from whom the gods and goddesses derived. This idea was also subsequently seen in the occult novels of Dion Fortune in the 1930s.
In the partial version of the Charge published by Gardner in Witchcraft Today in 1954 all the names following that of Aphrodite were omitted – i.e. Ceridwen, Diana, Arianrhod and Bride – giving the impression that the Celtic Goddesses were later additions. It is also interesting here to note the difference between the version of the Charge attributed to Doreen Valiente and published in the Witches Bible where the goddess Diana is changed into Dana and the name of the Greco-Roman Egyptian goddess Isis is added before that of Bride.
Reference to Melusine occurred in Crowley’s Law of Liberty, and some discussion of her is called for here to put her inclusion into perspective. Melusine was described in the late fourteenth century tale of Mélusine de Lusignan. Melusine can be seen as the archetypal fairy wife. In different versions of the tale she is half fish, serpent or dragon. The gist of the story is that she married Remond, who became the Conte de Poitiers. She made Remond swear that on Saturdays he would allow her privacy, but after his brother made him wild with jealousy, Remond burst in on Melusine and realised her true nature. She then left him, in the manner of the fairy wife whose true nature has been discovered. The inclusion of such a figure may seem strange, but Melusine was a tremendously popular figure, like Morgan Le Fay, whose roots hint at earlier divine origins. Her inclusion does however provide a further clear illustration that this piece of prose does not have Roman origins as Gardner suggested.
We may also conclude that it is possible that the person who compiled the earliest versions of the Charge had read Crowley’s Law of Liberty – material from which can be found in both the earlier Lift up the Veil and the later Charge of the Goddess. Crowley mentioned Melusine in the Law of Liberty when he wrote: “Do not embrace mere Marian or Melusine; she is Nuit Herself, specially concentrated and incarnated in a human form to give you infinite love, to bid you taste even on earth the Elixir of Immortality”. We can see here the equation of Nuit as the universal goddess, and the idea of the High Priestess as being the representative of this goddess in ceremonies.
This introductory line to the Charge is generally thought to be the original material of the author (s) thereof, as no known precedent exists in the works which otherwise influenced it.
This part of the Charge corresponds directly to that used in the Lift Up the Veil charge dated to 1949, which could then be said to be the earliest known source, presumably written by either Gerald Gardner himself (as this was pre-Valiente) or it could possibly be part of an original piece of prose currently lost to us today.
As an aside, for those who love life’s little coincidences, we thought we would include something similar which we found in a book published in 1920 on the subject of the Native American tribe of the Iroquois, which reads ”My Children, listen to the words of the Great Mother. You are burdened and troubled; your little ones are silent and fearful…” There is nothing of course to suggest that this is directly related to the compilation of the Charge, but it is a fascinating parallel usage which we thought worthy of inclusion.
“High Priestess: At mine Altars the youth of Lacedaemon in Sparta made due sacrifice.”
Interestingly here, we find that Gardner wrote in Witchcraft Today, “At mine altars the youth in Lacedaemon made due sacrifice”. However, it is noteworthy that in Gardner’s rendition of it there, he at least omitted a rather obtuse error in this first line of this version of the Charge, but of course we don’t know whether this was an accidental mistake or a deliberate omission in an effort to not reveal too much of the prose.
So what is wrong with this statement? Put simply, the geography is all wrong. Sparta was a city in Lacedaemon, not the other way around. This statement is like saying England is in London or America is in New York! Then there is an apparent contradiction with the line “Nor do I demand aught in sacrifice….” which is found later in the same version of this Charge. So, whilst the goddess seems to be saying that sacrifice was made, she is also saying that she demands no sacrifice now! This is probably a side effect of the use of literature from a number of sources and the conflation of the myths of a variety of goddesses to represent the words spoken by one, or it could indicate a change of position on the part of the goddess, or her worshippers!
The reference to the ‘youth of Sparta, ’ is to the ritual flogging which took place at the altars of the goddess Artemis Orthia (“Artemis of the steep”) during the Roman period. As part of the rites, young boys would be scourged on Artemis’ altar until it was smeared with their blood, being both their ritual purification and their sacrifice to this virgin huntress.
