WORDS TO THE WISE ....
O daughters and sons of the Earth, adore the Goddess and God and be
blessed with the fullness of life. Know that They have brought you
to these writings, for herein lie our ways of the Craft, to serve
and fulfill the keepers of wisdom, the tenders of the sacred flame
of knowledge. Run the rites with love and joy, and the Goddess and
God will bless you with all thet you need. But those who practise
dark magicks shall know Their greatest wrath. Remember that you are
of the Craft. No more do you trod the ways of doubt. You walk the
path of light, ever climbing from shadow to shadow to the highest
realm of existence. But though we're the bearers of truths, others
do not wish to share our knowledge, so we run our rites beneath
moon filled skies enwrapped in shadows. But we are happy. Live
fully, for that is the purpose of life. Refrain not from earthly
existence. From it we grow to learn and understand, until such
time that we are reborn to learn more, repeating this cycle 'till
we have spiralled up the path of perfection and can finally call
the Goddess and God our kin. Walk the fields and forests; be
refreshed by the cool winds and the touch of a nodding flower. The
Moon and Sun sing in the ancient wild places: The deserted
seashore, the stark desert, the roaring waterfall. We are of the
Earth and should revere Her, so do Her honor. Celebrate the rites
on the appropriate days and seasons, and call upon the Goddess and
God when the time is meet, but use the Power only when necessary,
never for frivolous ends. Know that using the Power for harm is a
Perversion of Life itself. But for those who love and magnify love,
the richness of life shall be your reward. Nature will celebrate.
So love the Goddess and God, and harm none!
THE NATURE OF OUR WAY
* As often as possible, hold the rites in forests, by the seashore,
on deserted mountaintops or near tranquil lakes. If this is
impossible, a garden or some chamber shall suffice, if it is
readied with fumes of flowers.
* Seek out wisdom in books, rare manuscripts and cryptic poems if
you will, but seek it out also in simple stones and fragile herbs
and in the cries of wild birds. Listen to the wisperings of the
wind and the roar of water if you would discover magick, for it is
here that the old secrets are preserved.
* Books contain words; trees contain energies and wisdom books
ne'er dreamt of.
* Ever remember that the Old Ways are constantly revealing
themselves. Therefore be as the river willow that bends and sways
with the wind. That which remains changeless shall outlive its
spirit, but that which evolves and grows will shine for centuries.
* There can be no monopoly on wisdom. Therefore share what you
will of our ways with others who seek them, but hide mystic lore
from the eyes of those who would destroy, for to do otherwise
increases their destruction.
* Mock not the rituals or spells of another, for who can say yours
are greater in power or wisdom?
* Ensure that your actions are honorable, for all that you do shall
return to you three-fold, good or bane.
* Be wary of one who would dominate you, who would control and
manipulate your workings and reverences. True reverence for the
Goddess and God occurs within. Look with suspicion on any who
would twist worship from you for their own gain and glory, but
welcome those priestesses and priests who are suffused with love.
* Honor all living things, for we are of the bird, the fish, the
bee. Destroy not life save it be to preserve your own.
* And this is the nature of our way.
BEFORE TIME WAS
Before time was, there was The One; The One was all, and all was The
And the vast expanse known as the universe was The One, all-wise,
all-pervading, all-powerful, eternally changing.
And space moved. The One molded energy into twin forms, equal but
opposite, fashioning the Goddess and God from The One and of The One.
The Goddess and God stretched and gave thanks to The One, but
darkness surrounded them. They were alone, solitary save for The One.
So They formed energy into gasses and gasses into suns and planets
and moons; They sprinkled the universe with whirling globes and so all
was given shape by the hands of the Goddess and God.
Light arose and the sky was illuminated by a billion suns. And the
Goddess and God, satisfied by their works, rejoiced and loved, and were
From their union sprang the seeds of all life, and of the human
race, so that we might achieve incarnation upon the Earth.
The Goddess chose the Moon as Her symbol, and the God the Sun as His
symbol, to remind the inhabitants of Earth of their fashioners.
All are born, live, die and are reborn beneath the Sun and Moon; all
things come to pass thereunder, and all occurs with the blessings of
The One, as has been the way of existence before time was.
