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Simple Magic Spells in Wicca and Witchcraft

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Throughout the 1950s, Gardner continued to revise the Wiccan rituals. At the beginning of the process, between 1948 and 1953, he was taking ideas from a remarkable range of printed sources. The sudden appearance of a stanza of Kipling in the May Eve ceremony is characteristic. Doreen Valiente discovered that the wonderfully evocative term, 'Book of Shadows'; used to replace the traditional and tarmshed one of 'gnmoire\ was snatched from the totally different context of an article on a Sansknt manual concerning the art of divination by the observation of a person's shadow, published in The Occult Observer in 1949 (Valiente, 1989: 51-2). She also found the distinctive name 'athame\ employed by Gardner for the black-handled ntuai knife otherwise described from the Key of Solomon, in a short story by Clark Aston Smith, published m the American magazine Weird Tales in 1947 (Valiente, 1978: 78). It seems to have been taken by Smith m turn from an eighteendi-century recension of the Key kept m the Bibliotheque de 1'Arsenal and reproduced m Grillot de Givry's Pictorial Anthology of Witchcraft, Magic and Alchemy (1931), a book which Gardner himself possessed; the spelling in both those earlier texts was !arthame\ and the denvation of the word is unknown. From Givry, also, Gardner probably took the rhyme beginning 'Bagabi lacha bachabe'.. a piece of apparent gibberish which features as an invocation to Satan m the thirteenth-century play Le Miracle de Theophile; it reappears in the seasonal rite for Hallowe'en, as an opemng chant. The numinous term which he used as an alternative to Wicca, 'the Craft of the Wise', had been employed for Margaret Murray's witch religion by Hugh Ross Williamson, in a novel, The Silver Bowl, which came out in 1948. His discussion of witches' chants, added to the second version of the 'Book of Shadows', is based on Graves's The White Goddess.

A particularly important addition to the Book was 'The Legend of the Goddess': a psychodrama telling the story of the Goddess's descent to the Underworld to confront the God, as Lord of the Dead. It was published m Witchcraft Today, and added to the second degree initiation nte. Gardner himself noted that it seemed to derive from Indian and Babylonian myths about Shiva and Ishtar, but that the resemblance was very loose. Indeed, these stones had been heavily and effectively reworked to expound the Wiccan vefsion of the of reincarnation, and to this day the responsibility for the passage remains unknown, although the central place given to the technique of gende scourging would argue for some input, at least, from Gardner himself.

After 1953 his revisions, although persistent, ceased to take m matenal from external and literary sources and consisted instead of responses to the practical needs of working the rites, training initiates, and regulating relationships among coven members, between covens, and between Wicca and the wider world. He also began to act on suggestions from his own witches. A clear case of this is m the matter of seasonal festivals. The first two Books of Shadows had provided ceremonies only for the quarter days identified with witches' gatherings by Murray at the opening of February, May, August and November. By December 1953 Gardner was already celebrating the winter solstice as well, at least informally (Farrar and Farrar, 1981: 148). In 1958 his principal coven asked him if the solstices and equinoxes could be fully incorporated into the Wiccan ritual calendar, the former at least being famed ancient festivals and also celebrated in modern Druidry ('Robert', pen. comm.). He readily agreed, and so was created the eight-fold pattern <5f the ritual year which became standard in Wicca and passed from it into virtually all of modern Paganism.

The most significant single source of additions to the Books of Shadows, however, was Doreen Valiente, who was initiated at mid-summer 1953 when she was at the end of her twenties. She provided Wicca with a prolific gift for poetry, which Gardner first exploited six months later when he instructed her to compose an invocation, at a few hours' notice, for a winter solstice celebration for which no set one yet existed. The result, suggested by a carol in the famous Hebridean folklore collection Canmna Gadelica, was the poem 'Queen of the Moon, Queen of the Stars', which was immediately published with the accompanying ritual in Witchcraft Today, as a traditional witches' seasonal liturgy; and that is just what it became (Farrar and Farrar, 1981: 148). Valiente and Gardner wrote together what became the standard rhyme used in round dances, 'The Witches' Rune' (the last word an Anglicization of the Hebridean rann, again from Cannina Gadelica). In the mid-1950s she urged upon him the need to shed the material taken from Crowley in the Book of Shadows, as it threatened to tar Wicca with the brush of the dead magician's bad reputation (Valiente, 1989: 60—2). He agreed to let her rewrite The Charge, and she duly produced a new verse version, and then a prose one which became standard. The second part of it is given here, even though it has been published many times before, as it embodies so neady the spirit of Wicca:

I who am the beauty of the green earth, and the white moon among the stars, and the mystery of the waters, and the desire of the heart of man, call unto thy soul, anse 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, beloved of gods and men, thine inmost divine self shall be enfolded in the rapture of the infinite. Let my worship be m 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, honour 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 fmdest not within thee, thou shall 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.

From the outset, Gardners witches faced the dilemma that if they were to multiply (or, as Gardner put it, to save the Old Religion from extinction), then they needed publicity; but that negative publicity might destroy them. Having taken on themselves both the glamour and the fear which were associated with witchcraft, they needed to capitalize on the first without provoking the latter. Gardner's initial airings in newspapers, arising from the interest created by the Isle of Man museum during 1951-2, had brought him Valiente. She joined his coven, which was currendy meeting in the London area and recruited mainly from his natunst club, at the time when Dafo's retirement had left it without a high priestess. This place she rapidly supplied, making the impact which has been described above, and remained in it until she hived off to found a sister coven m 1957. This was made possible by the influx of new initiates consequent upon the publication of Witchcraft Today and growing general interest, in Wicca.

The latter, however, was also responsible for a proportionately increasing tendency for the popular press to run features attacking witchcraft as Satanism, which commenced in 1955 and continued until the end of the decade. In 1957 and 1959 the original London coven was denounced sensationally and unscrupulously, putting a considerable strain upon its members and fracturing relations between Valiente s group and Gerald Gardner. The latter, from the relative security of his museum in the Isle of Man, continued to feed the interest of the mass media m Wicca at a time when the former were anxious to see it diminished. The result was not merely a total breach between the two, but the addition to Gardners Book of Shadows of a new document called 'The Craft Laws'. Purporting to be traditional, and studded with archaisms which looked odd within a thoroughly modern syntax, they represented something like a constitution for Wicdans, regulating relationships between them and providing for common rules of action within a framework of autonomous covens. They also, as Valiente noted with particular anger, attempted to limit the power of the high pnestess and set a term to her office (Valiente, 1989: 65—74; Kelly, 1991: 145-62).

Gardner himselhgenerally profited from his own regular appearances m

.::äSl the press, which attracted a growing number of would-be witches to contact him at his base in the Isle of Man. Coupled with introductions made through existing friends, this process meant that during the last five years of his life, from 1959 to 1964, he initiated a set of new high priestesses who were between them to be responsible for the foundation of most of the subsequent Eneages of Gardnenan Wicca. Patricia Crowther established covens in the north of England, and became well known during the early 1960s as a spokeswoman for witchcraft on radio and television. Momque Wilson produced the mam line of American Gardnenan covens, and most fertile of all was Ray Bone, whose initiates spread through Britain to generate most of its present-day Gardnenans. Gerald also crowned his literary work with a last book, The Meaning of Witchcraft, .answering the press attacks and attempting to establish the historical credentials of his religion more firmly by relating it to a string of ancient religious texts and images, and later magical groups. When he died, aged 79, its existence was secure.

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