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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Charge of the Goddess

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

I stood beneath
the eclipsing moon,
the sound of whippoorwills
a chorus
rising from damp trees.
Thin white clouds
scudded around fresh stars
and I recited
the Charge of the Goddess,
slowly and alone,
remembering as I always do
the feel of sand beneath my feet
and my baby’s head
against my heart
when I first memorized
these words,
“let your divine innermost self
be enfolded in the rapture
of the infinite.”
The sky that day was gray bowl
above the sea,
spitting rain onto my shoulders
as I turned in wide circles
across the sand,
letting the words
become a part of my soul,
sink into me,
until my bones remembered
them too.
Now, I stand,
hand on my heart
and say aloud:
“Goddess, we need a world
that does not hide you
and that does not hide from you.
Let me be a part
of creating this world.”
I feel her,
as I do,
both beneath my skin
and everywhere,
all at once
and I allow myself to be
enfolded for these
breaths in the rapture
of the infinite,
the full moon
becoming enclosed
in the shadow of the earth.

b2ap3_thumbnail_orange-ooak-muse-with-sunset.jpg

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Molly, Thanks for sharing! Great stuff as always.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

It's a byword in New Crete, Robert Graves' Goddess-worshiping utopia of the future: “Nothing without the hand of love.” Love is the culture's central value.

In New Crete, love's opposite is not hatred, but unlove: self-interest disregarding of others. “How utterly unloving!” say the New Cretans of such actions, shuddering.

In 1961, W. Holman Keith—protegé of Gleb Botkin, founder of the Long Island Church of Aphrodite—observed in his ground-breaking Divinity as the Eternal Feminine that any Goddess-based religion must necessarily adopt love as its central principle.

Doreen Valiente would seem to have felt the same when, in the late 1950s, she drafted her well-loved prose “Charge of the Goddess”, in which the Lady of Witches tells her people: “My law is love unto all beings.”

Doubtless this intriguing dictum restates the Thelemic principle “Love is the law, love under will”, but let us ask: What does the Lady's Law of Love mean? What are its implications for the actions of Her People?

Does she mean that we should love viruses and flatworms? Does she mean that we should all become vegan? Does she mean that we should love the deer as we shoot it? If the latter, what does it mean to love what you kill?

In a sense, the statement is a commonsense observation about all living things that reproduce sexually.

More broadly, though, I think that she's talking about a general approach to life. Taking love as your central principle and prime motivator will change the way that you think about what you do. Next time you make a decision, ask yourself: What is the loving thing to do here?

The Lady's Law of Love governs not only our behavior toward others of our own kind, but those not of our kind as well: other humans that we perceive as not being like us, as well as our larger family of kin, animals, plants, and ultimately the entire “non-living” world.

Lest you think the concept of a Love Culture redolent of hippie-dom or naiveté, let me cite another proverb of New Crete:

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I think it was in an issue of Natural History magazine that I read an article about St. Hubertus. It mentioned that traditionally

Best Moon Stars Pictures [HD] | Download Free Images on Unsplash

The first thing to notice about Doreen Valiente's classic Charge of the Goddess is that it's not one charge, but two, each with its own introduction. Let me call them the Charge of the Great Mother and the Charge of the Star Goddess.

Why, one might wonder, this liturgical redundancy?

I first theorized a difference in purpose for the two: that we see here a charge for the Full and Dark Moons respectively. It would make sense to honor the Star Goddess at Dark of the Moon, when the stars are seen most clearly.

At the time, though—this was the 80s—few Wiccan groups observed New Moon, but (as they still do) rotely recited both charges at Full Moon in seeming unawareness of the inherent internal contradiction. It occurred to me that the founders of Wicca may originally have intended celebrations at both New and Full Moons and prepared appropriate charges accordingly, but that when the proposed Dark Moon celebrations (for whatever reason) never materialized, they retained both charges despite the seeming contradiction. Really, the Star Goddess charge is just too good to lay by.

It wasn't a bad theory, but it foundered on the reef of fact.

In fact, the two charges are a product of the piece's compositional history. The Charge of the Goddess is made up of two component charges because they are drawn from different sources.

