THE NEW BOOK OF THE LAW
Commentary by J. Random Folksinger
I have to preface this by stating that I was first drawn to
this work by Leigh Ann Hussey, and reacted very negatively to it.
This will be my second time through these Laws, with comments that
are SOLELY MY OWN OPINION. I know that Lady Galadriel put a lot of
work (translate: sweat blood) into these Laws, and I am not attac-
king her or her work. Making my points without sounding negative
would have been nice, but I have not been very successful at this;
since several people have been asking me to put down *WHY* I didn't
like them, I felt that getting the project over with would be better
than struggling with a novel-length exercise in not offending anyone.
To Lady Galadriel: I, too, have sweat blood over a reconstruction
project similar to this (and I got lots of negative feedback, too).
My finished copy, which includes the old "Burning Times" laws as a
historical source or what to do when things *really* get bad, can be
had from Leigh Ann, Judy Harrow, or downloaded from WeirdBase in St.
Louis as "JRFLAWS.TXT". My heart goes out to you, but I am commenting
on your Laws from my head only.
On the Preface:The Book of the Law, orLiber Al, which Lady G.
refers to as a primary source, is not the same as Craft law in most
traditions as it was written by Aleister Crowley; it is, therefore,
hardly a wonder why it was not found to be very pertinent by Lady G.
If, indeed, Lady G.'s Book of the Law was *not* Liber Al, it is hard
to understand where many of these Laws originated.
1. Form and Order? Ask a Discordianor Shamanic Craft type. The
Laws were created for guidance, as the latter part of this Law at-
2. Channels, and manifestation of the Source? This sounds more
like New Age Xtianity than Wicca. I should stop talking about the
flowers in the language, although they are disconcerting and very
distracting from the original goal of "readable, usable, and per-
tinent to the needs ..." I suppose I can just use the term "flowers"
as my way of saying that the language is unnecessarily complicated
when it really bothers me -- and most of these laws do fall in this
3. Oh,no. Not the Xtian "Ye are as children"routine again. The
Gods, in my training, wish us to grow, not perpetually remain
children. To not test what they say is the same as channelling some
unknown spirit and believing everything he/she says. We are growing,
making the Gods proud, not belittling or mocking them.
4. This law isover-judgemental (something I am accusedof being
at times), and ignores the need for working with our shadow-side; I
suppose naivete is the worst I can say about this Law. I can easily
find better in Marion Weinstein's POSITIVE MAGIC...
5. The "Mothership"routine smacks of CloseEncounters, butother
than the children routine and some language problems, this one isn't
too bad -- but isn't there something in an initiation ritual about
us and the Gods being the same "but for a difference of power"? I
would think Brothers and Sisters of the Gods would be better ter-
minology -- feminists are welcome to reverse the wording.
6. Hmmm. Sounds liketithing to me. While it is certainlya good
idea, we give back to the Gods all the time -- this would be making
the meaningful ritual a mechanical one. Sustain its Priests and
Priestesses? Paid (or fed) clergy? Shades of Paul! This part would
still work in my tradition, since we are all priests and pries-
tesses, but I know some that are different...
7. I can't see the purpose of this Law, and know of no cor-
responding Law in the Laws I have come across. It sounds like the God
of the Xtians again, making people the way they are and then judging
them for being that way.
8.A direct statement wouldbe better. Who do you know in these
times that goes around weighing silver? Is this a modern metaphor?
I don't think so.
9. Does not parse. Sounds good, though...
10. This soundslike it's setting up theteacher as infallible--
shut up and listen. Also, while I hear Karma used frequently in
Craft discussions, it is because it is a useful concept for us;
however, this is the first time I have seen the Lords of Karma
enthroned in Craft Law.
11. I could have taken the Golden Rule in one of its permuta-
tions, but this is much more akin to the concept of "Sin" than that of
12. "You must not be a teller of tales..."? What, we areto
have no Bards in the Craft? If this law means that gossipping is
not a good thing, why doesn't it say so? And "must hold no malice"
indicates that we are not allowed to be human again -- true, it is
better for the Craft that we all be as a loving family, but there
are otheR ways to deal with the problems caused by personality
conflicts than to outlaw legitimate feelings.
