THE PRINCIPLES OF LIBERTARIAN WITCHCRAFT

Version 2.1

 

1.     Libertarian Witchcraft, or LibCraft, is primarily a magic-oriented philosophical system, practiced within a pagan spiritual framework.  It has roots in, and similarities to, Wicca and other pagan magical/spiritual traditions of European background, but is not restricted to European forms of practice.

 

2.     LibCraft is not mutually exclusive with most pagan magical/spiritual traditions, and may be the Libertarian Witch (LibWitch)'s sole or main system, or practiced in conjunction with other systems.  Such other systems, as well as forms of practice and choices of deities, are up to the practitioner.

 

3.     LibCraft is especially, though not exclusively, directed at certain types of pagan magical practitioners, who may otherwise feel they "fall between the cracks":

 

        a.  those who magically, spiritually, and/or philosophically walk a Warrior's Path;

 

        b.  those who favor, or wish to develop, their logical and rational capabilities within the Craft;

 

        c.  those of mainly European-derived cultural background who wish to study non-European magical

             systems without giving up their own roots, or vice-versa;

 

        d.  those who find themselves uncomfortable with the organizational structures, and/or other, similar

             aspects, of other pagan systems, and who find these aspects of LibCraft more in tune with their needs.

 

4.     LibCraft's main rule is the One Law, or Witches' Rede:  "If it harms none, do what you will."  This is interpreted and applied in terms of individualism and situational ethics, according to the following guidelines:

 

        a.  "harm" is defined primarily as that which retards anyone's progress on the Wheel, or unduly infringes

             upon anyone's right to choose hir own path (even if that choice of path retards hir progress on the

             wheel);

 

        b.  adherence to the Rede often requires deciding what action entails the least harm;

 

        c.  "harm" includes harm to oneself, by intent or neglect;

 

        d.  the LibWitch makes such decisions to the best of hir ability, aware that hir judgement may be

             mistaken, and is prepared to accept responsibility for these decisions and their results;

 

        e.  that all actions are subject to the Law of Return, "What you do, returns to you," meaning that any and

             all actions and decisions, including choosing not to act or decide, will have results which cannot be

             avoided;

 

        f.  that the individual is of prime importance, and that "the good of the whole" must be taken as the

            cumulative individual good of the individuals making up the whole, and not as a separate, abstract

            concept.

 

        That these principles do not in themselves resolve all ethical dilemmas is not an oversight but an inherent element of LibCraft; the system is not intended to provide neat answers to ethical problems but to encourage its practitioners to give due thought to the questions.

 

5.     LibCraft holds that all people are equal, regardless of sex, race, creed, color, sexual preference, social standing, etc.; but that equality does not detract from, or supersede, their diversity.  Indeed, diversity is highly valued in LibCraft, for differences contain opportunity for learning, and give strength to the web of existence.  LibCraft holds that there is no one "true path" and supports the right and duty  of each individual to have responsibility for and authority over hir own destiny.  The LibWitch respects the divine in all nature, including humans and their artifacts, without blindly worshipping either any aspect thereof, or the respect itself.

 

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6.     LibCraft holds that the male and female principles are equal, neither having a predominance over the other; that they constitute a balance, never a polarity; that they are not absolutes or mutually exclusive but an interlinking, interdependent whole; and that this balance is a fundamental and integral part of magic and spirituality.

 

7.     LibCraft emphasizes the application of rational and logical thinking to magical and philosophical practice.  This refers not only to linear reasoning but to all reasoning; much of what is usually assumed to be intuition is non-linear and/or subconscious reasoning.  LibCraft is not, however, by any means "anti-intuition"; it merely seeks to encourage empirical practices as well as metempirical.

 

8.     The individual practitioner of LibCraft is responsible to hirself for hirself, in all aspects of hir magical, philosophical, spiritual, and day-to-day life.

 

9.     LibCraft uses the following terms with regard to learning and practice, which may require definition:

 

        a.  Craft - the Craft of the Wise, or witchcraft; in other words the application of the powers of the mind as

             a controlled, directed, and sometimes formalized art - magic - as opposed to the reflexive use of

             natural psychic abilities;

 

        b.  student - one who is learning in the LibCraft system (or in other Craft systems), whether formally

             taught by another, or self-teaching with whatever form of guidance.  It should be noted that all

             practitioners are  students, for there is no limit to what may be learned.  When referring specifically

             to the pre-initiate student, the term "candidate" may be used;

