Charge of the Goddess

The Charge of the Goddess is a traditional inspirational text sometimes used in the neopagan religion of Wicca. Several versions exist, though they all have the same basic premise, that of a set of instructions given by a Great Goddess to her worshippers. The most well known version is that written by Gerald Gardner,[1] and rewritten by his High Priestess Doreen Valiente in the mid 1950s, which is contained within the traditional Gardnerian Book of Shadows.

Several different versions of a Wiccan Charge of the God have since been created to mirror and accompany the Charge of the Goddess.

Contents

Themes

The goddess Isis, holding a sistrum and oinochoe.

The opening paragraph names a collection of goddesses, some derived from Greek or Roman mythology, others from Celtic or Arthurian legends, affirming a belief that these various figures represent a single Great Mother:

Listen to the words of the Great Mother; she who of old was also called among men Artemis, Astarte, Athene, Dione, Melusine, Aphrodite, Cerridwen, Dana, Arianrhod, Isis, Bride, and by many other names.

This theme echoes the ancient Roman belief that the Goddess Isis was known by ten thousand names.

The second paragraph is largely derived and paraphrased from the words that Aradia, the messianic daughter of Diana, speaks to her followers in Charles Godfrey Leland's 1899 book Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches. The third paragraph is largely written by Doreen Valiente,[citation needed] with some phrases adapted from The Book of the Law and The Gnostic Mass by Aleister Crowley.[1]

The charge affirms that all acts of love and pleasure are sacred to the Goddess.

Let my worship be within the heart that rejoices, for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals. Therefore, let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you.

History

Ancient Precedents

In book eleven, chapter 47 of Apuleius's The Golden Ass, Isis delivers what Ceisiwr Serith calls "essentially a charge of a goddess".[2] This is rather different to the modern version known in Wicca, though they have the same premise, that of the rules given by a great Mother Goddess to her faithful.

Wiccan Charge

The earliest known Wiccan version is found in a document dating from the late 1940s, and draws extensively from Charles Godfrey Leland's Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches and other modern sources,[3] particularly from the works of Aleister Crowley.[1] The oldest identifiable source is the 17th century Centrum Naturae Concentratum of Alipili (or Ali Puli).[3]

It is believed to have been compiled by Gerald Gardner[3] or possibly another member of the New Forest coven.[4] Doreen Valiente, a student of Gardner, took his version from his Book of Shadows and adapted it into verse, and later into another prose version.

The initial verse version by Doreen Valiente consisted of eight verses, the second of which was :

Bow before My spirit bright
Aphrodite, Arianrhod
Lover of the Hornéd God
Queen of witchery and night[5]

Valiente was unhappy with this version, saying that "people seemed to have some difficulty with this, because of the various goddess-names which they found hard to pronounce",[6] and so she rewrote it as a prose version, much of which differs from her initial version, and is more akin to Gardner's version. This prose version has since been modified and reproduced widely by other authors.

References

  1. ^ a b c Orpheus, Rodney (2009). "Gerald Gardner & Ordo Templi Orientis". Pentacle Magazine (30): pp. 14–18. ISSN 1753-898X. 
  2. ^ [|Serith, Ceisiwr]. "The Sources of the Charge of the Goddess". http://www.ceisiwrserith.com/wicca/charge.htm. Retrieved 2010-08-14. 
  3. ^ a b c Serith, Ceisiwr. "The Sources of the Charge of the Goddess". http://www.ceisiwrserith.com/wicca/charge.htm. Retrieved 23 October 2007. 
  4. ^ Heselton, Philip. Gerald Gardner and the Cauldron of Inspiration. Milverton, Somerset: Capall Bann. pp. 300–1. 
  5. ^ The Rebirth of Witchcraft, Doreen Valiente, page 61
  6. ^ The Rebirth of Witchcraft, Doreen Valiente, page 62

External links


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