- The Law was made and ordained
- The Law was made for the
Wicca, to advise and help in their troubles.
- The Wicca should give due
worship to the gods and obey their will, which they ordain, for it was
made for the good of Wicca as the worship of the Wicca is good for the
gods. For the gods love the brethren of Wicca.
- As a man loveth a woman by
- So should the Wicca love the
gods by being mastered by them.
- And it is necessary that the
Circle which is the temple of the gods, should be truly cast and
purified. And that it may be a fit place for the gods to enter.
- And the Wicca shall be
properly prepared and purified to enter into the presence of the gods.
- With love and worship in
their hearts, they shall raise power from their bodies to give power to
- As has been taught of old.
- For in this way only may men
have communion with the gods, for the gods cannot help man without the
help of man.
PRIESTESS AND HIGH PRIEST
- And the High Priestess shall
rule her coven as the representative of the Goddess.
- And the High Priest shall
support her as the representative of the God.
- And the High Priestess shall
choose whom she will, be he of sufficient rank, to be her High Priest.
- For, as the God Himself
kissed Her feet in the five-fold salute, laying His power at the feet of
the Goddess because of Her youth and beauty, Her sweetness and kindness,
Her wisdom and justice, Her humility and generosity,
- So He resigned all His power
- But the High Priestess should
ever mind that the power comes from Him.
- It is only lent, to be used
wisely and justly.
- And the greatest virtue of a
High Priestess be that she recognize that youth is necessary to the
representative of the Goddess.
- So she will gracefully retire
in favour of a younger woman should the Coven so decide in council.
- For a true High Priestess
realizes that gracefully surrendering pride of place is one of the
- And that thereby she will
return to that pride of place in another life, with greater power and
- In the old days, when
witchdom extended far, we were free and worshipped in all the greater
- But in these unhappy times we
must celebrate our sacred mysteries in secret.
- So be it ordained that none
but the Wicca may see our mysteries, for our enemies are many and
torture loosens the tongue of man.
- So be it ordained that no
Coven shall know where the next Coven bide.
- Or who its members be, save
only the Priest and Priestess and messenger.
- And there shall be no
communication between them, save by the messenger of the gods, or the
- And only if it be safe may
the Covens meet in some safe place for the great festivals.
- And while there, none shall
say whence they came nor give their true names.
- To this end, that if any be
tortured, in their agony, they may not tell if they do not know.
- So be it ordained that no one
shall tell anyone not of the craft who be of the Wicca, nor give any
names or where they bide, or in any way tell anything which can betray
any of us to our foes.
- Nor may he tell where the
- Or the Covenstead.
- Or where the meetings be.
- And if any break these Laws,
even under torture, THE CURSE OF THE GODDESS SHALL BE UPON THEM,
so they may never be reborn on earth and may remain where they belong,
in the hell of the Christians.
- Let each High Priestess
govern her Coven with justice and love, with the help and advice of the
High Priest and the Elders, always heeding the advice of the Messenger
of the Gods if he cometh.
- She will heed all complaints
of all Brothers and strive to settle all differences among them.
- But it must be recognized
that there will always be people who will ever strive to force others to
do as they will.
- These are not necessarily
- And they oft have good ideas
and such ideas should be talked over in council.
- But if they will not agree
with their Brothers, or if they say,
- "I will not work under
this High Priestess,"
- It hath ever been the Old Law
to be convenient to the Brethren and to avoid disputes.
- Any of the third may claim to
found a new Coven because they live over a league away from the
Covenstead or are about to do so.
- Anyone living within the
Covendom and wishing to form a new Coven, shall tell the Elders of their
intention, and on the instant avoid their dwelling and remove to the new
- Members of the old Coven may
join the new one when it is formed. But if they do, they must utterly
avoid the old Coven.
- The Elders of the new and old
Covens should meet in peace and brotherly love to decide the new
- Those of the craft who dwell
outside both Covendoms may join either but not both.