SONG OF THE GODDESS
I am the Great Mother, worshipped by all creation and existent
prior to their consciousness. I am the primal female force,
boundless and eternal.
I am the chaste Goddess of the Moon, the Lady of all magick. The
winds and moving leaves sing my name. I wear the cresent Moon upon
my brow and my feet rest among the starry heavens. I am mysteries
yet unsolved, a path newly set upon. I am a field untouched by the
plow. Rejoice in me and know the fullness of youth.
I am the blessed Mother, the gracious Lady of the harvest. I am
clothed with the deep, cool wonder of the Earth and the gold of the
fields heavy with grain. By me the tides of the Earth are ruled;
all things come to fruition according to my reason. I am refuge
and healing. I am the life-giving Mother, wondrously fertile.
Worship me as the Crone, tender of the unbroken cycle of death and
rebirth. I am the wheel, the shadow of the Moon. I rule the tides
of women and mem and give release and renewal to weary souls.
Though the darkness of death is my domain, the joy of birth is my
I am the Goddess of the Moon, the Earth, the Seas. My names and
strengths are manifold. I pour forth magick and power, peace and
wisdom. I am the eternal Maiden, Mother of all, and Crone of
darkness, and I send you blessings of limitless love.
CALL OF THE GOD
I am the radiant King of the Heavens, flooding the Earth with
warmth and encouraging the hidden seed of creation to burst forth
into manifestation. I lift my shining spear to light the lives of
all beings and daily pour forth my gold upon the Earth, putting to
flight the powers of darkness.
I am the master of the beasts wild and free. I run with the swift
stag and soar as a sacred falcon against the shimmering sky. The
ancient woods and wild places emanate my powers, and the birds of
the air sing of my sanctity.
I am also the last harvest, offering up grain and fruits beneath
the sickle of time so that all may be nourished. For without
planting there can be no harvest; without winter, no spring.
Worship me as the thousand-named Sun of creation, the spirit of the
horned stag in the wild, the endless harvest. See in the yearly
cycle of festivals my birth, death and rebirth - and know that such
is the destiny of all creation.
I am the spark of life, the radiant Sun, the giver of peace and
rest, and I send my rays of blessings to warm the hearts and
strengthen the minds of all.
THE DAYS OF POWER
In the past, when people lived with Nature, the turning of the
seasons and the monthly cycle of the Moon had a profound impact on
religious ceremonies. Because the Moon was seen as a symbol of the
Goddess, ceremonies as adoration and magick took place in its
light. The coming of Winter, the first stirrings of Spring, the
warm Summer and the advent of Fall were also marked with rituals.
The Witches, heirs of the pre-Christian folk religions of Europe,
still celebrate the Full Moon and observe the changing of the
seasons. The Pagan religious calandar contains 13 Full Moon
celebrations and eight Sabbats or days of power.
Four of these days (or, more properly, nights) are determined by
the Solstices and Equinoxes, the astronomical beginnings of the
seasons. The other four ritual occations are based on old folk
festivals. The rituals give structure and order to the Pagan year,
and also remind us of the endless cycle that will continue long
after we're gone.
Four of the Sabbats - perhaps those that have been observed for the
longest time - were probably associated with the agriculture and
the bearing cycles of animals. These are Imbolc (February 2),
Beltane (April 30), Lughnasadh (August 1) and Samhain (October 31).
These names are Celtic and are quite common among Witches, though
many others exist.
When careful observation of the skies led to common knowledge of
the astronomical year, the Solstices and Equinoxes (circa March 21,
June 21, September 21 and December 21; the actual dates vary from
year to year) were brought into this religious structure.
Who first began worshipping and raising energy at these times?
That question cannot be answered. However, these sacred days and
nights are the origins of the 21 Craft ritual occasions.
Many of these survive today in both secular and religious forms.
May Day celebrations, Hallowe'en, Ground-hog Day and even
Thanksgiving, to name some popular North American holidays, are all
connected with ancient Pagan worship. Heavily Christianized
versions of the Sabbats have also been preserved within the
The Sabbats are Solar rituals, marking the points of the Sun's
yearly cycle, and are but half of the Pagan ritual year. The
Esbats are the Pagan Full Moon celebrations. At this time we
gather to worship She Who Is. Not that Witches omit the God at
Esbats - both are usually revered on all ritual occations.
