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                                       Aporrheton 5 
                                        The Craft Laws 
              (Marked 4/73 by Judy Harrow; author not noted) 
                        ManytraditionsabouttheCraft arescatteredthroughoutrecent
          books; a  sizable bunch is the 161  "Craft Laws" you can  find in Lady
          Sheba or in  June Johns. Many  of these traditions are  merely defini-
          tions of what  the Craft is,  and so of the  context within which  the
          other traditions should be understood;  they are "true" merely because
          (and  insofar as) they are internally consistent. In contrast, some of
          the other traditions  seem to be  shrewd, hard-won observations  about
          how psychic  energy (as dealt  with in the  Craft) seems to  work, and
          THESE are the important ones. 

                        The psychicreality that these traditionsconcern has been
          called by  many names: spiritualists call it "the upper astral plane";
          Jungians, the  "superconscious"; the  Bhagavad Gita, "the  True Self";
          many mystics,  the "godhead";  Isaac Bonewits, the  "Switchboard"; and
          very much  so on.    Any such  name is an attempt  to map (part  of) a
          psychic reality that seems all too willing to accomodate itself to any
          map you  use, and you  will get nowhere  in trying to  understand that
          reality if  you don't keep its Plasticity firmly in mind. In the Craft
          we conceive that reality as the Goddess (as #11 below  states); She is
          both very real  and a metaphor. She is real  because human energy goes
          into making  Her real; She  exists as  a "thought form  on the  astral
          plane," yet She  can manifest  physically whenever She  wants to.  She
          does  not exist independently of  mankind, but She  is most thoroughly
          independent  of any one  person or group.  (And precisely  the same is
          true of any concept of divinity that people put energy  into maintain-
          ing.)  She is  a metaphor  because, great  though She  may be,  She is
          finite, like any other human concept, whereas reality is infinite. And
          why do we need the Goddess, or any divinity at all?  Because the human
          mind  seems unable to grasp an  undifferentiated infinity. By creating
          our own divinities, we create mental steps for ourselves,  up which we
          can mount, toward relizing ourselves as divine. 

                        TheCraft Laws,then, arenot "13Commandments" fromon high;
          they  are merely  unproved hypotheses about  how SOME  psychic reality
          seems  to  work. They  should be  treated  like any  other hypotheses:
          respected as being the  best guesses going, but continually  tested to
          find out how valid they are and to generate better guesses. Naturally,
          you cannot test them by breaking them, any more  than you can test the
          law of gravity by jumping off  a ten-story building. Instead, you draw
          conclusions from them, or  base predictions on them, and  try workings
          to see if the latter hold up. The 13 below are ones that have  held up
          so far  under such testing; some  we had in  an earlier set of  13 did
          not. In  compiling this  set, I  culled through all  the traditions  I
          could find, picking out  especially (or thinking up) the  most general
          statements,  which  would include  many  of  the other  traditions  as
          special cases; you should be able to spot examples of this by careful-
          ly comparing Aporrheton  10 with this  one. Certain of  the laws  here
          (the ones typed in all caps) seem necessary and reliable to us, and we
          will not tolerate  any bending (let alone  breaking) of them,  for the
          reasons discussed  under #12  below. Many  of the  rest are  here, not
          because we     understand them, but because we don't. 


               I  always  approach  traditional occult  systems  (astrology, the
          Tarot,  the Craft,  etc.)  on the  assumption that  they consist  of a
          terse, ultileveled  coding of hard-earned information  about something
          real and important. It is  almost as silly to think  you've discovered
          everything such  a system might mean as it is to think it meaningless.
          The only way to find  out what such a system means is to  get in there
          and work with it until you  speak its language fluently. Then you will
          likely find (at  least, this has  been my experience) that  the system
          gives you a map  of reality, but of  many places, not just  one place,
          that it  gives you a  way to work  with classes of  realtionships that
          hold  for many different kinds of people, things, and situations. That
          is,  these  traditional systems  are  very  much like  nonquantitative
          algebras  or calculi; a symbol in one of  them is not going to have an
          invariant  and simple meaning,  or even the  same meaning in  two dif-
          ferent contextx,  anymore than X is  going to have  the same numerical
          value in two different algebra problems. 

