There is no Bible in Wicca per se, but there is a well-defined standard of ethics and code of conduct transcending most traditions. "The Charge of the Goddess," a poem often attributed to the Hereditary Witches of Tuscany (the "Strega") and modified by English poet Doreen Valiente, comes closest to "commandments" for Wiccans for living and worship. It is said to be the only "revelation" given to mankind from the Goddess on the nature of the universe and the relationship of mankind to the Divine associated with Wicca.

"The Wiccan Rede" is the ultimate Golden Rule Wiccans live by, and "The Law of Threes" speaks to atonement and responsibility for actions and conduct during incarnate lifetimes. Wiccans perceive the Divine reality on many levels each deemed valuable and appropriate based on the situation at hand. The Wiccan God is a complex collage of monotheistic, bi-theistic, polytheistic and pantheistic God force.

Wiccans perceive the transcendental God as the ONE GOD above gender and existing before all things. More immanently, but still at the higher level, they perceive the transcendental God as a balance of polar energies--simultaneously Male, the active or "projective" phenomena and Female, the passive or "receptive" phenomena. Wiccans experience the divine reality more immanently, at the bi-theistic level, by witnessing the polar forces in action through the changes of the seasons, the life cycles of animate beings and phases of the Moon.

In keeping with the active/passive concept, anything that is born, grows, ages, dies and is reborn is an active process and attributed to be Male. Seasonal change and the cycles of living things are said to be Male cycles and tied to the solar cycle of the sun. The Earth (and the Greater Cosmos), however--the stage upon which this cycle is played out, never dies. Sometimes resting passively, sometimes waxing and waning through volcanism and erosion, (and the birth and death of stars) it is the creative and containment aspect of the Goddess, or the feminine.

The God must die to move into "Summerland" (afterlife) where he rules and rests and is thus able to be reborn, through the Goddess, anew in the secular world. All humans, male or female are subject to this male cycle of life--circular annually, but a spiral spiritually. With each reincarnation the spirit grows until achieving karmic balance and then moves to another plane. This progression of souls is thought to be a spiral process that drives change in the universe.

The cycles of the Moon represent the passive and creative forces of things and are said to be Feminine. We see in the phases of the moon that the Goddess is always present—she never dies. She merely changes shape to show her various aspects…nor does she die to move between "Summerland" and the secular world in her juxtapostion with The God--she merely changes shape. Hers are those circular, cyclic or rhythmic pulsing movements, tides of ebb and flow—"containment" in the form of the womb and the chaos of the universe. She contains all matter, all things manifest and so is the tapestry on which the whole of the universe is woven.

Wiccans often take the immanent nature of divinity one step further, to the polytheistic level, by calling on a particular God or Goddess from a pantheon in mythology to aid in a mundane task or spiritual quest seeking to benefit from the particular aspect of Divinity that specific God(dess) represents. For instance, a vintner might visualize Bacchus in his prayer to help his vineyard produce a good wine harvest. He is not really asking a Roman demigod for help, rather he is focusing his prayers on that aspect of the Divine that makes the plants grow.

At the pantheistic level, we note everyone has within his/her psyche certain mythologies, experiences and Images that hold meaning for them and help visualize various aspects of the Divine. In Wicca, all Gods have potential value and all spiritual paths are sacred.

Wiccans recognize there is a "Divine spark" in all things manifest and unmanifest--from stones to trees to fields of magnetism and energy waves, and as such all are part of the Divine. Other faiths sometimes mistake this proclivity to break the Divine into experiential concepts, or to use icons or images in ritual as "idolatry." This is a misperception, as Wiccans no more "worship" nature itself or the mask of the Greenman as a God, than Christians "worship" their saints or the Virgin Mary. These visions merely iconize various aspects of the Divine so as to place the transcendental God above all Gods within reach of the human mind.

Note: We have discussed the bi-theistic aspect of Godhead in Wicca as polarities that are male and female, complementary forces at once in opposition and balance…but NOT as good and evil as in the concept of Christ and Satan. This brings us to the final overarching concept of Divinity in Wicca… THERE IS NO SATAN… no single deity of evil, nor is there original sin or vicarious atonement. There is no sacrifice required by our Gods save that we willingly make of our time and resources to help others and/or for our spiritual growth.

In Wicca, evil results from forces out of balance, or needs and hungers not met, and a breakdown of self-discipline. Evil is the failing of man unleashed into the collective unconscious, or the evil fed into the field of morphic resonance by those who see divinity as a conflict between the "all good" and "all evil" forces… that concept brought to the followers of the God of Abraham by Zoroaster from Persia in the 6th century B.C.

This concept was adopted wholesale by "Peoples of The Book" after orthodox Christians routed the Gnostics and Mohammed became the prophet of Islam.