- Though all may, if the Elders
agree, meet for the great festivals if it be truly in peace and
- But splitting the Coven oft
means strife, so for this reason these Laws were made of old and may the
CURSE OF THE GODDESS BE ON ANY WHO DISREGARD THEM. So be it
- If you would keep a book, let
it be in your own hand of write. Let brothers and sisters copy what they
will, but never let the book out of your hands, and never keep the
writings of another.
- For if it be found in their
hand of write, they may be taken and arraigned.
- Let each guard his own
writings and destroy them whenever danger threatens.
- Learn as much as you may by
heart and, when danger is past, rewrite your book, an it be safe.
- For this reason, if any die,
destroy their book an they have not been able to.
- For, an it be found, 'tis
clear proof against them.
- And our oppressors know well
"Ye may not be a witch alone".
- So all their kin and friends
be in danger of torture,
- So destroy everything not
- If your book be found on you,
'tis clear proof against you alone, you may be arraigned.
- Keep all thoughts of the
craft from your mind.
- If the torture be too great to bear, say
"I will confess. I cannot bear this torture. What do you want me to
- If they try to make you speak
of the Brotherhood, do not.
- But if they try to make you
speak of impossibilities such as flying through the air, consorting with
a Christian devil or sacrificing children, or eating men's flesh,
- To obtain relief from torture
say "I had an evil dream, I was beside myself, I was crazed."
- Not all magistrates are bad,
if there be an excuse, they may show mercy.
- If you have confessed aught, deny it
afterwards, say you babbled under torture, say you knew not what you
- If you are condemned, fear
- The Brotherhood is powerful
and will help you to escape if you stand steadfast, but if you betray
aught there is no hope for you in this life or in that to come.
- Be sure, if steadfast you go
to the pyre, drugs will reach you, you will feel naught. You go to death
and what lies beyond, the ecstasy of the goddess.
- To avoid discovery, let the
working tools be as ordinary things that any may have in their houses.
- Let the pentacles be of wax
so that they may be broken at once or melted.
- Have no sword unless your
rank allows it.
- Have no names or signs on
- Write the names and signs on
them in ink before consecrating them and wash it off immediately afterwards.
- Let the colours of the hilts
tell which is which.
- Do not engrave them lest they
- Ever remember ye are the
hidden children of the Goddess so never do anything to disgrace them or
- Never boast, never threaten,
never say you would wish ill of anyone.
- If any person not in the
Circle, speak of the craft, say, "Speak not to me of such, it
frightens me, 'tis evil luck to speak of it."
- For this reason, the
Christians have their spies everywhere. These speak as if they were well
affected to us, as if they would come to our meetings, saying, "My
mother used to worship the Old Ones. I would I could go myself."
- To such as these, ever deny
- But to others, ever say,
"'Tis foolish men talk of witches flying through the air. To do so
they must be as light as thistledown. And men say that witches all be
blear-eyed old crones, so what pleasure can there be at a witch meeting
such as folks talk on ?"
- And say, "Many wise men
now say there be no such creatures."
- Ever make it jest) and in
some future time perhaps, the persecution may die and we may worship our
gods in safety again.
- Let us all pray for that
- May the blessings of the
Goddess and God be on all who keep these Laws which are ordained.
- If the craft hath any
appanage, let all guard it and help to keep it clear and good for the
- And let all justly guard all
monies of the craft.
- And if any Brother truly
wrought it, 'tis right they have their pay, an it be just. An this be
not taking money for the art, but for good and honest work.
- And even the Christians say,
"The labourer is worthy of his hire," but if any Brother work
willingly for the good of the craft without pay, 'tis but to their
greater honour. So be it ordained.
- If there be any dispute or
quarrel among the Brethren, the High Priestess shall straightly convene
the Elders and inquire into the matter, and they shall hear both sides,
first alone and then together.
- And they shall decide justly,
not favouring one side or the other.
- Ever recognizing there be
people who can never agree to work under others.
- But at the same time, there
be some people who cannot rule justly.
- To those who must ever be
chief, there is one answer.
- "'Void the Coven or seek
another one, or make a Coven of your own, taking with you those who will
- To those who cannot rule
justly, the answer be, "Those who cannot bear your rule will leave
- For none may come to meetings
with those with whom they are at variance.
