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Internet Book of Shadows, (Various Authors), [1999], at

                                   THE NEW BOOK OF THE LAW 
                              Commentary by J. Random Folksinger 
                I have  to  preface  this by stating that  I  was  first drawn to
           this  work by Leigh  Ann Hussey, and   reacted very  negatively to it.
           This will  be my second time  through these  Laws,  with comments that
           are SOLELY MY  OWN OPINION. I  know that Lady  Galadriel put a  lot of
           work (translate: sweat blood) into   these Laws, and I am not   attac-
           king  her or  her work.   Making my  points without  sounding negative
           would have been nice,  but I have not been   very successful at  this;
           since   several people have been asking me  to put down *WHY* I didn't
           like them, I felt that getting the project over with   would be better
           than struggling  with a novel-length exercise in not offending anyone.
           To  Lady Galadriel:  I, too,  have sweat  blood over  a reconstruction
           project  similar  to this (and I  got lots of negative feedback, too).
           My  finished  copy,  which includes the old "Burning Times" laws  as a
           historical source or what  to do when things  *really* get bad, can be
           had from Leigh Ann, Judy  Harrow, or downloaded from WeirdBase in  St.
           Louis as "JRFLAWS.TXT". My heart goes  out to you, but I am commenting
           on your Laws from my head only. 
                   On the Preface:The Book of the  Law, orLiber Al, which Lady G.
           refers to as  a primary source, is not  the same as Craft law  in most
           traditions as  it was  written by  Aleister Crowley; it is, therefore,
           hardly  a wonder why it was not found  to be very pertinent by Lady G.
           If, indeed, Lady G.'s Book of the Law was  *not* Liber Al, it  is hard
           to understand where many of these Laws originated. 
               The Laws: 
                   1. Form and Order? Ask a Discordianor Shamanic Craft type. The
           Laws were  created for guidance,  as the latter  part of this  Law at-
                   2. Channels, and manifestation of the Source? This sounds more
           like New  Age Xtianity  than Wicca.  I should  stop talking about  the
           flowers in  the language,  although  they are  disconcerting and  very
           distracting from the  original goal  of  "readable,  usable, and  per-
           tinent to  the needs ..." I suppose I can just use the term  "flowers"
           as my way  of saying  that the language  is unnecessarily  complicated
           when  it  really bothers me -- and most of  these laws do fall in this
                   3. Oh,no. Not the Xtian "Ye are as children"routine again. The
           Gods,  in  my  training, wish  us  to   grow,  not  perpetually remain
           children. To not test what  they say is the same  as  channelling some
           unknown  spirit and believing everything  he/she says. We are growing,
           making the Gods proud, not belittling or mocking them. 
                   4. This law isover-judgemental (something I am accusedof being
           at times), and ignores the  need for working  with our  shadow-side; I
           suppose naivete is the worst I can say   about this Law.  I can easily
           find better in Marion Weinstein's POSITIVE MAGIC... 
                   5. The "Mothership"routine smacks of CloseEncounters, butother
           than the children routine  and some language problems, this  one isn't
           too bad -- but isn't   there something in an initiation ritual   about
           us and the Gods  being the  same "but  for a  difference of  power"? I
           would think  Brothers and  Sisters of  the Gods  would be  better ter-
           minology -- feminists are welcome to reverse the wording. 
                   6. Hmmm. Sounds liketithing to me. While it is certainlya good
           idea, we give back to the Gods all  the time  -- this  would be making
           the meaningful ritual a mechanical  one.    Sustain its Priests and   
           Priestesses?   Paid (or fed) clergy?   Shades of Paul! This part would
           still work  in  my  tradition, since  we are   all priests  and pries-
           tesses, but I know some that are different... 
                   7. I  can't see the purpose  of this Law, and  know of no cor-
           responding Law in the Laws I have come across.  It sounds like the God
           of  the Xtians again, making people the  way they are and then judging
           them for being that way. 
