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The Laws

 

THE OLD LAW

 

1.The Law was made and ordained of old. 2.The Law was made for the

Wicca, to advise and help in their troubles. 3.The Wicca should give due

worship to the gods and obey their will, which they ordain, for it was

made for the good of Wicca as the worship of the Wicca is good for the

gods. For the gods love the brethren of Wicca. 4.As a man loveth a woman

by mastering her, 5.So should the Wicca love the gods by being mastered

by them. 6.And it is necessary that the Circle which is the temple of

the gods, should be truly cast and purified. And that it may be a fit

place for the gods to enter. 7.And the Wicca shall be properly prepared

and purified to enter into the presence of the gods. 8.With love and

worship in their hearts, they shall raise power from their bodies to

give power to the gods. 9.As has been taught of old. 10.For in this way

only may men have communion with the gods, for the gods cannot help man

without the help of man.

  

HPS & HP

 

11.And the High Priestess shall rule her coven as the representative of

the Goddess. 12.And the High Priest shall support her as the

representative of the God. 13.And the High Priestess shall choose whom

she will, be he of sufficient rank, to be her High Priest. 14.For, as

the God Himself kissed Her feet in the five-fold salute, laying His

power at the feet of the Goddess because of Her youth and beauty, Her

sweetness and kindness, Her wisdom and justice, Her humility and

generosity, 15.So He resigned all His power to Her. 16.But the High

Priestess should ever mind that the power comes from Him. 17.It is only

lent, to be used wisely and justly. 18.And the greatest virtue of a High

Priestess be that she recognize that youth is necessary to the

representative of the Goddess. 19.So she will gracefully retire in

favour of a younger woman should the Coven so decide in council. 20.For

a true High Priestess realizes that gracefully surrendering pride of

place is one of the greatest virtues. 21.And that thereby she will

return to that pride of place in another life, with greater power and

beauty.

  

SECURITY

 

22.In the old days, when witchdom extended far, we were free and

worshipped in all the greater temples. 23.But in these unhappy times we

must celebrate our sacred mysteries in secret. 24.So be it ordained that

none but the Wicca may see our mysteries, for our enemies are many and

torture loosens the tongue of man. 25.So be it ordained that no Coven

shall know where the next Coven bide. 26.Or who its members be, save

only the Priest and Priestess and messenger. 27.And there shall be no

communication between them, save by the messenger of the gods, or the

summoner. 28.And only if it be safe may the Covens meet in some safe

place for the great festivals. 29.And while there, none shall say whence

they came nor give their true names. 30.To this end, that if any be

tortured, in their agony, they may not tell if they do not know. 31.So

be it ordained that no one shall tell anyone not of the craft who be of

the Wicca, nor give any names or where they bide, or in any way tell

anything which can betray any of us to our foes. 32.Nor may he tell

where the Covendom be. 33.Or the Covenstead. 34.Or where the meetings

be. 35.And if any break these Laws, even under torture, THE CURSE OF THE

GODDESS SHALL BE UPON THEM, so they may never be reborn on earth and may

remain where they belong, in the hell of the Christians.

  

DISPUTES

 

36.Let each High Priestess govern her Coven with justice and love, with

the help and advice of the High Priest and the Elders, always heeding

the advice of the Messenger of the Gods if he cometh. 37.She will heed

all complaints of all Brothers and strive to settle all differences

among them. 38.But it must be recognized that there will always be

people who will ever strive to force others to do as they will. 39.These

are not necessarily evil. 40.And they oft have good ideas and such ideas

should be talked over in council. 41.But if they will not agree with

their Brothers, or if they say, 42."I will not work under this High

Priestess," 43.It hath ever been the Old Law to be convenient to the

Brethren and to avoid disputes.

  

NEW COVENS

 

44.Any of the third may claim to found a new Coven because they live

over a league away from the Covenstead or are about to do so. 45.Anyone

living within the Covendom and wishing to form a new Coven, shall tell

the Elders of their intention, and on the instant avoid their dwelling

and remove to the new Covendom. 46.Members of the old Coven may join the

new one when it is formed. But if they do, they must utterly avoid the

old Coven. 47.The Elders of the new and old Covens should meet in peace

and brotherly love to decide the new boundaries. 48.Those of the craft

who dwell outside both Covendoms may join either but not both. 49.Though

all may, if the Elders agree, meet for the great festivals if it be

truly in peace and brotherly love, 50.But splitting the Coven oft means

strife, so for this reason these Laws were made of old and may the CURSE

OF THE GODDESS BE ON ANY WHO DISREGARD THEM. So be it ordained.

