Charge of the Goddess

PaganGreen Pagan Witches

Charge of the Goddess In Wicca, a poetic and inspiring
address given by the Goddess to her worshipers
through her intermediary, the coven high priestess. The
Charge of the Goddess is used primarily in the Gardnerian
and Alexandrian traditions, but is not limited to
them. It was authored and popularized in the 1950s by
Gerald B. Gardner and Doreen Valiente, and is one of
the best-loved and most oft-quoted writings in the Craft.
Various versions have been written by other Witches,
such as Starhawk.
The charge customarily is delivered in Drawing Down
the Moon, a ritual in which the high priest invokes the
Goddess into the high priestess, who enters a trance state
and allows the Goddess to speak through her.
Gardner wrote the first version of the Charge, in
which he adapted Tuscan witches’ rituals as recorded by
Charles Godfrey Leland in Aradia: The Gospel of the
Witches (1889), and borrowed from Aleister Crowley’s
writings. Valiente rewrote Gardner’s version in verse, retaining
words from Aradia because they were traditional,
but eliminating much of the Crowley material.
Aradia includes a “Charge of the Goddess,” which consists
of instructions given to mortal witches by Aradia,
daughter of Diana and Lucifer. Leland maintained that
the legend possibly dated back to the Middle Ages and
had been handed down orally from generation to generation.
According to the legend, Diana charges Aradia with
coming to earth to teach witchcraft to mortals. When
Aradia is finished, Diana recalls her to heaven. As she
prepares to leave earth, Aradia tells her witches:
When I have departed from this world,
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 a sign that ye are truly free,
Ye shall be naked in your rites, both men
And women also: this shall last until
The last of your oppressors shall be dead; . . .
After writing her verse version of the Charge, Valiente
found that most persons preferred a prose Charge. She
wrote a final prose version which retains bits of Aradia,
as well as phrases from Crowley’s writings, such as “Keep
pure your highest ideal,” from The Law of Liberty, and
“Nor do I demand [aught in] sacrifice,” from The Book of
the Law.
The following prose text of the Charge is as it appears
in Eight Sabbats for Witches (1981) by Janet and Stewart
Farrar. The Farrars, who call the Charge a “Wiccan Credo,”
made small changes in Valiente’s wording, such as
substituting “witches” for “witcheries”:
The High Priest says:
“Listen to the words of the Great Mother; she who
was of old also called among men Artemis, Astarte,
Athene, Dione, Melusine, Aphrodite, Cerridwen, Dana,
Arianrhod, Isis, Bride, and by many other names.”
The High Priestess says:
“Whenever ye have need of any thing, 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 fain to learn all sorcery, yet 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;
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 joy on earth; for my law is love unto all
beings. Keep pure your highest ideal; strive ever towards
it; let naught stop you or turn you aside. For mine is
the secret door which opens upon the Land of Youth,
and mine is the cup of 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 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.”
The High Priest says:
“Hear ye the word of the Star Goddess, she in the
dust of whose feet are the hosts of heaven, whose body
encircles the universe.”
56 Charge of the Goddess
The High Priestess says:
“I who am the beauty of the green earth, and the
white Moon among the stars, and the mystery of the
waters, and the desire of the heart of man, call unto
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 rapture of the
infinite. Let my worship be within the heart that rejoiceth;
for 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 you. And thou who thinkest to seek
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.”

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