The Charge of the Goddess is one of the only religious documents that most Wiccans know and love. It's a short and sweet devotional that celebrates the beauty and magick of the Mother. While it's not the only religious poetry associated with the Goddess, many people say that this one resonates most for them.
Some Wiccans read The Charge of the Goddess each time they want to connect with their Lady. Others recite its words—or a version of them—when they formally join a new group or coven. Some people use the Charge of the Goddess as instructional materials. The Charge of the Goddess is an iconic piece of religious poetry that has earned a permanent place in the annals of Wiccan history.
Doreen Valiente is the author of the Charge of the Goddess poem. She was born in 1922 in Surrey, England, and spent the latter half of her life working within Wicca. For years, she and Gerald Gardner worked together to create Wiccan liturgy and other texts.
Doreen grew up in suburban England during the second World War, where she cultivated a personal belief in magick despite her parents objections. She worked in factories and for the intelligence service during war time before settling down with her first husband. After being widowed, Doreen began to investigate the occult in depth, eventually meeting and working with Gerald Gardner.
As she worked with Gardner, she began to realize that much of his work was tainted by the writings and life of Aleister Crowley, which carried significant baggage. She worked within their coven, the Bricket Wood coven, to rewrite and adapt material, removing Crowley's legacy. After increasing conflicts, Doreen left Gardner's influence to pursue her own path. From this life came the beauty of the Charge of the Goddess.
Yes and no. Both the Charge of the Goddess and passages within the bible are poetry and art - but nothing within Wicca is considered without error or inherently sacred. The Charge of the Goddess is a revered piece of poetry because it helps us connect with the magickal life force - but it is not inherently clean or sacred itself.
We know who wrote it, we know why she wrote it, and we don't venerate her as some unobtainable standard of beauty or perfection. We respect Doreen Valiente for her contribution to the wealth of Wiccan literature, but it's important that we understand that no single person is "perfect" or deserving of our blind veneration.
Whatever you want. Seriously. Read it. If you connect with it, print it out and hang it somewhere. If it's too arcane for you - find something else. I think it's a beautiful piece of poetry from a woman who lived a long and interesting life. It evokes the Goddess in a way that I love to connect with: loving and mysterious, powerful and compassionate.
Here at WITCHYVERSE, we've got a printable PDF for you. So, if you do read it and like it - you CAN hang it on your wall. Proudly. If you don't have a printer, the UPS Store or your local library can help you print a copy.
Credit: The Doreen Valiente Foundation
Listen to the Words of the Great Mother, Who was of old called among men Artemis, Astarte, Diana, Melusine, Aphrodite, Cerridwen, Dana, Arianrhod, Isis, Bride, and by many other Names.
At My Altars the youth of Lacedemon gave love, and made due sacrifice. Whenever ye have need of anything, once in the month, and better it be when the Moon is Full, then shall ye gather in some secret place and adore the Spirit of Me, Who am Queen of All Witcheries. There shall ye gather, ye who are fain to learn all Magick, yet have not yet 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 toward 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: on 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 sacrifice, for behold: I am the Mother of All Living, and My Love is poured out upon the Earth.
Hear ye the Words of the Star Goddess: She in the Dust of Whose Feet are the Hosts of Heaven, Whose Body encircleth the Universe.
I, Who am the Beauty of the Green Earth, and the White Moon amongst the Stars, and the Mystery of the Waters, and the Desire of the heart of man, I call unto thy soul: "Arise! And come unto Me!"
For I am the Soul of Nature, Who giveth Life to the Universe: from Me all things proceed, and unto Me all things must return. And before My Face, which is beloved of gods and men, thine innermost Divine Self shall 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, honor 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 thou 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.