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Modern Laws of the Craft
I am not certain of the precise origin of these
laws, but I seem to recall hearing that they were created by a council
of elders of various traditions at a festival in the US circa 1979 or
so in an effort to create a more workable and up-to-date set of laws to
use in place of the rather dated Gardnerian Laws of the Craft (which even
Doreen Valiente suspects Gardner made up). Note that I (your not-so-humble
webmistress) don't personally agree with all of these, particularly
not the gender stereotyping in laws 12-14.
- As no ship may have two captains, so must it be that no coven or grove or other gathering of those in the Craft, shall have two or more most powerful leaders. Thus the leadership of any such group shall devolve upon a High Priestess or High Priest, whomever seems most fit to serve and will accept the charge of duty.
- In the circle, the words, commands and every wish of this leader are law.
- In the best of circles, the High Priestess and High Priest act as one, and their union gives each of them the strength and wisdom of the other. And, as such, in the circle, the words, commands and wishes of either are law.
- The High Priestess is the earthly, living representative of the Goddess. She must be obeyed and respected in all things, and given whatever signs of respect are due to her office within her tradition or coven.
- The High Priest is the earthly, living representative of the God. He must be obeyed and respected in all things, and given whatever signs of respect are due to his office within his tradition or coven.
- The Laws of the Craft are old, and they command respect due to the fact that they have withstood the test of time. But as they fail that test, they may be revised, added to, or deleted, as the times require.
- The Law was made for those of the Craft, both the Wicca and their students and followers, to advise and help them in times of trouble. The Law was not made to bind or constrain, or hinder the free exercise of wisdom.
- Those of the Craft shall give due worship to the Gods and obey Their will. To this end they shall hold themselves aware of Nature and all the world about them, that they might read therefrom the signs and portents of the will of the Gods. So also shall they strive within their hearts and minds to interpret these signs and portents. But if they should find themselves lacking the wisdom to do this, they should seek further to discover the Divine will by taking their questions to their High Priestess or High Priest.
- The High Priestess or High Priest shall always be available, upon reasonable notice, to assist those of the Craft to encounter and to understand the Gods.
- It is essential that the circle which is the temple of the Gods shall be duly cast and purified, that it may be a fitting place for the Gods to enter.
- So also shall those of the Craft be properly prepared and purified to enter in to the presence of the Gods.
- A legend: As early Pagan men occupied their time with the hunting and trapping of animals, and the arts of war, they learned much of the ways of the wild, and less of the ways of people and personal relationships.
As early Pagan women spent their time in the more social activities of agriculture, village maintenance, and the keeping of the home of the people, they learned far more about the ways in which people get along with people. The women learned tolerance, patience, and empathy from their lives as mothers.
As our Lady and our Lord are the Goddess of Womankind and the God of Mankind, the Horned God is wild and free and strong, and the Goddess is wise and tolerant and compassionate.
So it is said that the Horned One, when He returned home from one of His many journeys, looked upon His Lady, and recognized Her greater understanding of human problems, and so declared that His strength was from then on Hers to command in all matters of people and their dealings with others.
So also did our Gracious Goddess understand that She must never interfere with the wildness and freedom that gave the God His strength.
Thus the High Priestess, who is the representative of the Goddess, rules her students and followers by the authority of the Goddess which is backed up by the strength of the High Priest and the God.
Thus also does the High Priest, who is the ambassador of the Horned One, govern by the authority of his closeness with the High Priestess and the Goddess.
- Even a High Priestess can grow old and lose touch with the needs, desires, and thoughts of contemporary people. Therefore shall she hold herself ready to retire in favour of a younger woman, should she or her followers decide that another has the wisdom to better carry out the duties of the position.
- So also shall a High Priest be prepared to retire in favour of a stronger, more dynamic young man, should he or his followers in the Craft perceive such a need.
- The times of persecution by violence and torture have been and gone, but the time of full acceptance of the Craft is not yet upon us, and so, while the old laws of furtiveness and secrecy are no longer necessary, they must be replaced by equally firm laws of privacy.
- So must it be that none of the Craft shall bring or allow the presence of an outsider at any worship or at any class or any other gathering of those of the Craft without first obtaining permission to do so from the High Priestess or High Priest, teacher, or other leader who speaks for the entire group.
- None of the Craft shall reveal to anyone outside of his/her own coven, grove, circle, or study group the names of any of his/her sisters or brothers, nor their places of residence or of employment, nor any other information, without first obtaining the express permission of both the person involved and the High Priestess or High Priest, teacher, or other leader who speaks for the welfare of the entire group.
- None of the Craft shall shall reveal or permit the discovery of the location of the covenstead or study or meeting place of any group.
- As communication and travel have become easier, so must it be recognized that none of the Craft may any longer attend any of the great festivals and gatherings of the Craft without fear of being recognized. Any must abstain from these gatherings if such recognition might cause a serious invasion of privacy of any other or others of the Craft.