 

        c.  adept - the initiated LibWitch, whether on a degree-based or non-degree path. Applies as well to

             practitioners initiated in other Craft systems and now studying and practicing LibCraft, including

             those of equivalent standing from non-initiatory Craft systems.  This term is also often applied to mean

             an initiate or equivalent in any Craft system.  This is not necessarily equivalent to the rank Adept, used

             in some magical traditions; this is differentiated by capitalizing the rank, while the LibCraft term is

             rarely capitalized;

 

        d.  Mystery - refers to Craft concepts which cannot be directly taught but must be perceived (intuitively,

             non-linearly, and/or emotionally) by the practitioner hirself;

 

        e.  teacher - one who accepts full responsibility for the Craft learning of a student.  This is rare in

             LibCraft because of the emphases on, on the one hand, individual self-responsibility, and, on the other,

             the Mystery experience;

 

        f.  guide - one who assists a self-teaching student in learning LibCraft.  A student may have several

            guides, who may not necessarily be adepts, but a Primary Guide, whose role is in many respects

            similar to that of a formal teacher (though the ultimate responsibility for the student's learning

            remains with the student), usually should be an adept;

 

        g.  mentor - alternate term to "guide", but refers particularly to an adept, and usually to a less intense

             and specific relationship than that of Primary Guide to student.  Often a mentor works with less

             experienced adepts as they expand and deepen their learning;

 

        h.  observer - the guided candidate may also have a secondary guide or advisor, for when the guide is not

             available; for a second opinion or different viewpoint; for areas in which the primary guide is less

             talented (a perfect example is Men's or Women's Mysteries); etc.  This secondary guide or advisor is

             called an observer;

 

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        i.  elder - anyone who is accepted within a pagan community as a source of guidance in Craft-related

            matters, either broadly or in a particular field of expertise (for example, one might be an elder in

            Tarot lore).  Not necessarily an adept, and not degree-related.

 

10.    LibCraft is intended to be primarily a non-degree system, but degree-based learning guidelines exist for those who prefer definite milestones in post-initiation progress.  Teaching within LibCraft takes primarily the form of guiding the candidate as s/he learns for hirself.  As has been noted, guiding is not restricted to those who have achieved a specific level; the only restriction is that no one may directly teach what s/he has not yet learned hirself.  (This acknowledges that indirect teaching often occurs spontaneously, and in fact guiding another can be an important learning experience for any practitioner, however experienced or inexperienced.)  LibCraft learning is based strongly on grasping Mysteries, and no specific calendar term of learning (such as the "year and a day" required in many Wiccan systems) is required.

        Initiation into LibCraft may occur in several ways:

 

        a.  by self-initiation;

 

        b.  through a practitioner who is already an initiate or equivalent in another pagan magical/spiritual

             system, including by self-initiation if that system allows, accepting and following the Principles of

             LibCraft;

 

        c.  mutual initiation by two candidates who have been co-learning LibCraft;

 

        d.  by initiation by a LibCraft adept who is familiar with one's progress;

 

        e.  by initiation into the Craft generally by an adept of another system, who is familiar with one's

             progress and who is considered qualified to initiate in hir own system, and the new initiate then

             accepting and following the Principles of LibCraft.

 

        An adept is not a finished product; all LibWitches are expected to continue their magical and philosophical education and growth.

 

11.    Practitioners of LibCraft may work solitary, with magical partners, in loosely-linked circles, or in actual covens; those with whom the LibWitch works need not also be LibWitches.  A LibCraft adept involved in any form of group practice may take any role within the group for which s/he feels ready to accept the challenge, in accordance with that group's rules and decisions.

        A circle or coven that is specifically a LibCraft group should be run on the following guidelines:

 

        a.  the size of the group is dictated only by whether it allows all members freedom of self-determination,

             and whether that size works.  If this is possible in a group larger than thirteen members, fine.  If the

             group is too large to work well and allow self-determination, whether or not it is as large as thirteen,

             it should hive;

 

        b.  the group may be organized in the following ways, or in any other way which suits its members and

             does not contravene or undermine the principles laid out in this document:

 

             (1)  with a High Priest and/or High Priestess chosen for abilities and experience leading the group,

                     rotating when other members of the group feel ready to take on these roles,

 

             (2)  with a High Priest and/or High Priestess of appropriate abilities and experience, chosen for a

                      specified term, leading the group,

 

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             (3)  with no designated group leaders, and the Priest/ess roles in ritual rotating among members of

                     the group; one or two members of the group may be chosen to coordinate administrative and

                     logistical details (e.g., arranging planning sessions for rituals, ensuring all needed materials are

                     available, etc.);

 

        c.  whatever structure is used, members retain self-determination.  LibCraft uses the term "High"

             Priest/ess not to glorify the holders of the title but to emphasize that each and every initiate is a

             Priest/ess in hir own right; the High Priest/ess is "first among equals" - not necessarily equals in

             experience or ability, but in having and using the privilege and responsibility of self-determination.