                   8.A direct  statement wouldbe better. Who do you know in these
           times that goes   around weighing silver? Is   this a modern metaphor?
           I don't think so. 
               9. Does not parse. Sounds good, though... 
                   10. This soundslike it's setting up theteacher as infallible--
           shut  up and  listen.   Also, while  I hear  Karma used  frequently in
           Craft discussions,  it  is because  it  is a  useful concept  for  us;
           however,  this  is the  first  time I  have  seen the  Lords  of Karma
           enthroned in Craft Law. 
                   11. I could have taken the Golden  Rule in one of its permuta-
           tions, but this is much more akin to the concept of "Sin" than that of
                   12. "You  must not be  a teller of  tales..."? What, we  areto
           have  no Bards in the  Craft? If   this law means   that gossipping is
           not a good  thing, why doesn't it say  so?  And "must hold  no malice"
           indicates that we are not allowed to   be human again  -- true, it  is
           better for the Craft  that we  all be  as a loving  family,  but there
           are  otheR ways  to  deal with  the   problems  caused  by personality
           conflicts  than to outlaw legitimate feelings. 
                   13. Flowers. Old Law. (Meaning  that, other than difference in
           wording, this  is the  same as  the "Old Laws",  i.e., Lady  Sheba and
                   14. Oh,  boy! Priestess Knows Best   (and will be  happy to be
           responsible  for *you*).   If someone asks  me  a  question, give them
           the straightest answer I can, and without phoning  up my Priestess for
           permission to do so. I am a  trained, adult Witch, and am capable both
           of making  my own decisions *and*  taking the consequences  for making
           a  wrong decision. The "You  must not put stumbling blocks..."  sounds
           like the old parental admonishment, "Don't   put beans in  your ears."
           The   Xtians have  enough stumbling  blocks of  their own;   I   don't
           think ours would even be noticed, and so are unnecessary. 
                   15.  The key words are in   the Preface: readable, usable, and
           pertinent.  "Fetters" and  "woe" are not very  meaninful words in this
           half  of the  20th century.   Not  sure about   the  use of   "souls",
           either, since   that  seems to  be mostly  a xtian concern.  Remember,
           Lady G.  said that  she reworded  some of  these laws  "to make  them 
           clearer and more understandable". I think she missed here. 
                   16. Sounds  like"Trust in  God; Hewill  provide." Where is the
           Craft basis for this Law? 
                   17.  Ifyou  killsomeone  magickally,accidentally  orotherwise,
           you should be sacrificed to atone  for it? My  Goddess demands nothing
           in sacrifice. It would  be far better to get into  therapy and see how
           you could forgive  yourself and help others to forgive  you (I'm using
           "forgive" as  a psychological, not  religious, term). No  problem with
           the first sentence. 
               18. Could be said more clearly. 
                   19.The  source for this, especially the final  sentence, seems
           to be  Jesus in  Revelation. "Many  say, Lord, Lord,  but I  know them
           not..."     etc. 
                   20. Sounds like, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord,thy
           God in vain".   Either that is what this law is saying, or it needs to
           be clearer. 
                   21.  Old Law.  I  would have worded it, "In any disputes among
           the Wicca..." 
               22. Old Law. 
                   23. To me, mymagickal tools are channels between whatis within
           me and what  is  outside  of   me  (on   the  magickal   planes, which
           frequently intersect with the planes of reality). Still, Do Not Haggle
           is Old Law. 
                   24.  Old  Law,  except  for  the  semantical  substitution  of
           "Power" for  "Art"  and the  use of  the judgmental  terms "evil"  and
                   25. "Thou shalt notsteal"? Hinted-at consequences are unneces-
                   26. I don't understand "Show honor" as a phrase,  and the last
           phrase is     not comprehensible to me. 
                   27. "Those  whoare of the  Wiccashall not own  slaves,"-- good
           idea,  although I have  never seen it included in Craft  Law. The rest
           of this sentence is  again unclear  and/or  unnecessary justification.