  

GRIMOIRE

 

51.If you would keep a book, let it be in your own hand of write. Let

brothers and sisters copy what they will, but never let the book out of

your hands, and never keep the writings of another. 52.For if it be

found in their hand of write, they may be taken and arraigned. 53.Let

each guard his own writings and destroy them whenever danger threatens.

54.Learn as much as you may by heart and, when danger is past, rewrite

your book, an it be safe. 55.For this reason, if any die, destroy their

book an they have not been able to. 56.For, an it be found, 'tis clear

proof against them. 57.And our oppressors know well "Ye may not be a

witch alone". 58.So all their kin and friends be in danger of torture,

59.So destroy everything not necessary. 60.If your book be found on you,

'tis clear proof against you alone, you may be arraigned.

  

PERSECUTION

 

61.Keep all thoughts of the craft from your mind. 62.If the torture be

too great to bear, say "I will confess. I cannot bear this torture. What

do you want me to say?" 63.If they try to make you speak of the

Brotherhood, do not. 64.But if they try to make you speak of

impossibilities such as flying through the air, consorting with a

Christian devil or sacrificing children, or eating men's flesh, 65.To

obtain relief from torture say "I had an evil dream, I was beside

myself, I was crazed." 66.Not all magistrates are bad, if there be an

excuse, they may show mercy. 67.If you have confessed aught, deny it

afterwards, say you babbled under torture, say you knew not what you

said. 68.If you are condemned, fear not. 69.The Brotherhood is powerful

and will help you to escape if you stand steadfast, but if you betray

aught there is no hope for you in this life or in that to come. 70.Be

sure, if steadfast you go to the pyre, drugs will reach you, you will

feel naught. You go to death and what lies beyond, the ecstasy of the

goddess.

  

TOOLS

 

71.To avoid discovery, let the working tools be as ordinary things that

any may have in their houses. 72.Let the pentacles be of wax so that

they may be broken at once or melted. 73.Have no sword unless your rank

allows it. 74.Have no names or signs on anything. 75.Write the names and

signs on them in ink before consecrating them and wash it off

immediately afterwards. 76.Let the colours of the hilts tell which is

which. 77.Do not engrave them lest they cause discovery.

  

CONDUCT

 

78.Ever remember ye are the hidden children of the Goddess so never do

anything to disgrace them or Her. 79.Never boast, never threaten, never

say you would wish ill of anyone. 80.If any person not in the Circle,

speak of the craft, say, "Speak not to me of such, it frightens me, 'tis

evil luck to speak of it." 81.For this reason, the Christians have their

spies everywhere. These speak as if they were well affected to us, as if

they would come to our meetings, saying, "My mother used to worship the

Old Ones. I would I could go myself." 82.To such as these, ever deny all

knowledge. 83.But to others, ever say, "'Tis foolish men talk of witches

flying through the air. To do so they must be as light as thistledown.

And men say that witches all be blear-eyed old crones, so what pleasure

can there be at a witch meeting such as folks talk on ?" 84.And say,

"Many wise men now say there be no such creatures." 85.Ever make it

jest) and in some future time perhaps, the persecution may die and we

may worship our gods in safety again. 86.Let us all pray for that happy

day. 87.May the blessings of the Goddess and God be on all who keep

these Laws which are ordained.

  

VALUABLES

 

88.If the craft hath any appanage, let all guard it and help to keep it

clear and good for the craft. 89.And let all justly guard all monies of

the craft. 90.And if any Brother truly wrought it, 'tis right they have

their pay, an it be just. An this be not taking money for the art, but

for good and honest work. 91.And even the Christians say, "The labourer

is worthy of his hire," but if any Brother work willingly for the good

of the craft without pay, 'tis but to their greater honour. So be it

ordained.

  

QUARRELS

 

92.If there be any dispute or quarrel among the Brethren, the High

Priestess shall straightly convene the Elders and inquire into the

matter, and they shall hear both sides, first alone and then together.

93.And they shall decide justly, not favouring one side or the other.

94.Ever recognising there be people who can never agree to work under

others. 95.But at the same time, there be some people who cannot rule

justly. 96.To those who must ever be chief, there is one answer. 97.

