Charge of the Goddess (by Doreen Valiente)
Now listen to the words of the Great Mother, who was of old also called among men Artemis,
Astarte, Athene, Dione, Melusine, Aphrodite, Cerridwen, Dana, Arianrhod, Isis, Bride, and by many other names. At her altars, the youth of Lacedaemon in Sparta made due sacrifice.
Whenever ye have need of anything, once in the month and better it be when the moon is full,
then shall ye assemble in some secret place, and adore the spirit of me, I who am Queen of all witches.
There shall ye assemble, ye who are fain to learn all sorcery, yet have not won its deepest secrets;
to these will I teach all things that are as yet unknown.
And ye shall be free from slavery; and as a sign that ye be truly free, you shall be naked in your rites;
and ye shall dance, sing, feast, make music and love, all in my praise. For mine is the ecstasy of the spirit,
and mine also is joy on earth; for my law is love unto all beings.
Keep pure your highest ideals; strive ever towards them, let nothing stop you or turn you aside.
For mine is the secret door which opens upon the Land of Youth, and mine is the cup of the wine of life,
and the Cauldron of Cerridwen, which is the Holy Vessel of Immortality. I am the gracious Goddess,
who gives the gift of joy unto the heart of man.
Upon earth, I give the knowledge of the spirit eternal; and beyond death, I give peace, and freedom,
and reunion with those who have gone before.
Nor do I demand sacrifice; for behold, I am the Mother of all living, and my love is poured out upon the Earth.
Hear the words of the Star Goddess, the dust of Whose feet are the hosts of Heaven, whose body encircles the universe:
I who am the beauty of the green earth, and the white moon among the stars, and the mystery of the waters, and the desire of the heart of man.
I call upon thy soul to arise and come unto me. For I am the soul of Nature, who gives life to the Universe.
From me all things proceed, and unto me all things must return; and before my face, beloved of gods and of men, let thine innermost divine self be enfolded, in the rapture of the infinite.
Let my worship be within the heart that rejoices, for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals.
Therefore, let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you.
And thou who thinketh to seek for me, know thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not, unless thou knoweth the mystery; for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without.
For behold, I have been with thee from the beginning; and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.
I am always free from slavery and naked in my rites - My mind is cleared from modern confusion and contrivance is left behind. I fain to hold no guile, approaching the entire rite with total honesty and without self-deception. I am without shame. I set aside a place in my mind, heart and soul - which endures - that is clear, pure, sacred and undiminished - and yet, is somehow still undeniably me and not so very different from anyone else.
Rather then literally shedding my clothes, I do so figuratively. I attempt to move beyond the symbol of the act to the purposes (as they reveal themselves).
This is out of sheer practicality. I am a modern witch. I have always thought this line of the poem was related to Adam and Eve eating from the tree of wisdom, becoming aware of their bodies and being shamed; the newly resurgent witchcraft shaking off the shackles of conformity and (christianity)?
An athame is a tool. You could use an athame. You could use your index finger? Once you understand what an athame is, you could simply visualise its spirit, hone its purpose and empower its intent
; skyclad is a tool.