           "Nor shall you take as  a pledge any person's life,"; well,   the Laws
           of  Karma (if you   accept them,  which these Laws  purport to) demand
           otherwise  from time  to time,  and  again, this  has  not been  found
           necessary in any other     set of Craft Laws I have seen. 
                   28. Thisis the second time the Golden Rulehas been quoted in a
           faulty   permutation. "If a stranger sojourns with you...they shall be
           as one of the  Circle..." What,  we're going  to invite  total strang-
           ers into  our rites just   because  this  Law   says  so?   There  are
           enough Laws that contradict this already. This doesn't sound right. 
                   29. This  came straight out of   Leviticus, and also exists in
           Baha'i  law in a slightly clearer form.   It's nice that We're getting
           ecumenical, but what is the need  for this in Craft Law? The Threefold
           Law applies, and is easier to understand. 
               30. The Good Wiccan Houskeeping Seal is required for Circle? 
                   31. Not a Wiccan Law. "Cleanliness  is next to god/dessliness"
           would be a shorter  way of  phrasing this.  Although the   old customs
           (NOT  laws) require bathing   prior to  a ritual,  even  that has been
           used to  "find" Witches with in   some areas (they're  clean and smell
           nice -- they must be seducing our men for Satan!). 
                   32. Not  Law, but a  start; Ibelieve  none should die  without
           someone having cared for  them; and  that  death with  dignity  is the
           hoped-for ideal. Many of  you already know that I'm  initiating action
           toward Pagan  hospice, funeral,  and  cemetery   care.  The  judgement
           about  "their actions" is for the Dark Lord to make. 
                   33.  ThreefoldLaw is all youneed here.  Anythingelseis moral  
                   34. Amendedversion: "Let those who desire union asa couple (or
           other  forms as might be desirable, such as a triad or a group relati-
           onship) be  handfasted, sharing their love  in a manner they  and  the
           Gods find pleasing."  Children  are  not  necessary  for  shared  love
           (and  often  separate the  parents   from  their mutual  desires), and
           there is no need to deny handfasting  to couples  not wanting  childr-
           en. I  also am not certain that this needs to be a Law. 
                   35. "The Law of the Goddess isthat none of the Wicca shalltake
           and wed someone who they do not love." Period. 
                   36. Not Law.  Also uses "brethren", another male term. (Anyone
           who has read my  revision of Gardnerian Craft Law  should have noticed
           the near-total lack of gender terminology.) 
                   37. The first sentenceis incomprehensible, immaterial, orboth.
           This law  is very  flowery,  and I  would love  to know  what Lady  G.
           extracted it from. 
                   38. Old Law:"Never boast,never threaten..." seemsto be theroot
           here - and is much clearer in that form. 
                   39. The  concept of magickal  purity is one  of ritual magick,
           not  the  Craft. This  Law is,  in letter  and  spirit, one  of ritual
           magick. While some  traditions of the Craft do get into ritual magick,
           that still does not make this "proper" as Craft Law. 
               40. Old Law was both clearer and less "new-agey".
                   41. WHERE hath  the Goddess said  these  things? Nowhere in my
           tradition,     and   they  sound  more  like   things  She  may   have
           said in circle --     certainly no need to canonize them. 
                   42.  Back to Leviticus.  This is  far  too judgemental for any
           tradition I am familiar with. There also seems to be confusion between
           "work" as in make money  and "work" as   in learning and  teaching the
           things of the Craft. 
                   43.  A sacred  trust? This  explainswhy  Grove of  the Unicorn
           built a  sanctuary  in   Georgia,   but  I   have   never  seen   this
           expressed  as a requirement.  Most  traditions  are not   getting over
           being  hidden; this Law requires total openness. I think  it's danger-
           ous to  do this in  most areas, and  having the Goddess  decree (here)
           that we  should do something that  could harm  Her  Witches (something
           She expressly  forbids us to do  in the Old Laws)  doesn't feel right.