Even before the compositional history of the Charge was clarified by the publication of the Farrars' ground-breaking Eight Sabbats for Witches in 1988, it was clear to me that the text could not possibly predate the “20th” century. The Charge of the Great Mother is clearly derived from C. G. Leland's 1899 Aradia: Gospel of the Witches; in fact, it is based not on the original Tuscan text, but on Leland's English translation of the Tuscan. Aradia being essentially a text of Moon worship, this explains the lunar orientation of Charge A.

Charge B, however, is drawn from a different source: in fact, from Crowley's Book of the Law. That the words were originally those of the Thelemite Star Goddess Nuit explains the piece's astral orientation. This also explains the second charge's difference in tone and subject matter from the first.

The Charge of the Goddess is, unquestionably, Doreen Valiente's masterpiece. While Valiente wrote competently enough, she was certainly no great prose stylist. In the prose Charge, though, she surpasses herself.

(At the risk of being catty, I would invite the reader to compare the prose Charge's rounded cadences with the jangling iambs of the rhymed version: Mother Darksome and Divine,/Thine the scourge and Thine the kiss.... There's no real comparison.)

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

Your words to me are as the milk of your breasts.

 

In many Wiccan circles, as—on the Goddess's behalf—the priestess recites The Charge of the Great Mother, it's customary for her to stand in the Star or Goddess position, with legs and arms spread wide. It's a posture of revelation and self-offering.

Well and good. But there's another liturgical possibility here, a very ancient one.

In Russian painter and mystic Nicholas Roerich's 1910 Idols (Pagan Russia), shown above, we see a depiction of a pre-Christian Slavic sanctuary featuring standing wooden images of various gods, surrounded by a temenos wall.

Let me call your attention to the second figure to the right. Clothed in a checkered skirt, the goddess here depicted cups her hands beneath her breasts.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

As a little gay witch kid growing up in a time and place when it wasn't safe to be either, I learned early on: Let them think what they want to. In my own heart, I can be free.

Not having to follow someone else's rules is freedom from one kind of slavery.

(I might add that I've spent the rest of my life working to make it so that no one else ever has to live like that again. We're certainly not there yet—maybe we never will be—but we're well on the way.)

A friend of mine prides herself on never following recipes. To her mind, this makes her free. Maybe so. To my mind, though, this makes her just as much as a slave as someone who slavishly has to follow every last detail of every last recipe. It isn't following the rules or not following the rules that frees; it's the choice to follow, or not to follow, in any given case. The choosing frees, and in this sense we free ourselves every day, with every action that we take.

Not having to follow your own rules is freedom from another kind of slavery.

Ye shall be free from slavery, the Lady of Witches promises her people. It's quite a promise. But hear how she goes on: ...and as a sign that ye be truly free, ye shall be naked in your rites.

There's physical bondage and there's mental bondage, and it's clearly the latter that she's talking about here. That's her promise to her people: that social norms that constrain others will simply not be binding on us.

Here's the kicker: what she does not mean here is that all of our rituals have to be skyclad rituals. That in itself would be a form of enslavement, enslavement to the Goddess herself. What she wants for us—what she expects of us—is that we not be slaves, not even to her. The essence of freedom is in the choosing.

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The Charge of the Generic Modern Pagan Deity

Just fill in the blanks.

 

...
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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, Splendid! It reminds me of the episode of "Robot Chicken", where an entire episode of "Law & Order" is re-enacted ov
Stations of the Descent: A Call to Wiccan Artists

The truly puzzling thing is, there's no dearth of Wiccan artists out there.

That's what makes the absence all the more striking.

The story of the Lady's Descent into the Underworld is, arguably, Wicca's foundational myth.

Where, then, is the art depicting it?

It's a profoundly visual story. One could readily envision sequences of the Descent à la (if you'll pardon the comparison) Catholicism's Stations of the Cross.

Where are they?

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  • Tabatha Baumgarden
    Tabatha Baumgarden says #
    Though this post is a year old, I am curious about this as well. Though, I have been out of touch with the readings and whatnot si
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Here's a link with the text and analysis by Cei Serith: http://ceisiwrserith.com/wicca/legendofthedescent.htm I'll look forward t
  • Dominique Pierson
    Dominique Pierson says #
    I have a little etsy shop and I create pagan themed nichos/box shrines. This would be an interesting concept for a shrine/assembl

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