"'Void the Coven or seek another one, or make a Coven of your own,

taking with you those who will go." 98.To those who cannot rule justly,

the answer be, "Those who cannot bear your rule will leave you." 99.For

none may come to meetings with those with whom they are at variance.

100.So, an either cannot agree, get hence, for the craft must ever

survive. So be it ordained.

  

CURSES

 

101.In the olden days when we had power, we could use the art against

any who ill-treated the Brotherhood. But in these evil days we must not

do so. For our enemies have devised a burning pit of everlasting fire

into which they say their god casteth all the people who worship him,

except it be the very few who are released by their priest's spells and

masses. And this be chiefly by giving monies and rich gifts to receive

his favour for their great god is ever in need of money. 102.But as our

gods need our aid to make fertility for man and crops, so is the god of

the Christians ever in need of man's help to search out and destroy us.

Their priests ever tell them that any who get our help are damned to

this hell forever, so men be mad with the terror of it. 103.But they

make men believe that they may escape this hell if they give victims to

the tormentors. So for this reason all be forever spying, thinking, "An

I can catch but one of these Wicca, I will escape from this fiery pit."

104.So for this reason we have our hidels, and men searching long and

not finding, say, "There be none, or if there be, they be in a far

country." 105.But when one of our oppressors die, or even be sick, ever

is the cry, "This be witches' malice", and the hunt is up again. And

though they slay ten of their own to one of ours, still they care not.

They have countless thousands. 106.While we are few indeed. So be it

ordained. 107.That none shall use the art in any way to do ill to any.

108.However much they may injure us, harm none. And nowtimes many

believe we exist not. 109.That this Law shall ever continue to help us

in our plight, no one, however great an injury or injustice they

receive, may use the art in any way to do ill, or harm any. But they

may, after great consultations with all, use the art to restrain

Christians from harming us Brothers, but only to constrain them and

never to punish. 110.To this end men will say, "Such a one is a mighty

searcher out, and a persecutor of old women whom they deemeth to be

witches, and none hath done him harm, so it be proof that they cannot or

more truly there be none." 111.For all know full well that so many folk

have died because someone had a grudge against them, or were persecuted

because they had money or goods to sieze, or because they had none to

bribe the searchers. And many have died because they were scolding old

women. So much that men now say that only old women are witches. 112.And

this be to our advantage and turns suspicion away from us. 113.In

England and Scotland 'tis now many a year since a witch hath died the

death. But any misuse of the power might raise the persecution again.

114.So never break this Law, however much you are tempted, and never

consent to its being broken in the least. 115.If you know it is being

broken, you must work strongly against it. 116.And any High Priestess or

High Priest who consents to its breach must immediately be deposed for

'tis the blood of the Brethren they endanger. 117.Do good, an it be

safe, and only if it be safe. 118.And keep strictly to the Old Law.

  

PAYMENT

 

119.Never accept money for the use of the art, for money ever smeareth

the taker. 'Tis sorcerors and conjurers and the priests of the

Christians who ever accept money for the use of their arts. And they

sell pardons to let men ascape from their sins. 120.Be not as these. If

you accept no money, you will be free from temptation to use the art for

evil causes. 121.All may use the art for their own advantage or for the

advantage of the craft only if you are sure you harm none. 122.But ever

let the Coven debate this at length. Only if all are satisfied that none

may be harmed, may the art be used. 123.If it is not possible to achieve

your ends one way, perchance the aim may be achieved by acting in a

different way so as to harm none. MAY THE CURSE OF THE GODDESS BE ON ANY

WHO BREAKETH THIS LAW. So be it ordained. 124.'Tis judged lawful if ever

any of the craft need a house or land and none will sell, to incline the

owner's mind so as to be willing to sell, provided it harmeth him not in

any way and the full price is paid without haggling. 125.Never bargain

or cheapen anything whilst you buy by the art. So be it ordained.

  

LAW OF THE LAND

 

126."Tis the Old Law and the most important of all laws, that no one may

do anything which will endanger any of the craft, or bring them into

contact with the law of the land or any persecutors. 127.In any dispute

between Brethren, no one may invoke any laws but those of the craft.

128.Or any tribunal but that of the Priestess, Priest and Elders.

  

DISCUSSION OF WITCHCRAFT

 

129.It is not forbidden to say as Christians do, "There be witchcraft in

the land," because our oppressors of old make it a heresy not to believe

in witchcraft and so a crime to deny it which thereby puts you under

suspicion. 130.But ever say, "I know not of it here, perchance there may

be but afar off, I know not where." 131.But ever speak of them as old

crones, consorting with the devil and riding through the air. 132.And

ever say, "But how may many ride the air if they be not as light as

thistledown." 133.But the curse of the Goddess be on any who cast

suspicion on any of the Brotherhood. 134.Or who speak of any real

meeting-place or where they bide.