           What is the source of this one? It appears to be the inner feelings of
           some  Witch or Witches, which is not good  enough to pass off as Craft
                   44. While  Ihave been  taught this, it  wasunder "What  We Do"
           rather  than "The  Law".  The style  of  presentation sounds  too much
           like  what        YHWH would have  written as  a law  rather than  the
           Goddess I know... 
                   45.Am I readingthis wrong, oris this saying "Honor the Sabbath
           and keep it holy"?  We need   to set  aside a  whole day(s)?   I don't
           think that's realistic   in  these  times,  although   it  might  have
           been in paleolithic times. 
               46. Not necessary. Any teacher will give you this information. 
                   47. Definitely  flowers. Let each Witch keep a book (she  even
           dropped the "in their own hand" part). What else is necessary? 
                   48. Clumsy, with toomany "they"s in spots;How about, "Studythe
           signs of the Gods in all their forms;  these shall guide your thoughts
           to the Gods and the  Gods will take notice of you.  Turn your thoughts
           and worship to the Gods, not the signs and statues of them." 
                   49. Theoriginal here says"If *any* inthe Craft ownsany land..-
           .guard all monies  of the Craft..."  thus widening the  circle of love
           beyond just the Circle you are a part of. 
               50. Old Law.  I feel this could be done a bit more clearly. 
                   51.  Extremely  Crowleyian  in  content,   where  the  content
           can   be determined. It  sounds  like it  is favoring asceticism  "for
           the good  of the Craft...".   Unclear  rules like  this   have led  to
           excesses in other religions they have appeared in. 
                   52. NOT CRAFT  LAW. Paul wouldhave loved  to have this kind of
           law as stated by  Christ, but it  wasn't true then  and it isn't  true
           BE ALLOWED TO TAKE GIFTS????? 
                   53.Taken as an extension of#52, this law repulses me; however,
           having deleted #52, and deleting "offerings of ... money", it could be
           OK. But it  is totally unnecessary unless you're   trying to set your-
           self  up as the  First Church   of Wicca,  N.A., complete  with  Xtian
           abuses  of power.  In  any  loving   circle, poeple   will bring   the
           incense,  or the cakes and/or wine, or work together on building a new
           altar. This is already covered in the laws above, though. 
                   54. Harmony will be restored by working toward harmony, not by
           donating  to your favorite  non-profit Temple. Again,  the emphasis on
           giving makes me think  of   televangelists  ("I   need  to  make   the
           payment  on my Inspirational Cadillac").   I don't  know what problems
           Grove of the Unicorn has  been having in keeping up their  payments on
           the  land or  whatever, but  their problems  should not  be used  as a
           lever  to change  Craft Law  (if indeed  this is  the object  of these
                   55.  Once more, this law either comes out of ritualmagic or   
           televangelism (or both).  Every Witch should know (or know how to look
           up) the proper   times for a ritual, and  should be  able to offer  it
           up themselves ("thru the  most proper medium" could  mean "Pay the    
           Priestess" or it could mean "use  the right  tools" -- if it  is *not*
           intended to mean the latter, then this law has no basis in the Craft).
               56. Old Law, and one of the most important Craft  Laws. 
                   57. Separating this Law  from the previous one causes  a minor
           problem -- it now becomes "Never break the  Laws" (and there are  some
           dillies in this set) instead of "Never break *this* Law". 
                   58. The "Mighty Ones" decided for us "in days of  old" that we
           cannot use the Art  against anyone?   A shirking  of responsibility is
           again evident. While the same precept  occurs in my  set of the  Laws,
           it is  obviously a decision  made in  the light  of persecutions,  not
           something decreed from on high. 