Finally, Wiccans see the entire universe as a beneficent living being with all things connected--all crucial and sacred. Our Gods implore us to celebrate love, laughter, art, sexuality, dance, music, food, song, birth and death as necessary and beautiful parts of the Eternal Great Dance.

As mentioned many times before, there is in actuality no "revealed" dogma to Wiccans from their Gods, rather we draw on the stories and mysteries we’re taught, history and life’s lessons -- those things we can experience to feel connectivity with the Divine.

Wicca is said to be a "pragmatic" religion, that is Gods, spiritual philosophy and ritual only have meaning for Wiccans in so far as they work and produce spiritual feelings.

That said, there is one key soliloquy alleged to be handed down from the Goddess herself to the Witches of Tuscany, but in actuality was probably written by those practitioners, translated by author George Leland and modified by British poet Doreen Valiente. It is nonetheless a beautiful poem and is nearly a perfect encapsulation for Wiccan spiritual philosophy as is available.

It describes the relationship of man and our Goddess and is the foundation from which we derive the Wiccan Rede and The Law of Three. It is simultaneously the Wiccan "commandments," the Golden Rule and our Lord's Prayer all in one elegant treatment.

In certain ritual, it is believed the Goddess herself, through the High Priestess recites this to the congregation…

"Whenever ye have need of anything, once in the month, and better it be when the moon is full, then shall ye assemble in some secret place and adore the spirit of me, who am Queen of all the witcheries. There shall ye assemble, ye who are fain to learn all sorcery, yet have not won its deepest secrets; to these will I teach things that are yet unknown.

"And ye shall be free from slavery; and as a sign that ye be really free, ye shall be naked in your rites; and ye shall dance, sing, feast, make music and love, all in my praise. For mine is the ecstasy of the spirit, and mine also is joy on earth; for my law is love unto all beings. Keep pure your highest ideal; strive ever towards it; let naught stop you or turn you aside.

"For mine is the secret door which opens upon the Land of Youth, and mine is the cup of the wine of life, and the Cauldron of Cerridwen, which is the Holy Grail of immortality. I am the Gracious Goddess, who gives the gift of joy unto the heart of man.

"Upon earth, I give the knowledge of the spirit eternal; and beyond death, I give peace and freedom and reunion with those who have gone before. Nor do I demand aught in sacrifice; for behold, I am the Mother of all living, and my love is poured out upon the earth.

"I who am the beauty of the green Earth, and the white Moon among the stars, and the mystery of the waters, and the desire of the heart of man, call unto thy soul. Arise, and come unto me. For I am the soul of nature, who gives life to the universe. From me all things proceed, and unto me all things must return; and before my face, beloved of Gods and of men, let thine innermost divine self be enfolded in the rapture of the infinite. Let my worship be within the heart that rejoiceth; for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals. And therefore let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honour and humility, mirth and reverence within you.

"And thou who thinkest to seek for me, know thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not unless thou knowest the mystery; that if that which thou seekest thee findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee. For behold, I have been with thee from the beginning; and I am that which is attained at the end of desire."

From this we learn the Goddess is the creatrix of the universe, the intiatrix--the grantor of magical power, love, joy and truth. She teaches us to reverence all things (Harm none, reverence all--The Wiccan Rede), to be true to ourselves (Highest ideals--The law of Three), to worship faithfully and joyously, and in the very same fashion the prophet Jesus Christ counseled in the Gnostic Gospel’s Book of Thomas, to "look within for the Kingdom of God."

THE WICCAN REDE -The Central Law of Wicca
"An it Harm None, Do as thou Wilt."

Seemingly straightforward at first, on closer examination we see there are many connotations of this many faceted "REDE." It does not mean "If it feels good, do it," rather it is the highest order of "golden rule" and at the same time a charge of the highest level of personal responsibility.

It means we should exercise extreme caution in thought, word and deed - in all our actions in the mundane world and in the execution of magic. Since every action causes change in another place, time or phenomena there can be no truly harmless act. Therefore all actions must be conducted with understanding and love in harmony with the universal forces in an attempt to cause the greater good - with minimal collateral impact. One should also be mindful not to hurt yourself as well.

Do as ye will... means do as you must - to survive, to heal, to improve, to create. In some cases, you are forced to choose a course of action that causes the least harm, since it is not always possible to cause no harm. In the case of military service one is moved to protect loved ones, a way of life or minimize tyranny. In this case, the warrior serves the greater good and takes no pleasure in doing harm. In nature, animals kill to eat as we must sometimes do and it is the innate right of all creatures to engage in self-defense. In some cases you may be compelled to do something you dread but know you must do ... or sacrifice of yourself toward the right cause or the greater good.

"The Wiccan Rede" is a poem that is the embodiment of what many Wiccans use as a rule and guide in their faith and practice. There are several versions of this poem. The one that follows was probably written by Doreen Valiente and is certainly one of the most beautiful renditions.