There are 13 Full Moons yearly, or one every 28 1/4 days. The Moon
is a symbol of the Goddess as well as a sourse of energy. Thus,
after the religious aspects of the Esbats, Witches often practice
magick, tapping into the larger amounts of energy which are thought
to exist at these times.
Some of the old Craft festivals, stripped of their once sacred
qualities by the dominance of Christianity, have degenerated.
Samhain seems to have been taken over by candy manufacturers in
North America, while Yule has been transformed from one of the most
holy Pagan days to a time of gross commercialism. Even the later
echoes of a Christian savior's birth are hardly audible above the
electronic hum of cash registers.
But the old magick remains on these days and nights, and the Craft
celebrate them. Rituals vary greatly, but all relate to the
Goddess and God and to our home, the Earth. Most rites are held at
night for practical purposes as well as to lend a sence of mystery.
The Sabbats, being Solar-oriented, are more naturally celebrated at
noon or at dawn, but this is rare today.
The Sabbats tell us one of the stories of the Goddess and God, of
their relationship and the effects this has on the fruitfulness of
the Earth. There are many variations on these myths, but here's a
faily common one, woven into the basic descriptions of the Sabbats.
The Goddess gives birth to a son, the God, at Yule (circa December
21). This is in no way an adaptation of Christianity. The Winter
Solstice has long been viewed as a time of divine births. Mithras
was said to have been born at this time. The Christians simply
adopted it for their use in 273 C.E. (Common Era).
Yule is a time of the greatest darkness and is the shortest day of
the year. Earlier peoples noticed such phenomena and supplicated
the forces of nature to lengthen the days and shorten the nights.
Witches sometimes celebrate Yule just before dawn, then watch the
Sun rise as a fitting finale to their efforts.
Since the God is also the Sun, this marks the point of the year
when the Sun is reborn as well. Thus, the Witches light fires or
candles to welcome the Sun's returning light. The Goddess,
slumbering through the Winter of Her labour, rests after Her
Yule is remnant of early rituals celebrated to hurry the end of
Winter and the bounty of Spring, when food was once again readily
available. To contemporary Witches it is a reminder that the
ultimate product of death is rebirth, a comforting thought in these
days of unrest
Imbolc (February 2) marks the recovery of the Goddess after giving
birth to the God. The lengthening periods of light awaken Her. The
God is a young, lusty boy, but His power is felt in the longer
days. The warmth fertilizes the Earth (the Goddess), and causes
seeds to germinate and sprout. And so the earliest beginnings of
This is a Sabbat of purification after the shut-in life of Winter,
through the renewing power of the Sun. It is also a festival of
light and of fertility, once marked in Europe with huge blazes,
torches and fire in every form. Fire here represents our own
illumination and ispiration as much as light and warmth.
Imbolc is also known as Feast of Torches, Oimelc, Lupercalia, Feast
of Pan, Snowdrop Festival, Feast of the Waxing Light, Brighid's
Day, and probably by many other names. Some female Witches follow
the old Scandinavian custom of wearing crowns of lit candles, but
many more carry tapers during their invocations.
This is one of the traditional times for initiations into covens,
and so self-dedication rituals, such as the one outlined in this
Book of Shadows, can be performed or renewed at this time.
Ostara (circa March 21), the Spring Equinox, also known as Spring,
Rites of Spring and Eostra's Day, marks the first day of true
Spring. The energies of Nature subtly shift from the sluggishness
of Winter to the exhuberant expansion of Spring. The Goddess
blankets the Earth with fertility, bursting forth from Her sleep,
as the God stretches and grows to maturity. He walkes the greening
fields and delights in the abundance of nature.
On Ostara the hours of day and night are equal. Light is
overtaking darkness; the Goddess and God impel the wild creatures
of the Earth to reproduce.
This is a time of beginnings, of action, of planting spells for
future gains, and of tending the ritual gardens.
Beltane (April 30) marks the emergence of the young God into
manhood. Stirred by the energies at work in Nature, He desires the
Goddess. They fall in love, lie among the grasses and blossoms,
and unite. The Goddess becomes pregnant of the God. Witches
celebrate the symbol of Her fertility in ritual.