                   59.Sentence fragments. (sic)This is asubject that isnot in the
           Laws (but is in the  Charge of the Goddess, without the God's  side of
                   60. Why do we need "thedimly remembered dawn of ages past" and
           Atlantis to make  this point? This is the only  version I've seen that
           goes beyond remembered history. 
                   61.  Should  be  combined  with   #60,  and  have  more of the
           excessive verbiage dropped. Oh,  no! Not another  cry of "the evil  of
           chaos" again!  How can these people even *talk* to Discordians?Any set
           of Laws  that is  intended   to be Craft-inclusive   must  not include
           value  judgements, especially  using the  words "good",   "evil",  and
           "chaos". This law seems to  be wishing for the  time when we   were in
           power;  every set  of Laws I've seen prior  to this  one  would settle
           for a time in which we are tolerated or accepted. 
                 62. I don't understand what  this is trying to  say --  it seems
           to  fluctuate between "No   more secrets",  "Only a few  secrets", and
           "Don't  tell anybody  anything". Since  all three  of these  have been
           expressed above,  I'm not sure this law is needed; it hardly even adds
           to the confusion. 
                   63. The change  from "always heeding the Messenger" to "always
           heeding  the messages" is a  little dangerous, but  otherwise, this is
           Old Law. 
                   64. This law sounds pretty Gardnerian in tone, but it does not
           agree with Gardnerian  myths -- i.e.,  while Goddess created  everyth-
           ing,  she did not  create Death itself.  Life without Death  offers no
           regeneration, as  Life could  not continue  on its  own; the  God  was
           outside  of Her creation,  and so He  had things  to  teach  Her about
           Death. (Those of you who  prefer Starhawk's version of this   myth are
           TOTALLY ignored in this law.) 
                   65. I thought anHPs was only concerned mainlywith what happens
           in Her Circle  --  this Law seems  to state that She is concerned with
           an unstated, but large-sounding,  community. Other than that, this  is
           Old Law. 
                   66. I don'tthink this needs to be in the Laws, but it's a good
           idea for each Circle to consider. 
                   67.  This seems to be based upon the  Old Laws' "If any in the
           Craft  has any land...",  but it does  take that  additional step into
           demi-deified clergy. I wish I knew whether Grove of the Unicorn was an
           authoritarian  structure or not, but  these Laws go  a long way toward
           making its  sound like one.   (I'm  not sure this  group could  "pass"
           Isaac Bonewits' Cult  Danger Evaluation Frame  after having read  this
           many of their Laws.) 
                   68. Aha! Almost OldLaw, and a"Burning Times" law!This is still
           a good  Law, but it  was formulated to  keep anyone from  knowing more
           than  one  group to  "give away"  if  they cracked  under  pressure of
               69. Old Law; probably should be included in #68. 
                   70. Are wetalking about pneumonia, herpes,  ora cold here? You
           can do a lot better healing  work *in* Circle (in my  experience) than
           outside of it  in  many cases, and any Witch  can  decide for her/him-
           self whether they are too sick  to  be in Circle and ask (or  not ask)
           for healing.  I suppose I find  this law too judgemental,  or too gen-
               71. Old Law. 
                   72.There  is nodefinition of Council given (the "Old Law" says
           "the Elders"), and the  "Old Law"  states that either the  High Priest
           or the High Priestess can convene the Elders (useful if the HPs is out
           of town...)  Otherwise, Old Law. 
                   73. Generally, Old Law.Some of therestatements aredifficult or
           unwieldy, but no real problems. 
                   74. Old  Law.(Actually, a  bit of  another Old Law is  grafted
           in for clarification, but it doesn't hurt anything.) 
                   75. In conflict with English(/American)  Law, "Ignorance is no
           excuse," includes threefold   law (which is  NOT included  in  the Old
           Laws), and throws in the  Lords of Karma again; rephrased, this  could
           be an  excellent law or rule, but I do   not recognize a single source
           for this one.  Some ritual magic, a little Hinduism, no Craft per se. 
