One of the most beautiful aspects of Wicca comes from the Wiccan Rede. There are many names for this, including the Wiccan Law or Rule of Three. Wicca is unlike the monotheistic religions of the West. It doesn’t seek to control or force limited ways of living through sets of ancient rules.
The only absolute of Wicca is to do no harm. There is freedom in your craft and practice. You may worship how you please or not worship at all if you wish. The many facets of how Wicca is expressed is one of the highest achievements of humankind.
The Wiccan Rede (Full Version)
Here is the most common full version of the Wiccan Rede. It is the version presented by Gwen Porter in 1975 in Green Egg under the name Rede of the Wiccae.
Bide the Wiccan Laws ye must In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.
Live an’ let live - Fairly take an’ fairly give.
Cast the Circle thrice about To keep all evil spirits out.
To bind the spell every time - Let the spell be spake in rhyme.
Soft of eye an’ light of touch - Speak little, listen much.
Deosil go by the waxing Moon - Sing and dance the Wiccan rune.
Widdershins go when the Moon doth wane, An’ the Werewolf howls by the dread Wolfsbane.
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 Northwind’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 East, Expect the new and set the feast.
When the West wind blows o’er thee, Departed spirits restless be.
Nine woods in the Cauldron go - Burn them quick an’ burn them slow.
Elder be ye Lady’s tree - Burn it not or cursed ye’ll be.
When the Wheel begins to turn - Let the Beltane fires burn.
When the Wheel has turned a Yule, Light the Log an’ let Pan rule.
Heed ye flower bush an’ tree - By the Lady Blessèd Be.
Where the rippling waters go Cast a stone an’ truth ye’ll know.
When ye have need, Hearken not to others greed.
With the fool no season spend Or be counted as his friend.
Merry meet an’ merry part - Bright the cheeks an’ warm the heart.
Mind the Threefold Law ye should - Three times bad an’ three times good.
When misfortune is enow, Wear the Blue Star on thy brow.
True in love ever be Unless thy lover’s false to thee.
Eight words ye Wiccan Rede fulfill - An’ it harm none, Do what ye will.
Breakdown of the Wiccan Rede
We won’t go through the whole thing line-by-line, but let’s focus on some of the key parts that will give us the best overall understanding and breakdown of the Wiccan Rede and Law.
First of all, the Rule of Three is mentioned in the line “Mind the Threefold Law ye should – Three times bad an’ three times good.” This is the fundamental concept underlying everything. Magic is powerful, and one should not abuse it.
The punishment is not going to be something to do with the afterlife. It will come in while you’re alive. If you try to curse someone, you will be cursed three times worse. Do no harm sounds like an altruistic sentiment, but in reality, it is also selfish.
Spend your time with the craft trying to good in the world and make the world a better place. Not only is it the morally right way to live, but it is also going to benefit you greatly in the long run.
Many people don’t believe in the Rule of Three because it can take time for things to come back around. But when they do, you’re going to wish you believed it. But as long as you harm no one, you may do as you wish. There aren’t silly extra rules like don’t wear clothes that contain fibers of different types.
Other fundamental ideas make their way into the Wiccan Rede like the casting of the circle for protection in the line “Cast the Circle thrice about To keep all evil spirits out.”
This is always a good practice any time you wish to work the craft of Wicca. Start with a basic cleansing ritual and circle of protection. This way the local energy is pure and nothing evil seeps into a perfectly benign spell.
The last point I’d like to mention is “When misfortune is enow, Wear the Blue Star on thy brow.” This can be confusing to some. But it’s fairly simple. The Blue Star on thy brow is just a reference to your third eye. When you run into trouble, turn inward. Meditate and seek spiritual guidance on how to continue past a temporary period of misfortune.
The Wiccan Rede Short Version and Alternates
Lots of solitary practitioners like to make their own alternate version of the Wiccan Rede. This is a great idea! As I always say, everything in Wicca is personal. The more personal you make it, the stronger it will resonate with your energy and work better.
The Wiccan Rede is also quite long, so it can be useful to have a short version floating around the back of your mind for reference. The most common way to make a short version of the Wiccan Rede is to modify the ending:
Bide the Wiccan Law ye must,
In perfect love, in perfect trust.
Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill:
An ye harm none, do as ye will.
And ever mind the Rule of Three:
What ye send out, comes back to thee.
Follow this with mind and heart,
And merry ye meet, and merry ye part.
Sometimes people even cut it all the way down to “An ye harm none, do as ye will,” especially if going for a Wiccan Rede tattoo or other etching/engraving that needs to be short.
However you modify it is up to you. The key idea to capture is to do no harm.
If you want to know more about Wicca basics, check out the article: What is Wicca? There are lots of links to other fundamental concept articles there.
It is important to keep the Rede in mind when choosing a type of Wiccan magic to work with.
- White, E.D. (2015). “An’ it Harm None, Do What Ye Will”: A Historical Analysis of the Wiccan Rede. Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft 10(2), 142-171. doi:10.1353/mrw.2015.0032.
- Ventimiglia, M. (2003). The Wiccan Rede: Couplets of the Law, Teachings, and Enchantments (1St Edition). Citadel.