The Wiccan Rede
You’ve probably heard of it before but wasn’t aware of its existence, or have research in vain to find its true origin. If you look around, many books, websites and blogs have their own interpretation of The Wiccan Rede, but we wanted to find it’s true history and original wording.
After some research, we have found that the “original” Wiccan Rede was from Aleister Crowley and was published as such near the end of the last century before Gerald Gardner and Aleister met. The short and universally accepted version goes as follow;
"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law."
Although credits were given to Aleister Crowley, the true original Wiccan Rede couplet, was attributed to Doreen Valiente in 1964 but was not published in writing until later. The closest to the original version possible that you can find goes as follow;
"Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill, An it harm none do what ye will."
However, the wording published in the Green Egg in the mid-1970s is much more well known;
"Eight words Wiccan Rede fulfill – An' it harms none, do what ye wilt.".
Then came the “Long” or “Full” Rede, which was originally published as "The Wiccan Rede" in 1974 by Earth Religion News. Since then, this version has been altered by many but the original Rede goes as follow;
“Bide within the law you must, in perfect love and perfect trust.
Live you must and let to live, fairly take and fairly give.
For tread the circle thrice about, to keep unwelcome spirits out.
To bind the spell well every time, let the spell be said in rhyme.
Light of eye and soft of touch, speak you little, listen much.
Honor the old ones in deed and name; let love and light be our guides again.
Deosil go by the waxing moon, chanting out the joyful tune.
Widdershins go when the moon doth wane, and the werewolf howls by the dread wolfsbane.
When the lady's moon is new, kiss the hand to her times two.
When the moon rides at her peak, then your heart's desire seek.
Heed the north winds mighty gale, lock the door and trim the sail.
When the wind blows from the east, expect the new and set the feast.
When the wind comes from the south, love will kiss you on the mouth.
When the wind whispers from the west, all hearts will find peace and rest.
Nine woods in the cauldron go, burn them fast and burn them slow.
Birch in the fire goes, to represent what the lady knows.
Oak in the forest towers with might, in the fire it brings the god's insight.
Rowan is a tree of power, causing life and magick to flower.
Willows at the waterside stand, ready to help us to the Summerland.
Hawthorn is burned to purify, and to draw faerie to your eye.
Hazel-the tree of wisdom and learning, adds its strength to the bright fire burning.
White are the flowers of apple tree, that brings us fruits of fertility
Grapes grow upon the vine, giving us both joy and wine.
Fir does mark the evergreen, to represent immortality seen.
Elder is the lady's tree; burn it not, or cursed you'll be.
Four times the major sabbats mark, in the light and in the dark.
As the old year starts to wane, the new begins, it's now Samhain.
When the time for Imbolc shows, watch for flowers through the snows.
When the wheel begins to turn, soon the Beltane fires will burn.
As the wheel turns to Lamas night, power is brought to magick rite.
Four times the minor sabbats fall, use the sun to mark them all.
When the wheel has turned to Yule, light the log the horned one rules.
In the spring, when night equals day time for Ostara to come our way.
When the sun has reached its height, time for oak and holly to fight.
Harvesting comes to one and all, when the autumn equinox does fall.
Heed the flower, bush, and tree by the lady blessed you'll be.
Where the rippling waters go, cast a stone, the truth you'll know.
When you have and hold a need, harken not to others greed.
With a fool no season spend or be counted as his friend.
Merry meet and merry part, bright the cheeks and warm the heart.
Mind the three-fold laws you should, three times bad and three times good.
When misfortune is enow, wear the star upon your brow.
Be true in love this you must do unless your love is false to you.
These eight words the rede fulfill: "an ye harm none, do what ye will".
The Wiccan Rede, a strict rule or simply a guideline?
Even if there are many alternate versions of the Wiccan Rede, the most important thing to recognize is not that any of them is better than another, but to remember that rede itself actually means "advice" or "counsel", so we should merely acknowledge it as such and understand the intent behind it so we choose to live by its true meaning.
Have you written it down in your book of shadows and do you live by the wiccan rede?