13. Flowers. Old Law. (Meaning that, other than difference in
wording, this is the same as the "Old Laws", i.e., Lady Sheba and
14. Oh, boy! Priestess Knows Best (and will be happy to be
responsible for *you*). If someone asks me a question, give them
the straightest answer I can, and without phoning up my Priestess for
permission to do so. I am a trained, adult Witch, and am capable both
of making my own decisions *and* taking the consequences for making
a wrong decision. The "You must not put stumbling blocks..." sounds
like the old parental admonishment, "Don't put beans in your ears."
The Xtians have enough stumbling blocks of their own; I don't
think ours would even be noticed, and so are unnecessary.
15. The key words are in the Preface: readable, usable, and
pertinent. "Fetters" and "woe" are not very meaninful words in this
half of the 20th century. Not sure about the use of "souls",
either, since that seems to be mostly a xtian concern. Remember,
Lady G. said that she reworded some of these laws "to make them
clearer and more understandable". I think she missed here.
16. Sounds like"Trust in God; Hewill provide." Where is the
Craft basis for this Law?
17. Ifyou killsomeone magickally,accidentally orotherwise,
you should be sacrificed to atone for it? My Goddess demands nothing
in sacrifice. It would be far better to get into therapy and see how
you could forgive yourself and help others to forgive you (I'm using
"forgive" as a psychological, not religious, term). No problem with
the first sentence.
18. Could be said more clearly.
19.The source for this, especially the final sentence, seems
to be Jesus in Revelation. "Many say, Lord, Lord, but I know them
20. Sounds like, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord,thy
God in vain". Either that is what this law is saying, or it needs to
21. Old Law. I would have worded it, "In any disputes among
22. Old Law.
23. To me, mymagickal tools are channels between whatis within
me and what is outside of me (on the magickal planes, which
frequently intersect with the planes of reality). Still, Do Not Haggle
is Old Law.
24. Old Law, except for the semantical substitution of
"Power" for "Art" and the use of the judgmental terms "evil" and
25. "Thou shalt notsteal"? Hinted-at consequences are unneces-
26. I don't understand "Show honor" as a phrase, and the last
phrase is not comprehensible to me.
27. "Those whoare of the Wiccashall not own slaves,"-- good
idea, although I have never seen it included in Craft Law. The rest
of this sentence is again unclear and/or unnecessary justification.
"Nor shall you take as a pledge any person's life,"; well, the Laws
of Karma (if you accept them, which these Laws purport to) demand
otherwise from time to time, and again, this has not been found
necessary in any other set of Craft Laws I have seen.
28. Thisis the second time the Golden Rulehas been quoted in a
faulty permutation. "If a stranger sojourns with you...they shall be
as one of the Circle..." What, we're going to invite total strang-
ers into our rites just because this Law says so? There are
enough Laws that contradict this already. This doesn't sound right.
29. This came straight out of Leviticus, and also exists in
Baha'i law in a slightly clearer form. It's nice that We're getting
ecumenical, but what is the need for this in Craft Law? The Threefold
Law applies, and is easier to understand.
30. The Good Wiccan Houskeeping Seal is required for Circle?
31. Not a Wiccan Law. "Cleanliness is next to god/dessliness"
would be a shorter way of phrasing this. Although the old customs
(NOT laws) require bathing prior to a ritual, even that has been
used to "find" Witches with in some areas (they're clean and smell
nice -- they must be seducing our men for Satan!).
32. Not Law, but a start; Ibelieve none should die without
someone having cared for them; and that death with dignity is the
hoped-for ideal. Many of you already know that I'm initiating action
toward Pagan hospice, funeral, and cemetery care. The judgement
about "their actions" is for the Dark Lord to make.