The origins of this rather grim ceremony are believed to have come from the discovery of an image of Artemis Orthia, which had been lost from a temple for some time before being rediscovered. Two Spartan warriors, Astrabakos and Alopekos, discovered it and upon doing so immediately went completely insane. Following this a temple was erected around the rediscovered statue in honour of Artemis and through doing so the goddess was temporarily propitiated. However, during a sacrifice taking place on the altar, rival groups of Limnatians, Kynosourians and Mesoans got themselves into a brawl and as a result many of them were killed on and around the altar. Artemis, not known for forgiveness, decided to kill the rest of those involved through disease as a punishment for defiling her temple.
The Spartan people made desperate appeals to an oracle for advice on what to do and were told that the only way to stop the disease was to stain the altar with human blood as an offering to Artemis. For many years they offered human sacrifices at the altar (the sacrifice being chosen by lot) until this practice was eventually substituted with that of the whipping of young prepubescent boys. The boys were scourged until enough blood had been produced to stain the altar anew and thus ensured another period of peace with the goddess. During the scourging, a priestess would hold a light wooden image of the goddess with which she would be able to tell if the men who were doing the scourging were slacking on the amount or the severity of the blows given to the boys based on beauty or rank. If the statue grew heavy it was due to the men slacking and the priestess would chastise those doing the whipping to ensure that Artemis’ offerings were made correctly and appropriately.
As an interesting aside, flogging is a theme that recurs in the worship of the goddess Artemis. It also played a part in the cheese-stealing rituals recorded by Xenophon in Lakedaimonion Politeia in the fifth/fourth century BCE. Here two groups of young men would contest a piece of cheese, which was placed on the altar of Artemis. The first group defended the cheese with whips, whilst the other group had to try and steal it. Though there is no direct connection here with sacrifice, which is clearly indicated in the example of Artemis Orthia, it may be that this was another variation of a similar rite as those being scourged would undoubtedly bleed onto the altar, making a blood sacrifice as part of the ceremonial goings on.
The use of the scourge in an ancient ceremony was well exemplified by the frequently quoted Roman festival of Lupercalia, where young men clad in skins would rush around beating people with strips of goatskin, which was believed to promote fertility and easy childbirth. However this does not really bear much resemblance to the use of the scourge in the Wiccan tradition. In medieval times, the scourge was described as being used frequently for punishment of witches. One such example is seen in Murray’s The God of the Witches:
“The accused escaped with her life, but her sentence was, ‘To be scourged from the end of said town to the other. And thereafter to be banished from the country’.”
Another common suggestion is the claim that the Knights Templar used scourging, a reference Gardner himself makes in his works. Whether they did or not, there is certainly a well-documented history of self-flagellation within the Christian church as a means of ‘purification’, so this is a much more likely source of the magickal beginnings of using the scourge to be “properly prepared”.
“Whenever ye have need of anything, once in the month, and better it be when the Moon is full. Then ye shall assemble in some secret place and adore the spirit of Me who am Queen of all Witcheries. There ye shall assemble, ye who are fain to learn all sorcery, yet who have not won its deepest secrets. To these will I teach things that are 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…”
Gardner omits “Whenever ye have need of anything” in Witchcraft Today. He also writes “meet in some secret place, and adore me who am Queen of all the magics… for I am a gracious Goddess, I give joy on Earth, certainty not faith, while in life; and upon death unutterable, rest and the ecstasy of the Goddess. Nor do I aught in sacrifice…” At this point Gardner tells us that he is forbidden to reveal any further part of the charge.
This piece is clearly derived with only minor changes from chapter one of the Aradia, which reads:
“Whenever ye have need of anything, once in the month, and when the Moon is full, ye shall assemble in some desert place, or in a forest all together join to adore the potent spirit of your queen, My mother, great Diana. She who fain would learn all sorcery yet has not won its deepest secrets, them my mother will teach her, in truth all things as yet unknown. And ye shall all be freed from slavery, and so ye shall be free in everything; and as the sign that ye are truly free, ye shall be naked in your rites, both men and women also.”
Here it is necessary to look at the difference in use of the text. In the Aradia, it is the goddess Diana who addresses her daughter, Aradia, giving her instruction on how to teach witchcraft to humanity. In the context of use within the Wiccan tradition, the priestess is said to channel a goddess and speak these words to the witches. This may seem like a small inconsistency, but one which has quite a huge magickal implication, as well as of course a spiritual one, both of which are worthy of some consideration.