Beltane (also known as May Day) has long been marked with feasts
and rituals. May poles, supremely phallic symbols, were the focal
point of Old English village rituals. Many persons rose at dawn to
gather flowers and green branches from the fields and gardens,
using them to decorate the May pole, their homes and themselves.
The flowers and greenery symbolize the Goddess; the May pole the
God. Beltane marks the return of vitality, of passion and hopes
May poles are sometimes used by Witches today during Beltane
rituals, but the cauldron is a more common focal point of ceremony.
It represents, of course, the Goddess - the essence of womanhood,
the end of all desire, the equal but opposite of the May pole,
symbolic of the God.
Midsummer, the Summer Solstice (circa June 21), also known as
Litha, arrives when the powers of Nature reach their highest point.
The Earth is awash in the fertility of the Goddess and God.
In the past, bonfires were leapt to encourage fertility,
purification, health and love. The fire once again represents the
Sun, feted on this time of the longest daylight hours.
Midsummer is a classic time for magick of all kinds.
Lughnasadh (August 1) is the time of the first harvest, when the
plants of Spring wither and drop their fruits or seeds for our use
as well as to ensure future crops. Mystically, so too does the God
lose His strength as the Sun rises farther in the South each day
and the nights grow longer. The Goddess watches in sorrow and joy
as She realizes that the God is dying, and yet lives on inside Her
as Her child.
Lughnasadh, also known as August Eve, Feast of Bread, Harvest Home
and Lammas, wasn't necessarily observed on this day. It originally
coinsided with the first reapings.
As Summer passes, Witches remember its warmth and bounty in the
food we eat. Every meal is an act of attunement with Nature, and
we are reminded that nothing in the universe is constant.
Mabon (circa September 21), the Autumn Equinox, is the completion
of the harvest begun as Lughnasadh. Once again day and night are
equal, poised as the God prepares to leave His physical body and
begin the great adventure into the unseen, toward renewal and
rebirth of the Goddess.
Nature declines, draws back its bounty, readying for Winter and its
time of rest. The Goddess nods in the weakening Sun, though fire
burns within Her womb. She feels the presence of the God even as
At Samhain (October 31), the Craft say farewell to the God. This
is a temporary farewell. He isn't wrapped in eternal darkness, but
readies to be reborn of the Goddess at Yule.
Samhain, also known as November Eve, Feast of the Dead, Feast of
Apples, Hallows, All Hallows and Hallowe'en, once marked the time
of sacrifice. In some places this was the time when animals were
slaughtered to ensure food throughout the depths of Winter. The
God - identified with the animals - fell as well to ensure our
Samhain is a time of reflection, of looking back over the last
year, of coming to terms with the one phenomenon of life over which
we have no control - death.
The Craft feel that on this night the separation between the
physical and spiritual realities is thin. Witches remember their
ancestors and all those who have gone before.
After Samhain, Witches celebrate Yule, and so the Wheel of the Year
Surely there are mysteries buried here. Why is the God the son and
then the lover of the Goddess? This isn't incest, this is
symbolism. In this agricultural story (one of many Craft myths)
the everchanging fertility of the Earth is represented by the
Goddess and God. This myth speaks of the mysteries of birth, death
and rebirth. It celebrates the wondrous aspects and beautiful
effects of love, and honours women who perpetuate our species. It
also points out the very real dependence that humans ha ve on the
Earth, the Sun and the Moon and of the effects of the seasons on
our daily lives.
To agricultural peoples, the major thrust of this myth cycle is the
production of food through the interplay between the Goddess and
God. Food - without which we would all die - is intimately
connected with the deities. Indeed, Witches see food as yet
another manifestation of divine energy.
And so, by observing the Sabbats, Witches attune themselves to the
Earth and to the deities. They reaffirm their Earth roots.
Performing rituals on the nights of the Full Moon also strengthens
their connections with the Goddess in particular.
It is the wise Witch who celebrates on the Sabbats and Esbats, for
these are times of real as well as symbolic power. Honouring them
in some fashion is an integral part of Witchcraft.
