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The Gardnerian Book of Shadows, by Gerald Gardner, at

The First-Degree Initiation


Draw Circle with Magic Sword or Athame.

Sprinkle with Exorcised Water.

Go round Circle with Magic Sword or Athame, Saying, "I conjure thee, O Circle of Power, that thou beest as a Boundary and a Protection to contain the magic power which I will raise within thy bounds. So do I bless thee, in the names of Aradia and Cernunnos."

Go round, saying at East, South, West, and North, "I summon, stir, and call thee up, ye Mighty Ones of the East (South, West, North), to witness the rites and to guard the circle."

Magus draws down Moon on High Priestess.

Read Charge, then say, "O thou who standest on the threshold between the pleasant world of men and the dread domains of the lords of the outer spaces, hast thou the courage to make the assay?" (Place point of the Magic Sword or Athame to Postulant's heart.) "For I say verily it were better to rush on my blade and perish than to make the attempt with fear in thy heart."

Postulant: "I have two perfect words: perfect love, and perfect trust."

Say, "All who have are doubly welcome."

Entering position: "I give you a third to pass you through this dread door." Gives it [kiss].

Lead Postulant sunwise to south of altar, and say, "O thou who hast declared intent to become one of us, hear then that which thou must know to do. Single is the race of men and of Gods; from a single source we both draw breath, but a difference of power in everything keeps us apart, for we are as nothing, but the Gods stay forever. Yet we can, in greatness of minds, be like the Gods, though we know not to what goal by day or in the night Fate has written that we shall run. Beyond all seas and Earth's la st boundaries, beyond the Spring of night and the Heavens' vast expanse, there lies a majesty which is the domain of the Gods. Thou who would pass through the Gates of Night and Day to that sweet place, which is between the worlds of men and the domains of the Lords of the outer spaces, know that unless there is truth in thy heart, thy every effort is doomed to failure. HEAR THEN THE LAW: that thou lovest all things in nature; that thou shalt suffer no person to be harmed by thy hands or in thy mind; that thou walkest humbly in the ways of men and the ways of the Gods. Also it is the law that contentment thou shalt learn, through suffering, and from long years and from nobility of mind and of purpose, FOR THE WISE NEVER GROW OLD. Their minds are nourished by living in the daylight of the Gods, and if among the vulgar some discoveries should arise concerning some maxims of thy belief in the Gods, so do thou, for the most part, keep silent. For there is a great risk that thou mayest straightway vomit up th at which thou hast not digested, and when someone shall say to thee, "Thou knowest naught," and it bites thee not, then knowest thou that thou hast begun the work. And as sheep do not bring their food to the shepherd to show how much they have eaten, but digesting inwardly their provender, bear outwardly wool and milk, even so, do not thou display the maxims to the vulgar, but rather the works that flow when they are digested. Now there is the ordeal." [This speech was added after about 1960.]

Tie cord around Postulant's right ankle, leaving ends free; say, "Feet neither bound nor free."

Leading postulant, proclaim at four quarters, "Take heed, ye Lords of the Watchtowers of the East (South, West, North), that (name) is properly prepared to be made a priestess and a witch."

Three times round the Circle with Dance step and chant.

Place Postulant in East; say, "Kneel."

Postulant kneels.

Strike eleven knells on bell; say, "Rise. In other religions the postulant kneels while the priest towers above him, but in the Art Magical we are taught to be humble, and so we kneel to welcome them, and we say:

"Blessed be the feet that have brought you in these ways [kiss];

"Blessed be the knees that shall kneel at the sacred altar [kiss];

"Blessed be thy womb (or organ of generation), without which we would not be [kiss];

"Blessed be thy breasts, erected in beauty and in strength [kiss];

"Blessed be thy lips, which shall utter the sacred names [kiss].

"Before ye are sworn, art willing to pass the ordeal and be purified?"

Postulant "I am."

Take measure: height (tie knot); around head (tie knot); around heart

(tie knot); around hips (tie knot). Prick postulant's thumb; catch blood on measure. Place measure on altar. Have postulant kneel, tie postulant's feet together, and secure cable tow to altar. Three strokes on bell. Say, "Art ready to swear that thou wilt always be true to the Art?"

Postulant "I am."

Strike seven times on bell and say, "Thou must first be purified." Scourge 3, 7, 9, 21.

Say, "Ye have bravely passed the test. Art always ready to help, protect, and defend thy brothers and sisters of the Art?"

Postulant "I am."

"Then say after me: I, (name), in the presence of the mighty ones of the outer spaces, do of my own free will most solemnly swear that I will ever keep secret and never reveal the secrets of the Art, except it be to a proper person, properly prepared, within such a circle as I am in now, and that I will never deny the Secrets to such a person if they be vouched for by a brother or Sister of the Art. All this I swear by my hopes of a future life, and may my weapons turn against me if I break this my solemn oath."

Loosen cords from ankles and from altar, and remove blindfold; assist to rise.

"I hereby sign thee with the triple sign [the point-down triangle formed by touching the genitals, the right breast, the left breast, and the genitals again.] I consecrate thee with oil. I consecrate thee with wine. I consecrate thee with my lips, Priest (Priestess) and Witch."

Remove Cords [kiss].

"I now present to you the working tools. First the magic sword. With this, as with the athame, thou canst form all magic circles, dominate, subdue, and punish all rebellious spirits and demons, and even persuade angels and good spirits. With this in your hand, you are ruler of the circle." [kiss]

"Next I present to you the athame. This is the true witches' weapon, and has all the powers of the magic sword." [kiss]

"Next I present the white-handled knife. Its use is to form all instruments used in the Art. It can only be used in a magic circle." [kiss]

"Next I present the wand. Its use is to call up and control certain angels and genie to whom it would not be meet to use the sword or athame." [kiss]

"Next I present the pentacle. This is for the purpose of calling up the appropriate spirits." [kiss]

"Next I present the censer of incense. This is used to encourage and welcome good spirits, and to banish evil spirits." [kiss]

"Next I present the scourge. This is a sign of power and domination. It is also used to cause purification and enlightenment, for it is written, 'To learn you must suffer and be purified.' [kiss]

Art willing to suffer to learn?"

Postulant: "I am."

"Next and lastly I present the cords. They are of use to bind the sigils of the art, also the material basis. Also they are necessary in the oath." [kiss]

"I now salute you in the names of Aradia and Cernunnos, Newly made Priestess and Witch."

Lead round and proclaim to four quarters, "Hear, ye Mighty Ones, (name) has been consecrated a priestess of the Goddess."

Now present new Witch to coven members. All should kiss and hug new Witch as welcome into membership.

To close circle proclaim to four quarters, "Ye Mighty Ones of the East (South, West, North), I thank you for attending and, ere ye depart for your lovely realms, I say hail and farewell."

Next: The Second-Degree Initiation