On Sacred Writings

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, Cerridwen, Diana, Arionrhod, Brigid, and by many other names:

Whenever you have need of anything, once a month, and better it be 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 is unto all beings. Mine is the secret that opens the door of youth, and Mine is the cup of wine of life that is the cauldron of Cerridwen, 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 out 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 the 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 the 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.

You know, there's really not a lot of this kind of thing in the global Pagan community.  Though some traditions are faithful to the holy writings of particular cultures, most of us don't have any kind of holy book to which we adhere as revealed truth.  I think that's really a strength, to be honest.  Even those of us without a lot of cultural guidance, though, hold on to some works of poetry and music as instruments of devotion, which guide us in our dealings with the world.

The Charge of the Goddess is as close to scripture as I'll ever get.

Regardless of its traceable derivation, I believe this is as close to a divine-inspired text, a gift from whatever constitutes divinity, as I'll ever see.  Though it's primarily a Wiccan document, and thus borrowed from a tradition not my own, it informs the way I move through and interact with the rest of the world.

The Charge was a formative document for me.  I don't remember when I first encountered it, but I remember how touched I was by it, how profoundly moved.  Like Estara T'shirai, I see contained within it the kind of ethical standard the Rede can never be.  That's right, I said it: even if I thought of myself as Wiccan, I would reject the Rede because frankly, it's useless.  It says nothing about anything.  The Charge, by contrast, provides a positive model: beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence.  Like our liturgical calendar, it provides eight spokes on a wheel; in this case, instead of reminding us about a celebratory cycle, it advises us on how to be human.  (I strongly recommend the article at the link, by the way.)

And it's just so poetic.

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