“…and ye shall dance, sing, feast, make music, and love, all in my praise.”
Another piece from Aradia, this time chapter two, shortened and rewritten, finishes this part of the Charge: “… and, the feast over, they shall dance, sing, make music, and then love in the darkness, with all the lights extinguished: for it is the Spirit of Diana who extinguishes them, and so they will dance and make music in her praise.” Dancing, singing, making music and love are all classic ingredients in the ‘imagined’ witches Sabbath as described in the major works of the height of the persecutions by such infamous figures as Peter Binsfeld (Tractatus de confessionibus maleficorum et sagarum, 1591) , Nicolas Rémy (Daemonolatria, 1595) , Martín del Río (Disquisitionum magicarum libri sex, 1599) , Francesco Guazzo (Compendium Maleficarum, 1609) , and Pierre de Lancre (Tableau de l’inconstance des mauvais anges et demons, 1612, and L’incredulité et mescréance du sortilege plainement convaincue, 1622) .
“For mine is the ecstasy of the Spirit, and mine is also joy on earth. For my Law is Love unto all beings.”
The latter part of this line comes from Crowley’s Law of Liberty, quoting “ecstasy be thine and joy of earth” (AL I.53) and “love is the law” (AL I.57) . Although these pieces are pulled out of context and put together, it is worth noting that the beginnings of the two relevant verses are “This shall regenerate the world” (AL I.53) and “Invoke me under my stars!” (AL I.57) , both concepts of great relevance to the Wiccan tradition, and also hinting at their union in the Orphic Oath of “I am a child of earth and starry heaven.” So although seemingly out of context, this line retains a great deal of relevant symbolism, even if quite concealed.
This phrase is an inspirational one, as can be seen by the following quote from the nineteenth century English poet and literary critic John Addington Symonds, “The mania of Plato was a permanent ecstasy of the spirit, in which love led the way to heaven, and raised a man above himself.”
We may also note the occurrence of the phrase ‘ecstasy of the spirit’ in the writings of the late fifteenth century poet John Skelton, when he wrote in a way which strongly resembles the reincarnation theme found in the Charge, “ls it possible that in some such passionate ecstasy of the spirit we pass through death into the life beyond death?” Skelton also mentioned the triplicity of Diana, Luna and Persephone in his work Garland of Laurels in 1523 when he wrote “Diana in the leaves green, Luna that so bright doth sheen, Persephone in hell”.
“Keep pure your highest ideal. Strive ever towards it. Let naught stop you or turn you aside. “
Again this line draws straight from the Law of Liberty, where Crowley wrote: “Keep pure your highest ideal; strive ever toward it, without allowing aught to stop you or turn you aside.” This key line refers to the concept of the true will, and doing only what is right to achieve your full potential.
“For mine is the secret door which opens upon the land of youth;”
This is somewhat rewritten from the earlier version of the Charge (Lift Up the Veil) , which draws more directly from Liber Al, “There is a secret door that I shall make to establish thy way in all the quarters” (AL III.38) . The reference to the quarters is one, which is not used in the Charge, but interesting from the point of view of Wiccan terminology, where the four directions are sometimes referred to as quarters. It also hints at the grimoires where the magick circle was often divided into quarters, as seen in the Heptameron and subsequent grimoires.
The ‘land of youth’ is a translation of the name of the Irish otherworldly realm of Tir-na-Nog, home of the Irish pantheon of the Tuatha de Danaan. As the nineteenth century author Thomas Croker observed in Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland (1828) , “It is called the Land of Youth, because time has no power there, no one becomes old.” The presence in the Charge of this Celtic otherworld clearly indicates the relevance of the Celtic goddesses in the initial list of names.
“and mine is the cup of the Wine of Life: “
This line seems to derive from the Catholic Liturgy, as part of the reading drawn from the Byzantine Matins, in the Table Blessing for Holy Thursday, which goes, “Instructing his friends into the divine mysteries, Jesus, the wisdom of God, prepares a table that gives food to the soul, and mingles for the faithful the cup of the wine of life eternal. Let us all, therefore, draw near the mysterious table, with pure souls let us receive the Bread of Life” The real question here, which we can neither prove or disprove at this point, is whether this was a deliberate use or whether it was a phrase merely imbedded in the psyche of the person who compiled the Charge, who consequently used it without realising the source of their inspiration?