- If there be any quarrels or disputes among members of a coven or grove, the High Priestess or High Priest shall convene the elders, if any, and enquire into the matter, and they shall hear both sides, first alone, then together.
- And they shall decide, justly, not favouring one side or the other.
- As travel has become quicker and easier, and as those of the Craft live in larger and more densely populated cities, the idea of the covendom becomes meaningless. The covendom is traditionally the geographical area within convenient travelling distance of the covenstead. But in some large cities today, there may be as many as five or six covensteads within an hour's travel from the centre of town. Even in the countryside, serious students may be prepared to travel to seek out the finest group of friends within the Craft with whom to worship and work, and this right should not be denied them.
- The elders are those who by virtue of long study and experience have acquired the respect of a coven and are accepted by the High Priestess and High Priest as valued and trusted counsellors. They may or may not be active in the daily functioning of the coven.
- Within a coven all strive toward the ultimate goal of perfect love and perfect trust, each one for each of the rest.
- Sisters and brothers of the Craft are, however, people, and not Gods. They are imperfect, and their imperfections may cause irresolvable conflict. Those of the Craft may not work together when such conflict exists between them, for such conflict is contrary to the cooperation needed to hold the circle. Such irresolvable conflict must be removed, and to this end, any of the Craft who possess sufficient wit, wisdom, and understanding, may leave the coven, grove, or study group to found another.
- If the founder of a new group of the Craft wishes to teach, then only those who acknowledge her/him as a superior teacher will follow her/him. If she/he wishes to learn, she/he must find a superior teacher to the old, or her/his move is pointless. If she/he wishes to lead in the worship of the Gods, then he/she must be truly wise in Their ways, or none will follow, for wisdom cannot be counterfeited.
- Members of a coven who leave to found or join a new one are forever bound to silence concerning the affairs of the old.
- The positions of High Priestess and High Priest carry responsibility, both to the followers of Wicca and to the Gods, and this responsibility may not be lightly abandoned. So if a High Priestess or High Priest should be neither seen nor heard from for a full lunar cycle, comprised of three full or new moon celebrations, then on the third such celebration shall the one acting in her/ his stead call for the formal appointed of her/himself or another to replace the departed. Should the departed High Priestess or High Priest return within the subsequent six moons (three months) and wish to carry on in her/his former office, she/ he shall present, to the entire coven, excellent reasons for her/his absence and non-communication, and she/he shall accept the verdict of the coven as to her/his re-appointment. Should the departed High Priestess/High Priest be gone and out of communication for more than nine full and new moon celebrations, she/he may return only as a common covener, or be appointed as an elder. Remember, the Laws of the Craft are made to guide firmly, but not to bind.
- Leaders of the Craft, High Priestesses, High Priests, and teachers, shall bear ever in mind that the arts of the Wicca are powerful and can be dangerous. Therefore shall they not teach of poisons, curses, or any manner of destructive arts to any without first spending time in meditation on the student's preparedness for such knowledge. Only after consciously accepting the karmic responsibility for the student's use of such knowledge may the teacher teach.
- Never accept payment for teaching and guiding people to an understanding and worship of the Gods, for the food of the Gods is love and Their drink is joy, and these cannot be bought with money.
- But if the Gods have endowed you with a gift for music or carpentry, clairvoyance or the ability to heal, or any of the like, They would not then deny you the use of that gift to support yourself, so you may ask payment for the use of your gift in good and honest work. But ask not too much, for the gifts of the Gods are to be used, not abused. And if anyone needs you, and cannot afford to pay, deny them not, for who are you to withhold a gift from the Gods?
- If the coven or grove has any money, let it be kept safe and spent only as asked by the full group, or by the representative appointed by the full group in concert.
- Should you wish to purchase a tool or a temple, or any other thing with which to practise the Craft, decide what it is worth, what its value is to you, and offer not a penny less for it, for to do so would cheapen it and its use for the Craft.
- Keep your tools and those of the coven clean and safe.
- When you make a tool, do so with care and love, paying particular attention to using the proper materials and working on the proper days, at the proper times. Hold the Gods in your mind as you work, and They will help to guide your hands.
- When you search for a tool, keep your senses open and one will cry out to you. Touch it, and let it speak to you with love, then you will know you have found your tool.
- Keep your journal regularly, both so that you do not forget the wisdom that the Gods show you each day, and as an exercise in the discipline that the Craft demands of those who would excel.
- Today it is more essential than ever before that none use the Art to do ill to any, for today we have some measure of acceptance by those who are not of the Craft, and to lose this would be a grievous blow indeed, and there is no surer way to lose that acceptance than to violate our birthright, which is the gift of the Gods to the Wicca.
- Do what thou wilt shall not be the whole of the Law! The Law shall be: An it harm none, do what thou wilt. The Gods of the Wicca are not makers of morality. It is up to those of the Craft to think, and act only in ways which bring harm to none.
- Remember Karma!
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