  

WORTCUNNING

 

135.the craft keep books with the names of all herbs which are good, and

all cures so all may learn. 136.But keep another book with all the Bales

and Apies and let only the Elders and other trustworthy people have this

knowledge. So be it ordained. 137.And may the blessings of the gods be

on all who keep these Laws, and the curses of both the God and the

Goddess be on all who break them.

  

USE OF THE ART

 

138.Remember the art is the secret of the gods and may only be used in

earnest and never for show or vainglory. 139.Magicians and Christians

may taunt us saying, "You have no power, show us your power. Do magic

before our eyes, then only will we believe," seeking to cause us to

betray the art before them. 140.Heed them not, for the art is holy and

may only be used in need, and the curse of the gods be on any who break

this Law.

  

RESIGNATIONS

 

141.It ever be the way with women and with men also, that they ever seek

new love. 142.Nor should we reprove them for this. 143.But it may be

found a disadvantage to the craft. 144.And so many a time it has

happened that a High Priest or a High Priestess, impelled by love, hath

departed with their love. That is, they left the Coven. 145.Now if the

High Priestess wishes to resign, she may do so in full Coven. 146.And

this resignation is valid. 147.But if they should run off without

resigning, who may know if they may not return in a few months? 148.So

the Law is, if a High Priestess leaves her Coven, she be taken back and

all be as before. 149.Meanwhile, if she has a deputy, that deputy shall

act as High Priestess for as long as the High Priestess is away. 150.If

she returns not at the end of a year and a day, then shall the Coven

elect a new High Priestess, 151.Unless there is a good reason to the

contrary. 152.The person who has done the work should reap the benefit

of the reward. If somebody else is elected, the deputy is made maiden

and deputy of the High Priestess.

  

TRAINING

 

153.It has been found that practicing the art doth cause a fondness

between aspirant and tutor, and it is the cause of better results if

this be so. 154.And if for any reason this be undesireable, it can

easily be avoided by both persons from the outset firmly resolving in

their minds to be as brother and sister or parent and child. 155.And it

is for this reason that a man may be taught only by a woman and a woman

by a man, and women and women should not attempt these practices

together. So be it ordained.

  

 

 

 

 

PUNISHMENT

 

156.Order and discipline must be kept. 157.A High Priestess or a High

Priest may, and should, punish all faults. 158.To this end all the craft

must receive correction willingly. 159.All properly prepared, the

culprit kneeling should be told his fault and his sentence pronounced.

160.Punishment should be followed by something amusing. 161.The culprit

must acknowledge the justice of the punishment by kissing the hand on

receiving sentence and again thanking for punishment received. So be it

ordained.

  

NOTES

•These Laws appear to have become part of the GBG BOS shortly after

Doreen Valiente left his Coven (in 1957); they existed at the time that

she left. (They were an innovation at that time, and were one of the

things that the people who hived at that time refused to accept, though

not themselves a reason for hiving.) See Doreen Valiente's "The Rebirth

of Witchcraft". •Some of this material was already in the GBG BOS at the

time. See the Farrars' "The Witches' Way". •They also seem to be present

throughout the Alexandrain stream. (See the Farrars' "The Witches Way",

and June Johns' "King of the Witches".) •The list I give here is drawn

from several published sources: •June Johns,"King of the Witches" •Lady

Sheba,"The Grimoire of Lady Sheba" •Janet and Stewart Farrar,"The

Witches' Way" •I used Johns as my primary source, as Sheba is generally

full of copyist errors, and the Farrars don't give the full text. I

couldn't find the section headings in any published source, but I

included them anyway because they make the text easier to follow. •Sheba

*may* be a more accurate source than Johns for the GBG version. (Some of

what I took to be typos may well have been GBG-ism's.) Johns is probably

a better source for Alex Sanders' own version. Covens in either lineage

have probably cross referenced and 'corrected' what they took to be

errors. (For example, in Law 60, I use the word 'arraigned'. Sheba gives

'engained', which makes no sense (that we know of). However, 'engined'

(meaning tortured) makes more sense in context than 'arraigned'. Did

Alex Sanders miss-correct the 'engrained' error ?

 

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