The Charge of the Goddess
by Aleister Crowley
what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Mention the name of Aleister
Crowley to most modern day Wiccans and one produces in them a kind of allergic
reaction. Dare to say or even imply that many of today's Wiccan rituals were
written by To Mega Therion, A.C., and these peace-loving, love-preaching
blessed-be-ers are ready to take up their athames or swords and slit your
throat! Crowley, they claim, had nothing to do with the Wiccan rituals. It's
all a lie, a bloody goddamned lie! Crowley, that disgusting Satanist, could
have had nothing whatsoever to do with the Craft of the Wise! Witchcraft can
trace everything back to very ancient, pre-Christian times. The Old Religion
has remained unchanged for centuries--ĉons!--and that wicked old Beast
666 could have had nothing to do with it!
However, he could have and
The Craft is a Pagan ("rural",
not "godless") religion and the vast majority of Wiccans seem to be artistic
people, and so temperamental and emotional people--very often people who enjoy
as much freedom as possible and shun too much discipline as being too restrictive.
Before I go on after that please let me explain that I am NOT anti-craft.
I began my esoteric studies, this time around, with the Old Religion, and
I have a soft spot in my heart (skeptics say "head") for the Craft. I,
LIKE ALEISTER CROWLEY, would very much like to see Paganism, with its natural
and uncomplicated ways, once again take its rightful place in the world.
However, this over reaction to the name of Aleister Crowley, this ignorant,
spiteful attitude that blinds so many good people to reason, really must
stop. In every case where a Wiccan has spoken ill of A.C. I have discovered
that they read at most two or three of his books--and that very
superficially--read and not studied. In short, these good people, members of the
Old Religion, the Craft of the Wise, were not being very wise and were thinking
and acting no better than any coward, any unreasonable skeptic or Christian
bigot. Like so many others that they should be superior to, Wiccans tend, for
instance, to read one or two negative comments about women made by Crowley
and instantly, dynamically declare that he hated women, completely ignoring
all of the words of praise he had for women, the beautiful poems in honor
of womanhood and the Goddess in each woman. Crowley absolutely loved women.
Wiccans tend to overreact to a word here and there and cease to think reasonably,
rationally, just as a black person noting that A.C. used the word "nigger"
in a few places instantly "turns off" to Crowley and Thelema--and yet in
various places Crowley praises certain "niggers", while the term itself,
which essentially only means "black" or "black-skinned", was commonly used
during and after Victorian times to mean an individual of a dark-skinned
race, and this included Hindus and Arabians. It was not necessarily and
always considered a derogatory term then and it was not until relatively
recent times that blacks began to resent the term and insist upon being
called "blacks" and not "niggers", "Negroes" or "colored people"--or is
it "Afro-Americans" today? Political correctness had not been invented
in Crowley's day and he was not (in these instances!) trying to offend
The point of all of this is
that emotional over reaction tends to blind reason, and then one becomes
unreasonable, and to be unreasonable is to be without reason, and to be without
reason means that one has, at least temporarily, lost one's reason, and that in
turn means one has gone at least a little crazy.
I Understand the reason for
Wiccans' over reaction to the name of Aleister Crowley just as I Understand the
reasons for a black person's reaction to the now almost exclusively derogatory
term of "nigger", but it is time to calm down and be rational. Besides, when
one loses one's temper one loses the argument. Wiccans have a tough job of
it. Mother Rome and the Holy Catholic Church may not be persecuting Witches
with dunking and the sword, the gibbet and stake, but in more subtle ways,
motivated by the massive amount of misconceptions engendered during medieval
times by the Roman Catholic Church, Witchcraft and its followers are still
subject to gibbet, exposed to ridicule and scorn. Most Wiccans then are
overly sensitive and lacking any hard knowledge of Aleister Crowley, his
writings and work, and fearing to be linked to "the wickedest man in the
world", the Great Beast 666, instead of studying the subject and replying
to ignorance with informed wisdom and intelligence, these otherwise good
and sensible, down-to-earth people jump on the bandwagon and denounce a
man that they owe a great deal to in so very many ways. Crowley was a major
force in bringing about the revival of interest in the esoteric that opened
minds, just a little, but enough to pave the way for Wicca to "come out
of the broom closet", as it were, and practice its religion once again,
proudly and by the light of the sun and the moon. And yes, Aleister Crowley
DID write at least some of the rituals that most traditions of the Craft
employ today. Those who claim that today's Craft is exactly as it was in
very ancient times, since the beginning of humankind, are either very naive
or very stupid. If this were so there would still be human sacrifices,
a thing considered quite "bad" today, but in very primitive times simply
the natural thing to do to insure such things as a good harvest. The general
overall consciousness of humanity has evolved and with this has come the
evolution of the Craft of the Wise, and with evolution there is change.
So let's get real out there,
Let's grow up. Stop answering
unreasonable emotion with unreasonable emotion, and let's be better than the
masses who ignorantly follow like sheep anyone who appears to have authority.