- So, an either cannot agree,
get hence, for the craft must ever survive. So be it ordained.
- In the olden days when we had
power, we could use the art against any who ill-treated the Brotherhood.
But in these evil days we must not do so. For our enemies have devised a
burning pit of everlasting fire into which they say their god casteth
all the people who worship him, except it be the very few who are
released by their priest's spells and masses. And this be chiefly by
giving monies and rich gifts to receive his favour for their great god
is ever in need of money.
- But as our gods need our aid
to make fertility for man and crops, so is the god of the Christians
ever in need of man's help to search out and destroy us. Their priests ever
tell them that any who get our help are damned to this hell forever, so
men be mad with the terror of it.
- But they make men believe
that they may escape this hell if they give victims to the tormentors.
So for this reason all be forever spying, thinking, "An I can catch
but one of these Wicca, I will escape from this fiery pit."
- So for this reason we have
our hidels, and men searching long and not finding, say, "There be
none, or if there be, they be in a far country."
- But when one of our
oppressors die, or even be sick, ever is the cry, "This be witches'
malice", and the hunt is up again. And though they slay ten of
their own to one of ours, still they care not. They have countless
- While we are few indeed. So
be it ordained.
- That none shall use the art
in any way to do ill to any.
- However much they may injure
us, harm none. And nowtimes many believe we exist not.
- That this Law shall ever
continue to help us in our plight, no one, however great an injury or
injustice they receive, may use the art in any way to do ill, or harm
any. But they may, after great consultations with all, use the art to
restrain Christians from harming us Brothers, but only to constrain them
and never to punish.
- To this end men will say,
"Such a one is a mighty searcher out, and a persecutor of old women
whom they deemeth to be witches, and none hath done him harm, so it be
proof that they cannot or more truly there be none."
- For all know full well that
so many folk have died because someone had a grudge against them, or
were persecuted because they had money or goods to seize, or because
they had none to bribe the searchers. And many have died because they
were scolding old women. So much that men now say that only old women
- And this be to our advantage
and turns suspicion away from us.
- In England and Scotland 'tis
now many a year since a witch hath died the death. But any misuse of the
power might raise the persecution again.
- So never break this Law,
however much you are tempted, and never consent to its being broken in
- If you know it is being
broken, you must work strongly against it.
- And any High Priestess or
High Priest who consents to its breach must immediately be deposed for
'tis the blood of the Brethren they endanger.
- Do good, an it be safe, and
only if it be safe.
- And keep strictly to the Old
- Never accept money for the
use of the art, for money ever smeareth the taker. 'Tis sorcerers and
conjurers and the priests of the Christians who ever accept money for
the use of their arts. And they sell pardons to let men escape from
- Be not as these. If you
accept no money, you will be free from temptation to use the art for
- All may use the art for their
own advantage or for the advantage of the craft only if you are sure you
- But ever let the Coven debate
this at length. Only if all are satisfied that none may be harmed, may
the art be used.
- If it is not possible to
achieve your ends one way, perchance the aim may be achieved by acting
in a different way so as to harm none. MAY THE CURSE OF THE GODDESS
BE ON ANY WHO BREAKETH THIS LAW. So be it ordained.
- 'Tis judged lawful if ever
any of the craft need a house or land and none will sell, to incline the
owner's mind so as to be willing to sell, provided it harmeth him not in
any way and the full price is paid without haggling.
- Never bargain or cheapen
anything whilst you buy by the art. So be it ordained.
LAW OF THE
- "Tis the Old Law and the
most important of all laws, that no one may do anything which will
endanger any of the craft, or bring them into contact with the law of
the land or any persecutors.
- In any dispute between
Brethren, no one may invoke any laws but those of the craft.
- Or any tribunal but that of
the Priestess, Priest and Elders.
- It is not forbidden to say as
Christians do, "There be witchcraft in the land," because our
oppressors of old make it a heresy not to believe in witchcraft and so a
crime to deny it which thereby puts you under suspicion.
- But ever say, "I know
not of it here, perchance there may be but afar off, I know not
- But ever speak of them as old
crones, consorting with the devil and riding through the air.