"Bide ye Wiccan laws ye must in perfect love and perfect trust
Live and let live, fairly take and fairly give
Form the circle thrice about to keep unwanted spirits out
To bind ye spell every time, let ye spell be spake in rhyme
Soft of eye, light of touch, speak ye little, listen much
When the Lady's moon is new, kiss your hand to her times two
When the moon rides at her peak, then ye heart's desire seek
Heed the North wind's mighty gale, lock the door and trim the sail

"When the wind comes from the South, love will kiss thee on the mouth
When the wind blows from the West, departed souls may have no rest
When the wind blows from the East, expect the new and set the feast
Nine woods in ye cauldron go, burn them fast and burn them slow
Elder be ye Lady's tree, burn it not or cursed ye'll be
When the wheel begins to turn, soon ye Beltaine fire'll burn
When the wheel hath turned a Yule, light a log the Horned One rules
Heed ye flower, bush and tree, by the Lady blessed be
Where the rippling waters flow, cast a stone and truth ye'll know
When ye have and hold a need, harken not to others greed
With a fool no season spend, nor be counted as his friend
Merry meet and merry part, bright the cheeks and warm the heart
Mind ye threefold law ye should, three times bad and three times good
When misfortune is anow, wear the star upon thy brow
True in love ye must ever be, lest thy love be false to thee
In these eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill,
An ye harm none, do what ye will."


THE RULE OF THREE (LAW OF RETURNS)
"What ye send forth comes back to thee, So ever mind the Rule of Three."

Virtually all religions have some concept of cosmic or divine justice; virtually all societies have and underlying belief or principle of compensation.

In religion, it can be some variation of the concept of Karma, the Scales of Horus, or the Great White Throne of Judgment. That translates to the physical level in social, cultural and judicial customs.

Ecclesiastes 11:1 enjoins the reader to "cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days." In due season it will return to you. In modern metaphors we speak of "paying dues" and "earning keep". In Wicca, we see it as, very simply getting back what you put out.

The Rule of Three implies gain or interest. While some groups take a very literal and absolute interpretation (as many Christians take all literal and absolute interpretation of their bible), we tend to take a relative and poetic (though just as material) interpretation.

"What ye send forth comes back to thee, So ever mind the Rule of Three."

If you contribute a hundred dollars to a needy family in your community, it does not necessarily mean you will return home and find a three hundred dollar check in your mailbox from an anonymous benefactor. But rest assured you will be rewarded proportionately. If you slap somebody on the street, it does not necessarily mean you will turn the corner and get slapped three times. But you will pay for your action—again, proportionately. And again, the reciprocal return may or may not be immediate. It may come within a few hours, a few days or it may take years. But it will come in due season, generally just when you need it (or in the case of adverse return, just when you don’t need it) the most.

This is why Witches are loath to use magic for revenge, to hurt someone or to bind their will—that is to make them do something against their will or their nature.

"So ever mind the Rule of Three"

Many traditions still keep to the 164 "Craft Laws" or "Ordains" (The Book of Shadows" by Lady Sheba lists these). These "ancient Laws" were written in 20th century and are probably more a romantic notion than actually being the "ancient and sacred" laws they are often portrayed to be. In fact, they were written by Gerald Gardner.

He began writing what he called the "Ardanes" shortly after he established his first "public" coven. They were written in archaic language to give them the flavor of antiquity. Gardner modified and added to these "Laws" over the years to suit his own views and purposes.

Additionally, the "Ardanes" reflect the very patriarchal worldview common at the time that they were written, and many contemporary women find some of them highly offensive.

Most Traditional Craft covens retain them in their Coven Book of Shadows purely as an historical artifact. Most traditions adhere to more modern "Covenants of Sacred Law" –there are many variations, these are adapted from the Temple of Danann:

  1. Love is the Law and Love is the Bond.

  2. Honor, Love and Trust are the Sacred Virtues of the wise, within the Circle and without.

  3. Whatever action you take will return to you threefold.

  4. An it harm none, live according to Will.

  5. The wise shall revere each living thing, for all life is Sacred.

  6. The wise shall give due reverence to the Old Ones and obey their Will.

  7. The Wise shall observe the Sacred Days in Holy rite.

  8. The Sacred Knowledge may not be revealed to the unworthy.

  9. None may enter the Circle without purification, and then only with the sanction of the presiding Priestess and Priest.

  10. All due respect shall be given to the Priest and Priestess who serve as representatives of the Old Ones.

  11. As the Wise are to the Old ones, so shall be their Sacredness.

  12. All are equal within and without the Circle according to ability and knowledge.

  13. Judge not the path of Brother or Sister, for all paths are Sacred.

This series is adapted from Spiritual Philosophy and Practice of Wicca in the US Military, by Dr. David L. Oringderff (Taniquetil) and Lt.Col. Ronald M. Schaefer, USAF (Astralaya).