For mine is the ecstasy of the Spirit, and mine is also joy on earth, For my Law is Love unto all beings.
Sources and Influences
Ye Bok of Ye Arte Magickal: For ecstasy is mine, and joy on earth. For love is my law.
Crowley: Law of Liberty: But ecstasy be mine and joy on earth; ever To me! To me! (2)
Crowley: Law of Liberty: Again She speaks: “Love is the law, love under will.”
Crowley: Liber AL vel Legis: Love is the law, love under will (1.57)
Here the literary source of the Charge changes from Aradia to Crowley and also the feel slightly changes. Up until now it has been really about ‘what witches do’. From here until the end it is much more about the nature of the Goddess, and how she may be found, than about what the witches do in her worship. This means that the Charge, as a central religious text of Wicca, has started by describing the nature of our religion for its adherents: we gather in secret, learn magic from the Goddess, dance, sing, feast, to the end that we may be free from slavery. The Charge only then goes on to describe the nature of this Goddess.
This makes the Charge somewhat unusual in its place as the central text of a religion, which marks the difference in nature of both Wicca as a religion and our Goddess as a Goddess, compared to other religions and their divinities. Most religions’ key texts contain a far greater emphasis on the nature of the divinity, which tends to come first. I am thinking of such works as creeds, hymns, prayers, which begin with the divinity and then move on to the position of the believer, for example, ‘Our Father...’
I believe that this differing emphasis in the Charge indicates a differing emphasis in Wicca: the seeker after the Goddess is far closer to the centre of Wicca’s cosmology than the believer in most other religions. Again this is a Crowleyan idea given a new twist: it is essentially the idea that ‘every man and every woman is a star’ but in Wicca the emphasis is changed by the emphasis on the immanence of the Goddess in everyone and everything, balanced by the monistic understanding that all things are connected, and the Goddess can be sought, but she can only be found within.
This is why the Goddess’s law is love to all beings, because all beings are connected, which is another change of emphasis on Crowley’s dictum that ‘love is the law, love under will.’
The Goddess is both the route and the goal, because the ecstasy mentioned here belongs to her, a change of the original passage quoted, in which she says that she gives ecstasy. Ecstasy comes from two root words giving a combined meaning of ‘to be placed outside’. In religious terms it usually means the seizure of a person by a spirit or divinity (Arvind Sharma: Article ‘Ecstasy’ in Mircea Eliade (Editor in Chief): The Encyclopedia of Religion. Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 1987.). Sharma identifies a spectrum, ‘with the magician standing at one end of the spectrum and the psychiatrist at the other’ (vol. 5, p. 11), and also several different sorts of ecstasy and also several problems with the concept (anyone who has read his article will notice that I am completely avoiding the use of the much-abused word ‘shaman’ here). Suffice to say that despite the difficulties of delineating and authenticating ecstatic states, religiously and socially it usually serves a function. It is found also in many magical traditions, illustrating one of ecstasy’s problematic roles, since people will insist on trying to find ecstasy through the use of substances, tending to – ridiculous phrase, since if we’re reputable we’re not witches – ‘bring the craft into disrepute’.
Although Gardner gives drugs as one of his eight ways, he comments that he has not had much experience of it. In fact both in Crowley’s text which was the source of this passage and the twist given on it in the Charge, ecstasy is not portrayed as a ‘tool’ but as a state. This is Crowley’s own commentary on the passage, a commentary I shall be returning to again since it is illustrative of this whole passage of Liber AL:
‘These joys are principally (1) the Beatific Vision, in which Beauty is constantly present to the recipient of Her grace, together with a calm and unutterable joy; (2) the Vision of Wonder, in which the whole mystery of the universe is constantly understood and admired for its ingenium and wisdom. ...Despite a more recent opposition between what may be called ‘ritual’ witchcraft, i.e. Wicca proper, and what is often called ‘ecstatic’ witchcraft – a division which almost perfectly equates to Catholic and Protestant witches, just without having a holy revealed book – it is clear to anyone reading Gardner’s writings and those of the early Wiccans such as Valiente and Lamond, that early Wicca was totally ecstatic. It seems that it is in the decades since the early days that the rituals have become liturgies, things have become more fixed and laid down in stone. The concept of ‘hedge’, that I am so fond of, similarly equates to the ecstatic journeying into strange realms and returning transformed. I personally – speaking as a Protestant witch – would urge Wiccans to bear this in mind. The early witnesses make it plain that Gardner gave his initiates the Book of Shadows as only something to get them started, that such things as the Charge were not a fixed liturgical item but only for when the High Priestess did not feel inspired to speak by the Goddess, ironically hedgewitches do almost exactly what Gardner did: take whatever they have around them and run with it. It is ironic that I feel the original spirit of Wicca is actually continued by solitaries and less formal groupings of witches, than in the Traditions which have become fixed as heirlooms to be passed on and their ‘authenticity’ argued over. This could also be contrary to the spirit of our Goddess, since the movement of emphasis within the Charge begins with the external aspects of witches’ religious observance, here moves to the nature of the Goddess, and towards the end of the Charge unites the understanding of the nature of the Goddess and the significance of her worship for the witch, in the revelation that she is found by an inner journey towards wholeness.
‘The certainty concerning death is conferred by the magical memory, and various experiences without which life is unintelligible. “Peace unutterable” is given by the trance in which matter is destroyed; “rest” by that which finally equilibrates motion. “Ecstasy” refers to a trance which combines these.
‘”Nor do I demand aught in sacrifice”: the ritual of worship is Samadhi. ...’ (Aleister Crowley (edited by Israel Regardie): The Law is for All. Llewellyn Publications, St Paul, MN, 1975, pp. 142-143.)