Author unknown. Based on Gerald Gardner's Old
The content here is identical to that in the Old Laws. It is included
here because it is a little easier to read, and because this is the format
generally found on the internet.
This appears to be
the work of someone who felt a little lonely without their Ten Commandments,
and so broke the Old Laws down into a list. The breakdown appears arbitrary.
Law #41, for instance, reads " But if they will not agree with their
Brothers, or if they say," That's not a rule or even advice. For
that matter, it's not even a sentence.
Read my commentary
on the Old Laws for more important information.
- The Law was made
and ordained of old.
- 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 mastering her,
- 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
- With love and
worship in their hearts, they shall raise power from their bodies to
give power to the gods.
- As has been taught
- For in this way
only may men have communion with the gods, for the gods cannot help
man without the help of man.
High 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
- 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 to Her.
- 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 greatest virtues.
- And that thereby
she will return to that pride of place in anotherlife, with greater
power and beauty.
- In the old days,
when witchdom extended far, we were free an 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 summoner.
- 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
- 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 Covendom be.
- Or the Covenstead.
- Or where the meetings
- 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
- 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
- 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 Covendom.
- 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 boundaries.
- 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 brotherly love,
- But splitting the
Coven often 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 ordained.
- 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
- 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
- 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 say?"
- 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
- To obtain relief
from torture say "I had an evil dream, I was beside myself, I was
- 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 said.
- If you are condemned,
- 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
- 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
- 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 anything.
- Write the names
and signs on them in ink before consecrating them and wash it off immediately
- Let the colours
of the hilts tell which is which.
- Do not engrave
them lest they cause discovery.
- Ever remember
ye are the hidden children of the Goddess so never do anything to disgrace
them or Her.
- 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 all knowledge.
- 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 happy day.
- 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
- 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 ogether.
- And they shall
decide justly, not favouring one side or the other.
- Ever recognising
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 go."
- To those who cannot
rule justly, the answer be, "Those who cannot bear your rule will
- 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 sieze, 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 are witches.
- 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 the least.
- 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 Law.
- Never accept money
for the use of the art, for money ever smeareth the taker. 'Tis sorcerors
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 ascape from
- Be not as these.
If you accept no money, you will be free from temptation to use the
art for evil causes.
- All may use the
art for their own advantage or for the advantage of the craft only if
you are sure you harm none.
- 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 Land
- "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.
Discussion of Witchcraft
- 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
- 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.
- Let the craft keep
books with the names of all herbs which are good, and all cures so all
- 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 Art
- Remember the art
is the secret of the gods and may only be used in earnest and never
for show or vainglory.
- 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 for this.
- 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
- But if they should
run off without resigning, who may know if they may not return in a
- So the Law is,
if a High Priestess leaves her Coven, she be taken back and all be as
- 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
- 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 undesireable, 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 child.
- 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 ordained.
- Order and discipline
must be kept.
- 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.