                        It therefore seems safest to keep these Craft laws whose
          meanings are not obvious  in mind, and hope that  further "experiment-
          ation" will shed some light on them. Of course, to get  any results at
          all in dealing with psychic phenomena,  you have to be optimistic  and
          openminded. If you  already hold a firm belief that  you know what the
          Craft Laws mean, or that they are  "Absolutely True," or the opposite,
          then  your mind is closed, and you  can't learn anything new. That is,
          you're not supposed to "believe" in the Craft Laws, or memorize  them;
          you're supposed to UNDERSTAND them, else you've missed the whole point
          of why we have them. 
                 KARMA, EXCEPT FOR YOURSELF. 

                 These two are best discussed together, since they replace the 
          inadequate statement one often finds that "You may not use the arts of
          the Craft  to work malevolent magic."  Notice that the  first one says
          "cannot,"  being an observation of fact, wherease the second says "may
          not," being a statement of ethics. 

                        Thefirst lawstates that,INTHE LONGRUN, youcan harmno one
          but  yourself. You cannot benefit from trying to harm another, because
          you are part of the fabric  of reality, not separate from it.  You get
          whatever you  give, because getting and  giving are the same,  just as
          the trough and  the crest are the same wave./ If  you set up a pattern
          of nasty, callous selfishness  around yourself, that is what  you have
          projected onto  the world, and that is all you will experience. If you
          act out of genuine affection and concern for others, you receive their
          affection and concern as  well. The psychic (or  life) field seems  to
          have a single polarity:  to create positive effects for  yourself, you
          must create positive effects for others.  And this observation applies
          not just to the arts of the Craft, nor to all the psychic arts, but to
          life in general. 


                        Now, whatthe second law pointsout is that itis the OTHER
          person's  opinion  that determines whether the effects  of what you do
          are positive or not. This law is the equivalent of the Craft's version
          of the  "Golden Rule":  "Do unto  others not as  YOU wish  to be  done
          under,  but as THEY wish to be  done unto--for their tastes may damned
          well differ from yours." (Thus this law, most usefully, eliminates any
          arguments over how one defines "good" or "evil.") It follows  that you
          may not do something for what YOU think is someone  else's "own good";
          you  have no  right to  make that decision.  You may  not even  work a
          healing unless you have permission from the person to be healed; it is
          unethical  to hit an unprepared person with  a jolt of energy. You may
          work  without prior permission for someone whose karma you are already
          PERSONALLY  involved with (as  a mother for  her child, a  man for his
          wife,  etc.), but  you may  not accept  anyone's opinion  that another
          would  give permission if asked; no matter  how close two people might
          be, they  neither own one another nor carry each other's karma, and so
          cannot give such permission to another. 
                  3. You cannot usethe arts of theCraft to win fame, fortune,   
           power, or any other sort of material or social advantage. 
                        Thisagainis anobservation ofhow allthe psychicarts work,
          not just those of the Craft. WHY they work thus is another question---
          THAT they do work thus is well-known. Perhaps the simplest explanation
          is that  if your major motive for working is (or becomes) a desire for
          fame,  fortune,  etc., you  soon get  into  a headspace  where psychic
          abilities simply cannot  function; many erstwhile psychics  throughout
          history have lost their abilities and become  charlatans, because they
          did not know this rule. You  can (as many people do) make  your living
          by a psychic art, as long as you charge only enough to live comfortab-
          ly  by your society's  standards; it is  only going on  a "power trip"
          that  would endanger your abilities.  Similarly, doing trips on people
          without  their        knowledge (or  the magician's  favorite project,
          raising "demons"  in order to  control them) is another  sort of power
          trip, and will have exactly the same effect on your  abilities. A more
          traditionals Craft statement of this  rule would be, "The arts  of the
          Craft are the gift of the Goddess;  if you misuse them, She will  take
          them back." 
                  4.You cannot usethe arts ofthe Craft forshow, in pretence, but
                only in earnest, and only in need. 
                        If youwork aritual, itwill haveeffects, whetheryou think
          you want it to or not. Therefore  you cannot "pretend" to throw a hex,
          for example; the Lady does not recognize pretence. On  the other hand,
          you cannot work the arts  successfully just because you WANT to,  as a
          head trip;  the Lady won't cooperate.  You have to need  the energy or
          the information for some real purpose, else you can't tap into it. (At
          least, this is what meaning I have seen in this law so far.) 


