What’s A Rede Anyways?

“Rede” is a Middle English term that means to give counsel, advise, interpret, or explain. In a more archaic sense it also means to give an account or tell a story.

The etymology of the word includes the Old English “raedan” and the Old High German “ratan” which both mean to “advise.” [n.1] It may also include the Sanskrit “radhnoti” which means “to archive or prepare.” [n.2] In the dialect of at least one Gaelic place-name it stands for “road,” as in Carrick-a-Rede (Rock in the Road). Similar words in modern usage include the English “read,” the Dutch “advise”(raad) and the German “speech” (rede).

In both Pagan and secular circles, “rede” is most often interpreted according to the Middle English definition. That is, a rede is more often treated as advice or counsel, rather than a strict law or commandment.

As it relates to Wicca, there are several potential reasons why “rede” may have been used (instead of a more absolute term); including the humility of its original authors, the situational nature of the Rede itself, the occult tendency to avoid revealed truths, and the related Pagan practice of honoring individual paths which would conflict with the idea of holding out an absolute truth beyond a specific tradition.

At the same time, it remains unclear who first used the term in Pagan circles. The original Rede-poem presents the Rede as a pre-existing phrase, yet none of the Rede-concepts appearing prior to the poem use this exact kind of nomenclature. Indeed, its entirely possible that while the Rede-poem was articulating an old idea, it was at the same time giving it a new name ˆ forever adding the term “rede” to the Pagan lexicon.

Rede Of The Wiccae
(Being Knowne As The Counsel Of The Wise Ones)
Submitted By Lady Gwen Thompson & Adriana Porter
First Published In Green Egg Magazine
Vol. III. No. 69 (Ostara 1975)
1. Bide the Wiccan laws ye must in perfect love and perfect trust.
2. Live and let live ˆ fairly take and fairly give.
3. Cast the Circle thrice about to keep all evil spirits out.
4. To bind the spell every time, let the spell be spake in rhyme.
5. Soft of eye and light of touch ˆ speak little, listen much.
6. Deosil go by the waxing Moon ˆ sing and dance the Wiccan rune.
7. Widdershins go when the Moon doth wane, and the Werewolf howls by the dread Wolfsbane.
8. When the Lady’s moon is new, kiss the hand to her times two.
9. When the Moon rides at her peak, then your heart’s desire seek.
10. Heed the Northwind’s mighty gale ˆ lock the door and drop the sail.
11. When the wind comes from the South, love will kiss thee on the mouth.
12. When the wind blows from the East, expect the new and set the feast.
13. When the West wind blows o’er thee, departed spirits restless be.
14. Nine woods in the Cauldron go ˆ burn them quick and burn them slow.
15. Elder be ye Lady’s tree ˆ burn it not or cursed ye’ll be.
16. When the Wheel begins to turn ˆ let the Beltane fires burn.
17. When the Wheel has turned a Yule, light the Log and let Pan rule.
18. Heed ye flower, bush and tree- by the Lady blessed be.
19. Where the rippling waters go, cast a stone an truth ye’ll know.
20. When ye have need, hearken not to other’s greed.
21. With the fool no season spend or be counted as his friend.
22. Merry meet an merry part ˆ bright the cheeks an warm the heart.
23. Mind the Threefold Law ye should ˆ three times bad and three times good.
24. When misfortune is enow, wear the blue star on thy brow.
25. True in love ever be unless thy lover’s false to thee.
26. Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill ˆ an it harm none, do what ye will.

———-
Alternate Redes
———-

An Alternate Rede
~Author Unknown [n.1]
Bide the Wiccan Laws we must
In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.
Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfil:
“and ye harm none, do what ye will.”
LEST IN THY SELF-DEFENSE IT BE,
Ever mind the rule of three.
Follow this with mind and heart,
and merry ye meet
and merry ye part.

———-

An Alternate Rede
~By Amber K [n.2]
Bide the Wiccan Law ye must,
In perfect love, in perfect trust.
Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill:
An ye harm none, do as ye will.
And ever mind the Rule of Three:
What ye send out, comes back to thee.
Follow this with mind and heart,
And merry ye meet, and merry ye part.

———-

Alternate Ending Of The ‘Common’ Rede
~Author Unknown [n.3] [n.4]
‘Tis by the sun that life be won,
And by the moon that change be done;
If ye would clear the path to will,
Make certain the mind be still;
What good be tools without Inner Light?
What good be magic without wisdom-sight?
Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill –
An it harm none, do what ye will.

———-

Longer Version Incorporating More Sabbats & The Nine Woods
~Author Unknown [n.5]
Bide these Wiccan laws ye must,
With perfect love and perfect trust;
Live ye must and let to live,
Fairly take and fairly give.
Cast the circle thrice about,
To keep unwelcome spirits out.
To bind the magick every time,
Let the spell be spoke in rhyme.

