Joan on the Witch Laws

08/22/81
Note: These are the comments of one of the early members of Proteus Coven on what we gave her to read about ethics and laws. All the material she had is still here, although a good deal has been added since then, so I thought her comments would also be interesting.

Judy Harrow


Reaction to "Traditional" - i.e. essentially Gardnerian - format

In many respects, as constricting as Catholicism without the administrative experience, intellectual prowess, or verbal expertise of Catholicism. If current researchers are correct, what we have is one man's fantasy (with jumbled and skewed sources) made everyone's obligation.

May be dealt with most effectively - especially as regards the reality of current practice and expectation - by juxtaposition with Lady Ikandkhop's masterful irony.


Reaction to Aporrheton 5 - [generally very good thinking, but still more traditional than my preference]

Paragraph Two: Good thinking on nature of Goddess - or any divinity. My agreement is reserved, uncertain, withheld.

Paragraph Three: Claims to have arrived at FIRMLY ("no bending") UNDISPROVEN hypotheses. This arouses natural suspicion in me. I disagree with some of his perceptions of FACTS.

I disagree violently with Laws 5 + 6. Heterosexuality is a strength, but not an essential. POLARITY OPERATES OUTSIDE [or INSIDE] BOUNDARIES OF ANATOMICAL EQUIPMENT AND HORMONES. AND THE CHARACTER - THE SACRED CHARACTER - OF THE WITCH IS WITHIN THE AT ONCE TRANSCENDANT AND DISCIPLINED SELF.

Law #7 is unnecessary. A silly bow to a misunderstood "Trad" law.

Law #8 is largely true, but makes no allowance for valid, honest (fair to all), and necessary transitional states many must pass through. Also sticks on "authority" peg, which has some necessity/validity but can easily get out of hand. I find HONESTY + COURTESY better yardsticks.

Law #9. True. But much of interpersonal tension (inevitable) can be worked out of God/dess' love and coven support-with-discipline prevail.

Law #10. The Great Mysteries must be lived out. And, without using Craft parlance, if another needs to hear them, they MUST BE VERBALIZED. TO DO LESS IS HARM. i.e., it is to allow another to drown when you're on shore and have a rope.

But no missionary zeal!

No proselytizing!!!

That for which others are unready is foolishness for them and foolishness for the Witch. (It may also be subconscious power tripping. See agreement in Law #13.)

Law #11 - I agree with paragraphs one and two.

Paragraph 3: saying that only the HPs incarnates the Goddess is inappropriate and - in my firm opinion - NOT FACTUAL. (note from Judy - as I interpret what he says there, it's that only WOMEN incarnate the Goddess. I also disagree with that, but it's less bad than Joan's reading that he limits it to the HPs only.) The Goddess is not bound by ceremonial elevations. She incarnates where and when She Damn Well Pleases!

Re: "all initiations..." - etc. - Ritual is crystallization of preexistent, potential, incipient reality and this actualization is not trivial.

Law #12 - Good caution on limits (ill defined where emotion runs high) or self-defense. But assumption rules out solo magic (his previous premise is that it isn't Wiccan) by corollary of group responsibility / group danger to all action. "Return to sender" is generally agreed as rule-of-thumb for defense. Practice has not disproven. This is a difficult area to define. Probably group consensus on this would help.

Does "impossibility factor" negate danger? How about the verbal escape clause sometimes used?

Obviously, I'm less sure of boundaries on this one than on any other.

Law #13 - Good idea. Rather an ideal than a norm.

OMISSION: APORRHETON does not mention Balance or Polarity concept except in male/female context. But these are valuable and central concepts.

I got the feeling this person is still ruled by fragments of left-over fear.


Starhawk is GREAT. But many people will need more codification than she offers.

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