33. ThreefoldLaw is all youneed here. Anythingelseis moral
34. Amendedversion: "Let those who desire union asa couple (or
other forms as might be desirable, such as a triad or a group relati-
onship) be handfasted, sharing their love in a manner they and the
Gods find pleasing." Children are not necessary for shared love
(and often separate the parents from their mutual desires), and
there is no need to deny handfasting to couples not wanting childr-
en. I also am not certain that this needs to be a Law.
35. "The Law of the Goddess isthat none of the Wicca shalltake
and wed someone who they do not love." Period.
36. Not Law. Also uses "brethren", another male term. (Anyone
who has read my revision of Gardnerian Craft Law should have noticed
the near-total lack of gender terminology.)
37. The first sentenceis incomprehensible, immaterial, orboth.
This law is very flowery, and I would love to know what Lady G.
extracted it from.
38. Old Law:"Never boast,never threaten..." seemsto be theroot
here - and is much clearer in that form.
39. The concept of magickal purity is one of ritual magick,
not the Craft. This Law is, in letter and spirit, one of ritual
magick. While some traditions of the Craft do get into ritual magick,
that still does not make this "proper" as Craft Law.
40. Old Law was both clearer and less "new-agey".
41. WHERE hath the Goddess said these things? Nowhere in my
tradition, and they sound more like things She may have
said in circle -- certainly no need to canonize them.
42. Back to Leviticus. This is far too judgemental for any
tradition I am familiar with. There also seems to be confusion between
"work" as in make money and "work" as in learning and teaching the
things of the Craft.
43. A sacred trust? This explainswhy Grove of the Unicorn
built a sanctuary in Georgia, but I have never seen this
expressed as a requirement. Most traditions are not getting over
being hidden; this Law requires total openness. I think it's danger-
ous to do this in most areas, and having the Goddess decree (here)
that we should do something that could harm Her Witches (something
She expressly forbids us to do in the Old Laws) doesn't feel right.
What is the source of this one? It appears to be the inner feelings of
some Witch or Witches, which is not good enough to pass off as Craft
44. While Ihave been taught this, it wasunder "What We Do"
rather than "The Law". The style of presentation sounds too much
like what YHWH would have written as a law rather than the
Goddess I know...
45.Am I readingthis wrong, oris this saying "Honor the Sabbath
and keep it holy"? We need to set aside a whole day(s)? I don't
think that's realistic in these times, although it might have
been in paleolithic times.
46. Not necessary. Any teacher will give you this information.
47. Definitely flowers. Let each Witch keep a book (she even
dropped the "in their own hand" part). What else is necessary?
48. Clumsy, with toomany "they"s in spots;How about, "Studythe
signs of the Gods in all their forms; these shall guide your thoughts
to the Gods and the Gods will take notice of you. Turn your thoughts
and worship to the Gods, not the signs and statues of them."
49. Theoriginal here says"If *any* inthe Craft ownsany land..-
.guard all monies of the Craft..." thus widening the circle of love
beyond just the Circle you are a part of.
50. Old Law. I feel this could be done a bit more clearly.
51. Extremely Crowleyian in content, where the content
can be determined. It sounds like it is favoring asceticism "for
the good of the Craft...". Unclear rules like this have led to
excesses in other religions they have appeared in.
52. NOT CRAFT LAW. Paul wouldhave loved to have this kind of
law as stated by Christ, but it wasn't true then and it isn't true
now. IF WE'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO TAKE MONEY FOR THE ART, HOW COME WE CAN
BE ALLOWED TO TAKE GIFTS?????
53.Taken as an extension of#52, this law repulses me; however,
having deleted #52, and deleting "offerings of ... money", it could be
OK. But it is totally unnecessary unless you're trying to set your-
self up as the First Church of Wicca, N.A., complete with Xtian
abuses of power. In any loving circle, poeple will bring the
incense, or the cakes and/or wine, or work together on building a new
altar. This is already covered in the laws above, though.
