Interpreting the Credo

As mentioned on the Wiccan Rede page, this is not the Wiccan Rede but the Wiccan Credo. The confusion between the two began when the Credo was published under the title of "Rede of the Wiccae." The version I use is a compilation of several different credos I have come across over the years. Some of which aren't even Wiccan necessarily, but seemed to smooth out gaps the original Wiccan Credo presented by Lady Gwen Thompson seemed to have. This of course makes it much longer and so there's even more need for interpretation. These are my interpretations. As such, there's room for disagreements.

Bide the Wiccans laws ye must,
In perfect love and perfect trust.

Always follow the rules, laws, and beliefs of Wicca. If you do not know them to be truth and feel them in your heart, you are going against the ways of Wicca. To know is not enough. You must follow and truly believe with your heart and soul.

Live and let live,
Fairly take and fairly give.

Learn to live without others' lives being a problem to your own. At a minimum, tolerate differences and others' choices in order to continue on with your own unhindered. You cannot ask to be accepted if you cannot accept others. Be sure to never take more than you would give. Likewise, be wise not to give more than you can afford.

If you wish to live and thrive,
Let the spider run alive.

These lines are based on the idea that killing a spider (particularly in the home or garden) will cause bad luck. Ideally, a spider found in the home is an omen of impending good. Some say this is clothing or money or simply prosperity. For others it is luck, good fate, etc. Sometimes it is personal (ie: Diane Sylvan in The Circle Within recounts that visitations of spiders led her to knowing it was time to write her book). Regardless of your feelings (or lack thereof) of spiders, it is wise to let them live should you happen across them.

If ye would clear the path to will,
Be certain the mind be still.

Focus and concentration. If you want to work magick effectively, you must focus on your intent and keep unrelated thoughts from coming to mind during the spell.

'Tis by Sun that life be won,
And by the Moon that change be done.

Essentially, live your life. When there is magick to be done, do so at night. More importantly, this means that you should care for the mundane things during the times you need to. Once you've taken care of the mundane things of the day, then focus on any magick needing to be done. The magickal and spiritual side of life is very important, but it needs to be balanced with the physical as well.

Cast the circle thrice about
To keep unwelcome spirits out.

This couplet gets a bit of attention. Obviously, we can agree that the circle keeps unwanted spirits out. Even if one believes the sole purpose has anything other to do than with protection, one must agree that it still also serves to keep out energies other that what was intended. So why cast it three times? Some say because it is a magickal number. Many tales and legends have equated this number as special. In Wicca we have the Triple Goddess. Others still will point to a variety of other magickal systems in which there is sometimes more than just one circle cast.

What good be tools without inner light;
What good be magick without wisdom-sight?

If you do not recognize and have faith in the potential within you and your own power, all the tools in the world are not going to do you any good. Likewise, even recognizing and using magick won't do you much good if you can't take the time out to think about it. Sometimes wisdom isn't even the word for it, but common-sense. The strongest of magick isn't going to make the trash take itself out. Always use your head before magick.

To bind the spell every time,
Let the spell be spoken in rhyme.

This is simply to say that the words in a spell should rhyme. Ideally, rhyming words are easier to memorize and energy can be wasted when you have to concentrate on reading off a paper in candle or moonlight.

Soft of eye and light of touch,
Speak ye little, listen much.

There are many takes on this couplet. One gains wisdom, not in talking, but in listening. Not that talking is a bad thing, mind you, but if you find yourself talking more than you listen, you may need to take heed. When you do listen, be compassionate, understanding, insightful.

Deosil go by waxing Moon,
Sing and dance the Wiccan Rune.

As the moon is growing, move in a clockwise manner, the direction of increase. This will bring good fortune.

Widdershins go when the Moon doth wane,
And the werewolf howls by the dread wolfsbane.

As the moon shrinks, move in a counter-clockwise manner, the direction of decrease. This will rid negative energies.

When the Lady's Moon is new,
Kiss the hand to Her times two.

Some say this gesture welcomes the moon back from its dark phase.

When the Moon rides at Her peak,
Then your heart's desire seek.

The full moon is considered a powerful time for magic. When strong energies are needed, the full moon is the time to perform the rituals and spells.

The following four couplets are said to deal with associations of the elements. I beg to differ. These are associations of the directions and the winds, not the elements. Many cultures differ on usage and placement of elements. However, the winds are often very similar.

Heed the North Wind's mighty gale,
Drop the lock and trim the sail.

The North Wind is often known for being strong and even feared. In Greek mythology, this was Boreas, who was sometimes appealed to by the Gods to torment mortals.

When the Wind comes from the South,
Love will kiss thee on thy mouth.

Notos (Greek mythology) was considered to be refreshing to the earth by bringing rain clouds which brought new life. Just as Spring, a time of birth and renewal, is linked with love, so too would be the refreshing rain clouds of the south.

When the Wind comes from the East,
Expect the new and set the feast.

The east, direction of sunrise, is associated with all things new as the rise of the sun means a new day.

When the West Wind blows o'er thee,
Departed spirits, restless be.

Note: That while the spirits are restless, they are not hostile. Zephyrus was considered fine and pleasant.