                  5. The arts ofthe Craft can onlybe worked in acircle with at  
             least one other person of the opposite sex. 
                        This "law" is actually just a set of definitions, though
          important ones, as follows. (a)  The arts of the Craft are  defined as
          those  that will work only  under these conditions;  psychic arts that
          work  under  other conditions  are thus  not  necessarily part  of the
          Craft. (b) A  coven consists of  at least  one man and  one woman;  it
          cannot  consist of  all men  or all  women. (c)  If you're  working by
          yourself, you are  working as a magician, not as  a witch--but you are
          still  obliged by your  oaths to the  Lady to observe  the other Craft
          Laws. (For more on this last point, see #12.) 
                  6.A man must learn the arts of the Craft from a woman, a woman
          from a man, except between parent and child. 
                        Since#5 definesthe artsof theCraft asthose thatonly work
          in the  circle, obviously they can  only be learned in  the circle. If
          you're working with just one other  person, that person must be of the
          opposite  sex, else the arts  won't work, and  nothing can be learned.
          Thus it seems logical that this tradition applies only to a one-to-one
          teacher-apprentice relationship.  If you're not in  the circle, and/or
          are teaching a  mixed group  of men  and women,  obviously there's  no
          problem.   (This tradition MAY imply  that the arts WILL  work for two
          women if they  are mother and daughter, or for  father and some, since
          part of  the key to  the working,  and the learning,  seems to  be the
          emotional  closeness between the two;  consider section IV, last para,
          in Aporrheton 10.) 
                  7. You mustalways pay whateverprice is asked,without haggling 
                  or complaining, when you buy something to be used for the     
                        TheGardnerian Craft Laws (sectionIV, para 4,of Apor. 10)
          allow the arts  of the Craft  to be used to  persuade someone to  sell
          something, as long as his asking price is met, but  this would violate
          our Law  #2. In contrast, this  law here is a  safeguard against using
          your psychic talents not-quite-consciously to take unfair advantage of
              8. You cannot belong to more than one coven at a time. 
                        Any two covens willlikely have rather different symbolic
          systems  for their  workings,  different understandings  of the  Craft
          Laws, and so on.  Trying to work with both would  then tend to confuse
          you, snarl  up your communication  lines to the  Lade, and  reduce the
          efficiency of your  learning and working. Of course,  if two covens do
          have  identical  systems (which  could only  happen  if they  shared a
          common  ancestry), they  could be  considered the  same cove,  for the
          purposes under discussion here. 


                        Inits originalcontext (seesection III,Apor. 10),this law
          seems  merely an observation of fact:  even if you're working with two
          or more covens, you will only BELONG to one of them; your loyalty will
          be with that one, and if there  were a parting of the ways, you  would
          stick with  it. Obviously, in  time of persecution,  divided loyalties
          and disagreements could be a source of great danger, and would have to
          be forbidden. Also, in a Craft structure where  the High Priestess has
          final authority within  each coven, she  would not much like  having a
          Witch she is trying to train be influenced by another Priestess. True,
          these considerations don't  apply to us, but they are valid as reasons
          for the tradition. 
              9. None can coven with others they cannot agree with. 
                        Statedthis way,this lawbecomes anetymological tautology,
          for  "coven" means "to agree" (or "to  come together"). The more those
          in a coven can agree on  the interpretation of the Craft Laws,  on the
          symbolic  system used for workings,  on the purposes  of the workings,
          the  greater  the  coven's  effectiveness will  be.  Naturally,  minor
          disagreements  will crop up  regularly in  a group  of individualists;
          they are not  what this law concers.  Rather, it applies  to disagree-
          ments (or bad interpersonal feelings) that are strong enough that they
          are amplified by the group field, make  the meeting unpleasant, and so
          make it  impossible for the  coven to work. For  this reason--not, one
          may hope, out of  mere in-group exclusiveness or arbitrariness--acoven
          must select  its members  carefully for compatibility.  Also, since  a
          coven is necessarily  a "small group,"  many normal small-group  proc-
          esses will operate in it. These  can be powerful, and emotionally very
          heavy, but there's nothing mysterious  about them. Don't mistake  them
          for something occult; that would lead you up a blind alley. 
              10. You must not betray the secrets that cannot be told. 
                        Thesecrets in question hereare Her secrets,the ones dis-
          cussed in  the Caution to the Novices. Insofar as these Craft Laws are
          simply observations of how psychic reality works (and it is for  that,
          really, that we should value them) then they are "self-enforcing" like
          any other  statement of fact.  So what  this law means  is: (a)  Don't
          commit suicide; (b) Don't  violate your own sense of  your self-integ-
          rity; (c) Don't "sell  your soul to the devil"; (d)  If you stick your
          finger in a flame, you'll get burned. 