             Such leaders coordinate the will of the group, use their experience and ability to advise and maintain

             balance, and serve as the final court of appeal within the group; they do not control the group nor

             arbitrate its needs.  They may, on occasion, find themselves obliged to make decisions in circumstances

             where consultation with other members is not possible; for the stability of the group this must be done

             using their best judgement of the preferences of the unconsultable members.

 

        d.  all full members of the group should be LibWitches, though their Craft backgrounds may vary widely.

             The group may have associates who practice with them regularly and even take part in decision-

             making; these may or may not be LibWitches, though their association will probably be dependent on

             acceptance of some or all of the, normally LibCraft-based, rules of the group;

 

        e.  a group covenant should be created, by joint effort of all full members of the group (prospective

            members and other associates may be consulted if it seems appropriate), derived from and harmonious

            with the philosophies of LibCraft, outlining the structure and rules by which that group operates.

            What it covers, and in how much detail, will depend on what the members feel should be included.

            Initiation into the group as a full member should include formal acceptance of the covenant as the

            initiatory oath.  Groups choosing the looser structure of a circle may feel that the formality of a

            covenant and an initiatory oath are inappropriate to their chosen form, though they should adopt a set of

            mutually-accepted rules of some sort; covens, however, should certainly go with the more formal

            bonding - "coven" and "covenant derive from the same linguistic root, and it seems clear that "coven"

            implies a covenanted group.

 

        A LibWitch in any  coven or circle takes responsibility for hir own judgement, empowerment, destiny, etc.  S/he speaks up in the group, rather than sitting quietly in the hope that things will go hir way.  When something makes hir uncomfortable, or if s/he has something to offer, she lets the group know, in as nonconfrontational a way as possible while still being clear about what s/he means.  If others are uncomfortable with hir self-determination and empowerment, s/he does not downplay these things or hope the problem will vanish, but discusses it.  If necessary s/he will leave the group, as amicably as possible, rather than abandon hir principles as a LibWitch.

 

12.    As noted earlier, forms of practice are at the discretion of the individual practitioner.  The guidelines that follow, therefore, are intended to provide common details of ritual practice, using symbolism intimately relevant to LibCraft's philosophies, rather than to restrict LibWitches to any particular form.  It should be remembered that the most important purpose of formality in ritual, and of the use of specific forms, is to enhance focus; this is particularly important in group ritual - the larger the group, or the less accustomed the participants are to working together, the more this becomes an invaluable tool for stimulating unity.  As well, formality, no less than spontaneity, can be beautiful and spiritually fulfilling:

 

        a.  LibWitches may work robed, skyclad, or in street clothes, depending on  conditions and their

             preferences;

 

        b.  The main tools normally used in LibCraft are:

 

             (1)  the Wand or Staff, representing East and Air,

 

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             (2)  the Athame or Sword, representing South and Fire (in LibCraft the athame may be used for all

                     practical Craft-related work, as well as symbolic/magical, so the LibWitch doesn't need a bolline,

                     though s/he may choose to have and use one.  Also, the extent to which the athame is restricted to

                     Craft-related use is determined by what the LibWitch feels is appropriate),

 

             (3)  the Cup or Chalice, representing West and Water,

 

             (4)  the Pentacle or Dish of Earth, representing North and Earth,

 

             (5)  the Cauldron, representing Center and Spirit:  it represents both the Cauldron of Knowledge and

                      the Cauldron of Death and rebirth,

 

             (6)  the Cord, representing Center and Spirit:  it is a symbol of the link between the practitioner and

                     the archetypal powers, the practitioner and hir Craft-kin, and the practitioner as part of the

                     connectedness of all things; and it represents the binding of one's commitments and oaths in and to

                     the Craft,

 

             (7)  the Adepts' Candle, symbolizing the importance in LibCraft of the individual practitioner.  Its

                      lighting is usually one of the first things done at the beginning of a LibCraft ritual, and it

                      provides illumination of the physical space and activities of the circle as the mind(s) of the

                      participant(s) illuminate the mental and magical.  Outdoors, this symbolism can be signified

                      with the bonfire;