The next several couplets are about trees. Only the first and last of these were featured in the first published Credo. Each couplet merely tells a bit of the correspondences of the trees.

Nine woods in the cauldron go,
Burn them quick and burn them slow.

Nine kinds of wood (apple, birch, fir, hawthorn, hazel, oak, rowan, vine, and willow) are burned in the cauldron during rituals.

Oak in the forest towers with might,
In the fire, it brings the God's insight.

The first line is merely descriptive. The second deals with the association with oak and sun.

Rowan is a tree of power,
Causing life and magick to flower.

Rowan has long been associated with magick.

Willows at the waterside stand,
Ready to help us to your Summerland.

Willow trees have been associated with emotions as well as the afterlife or departed spirits.

Hawthorn is burned to purify,
And draw faerie to the eye.

Fairies are said to preside over hawthorn trees as guardians.

Hazel, the tree of wisdom and learning,
Add its strength to the bright fire burning.

Simply as stated.

White are the flowers of Apple tree
That brings us fruits of fertility.

Again, descriptive. Apples are associated with fertility.

Grapes grow upon the vine,
Giving us both joy and wine.

If you've ever seen a group of people consuming wine, that's all you really need to know to understand this one.

Fir does mark the evergreen
To represent immortality seen.

Evergreen trees have long been associated with immortality.

Elder be ye Lady's tree,
Burn it not, or cursed ye'll be.

Considered sacred to the Lady, burning Elder is considered bad luck.

As the old year starts to wane,
The new begins, it's now Samhain.

Samhain marks the end and beginning of the Wiccan year.

When the Wheel has turned a Yule,
Light the log and let the Horned God rule.

Where the God died at Samhain to symbolize the ending of the year, He is reborn again at Yule to symbolize the growth of sunlight from this day until Summer Solstice.

When the time for Candlemas shows,
Watch for flowers through the snows.

In some parts of the world, the first hints of Spring begins starting from Candlemas.

In the Spring, when night equals day,
Time for Ostara to come our way.

Ostara, being the Spring Equinox, is equal in length of day and night.

When the Wheel begins to turn,
Let the Beltane fires burn.

Beltane is the half-way point to from the last to the next Samhain. Bonfires were traditionally lit in celebration.

When the Sun has reached its height,
Time for Oak and Holly to fight.

The Summer Solstice marks the longest day. Following a different mythology from that mentioned in the Yule couplet, the two "Kings" or aspects of God will fight to determine who will rule until the Winter Solstice when they fight again.

As the Wheel turns to Lammas night,
Power is brought to magick rite.

One idea behind this couplet is that with the days growing shorter, there is more darkness of night. As previous couplets explained, magick is supposedly strongest at night.

Harvesting comes to one and all,
When Mabon does fall.

Mabon is the second of the harvest festivals (Lammas the first and Samhain the third).

Heed ye flower, bush, or tree,
By the Lady, Blessed be!

As all things come from the Goddess, every plant is valuable and sacred.

By the rippling waters go,
Cast a stone and truth ye'll know.

I've heard some strange interpretations (and some that don't bother to interpret) this one. Considered mere hogwash to many that try to interpret Credos, this couplet, I believe, is the wisest of them all. If you throw a stone into still waters, the action causes several ripples that seem to thin as they go further. When we make an action, we cause ripples around us. In running (or rippling) waters, throwing a stone may cause a similar action, however, the water will continue to move around it. Now the stone has a place at the bottom of the rippling waters, changing the path. When we take action or make a decision, sometimes we don't notice much of a reaction from the outside world. However, that action or decision may leave an imprint embedded that can have effects for long lengths of time, and it's impossible to know just how many people it could affect as the years go by.

When you are in dire need,
Hearken not to others' greed.

Don't be mislead by the greed of others, even if they are masked in a friendly demeanor, no matter your plight. Likewise, don't let greed take over when someone comes to you for help.

With the fool no season spend,
Or be counted as his friend.

If you spend time with foolish people, others will see you as foolish too. I personally don't care for the wording "fool" as I have a differing connotation at times, but essentially this is just saying don't associate with someone you would not like to be associated with.

Merry Meet and Merry Part,
Bright the cheeks and warm the heart.

This one if fairly simple. If you greet and part with people with a positive attitude and friendly atmosphere, you will be remembered as such. For times when not everyone we meet makes us feel able to be "merry", tact is a wonderful skill to possess.

When misfortune is enow,
Wear the blue star on thy brow.

This is probably the most confusing of the couplets when it comes down to interpretation. Some say that when you are in a situation of misfortune, "wearing" (visualizing) a blue pentagram on your third-eye will protect you through it.

Stay true in love ever be,
Lest thy lover's false to thee.

Essentially, in a relationship, be true to your partner. However, if you partner proves to be unfaithful, say good riddance and move on.

Mind the three-fold law ye should,
Three times bad and three times good.

This is simply stating the Three-Fold Law states what you send out comes back to you three times.

Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill:
An it harm none, do as ye will!

The only part of this entire Credo that is actually called the Wiccan Rede. The Rede is advice or guidance one should follow at all times. The Wiccan Rede is a matter of ethics and morality.

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