Think for yourselves. Pick up a book, read it, study it, learn all you
can about a subject, and above all THINK. Then speak, but answer that
unreasonable emotion in yourself and others with cold logic and reason. Stop
trying to fight ignorance with ignorance. Fight ignorance with knowledge,
understanding, wisdom--intelligence. Prove to the uninitiated and skeptics that
a Wiccan is indeed an intelligent person who just may indeed deserve the title
of Wise One!
Ah, but I have gone a long
long way in just opening up this article--and hopefully a few closed minds.
Let me proceed with a little "proof" to title and nature of this article.
First of all it should be noted
(and please, before you disagree, dispassionately study the matter and be
prepared to be objective and not subjective to it) that much of today's Craft
owes a great deal to the work and writings of Gerald B. Gardner, and that many
of today's traditions may have roots in some ancient tradition, Celtic
(Keltic) or whatever, but many of today's rituals are either directly taken
from or adaptations of Gardnerian rituals. These rituals were, in turn,
at least in part, written by Aleister Crowley, either as a favor to his
friend G.B.G. or for pay, which is most likely as at the time A.C. probably
needed the money and he had done many things anonymously for money--thing
he believed in--things like the translation, editing and annotating of
LITTLE POEMS IN PROSE by Charles Baudelaire and A PROPHET IN HIS OWN COUNTRY,
Henry Clifford Stuart--as well as ghostwriting other books such as ASTROLOGY:
YOUR PLACE IN THE SUN and ASTROLOGY: YOUR PLACE IN THE STARS supposedly
by Evangeline Adams. (There...now we've done it! Now we've gotten a bunch
of astrologers all upset!)
Crowley and Huxley corresponded,
compared notes, and much of today's rational knowledge about drugs and their
effects upon the human brain and mind can be then traced back to Crowley. A.C.
helped to mold generations of science fiction and fantasy writers through,
in part, his association with Lord Dunsany and James Branch Cabel. It is,
in fact, difficult to find an aspect of modern society that was not in
some way influenced by the Beast 666. Ah...but there I go again. I will
jump off my soap box and try to get to the point.
In Gardner's first book on
the Craft, a novel, HIGH MAGIC'S AID, 1949 E.V., about two years after the
death of Aleister Crowley, G.B.G., writing under the pseudonym of Scrire, clearly
shows that he was associated with Therion by following the name with "O.T.O.
4 = 7". Now the O.T.O. is obvious--the now familiar initials of the Ordo
Templi Orientis (the real one, not one of the groups masquerading as the
O.T.O. today)--and it is equally obvious that Gardner was telling us that
he was a member of that order which was headed by Baphomet, i.e. Crowley.
The "4 = 7" is obviously a reference to the Philosophus grade of the Golden
Dawn, the outer order of the A.·.A.·., which G.B.G. is then claiming to
have been admitted to by his friend Aleister Crowley.
In WITCHCRAFT TODAY by Gardner,
1954 E.V.,he states with a little tongue-in-cheek, knowing full well the facts
of the case but also wishing not to take away from the mystery of the "Old
Religion" and its "ancient mysteries and practices", that "The only man
I can think of who could have invented the rites was the late Aleister
Crowley. When I met him he was most interested to hear that I was a member,
and said he had been inside when he was very young, but would not say whether
he had rewritten anything or not. ... There are indeed certain expressions
and certain words used which smack of Crowley; possibly he borrowed things
from the cult writings, or more likely someone may have borrowed expressions
from him." Can you imagine these two old infamous goats together, G.B.G.
and A.C., pulling legs left and right!
And in THE MEANING OF
WITCHCRAFT, 1959 E.V., Gardner strongly defends and supports his old friend and
Frater Superior, Aleister Crowley: "I wish here that I could nail the silly lie
that Aleister Crowley was a 'Satanist'. Crowley, like most intelligent people,
did not believe in Satan. ... The statements I have read in 'popular' articles
about him, that he had 'made a solemn pact with the Devil', and 'sold his
soul to Satan', are either sheer ignorance or journalistic invention."
The point is that A.C. was not
such a bad person after all, as Gerald B. Gardner amply points out, especially
inthe last mentioned book, and for his friend, Gardner, Crowley wrote some
of the Wiccan rites now used by many if not most of today's modern traditions
whose roots may or may not be in ancient times. Proof? Fine. Let us do
this by comparison of one thing in particular for which many have taken
credit, usually in a roundabout way. THE CHARGE OF THE GODDESS.
I have here two versions that
are essentially the same. One is taken from THE GRIMOIRE OF LADY SHEBA (Jessie
Wicker Bell) and the other that we will use is from the sometimes sloppily
written but nonetheless valuable book by Stewart Farrar entitled WHAT WITCHES
DO. And there is no sense in arguing that both books are from corrupt traditions
or anything like that as The Charge is still essentially the same in more
(I) "...ye who are fain to
learn all sorcery,yet have not won its deepest secrets; to these will I teach
things that are as yet unknown." LIBER AL VEL LEGIS SUB FIGURA CCXX, Chapter II,
Verse 2: "Come! all ye, and learn the secret that hath not yet been
(II) "For mine is the ecstasy
of the spirit, and mine also is joy on earth; for my law is love unto all beings."