When our earliest ancestors first painted images of their religious
rituals on the walls of sacred caves and understood all of Nature
to be inhabited by Spirit, there can be little doubt that they
first reconed time by the waxing and waning of the Moon. The
primary reason for this is that the monthly cycles of the Moon are
far more visible than the slow and subtle changes in the position
of the Sun, even to someone who is not especially looking for
repeated cycles. One of the earliest calandars known (although its
use is still a controversy that may never be settled) is a 30,000
year-old piece of bone from Europe. It is pierced with variously
shaped holes in a series of sevens, suggesting the quarters of the
Moon, in a loop design, which represents the Lunar cycle from New
Moon to Full and back to the New or Dark of the Moon. The
artifact, just a few inches across, desribes three such Lunar
cycles - three months or one season.
Because there are 13 Lunar months in a year, and because the first
New Moon does not necessarily coincide with the first day of the
first Solar month, the Full Moon, midpoint of the lunar month, may
not always fall in the Solar month that is given here. And because
there are 13 Full Moons in a Solar year, one month will have two.
The second Full Moon to occur in a Solar month is popularly called
the Blue Moon.
To each Lunar month the ancients assigned a name in accordance with
the nature of the activity that took place at that time. The Moon
of deepest Winter is the Wolf Moon, and its name recalls a time
when our ancestors gathered close around the hearth fire as the
silence of the falling snow was pierced by the howling of wolves.
Driven by hunger, wolves came closer to villages than at any other
time of the year, and may have occasionally killed a human being in
order to survive.
The wolf in northern countries was at one time so feared that it
became the image of Fenris, the creature of destruction that
supposedly will devour the world at the end of time. The Christian
version of the myth would leave it at that, but the myth continues.
Like the wolf in the fairy tale of Little Red Ridinghood, which
preserves the full idea of the myth but is used only to frighten
children, the wolf is slain; and the grandmother, like the world,
is brought forth once more.
As the light of the new-born year slowly increases and the Wolf
Moon waxes full, it is a good time to look back upon that which has
just ended and learn from our experiences. Bid the past farewell
and let it go in order to receive the year that has just been born.
Learning to let go of that which we would cling to is one of the
greatest secrets of magick.
The Moon following the Wolf Moon is the Storm Moon. Whether you
meet with a coven on the night of the Full Moon, salute Her in a
solitary ritual, or simply blow Her a kiss, bear in mind the magick
of this night and the nature of the storms of February. Unlike the
boisterous storms of the light half of the year, which are
accompanied by the clashing of thunder and the flining of lightning
bolts, the storms of February come in silence. They blanket the
world in coldness in keeping with the nature of t he dark half of
the Wheel of the Year. But beneath the blanket of cold and silent
snow, Nature rests, as we do when in the realm of the Spirit that
is called death; and like those in the world of Spirit, Nature
prepares for life anew.
The Moon following the Storm Moon is the Chaste Moon. Like Diana,
chaste Goddess of the Moon, all of Nature at this moment is pure
potential waiting to be fullfilled. The Goddess has many forms:
The maiden pure and lovely as the snow of February, the seductive
enchantress of the night, or the Crone ancient and wise. As the
Goddess can change Her form according to the Moon or according to
Her will, ever renewing Herself, ever beginning again, se can we,
Her children, always begin again by discoverin g new potencial
within ourselves. When you cast the Circle of the Chaste Moon,
when the candles have been lit and the incense burned, look deep
within yourself to discover what potential lies there waiting, like
the Maiden, to be fulfilled.
As it is the time for the planting of seeds on the material plane,
so may it be time to do so on the psychic planes as well. On the
night that the Seed Moon (another name for the Chaste Moon) of
March is full, cast your magick Circle. Then before the rite has
ended, select the spiritual seeds you would like to plant. They
may be seeds of wisdom, seeds of understanding, or seeds of certain
magickal skills. Then by an act of will, plant these seeds in the
fertile soil of your subconscious mind with the firm commitment
that they will be nurtured and cultivated in the months that lie
ahead, so that they will grow and flower and bear fruit.
As the Hare Moon of April waxes full, observe the rabbits leaping
and playing, carefree in their mating and joyful in their games,
and as you cast your Esbat Circle and joyfully dance the round,
feel within your heart the carefree nature of the wild creatures
that are also children of the Old Gods.
This time of the Sacred Marriage of the God and Goddess is the Dyad
Moon, the time when the two become one, when all things meet their
opposites in perfect balance and in perfect harmony. As you cast
your Circle this night of the Dyad Moon, adorn it with apple
blossoms, and light candles of white. When the sacred round has
been danced, sit a moment and reflect. Seek harmony in all things.