54. Harmony will be restored by working toward harmony, not by
donating to your favorite non-profit Temple. Again, the emphasis on
giving makes me think of televangelists ("I need to make the
payment on my Inspirational Cadillac"). I don't know what problems
Grove of the Unicorn has been having in keeping up their payments on
the land or whatever, but their problems should not be used as a
lever to change Craft Law (if indeed this is the object of these
55. Once more, this law either comes out of ritualmagic or
televangelism (or both). Every Witch should know (or know how to look
up) the proper times for a ritual, and should be able to offer it
up themselves ("thru the most proper medium" could mean "Pay the
Priestess" or it could mean "use the right tools" -- if it is *not*
intended to mean the latter, then this law has no basis in the Craft).
56. Old Law, and one of the most important Craft Laws.
57. Separating this Law from the previous one causes a minor
problem -- it now becomes "Never break the Laws" (and there are some
dillies in this set) instead of "Never break *this* Law".
58. The "Mighty Ones" decided for us "in days of old" that we
cannot use the Art against anyone? A shirking of responsibility is
again evident. While the same precept occurs in my set of the Laws,
it is obviously a decision made in the light of persecutions, not
something decreed from on high.
59.Sentence fragments. (sic)This is asubject that isnot in the
Laws (but is in the Charge of the Goddess, without the God's side of
60. Why do we need "thedimly remembered dawn of ages past" and
Atlantis to make this point? This is the only version I've seen that
goes beyond remembered history.
61. Should be combined with #60, and have more of the
excessive verbiage dropped. Oh, no! Not another cry of "the evil of
chaos" again! How can these people even *talk* to Discordians?Any set
of Laws that is intended to be Craft-inclusive must not include
value judgements, especially using the words "good", "evil", and
"chaos". This law seems to be wishing for the time when we were in
power; every set of Laws I've seen prior to this one would settle
for a time in which we are tolerated or accepted.
62. I don't understand what this is trying to say -- it seems
to fluctuate between "No more secrets", "Only a few secrets", and
"Don't tell anybody anything". Since all three of these have been
expressed above, I'm not sure this law is needed; it hardly even adds
to the confusion.
63. The change from "always heeding the Messenger" to "always
heeding the messages" is a little dangerous, but otherwise, this is
64. This law sounds pretty Gardnerian in tone, but it does not
agree with Gardnerian myths -- i.e., while Goddess created everyth-
ing, she did not create Death itself. Life without Death offers no
regeneration, as Life could not continue on its own; the God was
outside of Her creation, and so He had things to teach Her about
Death. (Those of you who prefer Starhawk's version of this myth are
TOTALLY ignored in this law.)
65. I thought anHPs was only concerned mainlywith what happens
in Her Circle -- this Law seems to state that She is concerned with
an unstated, but large-sounding, community. Other than that, this is
66. I don'tthink this needs to be in the Laws, but it's a good
idea for each Circle to consider.
67. This seems to be based upon the Old Laws' "If any in the
Craft has any land...", but it does take that additional step into
demi-deified clergy. I wish I knew whether Grove of the Unicorn was an
authoritarian structure or not, but these Laws go a long way toward
making its sound like one. (I'm not sure this group could "pass"
Isaac Bonewits' Cult Danger Evaluation Frame after having read this
many of their Laws.)
68. Aha! Almost OldLaw, and a"Burning Times" law!This is still
a good Law, but it was formulated to keep anyone from knowing more
than one group to "give away" if they cracked under pressure of
69. Old Law; probably should be included in #68.
70. Are wetalking about pneumonia, herpes, ora cold here? You
can do a lot better healing work *in* Circle (in my experience) than
outside of it in many cases, and any Witch can decide for her/him-
self whether they are too sick to be in Circle and ask (or not ask)
for healing. I suppose I find this law too judgemental, or too gen-
71. Old Law.
72.There is nodefinition of Council given (the "Old Law" says
"the Elders"), and the "Old Law" states that either the High Priest
or the High Priestess can convene the Elders (useful if the HPs is out
of town...) Otherwise, Old Law.
