In 1974 a complete twenty-six line poem entitled “ The Wiccan Rede ” was published in the neo-Pagan magazine Earth Religion News. Each line contained a rhymed couplet laid out as a single line, the last line being the familiar “short rede” couplet beginning “Eight words…”.
This poem was shortly followed by another, slightly different, version, entitled the “Rede Of The Wiccae”, which was published in Green Egg magazine by Lady Gwen Thompson. She ascribed it to her grandmother Adriana Porter, and claimed that the earlier published text was distorted from “its original form”. The poem has since been very widely circulated and has appeared in other versions and layouts, with additional or variant passages. It is commonly known as the “Long Rede”.
Although Thompson wrote that this version of the Rede was in its original form, this declaration is disputed for several reasons, but primarily as the language of the poem refers to Wiccan concepts that are not known to have existed in her grandmother’s lifetime.
It is sometime ascribed to Thompson herself. Mathiesen and Theitic concluded that 18 to 20 of the verses are lore which would be common to the area of rural 17th to 19th century New England and compiled by the hand of someone who would have been born no later that the late 19th century, and that at least six of the verses which are deemed “The Wiccan Verses” were compiled and added by a second and later hand. Since Thompson was dispensing these 26 as a whole from around 1969 it is a reasonable assumption that hers was that second hand.
Another claim is that it is adapted from a speech given by Doreen Valiente at a dinner sponsored by the Witchcraft Research Association and mentioned in volume one (1964) of the Pentagram, a United Kingdom pagan newsletter then being published. Valiente did publish a similarly worded and entitled poem The Witches Creed in her 1978 book, “Witchcraft for Tomorrow”.
The Wiccan Rede
Bide the Wiccan Laws we must, In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.
Live and let live. Fairly take and fairly give.
Cast the Circle thrice about To keep the evil spirits out.
To bind the spell every time Let the spell be spake in rhyme.
Soft of eye and light of touch, Speak but little, listen much.
Deosil go by waxing moon, Chanting out the Witches’ Rune.
Widdershins go by waning moon, Chanting out the baneful rune.
When the Lady’s moon is new, Kiss thy hand to Her, times two.
When the moon rides at her peak, Then your heart’s desire seek.
Heed the North wind’s mighty gale, Lock the door and drop the sail.
When the wind comes from the South, Love will kiss thee on the mouth.
When the wind blows from the West, Departed souls will have no rest.
When the wind blows from the East, Expect the new and set the feast.
Nine woods in the cauldron go, Burn them fast and burn them slow.
Elder be the Lady’s tree, Burn it not or cursed you’ll be.
When the Wheel begins to turn, Let the Beltane fires burn.
When the Wheel has turned to Yule, Light the log, the Horned One rules.
Heed ye Flower, Bush and Tree, By the Lady, Blessed Be.
Where the rippling waters go, Cast a stone and truth you’ll know.
When ye have a true need, Hearken not to others’ greed.
With a fool no season spend, Lest ye be counted as his friend.
Merry Meet and Merry Part, Bright the cheeks and warm the heart.
Mind the Threefold Law you should, Three times bad and three times good.
When misfortune is enow, Wear the blue star on thy brow.
True in Love ever be, Lest thy lover’s false to thee.
Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill: An it Harm None, Do What Ye Will.