- And ever say, "But how
may many ride the air if they be not as light as thistledown."
- But the curse of the Goddess
be on any who cast suspicion on any of the Brotherhood.
- Or who speak of any real
meeting-place or where they bide.
- The craft keep books with the
names of all herbs which are good, and all cures so all may learn.
- But keep another book with
all the Bales and Apies and let only the Elders and other trustworthy
people have this knowledge. So be it ordained.
- And may the blessings of the
gods be on all who keep these Laws, and the curses of both the God and
the Goddess be on all who break them.
USE OF THE
- Remember the art is the
secret of the gods and may only be used in earnest and never for show or
- Magicians and Christians may
taunt us saying, "You have no power, show us your power. Do magic
before our eyes, then only will we believe," seeking to cause us to
betray the art before them.
- Heed them not, for the art is
holy and may only be used in need, and the curse of the gods be on any
who break this Law.
- It ever be the way with women
and with men also, that they ever seek new love.
- Nor should we reprove them
- But it may be found a
disadvantage to the craft.
- And so many a time it has
happened that a High Priest or a High Priestess, impelled by love, hath
departed with their love. That is, they left the Coven.
- Now if the High Priestess
wishes to resign, she may do so in full Coven.
- And this resignation is valid.
- But if they should run off
without resigning, who may know if they may not return in a few months?
- So the Law is, if a High
Priestess leaves her Coven, she be taken back and all be as before.
- Meanwhile, if she has a
deputy, that deputy shall act as High Priestess for as long as the High
Priestess is away.
- If she returns not at the end
of a year and a day, then shall the Coven elect a new High Priestess,
- Unless there is a good reason
to the contrary.
- The person who has done the
work should reap the benefit of the reward. If somebody else is elected,
the deputy is made maiden and deputy of the High Priestess.
- It has been found that
practicing the art doth cause a fondness between aspirant and tutor, and
it is the cause of better results if this be so.
- And if for any reason this be
undesirable, it can easily be avoided by both persons from the outset
firmly resolving in their minds to be as brother and sister or parent
- And it is for this reason
that a man may be taught only by a woman and a woman by a man, and women
and women should not attempt these practices together. So be it
- Order and discipline must be
- A High Priestess or a High
Priest may, and should, punish all faults.
- To this end all the craft
must receive correction willingly.
- All properly prepared, the
culprit kneeling should be told his fault and his sentence pronounced.
- Punishment should be followed
by something amusing.
- The culprit must acknowledge
the justice of the punishment by kissing the hand on receiving sentence
and again thanking for punishment received. So be it ordained.
appear to have become part of the GBG BOS shortly after Doreen Valiente left
his Coven (in 1957); they existed at the time that she left. (They were an
innovation at that time, and were one of the things that the people who hived
at that time refused to accept, though not themselves a reason for hiving.)
See Doreen Valiente's "The Rebirth of Witchcraft".
Some of this
material was already in the GBG BOS at the time. See the Farrars' "The
seem to be present throughout the Alexandrian stream. (See the Farrars'
"The Witches Way", and June Johns' "King of the
The list I
give here is drawn from several published sources:
- June Johns,"King of the
- Lady Sheba,"The Grimoire
of Lady Sheba"
- Janet and Stewart
Farrar,"The Witches' Way"
I used Johns
as my primary source, as Sheba is generally full of copyist errors, and the
Farrars don't give the full text. I couldn't find the section headings in any
published source, but I included them anyway because they make the text
easier to follow.
be a more accurate source than Johns for the GBG version. (Some of what I
took to be typos may well have been GBG-ism's.) Johns is probably a better
source for Alex Sanders' own version. Covens in either lineage have probably
cross referenced and 'corrected' what they took to be errors. (For example,
in Law 60, I use the word 'arraigned'. Sheba gives 'engained', which makes no
sense (that we know of). However, 'engined' (meaning tortured) makes more
sense in context than 'arraigned'. Did Alex Sanders mis-correct the
'engained' error ?
From the Alexandrian
Book of Shadows