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Sacred Texts of the Craft: The Witches' Creed

Updated: Jun 5, 2021

Doreen Valiente

She was the greatest poet of Witchcraft, and one of its pioneers. She was there in the earliest days of the movement, and she called Charles Leland a "male chauvinist pig of the crudest kind" in print, in her book, Witchcraft for Tomorrow. On the same page she said his disdain for women didn't stop him from "occasionally dressing himself up as a woman, with wig and makeup, and parading about as Alys Cusack." Which reveals her own lack of understanding and tolerance by today's standards. We are all products of the times in which we live, and when we know better, we do better.

Doreen is responsible for the most beautiful and widely known writings in the Craft and this is one of them. The Witches Creed lays out the Force and Form duality at the heart of magic, describes the eight traditional Craft holidays or Sabbats, and the full moon observations or Esbats, and the then current understanding of the Goddess and the God with some deep insights. This is one of the most beloved poems in the Craft.

The Witches' Creed

Dorren Valiente

Hear now the words of the Witches,

The secrets we hid in the night,

When dark was our destiny's pathway,

That now we bring forth into light.

Mysterious water and fire,

The earth and the wide-ranging air,

By hidden quintessence we know them,

And will and keep silent and dare.

The birth and rebirth of all nature,

The passing of winter and spring,

We share with the life universal,

Rejoice in the magical ring.

Four times in the year the Great Sabbat

Returns and the Witches are seen

At Lammas and Candlemas Dancing,

On May Eve and old Hallowe'en.

When daytime and nighttime are equal,

When sun is at greatest and least,

The four Lesser Sabbats are summoned,

Again Witches gather in feast.

Thirteen silver moons in a year are,

Thirteen is the coven's array,

Thirteen times as Esbat make merry,

For each golden year and a day.

The power was passed down the ages,

Each time between woman and man,

Each century unto the other,

Ere time and the ages began.

When drawn is the magical circle,

By sword or athame of power,

Its compass between the two worlds lies,

In Land of the Shades for that hour.

The world has no right then to know it,

And world of beyond will tell naught,

The oldest of Gods are invoked there,

The Great Work of magic is wrought.

For two are the mystical pillars,

That stand at the gate of the shrine,

and two are the powers of nature,

The forms and the forces divine

The dark and the light in succession,

The opposites each unto each,

Shown forth as a God and a Goddess,

Of this did our ancestors teach.

By night he's the wild wind's rider,

The Horn'd One, the Lord of the Shades,

By day he's the King of the Woodland,

The dweller in green forest glades.

She is youthful or old as she pleases,

She sails the torn clouds in her barque,

The bright silver lady of midnight,

The crone who weaves spells in the dark.

The master and mistress of magic,

They dwell in the deeps of the mind,

Immortal and ever-renewing,

With power to free or to bind,

So drink the good wine to the Old Gods,

And dance and make love in their praise,

Till Elphame's fair land shall receive us,

In peace at the end of our days.

And Do What You Will be the challenge,

So be it in love that harms none,

For this is the only commandment,

By Magic of old, be it done!

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