The Charge of the Goddess

          Traditional by Doreen Valiente, as adapted by Starhawk
Listen to the words of the Great Mother, who of old was called Artemis, Astarte, Dione, Melusine, Aphrodite, Ceridwen, Diana, Arionrhod, Brigid and by many other names: 
  "Whenever you have need of anything,
  once in the month, 
  and better when the moon is full, 
  you shall assemble in some secret place 
  and adore the spirit of Me 
  who is Queen of all the Wise. 
  You shall be free from slavery, 
  and as a sign that you be free 
  you shall be naked in your rites. 
  Sing, feast, dance, make music and love, 
  all in My presence, 
  for Mine is the ecstasy of the spirit 
  and Mine also is joy on earth. 
  For My law is love unto all beings. 
  Mine is the secret 
  that opens upon the door of youth, 
  and Mine is the cup of wine of life, 
  that is the Cauldron of Ceridwen 
  that is the holy grail of immortality. 
  I give the knowledge of the spirit eternal 
  and beyond death I give peace and freedom 
  and reunion with those that have gone before. 
  Nor do I demand aught of sacrifice, 
  for behold, 
  I am the mother of all things 
  and My love is poured upon the earth." 

Hear the words of the Star Goddess, the dust of whose feet are the hosts of heaven, whose body encircles the universe: 
  "I who am the beauty of the green earth
  and the white moon among stars 
  and the mysteries of the waters, 
  I call upon your soul to arise 
  and come unto me. 
  For I am the soul of nature 
  that gives life to the universe. 
  From Me all things proceed 
  and unto Me they must return. 
  Let My worship be in the heart that rejoices, 
  for behold— 
  all acts of love and pleasure are My rituals. 
  Let there be beauty and strength, 
  power and compassion, 
  honor and humility, 
  mirth and reverence within you. 
  And you who seek to know Me, 
  know that your seeking and yearning 
  will avail you not, 
  unless you know the Mystery: 
  for if that which you seek, 
  you find not within yourself, 
  you will never find it without. 
  For behold, 
  I have been with you 
  from the beginning, 
  and I am that which is attained 
  at the end of desire." 


Margaret Murray

How do Wiccan folk practice their faith today? There is no central authority or doctrine, and individual covens vary a great deal. But most meet to celebrate on nights of the Full Moon, and at eight holy days or sabbats throughout the year. They also gather with other Nature religions at great outdoor summer festivals.

Though some practice alone or only with their families, many Wiccans are organized into covens of three to thirteen members. Some are led by a High Priestess or Priest, many by a Priestess/Priest team; others rotate or share leadership. Some covens are highly structured and hierarchichal, while others are informal and egalitarian. Often extensive training is required before initiation, and coven membership is considered an important commitment

There are many branches or "traditions" of Wicca in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia. These include Gardnarian, Alexandrian, Welsh Traditional, Dianic, Faery, Georgian, Seax-Wicca and others. All adhere to a code of ethics. None engage in the disreputable practices of some modern "cults," such as isolating and brainwashing lonely, impressionable young people. Genuine Wiccans welcome brothers and sisters, but not disciples or unthinking followers.

Coven meetings include ritual, celebration and magick (often spelled with a "k' to distinguish it from stage illusions). Wiccan magick is not at all like the instant special effects of cartoon shows or fantasy novels, nor is it medievaldemonology. It operates in harmony with natural laws and is usually less spectacular -- but effective. Various techniques are used to heal people and animals, seek understanding, or improve members' lives in specific ways. Positive goals are sought; cursing and "evil spells" are repugnant to practitioners of Wicca.
Wiccans tend to be strong supporters of environmental protection, equal rights, global peace and religious freedom, and sometimes magick is used toward such goals. Local covens may provide community service by helping needy families over the holidays, cleaning up litter, assisting AIDS patients, or in many other ways.

Wiccan beliefs do not include such Judeao-Christian concepts as original sin, vicarious atonement, divine judgement or bodily resurrection. Wiccans believe in a beneficent universe, the laws of karma and reincarnation, and divinity inherent in every human being and all of Nature. Laughter and pleasure are part of their spitritual tradition, and they enjoy singing, dancing, feasting and love. 

Wiccans tend to be individualists, and have no central holy book, prophet or church authority. They draw inspiration and insight from Nature, tradition, the arts, literature, science and personal experience. Each practitioner keeps a personal book or journal in which s/he records magickal spells, dreams, songs and chants, poetry and so on.

To most in the Craft, every religion has its own valuable perspective on the nature of Deity and humanity's relationship to It: there is no One True Faith. Rather, religious diversity is necessary in a world of diverse societies and individuals. Because of this belief, Wiccans do not actively recruit or proselytize. There is an assumption that people who can benefit from the Wiccan way will "find their way home" when the time is right.

Despite this lack of evangelistic zeal, many covens are quite willing to talk with interested people, and even make efforts to inform their communities about the beliefs and practices of Wicca.

There is also a growing number of superb craft sites on the internet, periodicals, and national and regional festivals through which a seeker can make contact with the larger Craft community.

The Desert Wind Coven

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