               76. Nice thought; sounds like a personal addition. 
                   77. As above, the "want of an offering" is not an issue in Old
           Law; the  "lack of a robe" has never been discussed, since most groups
           I  am familiar  with generally  work skyclad  or negotiate  the issue.
           Personal addition? 
               78. Nice thought; sounds like a personal addition. 
                 79. So many flowers that (I feel) most would miss the point. I'm
           afraid I did, and I'm a musician. 
                   80. Sounds likethe Apostle Paul.  The qualitiesI was taught to
           look  for  in a  High  Priestess  were caring,  leadership,  patience,
           ability, and knowing when to ask for help. This cuts  out faith (some-
           thing Goddess says  in Her Charge is not asked  for) and belief (some-
           thing she wouldn't be in Circle without).  More flames on the topic of
               81. Source?  Sounds clergy-like to me... 
                   82.Old Law states that arequirement of being High Priestess is
           youth; while  this is not easily practiced in all covens, going to the
           opposite extreme is probably not much  better. My personal experiences
           have  been in covens where everyone takes  their hand at practicing HP
           and HPs,  with the HPs  acting more  like organizer and  running coven
                   83. Ouch.Based upon Old Law,this Law removes theaspect of Love
           as an excuse  (or Glands, if you like the Wombat Wicca version) -- and
           demands both  judgement *and* atonement  for a HPs   who has  left and
           come back --  even uses  the judgemental term,  "deserts", in  dealing
           with  the issue.  The  Old Law may  have its drawbacks, but  is a much
           better guide (I  feel) than getting nasty  about  it. Oooh, they don't
           even   get to hold office again! Many things are sacred, and certainly
           being   High Priestess is one of  them, but in my  teaching, Love is a
           higher ideal, and the Craft has always allowed for it. 
                   84. Old Law, with flamesas above. "It isthe lives of all ofthe
           Craft they endanger."  Honor is still undefined in this context. 
                   85. The useof the word,"Sabbatical" is cutein this context,but
           this should   be a   part of  #83  rather  than separating   them out.
           Also, the phrase, "the Maiden should continue in that office" confuses
           the reader as to which  office -- the law has already  stated that she
           should reap the reward; does election of another person invalidate the
           election?  It should read, "...the Maiden shall  be the Maiden for the
           new HPs." 
                   86. This is a new idea, and  probably a good one:the Priestess
           and the Priest need not  be the consort of the other,  but are select-
           ed each  by the  coven or circle  and are  free   to choose their  own
           consorts. The  one possible negative I  can think of concerns  the few
           times  when Great Rite is held, and  the feelings of their consorts on
           this matter.  But then it lets the   coven decide whether  the  choice
           was right  nor  not!  If we're  dealing with private  lives, let  them
           remain  private. Based  on Old  Law, except   that  in   Old Law   the
           Priestess  is  chosen   and She selects  the Priest.  This  law  again
           contains   too many value  judgements --  if you need a perfect person
           to run your circle, you will never meet. 
                   87. Adapted from the Letters of Paul  the Apostle, not the Old
           Laws. It  is nice to state that we   should be responsible for oursel-
           ves,  but that  is a  part of  being a  Witch   (oops, by  these Laws,
           Witches are only  children, so I suppose  making "those of the  Pries-
           thood" adults is  what this law  is about). This  also seems to  state
           (per Xtianity) that their mates, children,  and house are  all posses-
           sions; hardly a feminist or Craft perspective. 
                   88.  Reverse Xtian. Extremely sexist,  andno  more or less bad
           than making the Man ruler of the world. 
               THE NEW BOOK OF THE LAW is published by: 
               The Grove of the Unicorn PO Box 13384 Atlanta, GA 30324 
                   To order,  send  a legal  size SASE.  A  small contribution   
           towards printing/handling costs will be appreciated. 
                   These comments have been made by Gerald  L. Bliss, who is also
           known as J. Random Folksinger.

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