Analysis Of The Wiccan Rede

“Bide ye Wiccan laws ye must,
in perfect love and perfect trust”.

If you want to call yourself a Witch, adhere to the Laws of the Witch. It is written in love and with your best interests in mind. Trust it because Wisdom is the Mother of the words of this Rede. It has been implied by some treatises that the “In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust” bit refers to our relationship to the Goddess. Whilst that is true in general, it is out of context for this poem. In the context of the poem, it refers to what our attitude should be towards the word of the Law.

“Live and let live, fairly take and fairly give.”

Do not take more than is your due when using the Craft as a trade. An equal exchange of energy is acceptable, more than that is not. This energy that you receive in return can be services, money or goods. The motto here is Live and Let Live. Do not add a premium because the layman requesting your services is in awe of the mysticism surrounding you.

“Form the circle thrice about, to keep all evil spirits out.
To bind ye spell every time, let ye spell be spake in rhyme.”

Always practice your Craft in a properly cast circle for protection. According to the Rede, the witch needs to literally walk the circle three times when casting a circle. It is a fairly standard practice to walk the circle first with the athame, wand, or staff, then with the water and salt mixture and finally with the incense. The sequence may differ from tradition to tradition and coven to coven, but the “thrice about” remains fairly consistent.

When you do spell work, rhyme and rhythm increases the effectiveness of the spell. This is because the drama and emotion evoked by poetry awakens the child within (subconscious). This in turn increases the focus and enhances the energy.

“Soft of eye, light of touch, speak ye little, listen much.”

Be gentle in the way you act towards others and be gentle in the way you look at others. Your actions and looks can influence someone’s state of mind – both negatively and positively. (Remember the old belief of the ‘evil eye’?) Become a good listener – we all have two ears and but one mouth. Do not be boastful and do not jump to conclusions. Mind your tongue.

“Deosil go by the waxing moon, singing out ye Witches’ Rune.
Widdershins go by the waning moon, chanting out ye Baneful Rune.”

With the waxing moon, perform spells to create. Cast the circle clockwise. Do spell work by using an appropriate Rune. A Rune is an incantation which can be chanted or clearly spoken etc. This adds power to the spell.

With the waning moon, perform spells to banish. Cast the circle counter-clockwise. Yet again, do work by using an appropriate Rune.

“When the Lady’s moon is new, kiss your hand to her times two.”

It is customary for a witch to send two kisses to the New Moon. This is an ancient practice.

“When the moon rides at her peak, then ye heart’s desire seek.”

The greatest time for magick is at the full moon.

“Heed the North wind’s mighty gale, lock the door and trim 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 may have no rest.
When the wind blows from the East, except the new and set the feast.”

Celebrate the Sabbaths in honor of the Lady and the Lord. Wicca is about celebrating the movement of the sun, the cycles of the moon, the slow passing of the seasons and the bounty of mother earth herself. The four directions referred to can be interpreted as the four seasons with North being the winter, South the summer, West the Autumn and East the spring.

“Nine woods in ye cauldron go, burn them fast and burn them slow.”{

Most people concur that the nine woods referred to in the poem are those used in Beltaine fires:
Birch – represents the feminine.
Oak – represents the masculine.
Rowan – represents life. It is depicted as the Tree of Life.
Willow – represents death and is Hecate’s tree.
Hawthorn – represents purity and belongs to the Faery Folk.
Hazel – represents wisdom.
Apple – represents love and fertility.
Vine – represents joy and its juice is said to cause heightened awareness.
Fir – represents immortality and well suited to Beltane

“Elder be ye Lady’s tree, burn it not or cursed ye’ll be.
When the wheel begins to turn, soon ye Beltaine fire’ll burn.
When the wheel hath turned to Yule, light the log the Horned One rules.
Heed ye flower, bush and tree, by the Lady blessed be.”

Elder is the tree of the Goddess. It may not be burnt because it is sacred to the Lady. On a practical level, you would not want to anyway. The smoke produced when burning Elder, is harmful.

Beltaine falls on the 1st of May. The Maypole is burnt in some Traditions at Yule, which falls on the 21st of December. During Winter the God rules, whereas during the Summer, the Goddess rules.

Witches are required to be ecologically friendly and to take care of the environment. Respect Nature.

“Where the rippling waters flow, cast a stone and truth ye’ll know.”

This line refers to water divination. Cast a stone into a river and read the ripples made to foretell the future. Personally, I think that all forms of divination are covered. The art of divination is a skill all witches should acquire as it is helpful in verifying whether a spell should be cast or not.

“When ye have and hold a need, harken not to others greed.
With a fool no season spend, nor be counted as his friend.
Merry meet and merry part, bright the cheeks and warm the heart.”

These four lines of the poem provide some guidance on relationships with others. Do not allow greed to overcome you – be it your own or another’s. Also do magick only when in need and never for greed. You will be known by the company you keep, so choose your friends wisely. Your best friends are those you enjoy being with, and who you look forward to being with again.

“Mind ye threefold law ye should, three times bad and three times good.”

Whatever you put out – both good or bad, will be returned to you multiplied by three.

“When misfortune is anow, wear the blue star upon thy brow.”

The star is the pentacle. The blue may come from an old Welsh tradition where a blue crescent was worn on the brow. This line may well refer to psychic protection and recommend that the pentacle be used for this purpose.

“True in love ye must ever be, lest thy love be false to thee.”

Be true to your lover unless he or she is untrue to you. In that case, the vow is annulled.

“In these eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill,
‘An ye harm none, do what ye will.”

As long as no harm is done to anyone or anything, directly or indirectly, the Witch is free to do as her or she sees fit. It also means that the witch can do nothing without carefully considering the consequences of each action taken, each response made and each spell cast.


Although a somewhat incoherent poem, the Rede contains many wisdoms of which only some were revealed in this analysis. The Wiccan Rede offers a common ground in the diverseness of Witch Craft and in its own small way has managed to unite witches worldwide. It may be a loose union, but in the greater scheme of things it is a union nonetheless.

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Rose Ariadne: Providing “Magickal” answers to your Pagan, Wiccan, Witchcraft spell casting questions since 2006.

One Response to “Analysis Of The Wiccan Rede”

  1. RainDragon says:

    I believe that this is a relativly good interpretation of the Rede. I have heard other versions of it, one not mentioning a Rune, but instead a werewolf, but i like that it mentions another form of divination. This will be one i have to write down.

    Blessed Be!

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