Soft of eye and light of touch,
Speak ye little, listen much.
Honor the Old Ones in deed and name,
Let love and light be our guides again.

Deosil go by the waxing Moon,
Chanting out the joyful tune.
Widdershins go by the waning Moon,
Chanting out the baneful rune.

When the Lady’s moon is new,
kiss the hands to her, times two.
When the moon rides at her peak,
then your heart’s desire seek.

Heed the North wind’s mighty gale:
Lock the door and trim the sail.
When the wind blows from the East,
Expect the new and set the feast.

When the wind comes from the south,
Love will kiss thee on the mouth.
When it whispers from the West,
Aching hearts find peace and rest.

Nine woods in the cauldron go,
burn them fast and burn them slow:

Birch into the fire goes
In sign of what the Lady knows.

Oak in the forest towers with might,
In the fire brings the Gods in sight.

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

Willows which by water stand
Ease us to the Summerland.

Hawthorn is burned to purify,
And to draw Faerie to your eye.

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

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

Grapes which grow upon the vine,
Give to us both joy and wine.

Fir tree bough are evergreen
Immortal life in them is seen.

Elder wood, the Lady’s tree —
burn it not, or cursed be.

Four times the Major Sabbats mark,
Twice in light and twice in dark.

In death the spark of life is born
At Samhain when the veil is torn.
When the time for Imbolg shows,
Watch for flowers through the snows.

When the Wheel begins to turn,
Soon the Beltaine fires will burn.
As the wheel turns to Lugh’s night,
Power is brought to magic rite.

Four times the Minor Sabbats fall,
Use the Sun to mark them all.

When the Wheel has turned to Yule,
Light the log – the Horned One rules.
In the Spring, night equals day,
Time for Ostara to come our way.

When the Sun has reached its height,
Time for Oak and Holly to fight.
Harvesting comes home for all
When the Autumn Equinox does fall.

Learning flower, bush, and tree;
by the Lady, blessed be.
Where the rippling waters go,
cast the stone and truth you’ll know.

When ye have and hold a need,
harken not to others’ greed.
With a fool no seasons spend,
Lest ye be counted as his friend.

Merry meet and merry part;
bright the cheeks and warm the heart.
Mind the Threefold Law ye should:
Three times bad and three times good.

When misfortune is enow,
Wear the blue Star on thy brow.
True in love thou must ever be,
lest thy love prove false to thee.

Eight words the Witches’ Rede fulfill,
An’ it harm none, do what thou will.

———-

Alternate Version Of The West Wind
~Author Unknown [n.6]
When the wind blows from the west
Bardic words be at their best!

———-

An Alternate Rede
~Attributed To The Wiccan Community Council [n.7]
Bide ye Wiccan laws you must,
in perfect love and perfect trust
~~~~~Live ye must and let to live,
~~~~~fairly take and fairly give
Form the circle thrice about,
to keep unwelcome spirits out
~~~~~To bind the spell well every time,
~~~~~let the spell be spake in rhyme
Soft of eye and light of touch,
speak ye little, listen much
~~~~~Deosil go by the waxing moon,
~~~~~sing and dance the Wiccan rune
Widdershins go by the waning moon,
chanting out the baleful tune.
~~~~~When the Lady’s moon is new,
~~~~~kiss your hand to her times two
When ye moon rides at Her peak,
then the heart’s desire seek
~~~~~Heed the north winds 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 will have no rest
When the wind blows from the east,
expect the new and set the feast.
~~~~~Nine woods in the cauldron go,
~~~~~burn them quick and burn them slow
Elder be the Lady’s tree,
burn it not or cursed ye’ll be
~~~~~When the wheel begins to turn,
~~~~~soon the Beltane fires will burn
When the wheel has turned to Yule,
light the log the Horned One rules
~~~~~Heed ye flower, bush and tree,
~~~~~by the Lady blessed be
Where the rippling waters flow,
cast a stone and the truth you’ll know
~~~~~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
Mind ye threefold law ye should,
three times bad and three times good
~~~~~Except in self-defense it be,
~~~~~then ever mind The Rule Of Three!
When misfortune is enow,
wear the star upon thy brow
~~~~~True in love you must ever be,
~~~~~lest thy love be false to thee
These eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill,
An Ye Harm none, Do What Ye Will

———-

A Teacher’s Rede
~Submitted by Kirsten Houseknecht [n.8]
Section One
Abide the Wiccan laws ye must,
In perfect love and perfect trust.
Live ye must, and let to live,
Fairly take, and fairly give.

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

Section Two
When misfortune is enow,
Wear the blue star on your brow.

Cast the Circle thrice about,
To keep unwelcome spirits out.

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

Section Three
Deosil go by the waxing moon,
Chanting out the witches’ rune

Widdershins go by the waning moon,
Chanting out the baneful tune.