“and the Cauldron of Ceridwen, which is the Holy Grail of Immortality.”
This seems to be original material. The reference to the “Cauldron of Ceridwen” brings in another of the goddesses mentioned at the start of the charge. The equation of the cauldron to the Holy Grail, a very Christian symbol, is somewhat puzzling and inappropriate, but it has a nice poetic ring and flows on naturally from the previous line, which as we have shown was likely borrowed from Christian liturgy. It is of course also a popular theme in the Arthurian and Grail Mysteries, which might have influenced the person (s) who compiled this piece, due to its inherently ’Celtic’ overtones.
Years later, in An ABC of Witchcraft (originally published in 1973) , Valiente quoted from Hargrave Jennings’ The Rosicrucians, Their Rites and Mysteries in her entry for the Cauldron. In this, if indeed she was the author of these lines, she may have revealed her inspiration for their inclusion, but this is purely speculation on our part, and certainly is not an adaptation of words / phrases as found throughout the Charge. “We claim the cauldron of the witches as, in the original, the vase or urn of fiery transmigration, in which all things of the world change”
The idea of immortality is raised in relation to the incarnation of the Goddess on Earth in Law of Liberty, as we have seen in regards to the inclusion of Melusine earlier with the phrase “Elixir of Immortality”
“I am the Gracious Goddess who gives the gift of
Joy unto the heart of Man.
Upon Earth I give the 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 aught in sacrifice, “
This is another extract from the Law of Liberty, derived from Liber AL 1.58 adapted and expanded on from Crowley’s original: “For hear, how gracious is the Goddess; “I give unimaginable joys on earth: certainty, not faith, while in life, upon death; peace unutterable, rest, ecstasy; nor do I demand aught in sacrifice.”
“…for behold, I am the Mother of all things,
and my love is poured out upon the earth.”
In The Golden Ass, Isis says of herself, “I am she that is the natural mother of all things, ” giving a likely source for the use of this phrase. In this context it could also possibly be derived from the Qabalistic title of the Sephira of Malkuth, “Mother of all living things”. Other than this these lines seem to be the original writings of the person (s) who compiled the Charge. The phrase “Mother of all things” is also found in Milton’s Paradise Lost, in Book XI where he wrote, “Eve rightly called, mother of all mankind, mother of all things living, since by thee Man is to live.” This may be significant, as a subsequent line in the Charge also seems to originate with this same work by Milton.
“HP: Hear ye the words of the Star Goddess, “
Once again the text returns to Crowley’s Law of Liberty, “We have heard the voice of the Star Goddess”, emphasising the Egyptian stellar goddess Nuit, who represents the entire universe in the cosmology of Thelema.
“She in the dust of whose feet are the hosts of Heaven, whose body encircleth the universe.”
This line appears to be more original material that is most likely a continuation of the reference to Nuit, who in Egyptian mythology is perceived as encircling the universe. The phrase “Hosts of Heaven” is very widely used, but it is worth noting here that it may refer to the company of Angels in heaven in popular Christian use as it occurs several times in the Bible, or indeed to the Moon and Stars in the Occidental traditions, which again supports the idea that this line refers to the goddess Nuit.
“HPS: I who am the beauty of the green earth;
and the White Moon amongst the Stars; and the mystery of the Waters; and the desire of the heart of man, ”
This is largely original material, though it is possible the line “desire of the heart of man, ” may have been inspired by Crowley’s book The Vision and the Voice (1909) where we find “I am the blind ache within the heart of man”. We may note however that the phrase “beauty of the green earth” used in conjunction with stellar references was a common occurrence in Christian writings of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, so this is a well documented analogy. Illustrating this point with two examples, in The British Preacher (1831) we read “How good must that light be which reveals to us the grandeur of the starry heavens, and the beauty of the green earth, ” and in Evangelical Christendom (1893) we see, “if the glories of the starry heavens, if the beauty of the green earth never taught man of God”.
“call unto thy soul: arise and come unto me. “
This line is clearly again derived from Crowley’s work, as “arouse the coiled splendour within you: come unto me!” is found in both the Law of Liberty and its inspiration Liber AL I.61.