CCXXI.53 & 57: "But ecstasy be thine and joy of earth"; "Love is the law".
(III) "mine is the secret
door." CCXX III.38: "I have made a secret door". This door, among other
things, relates to the meaning of the Hebrew letter Daleth which means "door"
and to which is attributed Atu III of the tarot, "the Empress", Venus, the
Goddess of Love, et cetera.
(IV) "I am the gracious
Goddess, who gives the gift of joy unto the heart of man. Upon earth, I give
the knowledge of the spirit eternal; and beyond death, I give peace, and
freedom, and reunion with those who have gone before./Nor do I demand
sacrifice..." CCXX I.58: "I give unimaginable joys on earth: certainty, not
faith, while in life, upon death; peace unutterable, rest, ecstasy; nor do I
demand aught in sacrifice." And note that the phrase "heart of man" which
appears above and in another place in the Charge can be found in CCXX II.6:
"I am the flame that burns in every heart of man".
(V) "the Star Goddess...whose
body encircles the universe." In Thelema Nuit is most frequently referred to as
"the Star Goddess" for various reasons; she is "the circumference...nowhere
found" (CCXX II.3) and as can be seen by her image on the Stele of Revealing she
is depicted as encircling the universe.
(VI) "and come unto me". CCXX
II.7: "'Come unto me'".
(VII) "let there be beauty and
strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reference within
you." CCXX II.20: "Beauty and strength, leaping laughter and delicious languor,
force and fire, are of us." Note not only the style and intent of this
verse and that from the Charge but especially the opening phrase, "Beauty
Many more similarities between
the Charge of the Goddess and THE BOOK OF THE LAW that show that the former was
modeled after the latter, perhaps not so outstanding, can be found, and there
areother rituals, for instance, which have a strong resemblance in style and
phrase to the Hymn to Pan by Aleister Crowley, which poem/invocation was
adapted to invocations of the Horned God of Wicca, but I fear I have already
strained your patience and given the editor of this publication* more than
enough to worry about. Calm down now and think about it--look into the
matter yourself and think about it.
Wicca and Thelema have a
great deal in common and one of the things we have in common is that we both
exist ina still somewhat hostile environment. Instead of trying to whitewash
theimage with ignorant protestation it is far better in the long run, although
it may require more work and wit, to fight ignorance with intelligence,
and as brothers and sisters back one another up against the common enemy,
in whatever form it takes, and together build a far better society than
the one that presently exists on this world--our poor old Mother Earth.
Aleister Crowley was not such
a bad guy. Really! He never committed a crime that was punishable by a jail
sentence (except perhaps for some drug experimentation during more relaxed
times, which many Wiccans today in these more restrictive times still practice,
as well as doctors, lawyers, police officers, congressmen, et al!) and
he never spent so much as a single day in jail. Crowley loved children
so much that he never used the word "abortion" but always--always--referred
to it as "criminal abortion", taking a far firmer stand than seems reasonable
today. He truly loved women and the Goddess whom he saw reflected in every
woman, and if at times he expressed his disappointment in certain women
who did not well represent the Goddess, do not jump to the erroneous conclusion
that he hated women. Which of us today does not at one time or another
say something derogatory about the opposite sex, momentarily disappointed
in certain representatives of that sex? Let he (or she!) who is without
sin cast the first stone, one fellow is reported to have said about two
thousand years ago--and golly!--let's not speak ill of that fellow either
just because most of his modern day representatives are badly misrepresenting
him and his teachings!
Let us calm down, get real,
think rationally, study the full scope of something, instead of just a small
section of it, before arriving at conclusions, then let us work together so
Wicca and Thelema can not only survive in this still hostile environment but
grow strong and dominate. Rome converted millions with the sword of steel,
threatening death and hell to those who would not become Christians. Let us,
together,enlighten others with the Sword of Reason, promising life and heaven
Love is the
law, love under will.
POST SCRIPT: A
certain Wiccan High Priestessand good friend reminded me of something that
should be here noted. In the above article it is more accurate to say that A.C.
REWROTE The Charge of the Goddess. Obviously it has existed for a very long time.
A fragmentary, Christian-perverted version of it was published, for instance,
by Charles Godfrey Leland (1824-1903 E.V.) in ARADIA, THE GOSPEL OF THE WITCHES,
chapter I. However, it is obvious that Aleister Crowley not only removed
the Christian taint from the ancient charge, for which Wiccans should be
thankful, but he did improve the old charge by rewriting it. Another
proof of this is the phrase "Keep pure your highest ideal(s)" which appears
in the Charge and is also a direct quote from LIBER DCCCXXXVII, THE LAW
OF LIBERTY, by To Mega Therion 666, Aleister Crowley (THE "BLUE" EQUINOX).
And in a few instances Paul Huson's version of the Charge in MASTERING
WITCHCRAFT resembles passages from THE BOOK OF THE LAW more closely than
those versions here cited. But for God/dess' sake...let's not argue about
it. Let us work together.
*This article originally
appeared in the June 1987 E.V. issue of WEIRD, Volume 2, Number 2. For anyone
interested in WEIRD you may contact Ms. Goldie Brown, P.O. Box 624,