When the Lady’s moon is new,
Kiss the hand to her times two.

When the moon rides at her peak,
Then your heart’s desire seek.

Section Four
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,
Expect the new, and set the feast.

Section Five
Nine woods in the cauldron go,
Burn them fast, or burn them slow.

Elder is the Lady’s tree,
Burn it not, or cursed ye’ll be

Section Six
When the wheel begins to turn,
Let the Beltane fires burn.

When the wheel has turned a Yule,
Light the log, the Horned one rules.

Section Seven
Heed ye flower, bush and tree,
By the Lady blessed be.

Where the rippling waters flow,
Cast a stone and truth ye’ll know

Section Eight
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

Section Nine
Mind the threefold law ye should,
Three times bad, and three times good

True in love ye must surely be,
Lest thy love be false to thee

Eight words the Wiccan rede fulfill,
“An it harm none, do what ye will”

———-

Non-Traditional Rede
~Author Unknown. [n.9]
Bide these Wiccan laws ye must,
With perfect love and perfect trust;
Live ye must and let to live,
Fairly take and fairly give.
Cast the circle thrice about,
To keep unwelcome spirits out.
To bind the magick every time,
Let the spell be spoke in rhyme.

Soft of eye and light of touch,
Speak ye little, listen much.
Honor the Old Ones in deed and name,
Let love and light be our guides again.

Deosil go by the waxing Moon,
Chanting out the joyful tune.
Widdershins go by the waning Moon,
Chanting out the baneful rune.

When the Lady’s moon is new,
kiss the hands to her, times two.
When the moon rides at her peak,
then your heart’s desire seek.

Heed the North wind’s mighty gale:
Lock the door and trim the sail.
When the wind blows from the East,
Expect the new and set the feast.

When the wind comes from the south,
Love will kiss thee on the mouth.
When it whispers from the West,
Aching hearts find peace and rest.

Nine woods in the cauldron go,
burn them fast and burn them slow:

Birch into the fire goes
In sign of what the Lady knows.

Oak in the forest towers with might,
In the fire brings the Gods in sight.

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

Willows which by water stand
Ease us to the Summerland.

Hawthorn is burned to purify,
And to draw Faerie to your eye.

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

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

Grapes which grow upon the vine,
Give to us both joy and wine.

Fir tree bough are evergreen
Immortal life in them is seen.

Elder wood, the Lady’s tree —
burn it not, or cursed be.

Four times the Major Sabbats mark,
Twice in light and twice in dark.

In death the spark of life is born
At Samhain when the veil is torn.
When the time for Imbolg shows,
Watch for flowers through the snows.

When the Wheel begins to turn,
Soon the Beltaine fires will burn.
As the wheel turns to Lugh’s night,
Power is brought to magic rite.

Four times the Minor Sabbats fall,
Use the Sun to mark them all.

When the Wheel has turned to Yule,
Light the log – the Horned One rules.
In the Spring, night equals day,
Time for Ostara to come our way.

When the Sun has reached its height,
Time for Oak and Holly to fight.
Harvesting comes home for all
When the Autumn Equinox does fall.

Learning flower, bush, and tree;
by the Lady, blessed be.
Where the rippling waters go,
cast the stone and truth you’ll know.

When ye have and hold a need,
harken not to others’ greed.
With a fool no seasons spend,
Lest ye be counted as his friend.

Merry meet and merry part;
bright the cheeks and warm the heart.
Mind the Threefold Law ye should:
Three times bad and three times good.

When misfortune is enow,
Wear the blue Star on thy brow.
True in love thou must ever be,
lest thy love prove false to thee.

Eight words the Witches’ Rede fulfill,
An’ it harm none, do what thou will.

REFERANCS:
n.1. Amber K. Covencraft. pp. 4-5. Llewellyn Publications. 1998.
n.2. Id. at 4.
n.3. Aisling Raven Brook.
http://memberpage.women.com/me/wickedbunny/Rede.html
n.4. Rainbow Warrior’s Undernet Homepage.
http://www.angelfire.com/ca/Rainbowz/
n.5. Mama Rose’s Kitchen.
http://www.iit.edu/~phillips/personal/lore/fullrede.html
n.6. Hawkie. ‘Nightspells. Class On The Wiccan Rede.
http://nightspell.dhs.org/rede_class.txt. July 12, 1999.
n.7. GreyMage. `Nightspells. Class On The Wiccan Rede
http://nightspell.dhs.org/rede_class.txt July 12,1999. citing Wiccan Community Council.
n.8. Kirsten Houseknecht. Class Handout For Book Of Shadows. 2001.
n.9. Essence of a Crystal Moon! Non-Traditional Rede.
http://www.crmsangl.advertisnet.com/rede.htm. 2001.

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