                          This lawis anotherobservation about howpsychic reality
          works.  The energy that is raised in the circle comes not from any one
          person, nor from all the persons in the coven as individuals, but from
          somewhere else: from  the Goddess,  or from some  source ever  further
          beyond. Such energy, like  all psychic energy, comes THROUGH  you, not
          from  you; it  is not  your personal  property, for  you are  merely a
          channel for it,  a custodian of  it. You do "own"  your body and  your
          individual personality, and  you are  entitled to the  fruits of  your
          labors, but the energy is  not yours to exploit for your  own benefit,
          for any human being  could (potentially) learn to do anything  you can
          do. Therefore, although  you have a right to earn  a living, the Craft
          is free to all, being a gift of the Goddess: you may not charge anyone
          even a  penny to be initiated into the Craft  or to learn its arts. Of
          course,  you should insist on having your actual expenses covered; the
          Craft Laws  do  not require  you to  operate at  a loss  or to  coddle
          freeloaders. But you may not make money from practicing the Craft as a
          religion, and if you try, you will lose all access to the power.  This
          law  also means  that the  only genuine initiations  in the  Craft are
          those worked (though not necessarily directly) by the Goddess Herself.
          That is,  if you  have the  power from  the Goddess,  credentials from
          other people are unnecessary, and if you don't have  any power from   
          the Goddess, credentials  from other people  are useless. Hence  there
          can be no authority in the Craft outside each coven. 

                      Thislaw alsoprovides anotherdefinition: anypowerthat comes
          from   the Goddess  could be part  of the Craft;  so any poet  who has
          experienced the  reality  of the  Muse is,  to that  extent, a  Witch.
          Conversely, any energy  that cannot be  conceptualized as coming  from
          the Goddess  (and apparently there  ARE such forms  of the energy)  is
          definitely not part of the Craft. (The tradition that the Priestess is
          supreme within  the circle also appears  to be a special  case of this
          law, insofar as only the Priestess can incarnate the Goddess.) 
                        No matterwhat the provocation,trying to harmanother will
          only create bad karma for yourself. So, although you have  an absolute
          right to protect yourself, you must not retaliate. As is said in K'ung
          Fu, "Solve  the problem, no less,  no more." The reason  why the coven
          must discuss the  situation and agree on the workings  is twofold: (1)
          to allow cooler minds to prevail, for  it is when one acts on impulse,
          out of  anger, that one  is most likely  to overstep the  line between
          self-defense and  aggression;  and (2)  because  those in  the  coven,
          having  taken an  oath to help  one another,  and being  linked by the
          generation  of the group psychic field, will  all share to some extent
          in any bad karma generated  by any member's misuse of the arts. If you
          are one who can only learn the hard way, say,  by sticking your finger
          into a flame, you are of course free to burn your own fingers--but NOT
          if you are holding someone else's hand, which is exactly the situation
          if you belong to a coven. For its own self-preservation,  a coven must
          therefore retain the right, as a  last resort, to expel (and cut loose
          from the karma of) any member who persists in interfering in other 
          people's lives without  their permission or,  of course, who  attempts
          even blacker workings. 


                  13. Always rememberthat allmankind and allcreatures areequally
                        childrenof theGoddess;therefore neverboastor threaten,or
                      do anything that mightdisgrace Her oryour brothers and    
          sisters in the Craft. 
                        Toblatherthoughtlesslyaboutthe Craft,especiallytopersons
          who  have no  business knowing  about your  coven's affairs,  not only
          drains your  own energy and that of your coven,  but also is a form of
          boasting, of using  the Craft for  self-aggrandizement, that will  get
          you into the bad headspace law #3 warns about. More obviously, threat-
          ening to "hex" someone, even though you THINK you have no intention of
          doing so, violates  the intent of  laws 1 through  4, because you  are
          playing  games with  the Lady,  who just  might decide  to act  on the
          threat,  and because you  are using the  Craft (especially if  you are
          known to be a Witch) to influence another against his will and  to get
          your own way; furthermore,  making such a threat reinforces  the false
          impression most  people have of the  Craft, and so disgraces  the God-
          dess. Again, since anyone could learn to do anything you can do, being
          a Witch doesn't make you any better than anyone else; put on airs, and
          the Lady  will deflate you. Perhaps a good rule of thumb about discus-
          sing the  Craft with  outsiders is this:  once you are  convinced that
          someone's  interest  is  sincere,  then answer  questions,  fully  and
          freely; but don't just  volunteer information that has in no  way been
          asked for, else you  risk burdening that person with  more information
          than he or she is able to cope with.


Next: The Abbreviated Laws (including Comment by J.R.F.)