“For I am the Soul of nature who giveth life to the Universe;
From me all things proceed; and unto me, all things must return.”
Uniquely this part of the Charge appears to come from the Ritual for Transformation of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, in which we find “O Soul of Nature giving life and energy to the Universe. From thee all things do proceed. Unto Thee all must return.” Alternatively it is possible that the author of the Charge took the line, “From me all things proceed; and unto me, all things must return”, directly from Milton’s Paradise Lost, which was the probable source of inspiration for the Golden Dawn.
“and before my face, Beloved of the Gods and men, ”
This is again probably original material. Although almost certainly just coincidental, we thought it amusing to mention that this line is also found in a novel published in 1908 which has a character called Doreen in! In Norse myths, Baldur, the son of Odin is often referred to as “beloved of Gods and men” which might have provided some inspiration for the use of the term; however this seems strange and unlikely considering he is male. With these being words of the goddess this would be an inappropriate usage. However, the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, was also sometimes referred to by the same title, and it is hopefully more likely that the author (s) of the Charge, may have taken their inspiration from this goddess rather than using the title of a male god.
“let thine inmost divine self shall be enfolded in the raptures of the infinite.”
Again this seems to be derived from two more quotes merged from the Law of Liberty: “He is then your inmost divine self” and “in the constant rapture of the embraces of Infinite Beauty”. These quotes are in reference to words spoken by Hadit, the masculine divine in the cosmology of Thelema. Thus it is being used completely inappropriately as words spoken by the Goddess, as in fact it originates in relation to the God. This may indicate that the person compiling this version of the Charge was not familiar with Crowley’s work or philosophy, but thought of the words themselves as mere poetry to be used, as it would seem from this that the material used to compile the Charge was used regardless of its original context and symbolism, instead being purely utilised for its poetic and emotive effects. This recalls Valiente’s remark in An ABC of Witchcraft that Gardner told her he “had supplied words which seemed to him to convey the right atmosphere, to strike the right chords in one’s mind.” If this is the case, then it could also support the idea that Gardner was the author, or one of the authors, of the original, as it seems to have been rewritten from the Lift Up the Veil charge.
“Let my worship be within the heart that rejoiceth, for behold:”
The line “heart that rejoiceth” could be taken from Crowley’s Vision and the Voice, though it is not a unique phrase so this may be coincidence.
“all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals; “
More from the Law of Liberty, here emphasising the sexual and sensual components of magickal ceremony in a very Crowleyan manner, “Remember that all acts of love and pleasure are rituals”
“and therefore let there be Beauty and Strength,
Power and Compassion,
Honour and Humility, Mirth and reverence within you.”
The reference to “beauty and strength” could be from Liber Al (AL II.20) or may be coincidence. The rest all seems to be original, though it may have been inspired by “let there be Harmony and Beauty in your mystic loves, that in us may be health and wealth and strength and divine pleasure according to the Law of Liberty”; words spoken by the Deacon during the Gnostic Mass, another of Crowley’s works.
“And thou who thinkest to seek me, know that thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not unless thou know 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 inspiration here comes from Crowley’s Liber LXV, lines 59-60, “But I have called unto Thee, and I have journeyed unto Thee, and it availed me not. I waited patiently, and Thou wast with me from the beginning.”
 Kabbalah Unveiled, Mathers, 1887
 Kabbalah, Ponce, 1974
 Proverbs 3:17-18.
 The Survival of the Pagan Gods, Seznec, 1953
 Manual d’archeologie prehistorique Celtique et Gallo-Romaine, Dechelette, 1908
 Mélusine de Lusignan, Jean d’Arras, 1393
 The Hero of the Longhouse, Mary Elisabeth Laing, 1920
 An Introduction to the Study of Dante, Symonds, 1890
 Essays in Romance and Studies from Life, Skelton, 1878
 An ABC of Witchcraft, Doreen Valiente, 1984
 Mary Ware: The Little Colonel’s Chum, Johnston, 1908
**See- Wicca Magickal Beginnings, d'Este and Rankine, Avalonia, 2005, 2008 for a full bibliography and sources used.
Copyright: (c) Sorita d'Este, 2010
Location: Glastonbury, England
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