73. Generally, Old Law.Some of therestatements aredifficult or
unwieldy, but no real problems.
74. Old Law.(Actually, a bit of another Old Law is grafted
in for clarification, but it doesn't hurt anything.)
75. In conflict with English(/American) Law, "Ignorance is no
excuse," includes threefold law (which is NOT included in the Old
Laws), and throws in the Lords of Karma again; rephrased, this could
be an excellent law or rule, but I do not recognize a single source
for this one. Some ritual magic, a little Hinduism, no Craft per se.
76. Nice thought; sounds like a personal addition.
77. As above, the "want of an offering" is not an issue in Old
Law; the "lack of a robe" has never been discussed, since most groups
I am familiar with generally work skyclad or negotiate the issue.
78. Nice thought; sounds like a personal addition.
79. So many flowers that (I feel) most would miss the point. I'm
afraid I did, and I'm a musician.
80. Sounds likethe Apostle Paul. The qualitiesI was taught to
look for in a High Priestess were caring, leadership, patience,
ability, and knowing when to ask for help. This cuts out faith (some-
thing Goddess says in Her Charge is not asked for) and belief (some-
thing she wouldn't be in Circle without). More flames on the topic of
81. Source? Sounds clergy-like to me...
82.Old Law states that arequirement of being High Priestess is
youth; while this is not easily practiced in all covens, going to the
opposite extreme is probably not much better. My personal experiences
have been in covens where everyone takes their hand at practicing HP
and HPs, with the HPs acting more like organizer and running coven
83. Ouch.Based upon Old Law,this Law removes theaspect of Love
as an excuse (or Glands, if you like the Wombat Wicca version) -- and
demands both judgement *and* atonement for a HPs who has left and
come back -- even uses the judgemental term, "deserts", in dealing
with the issue. The Old Law may have its drawbacks, but is a much
better guide (I feel) than getting nasty about it. Oooh, they don't
even get to hold office again! Many things are sacred, and certainly
being High Priestess is one of them, but in my teaching, Love is a
higher ideal, and the Craft has always allowed for it.
84. Old Law, with flamesas above. "It isthe lives of all ofthe
Craft they endanger." Honor is still undefined in this context.
85. The useof the word,"Sabbatical" is cutein this context,but
this should be a part of #83 rather than separating them out.
Also, the phrase, "the Maiden should continue in that office" confuses
the reader as to which office -- the law has already stated that she
should reap the reward; does election of another person invalidate the
election? It should read, "...the Maiden shall be the Maiden for the
86. This is a new idea, and probably a good one:the Priestess
and the Priest need not be the consort of the other, but are select-
ed each by the coven or circle and are free to choose their own
consorts. The one possible negative I can think of concerns the few
times when Great Rite is held, and the feelings of their consorts on
this matter. But then it lets the coven decide whether the choice
was right nor not! If we're dealing with private lives, let them
remain private. Based on Old Law, except that in Old Law the
Priestess is chosen and She selects the Priest. This law again
contains too many value judgements -- if you need a perfect person
to run your circle, you will never meet.
87. Adapted from the Letters of Paul the Apostle, not the Old
Laws. It is nice to state that we should be responsible for oursel-
ves, but that is a part of being a Witch (oops, by these Laws,
Witches are only children, so I suppose making "those of the Pries-
thood" adults is what this law is about). This also seems to state
(per Xtianity) that their mates, children, and house are all posses-
sions; hardly a feminist or Craft perspective.
88. Reverse Xtian. Extremely sexist, andno more or less bad
than making the Man ruler of the world.
THE NEW BOOK OF THE LAW is published by:
The Grove of the Unicorn PO Box 13384 Atlanta, GA 30324
To order, send a legal size SASE. A small contribution
towards printing/handling costs will be appreciated.
These comments have been made by Gerald L. Bliss, who is also
known as J. Random Folksinger.
Next: Aporrheton 5 (Judy Harrow?)