The Charge of the Goddess is a powerful way of focusing on cosmic energies. The Goddess is considered to be both 'transcendent', or above and beyond the created universe (like the traditional idea of God on a cloud, looking down and judging creation!), and also 'immanent', or manifest within every natural object, be it flower, stone, animal or person. The two concepts are complementary rather than contradictory.
Some practitioners feel that charges are an attempt to formalise energies that are beyond definition within a more conventional spiritual framework and that they are therefore artificial and restricting. If you have not used them before, I suggest you try working through the meditation given later in this chapter, to see if it is right for you.
The first and most popular version of the Charge of the Goddess was created by Gerald Gardener's High Priestess Doreen Valiente, herself one of the most influential people in formal magical traditions. Her version of the statement of the unifying principles of the Goddess is widely quoted and often memorised and sometimes adopted as a focus for trance work. (See page 300 for books describing her work.)
However, some practitioners, both solitary and those in less formal groups, create their own charges and may alter them as their confidence and experience of magick increase. You can create your own charge at the beginning of some rituals, or use an existing one, even if you do not acknowledge the Goddess as central to your personal spirituality.
You may view the divine force as a more abstract source of light and wisdom, but even so it can be helpful to personify it as a female (anima) and at the same time male (animus) form. Though the Valiente charge includes names of deities of both male and female forms, unless these mean something to you, you may want to exclude them or use names to which you personally relate.
You can refer back to the beginning of this chapter, where I listed a number of god and goddess forms, common to magick and drawn from different cultures, that emphasise specific strengths or qualities of the Divinity. However, your own list, drawn from mythology or perhaps your own background, may work better for you. The following is a version I have developed using three goddess forms from the Celtic tradition, my own favourite, which I have adapted for the three phases of the Goddess.
So spoke the Great Mother who has been known in many forms and by many names in countless ages, but is and always will be one and the same. As the Maiden, she is the Celtic Brighid who in early spring softens the Earth with her white wand of fire and so awakens the spring and restores fertility to land and people. As Mother, she is Cerridwen whose magical cauldron of wisdom and inspiration overflows to all who seek and call in need; finally she is Cailleach, the Veiled One, wise woman, healer and bringer of dreams, who in the winter of life transforms the old and outworn into new life to be born with the Maiden in the spring.
'When the Moon is full, you can call on me, goddess, mother, sister, friend, daughter and grandmother of all ages and all places, in joy, for I bring love and plenty. You may also bring me your hopes with the waxing moon and your sorrows on the wane, for I am with you in all states and stages, when you call and when you are silent, when you turn to me as an eager child and when you weep solitary tears in your pillow when your dreams have dissolved into ashes.
'I hold the key to the mysteries of existence and the universe, but these I will share with all who come with willing heart and open mind. For they are not hidden from you, but are all round you in every season. I am in the Moon as she passes through the sky, in the fertile Earth and the mighty waters, for I am them as I am part of you, and you of me, and you too are of the same divine fabric as the Moon and the fertile Earth and the waters, the stars, the sunshine and the life-giving rain.
'I do not ask sacrifice or worship, for I come to you in love as a gentle mother, with compassion, understanding and forgiveness of those things in your heart that you fear to look on in yourself. I am fierce, defending my young and my green places and creatures from all who would do them harm, but I would rather teach than avenge, restore and regenerate.
'I am the great healer of sorrow, pain, loss and doubt. Through me and through my herbs, oils, crystals and sacred waters, you can spread my healing wisdom.
As I give life, so in death all return to me to be transformed, renewed and born again. I was with you in the beginning and will be with you in the end.
'If you work with honour, love, humility and for the highest good, then you may realise your own divinity and spread light and fertility throughout the Earth. For what you give, will I restore to you threefold and more, time without time and for evermore.'
We are of the circle and we are the circle. May the circle be uncast but never broken.
If you are working in a group, you can each recite different parts of the charge, but best of all, through meditation, alone or as a group, you can work to create your own. If you are a solitary practitioner, you can read or recite your charge into a candle flame or in a wild, open place, and feel the energies resounding beyond and within you. You can also use it before divination or as an introduction to a ceremony for healing or greater understanding.
Meditation can last from five minutes to half an hour or more. In these initial stages, allow your own psyche to guide you as to when the experience is done. If other members of the group are still working, this is not a sign that their experience was more profound. Sit quietly or lie down, enjoying the silence and allowing the images of your meditation to develop quite spontaneously.
If you are working with a group, remain in the circle and pass round a bowl or chalice of pure water.
If you are working indoors with candlelight, arrange the candles so they reflect on the water. As each person gazes into the water, they can contribute a series of images about what the Goddess represents to them, which will be stimulated by the meditation. You do not need to use a bowl of water, but it is a way of directing inner images externally to find expression. Some people prefer to pass round a crystal ball or a large piece of uncut crystal. A crystal is helpful if you find it difficult to retrieve images from meditation or if you find meditation unproductive, as the living energies provide a direct route to your unconscious wisdom.
After your meditation, if you are working alone, surround a clear bowl of water with white candles and, looking into it, begin to speak. You may like to record your words on cassette to make them easier to recall. If you do not consciously try to formulate poetic expressions, profound poetry and rich images will emerge almost from another place. This is the deep pool of collective wisdom speaking.
If you are in a group, the images can be set down by your scribe as a collective charge that can be changed over the months. Working on your charge can be a fruitful activity every six weeks or so as it reflects and stimulates the group consciousness.
Copy a version of your charge into your Book of Shadows. It is good to read if you feel afraid or alone at any time when you are not doing magical work.
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