As the dark half of the Wheel of the Year balances the light, as
heat balances cold, recall the words of the Goddess, "Let there be
beauty and strength, power and compassion, honour and humility,
mirth and reverence, within you." And then before the rite is
ended, if it is appropriate, become one with your working partner,
physically as well as spiritually.
After the spectacular flowers of May have passed and the bees have
gathered their pollen and nectar, the hives are filled with honey
that is waiting to be gathered. In ancient times much of this
honey was made into a drink called mead by a fermentation process
similar to that of making wine. The "Moon in June" is the Mead
Moon. Mead has been considered to have magickal and even
life-restoring properties in many of the countries of ancient
Europe, and it was the drink of many of the great heroes of
The legendary figure Robin Hood, who is accepted historically as
being a composite of several peasant leaders during the reign of
King Richard I, is also generally accepted by Pagans as being one
of us. One reason is that Robin was a popular Witch name, and also
because he was always described as being dressed in green, symbolic
of the Green Man of Sherwood Forest. Lincoln green, which is made
from woad, the dyestuff used by the Picts of ancient Britain and
the Druid priestesses, is also a colour tha t symbolizes,
historically, the Pagan peasantry. Among the articles robbed from
the rich by Robin Hood are "met and met." This probably means
"meat and mead." In the myth of Odin, one of His quests is for the
Poetic Mead of Inspiration, which He returns to the realm of the
Gods where it belongs, but a few drops fall to Earth, and this may
be had by anyone who can find them.
On the night that the Mead Moon waxes full, after the Circle has
been cast and dancing done, fill the cup with mead (if it is
available), sweet wine, or an herb tea sweetened with honey. Sip
the sweet drink and sit quietly and make yourself a vessel ready to
receive the inspiration of the higher realms. Become a mead cup
ready to be filled, not with the brew of everyday life but with the
clear, bright liquid of illumination. Every time this ritual is
performed, even if there are no immediate results , you are
becoming a more perfect vessel for divine inspiration.
If the night of the Mead Moon is very close to the Summer Solstice,
the results of this exercise can be very powerful. If the Mead
Moon is full on Midsummer Night, then the priestess into whom the
Moon is Drawn should be prepared.
As the Wort Moon of July waxes full, this is the time for gathering
of herbs. The word wort is old Anglo-Saxon for "herb." When the
magickal herbs have been gathered and hung to dry, the time of the
Wort Moon is the time to give thanks to the spirits who dwell in
the herb garden, and to leave them an offering. Perhaps as you
place an offering in the moonlit garden, they will whisper to you
other secrets of herbal magick.
One day at mid-month we realize that the robins and wrens that were
nesting nearby have simply vanished. Their lovely songs have been
replaced by the shrill calls of the bluejays, who were so silent
during the nesting season.
As August progresses the days are still hot but nighttime
temperatures are beginning to cool, and the late afternoon
thunderstorms that bring the cooler air also bring about the
ripening of tomatoes.
In the fields and meadows and along roadsides now there are wild
herbs to be gathered. There are goldenrod, Queen Anne's lace, and
milkweed - all awaiting the natuaral dyer who can extract from them
tan, green, and bright yellow respectively, for dyes and for
natural inks for talismans. Among the medicinal herbs to be
collected at this time is boneset, which does not help broken bones
to heal but is a febrifuge that was used as a remedy for "Breakbone
Fever" in the 1840s. Milkweed pods with their silken fluff,
goldenrod, and wild grasses and grains gathered now will be dried
in time to adorn the altar at the Autumnal Equinox.
As the aromic herbs begin to fill the rafters in the dry heat of
the attic, and the braids of onions and garlic fill the cool
darkness of the root cellar, the golden grain and yellow corn ripen
in the fields under the waning August Sun.
To the Ancients this was the Barley Moon, a time to contemplate the
eternalness of life. Just as we are descended from the first woman
and the first man, who descended from the Gods, so is the grain of
the bread that we eat descended from the first grain ever gathered.
By ritually eating the Lammas bread we are participating in a chain
of events that stretches back through time to the Gods themselves.
And here before us in the ripening fields is the promise of the
Everywhere there is abundance.