 

        c.  A circle is normally cast for formal work or celebration, especially if a cone of power will be raised;

            otherwise it is used at the discretion of the LibWitch.  The main purposes of the cast circle are to create

            sacred space, placing the participants "between the worlds", and to contain the energies raised in the

            ritual until they are directedly released.  Aside from its usefulness in shutting out distraction, the

            circle is only incidentally a means of keeping external influences out.  The starting point for casting,

            and the direction the altar faces, is usually North, but could be any of the Quarters, depending on the

            intent of the ritual.  The starting point and altar direction are usually the same, but need not be.  Very

            often, the casting includes purification by aspersing with salt water and charging by censing, as well as

            being evoked by tracing its perimeter with the athame;

 

        d.  The Salutation to Past Elders may take place as part of the raising of the circle.  It may occur as a

             separate element of the ritual, following the Calling of the Quarters or following the casting if the

             Quarters are not called, or at the same time as Calling the Quarters.  Briefly, Thinkers and Healers are

             saluted in the East, Warriors (including non-violent fighters such as Gandhi) in the South, Mystics

             and Artists in the West, and Craftsmen and -women and the Wise in the North.  The salute is done with

             the hand in a loose fist, palm facing oneself; either touched to forehead then to heart, or with the arm

             crossing the chest diagonally.  Normally the right hand is used, but the left is acceptable if the

             practitioner "feels right" doing this, especially in saluting the West (for example, those on a Warrior

             Path would likely use their "fighting hand").  The Guardians of the Watchtowers may also be saluted in

             this manner, or indeed any invoked entity.  (It could also be used as a sign of respect to an individual

             but as LibCraft is nonhierarchical I would suggest this be done rarely if ever.)

                  Past Elders may also be saluted in lowering the circle.

                  If the ritual is based on a system that has other associations for the Quarters, such as the North

              American Shamanic traditions, the Past Elders to be saluted in each Quarter should be adjusted

              accordingly;

 

        e.  Simple Feast offerings to the deities should, after the ritual, be given to the Goddess and the God by

             returning them to the cycle of life.  This may be done by taking them to an outdoor location where

             liquids may be poured on the ground and solid food either left out or buried, or by composting, for

             example. This may also be done with leftovers, if there isn't very much, but these may also be saved by

             the participants for eating later;

 

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        f.  LibCraft uses the Great Sacrament in both symbolic and, in privacy between consenting adults, literal

             form.  (It should be noted that this does not exclude either group or witnessed Great Sacraments,

             provided all participants/witnesses both are adult and consent to their roles);

 

        g.  As well as the usual eight sabbats, held on the quarter- and cross-quarterdays, of Samhain, Yule,

             Brigidfeast, Eostre, Beltane, Midsummer, Lammas, and Mabon, LibWitches might if they wish also

             celebrate the following:

 

            (1)  Remembrance Day (11 November in Commonwealth countries) in honor of those Warriors (see

                    para 12d) who have gone before,

 

            (2)  Memory Day (29 May, the eve of the anniversary of the burning of Joan of Arc in 1431)  in

                    memory of those who have died as victims, such as most of those killed in the Burning Times and

                    the civilian victims of war,

 

            (3)  Trickster Feast, on (of course) 1 April.

 

                 Naturally none of this is intended to bar LibWitches from celebrating any lunar, solar, or other

             festivals they find appropriate;

 

        h.  Balancing the Triple Goddess of Maiden, Mother, and Crone, a Triple God can be envisioned, with

             aspects titled Youth, Father, and Sage.  Or, one can use gender-neutral titles for the three aspects of

             either or both the Goddess and the God, such as Piper, Harper, and Drummer;

 

        i.  LibWitches may if they wish take Craft names, which can be private between them and the deities, or

            used only in ritual, or used as pseudonyms by those who feel the need to remain anonymous - or they

            may choose not to take Craft names;

 

        j.  LibCraft does not encourage unnecessary purism.  Candles need not be solid-colored; lighters as well as

            matches may be used in ritual, etc.  (In fact, lighters, being based on flint-and-steel, are more

            authentic);

 

        k.  LibCraft encourages, but does not require, its practitioners to be public whenever possible.

 

13.    A Libertarian Witch is one who chooses to be one and follows the principles laid out above, even when there is an irresolvable conflict between them and the principles of a conjunctively-practiced system.  Anyone who does not wish to do so is asked not to use the terms Libertarian Witchcraft, LibCraft, Libertarian Witch, or LibWitch to describe hirself or hir practice.  This should not be taken to imply that what any such person does and believes is less valid; it is, unless empirical practice demonstrates otherwise, equally valid to LibCraft - but nevertheless it is not LibCraft and should not pretend to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                             Lisa D. Egger

                                                                                                                             (Sunflower)

                                                                                                                         14 October 1996

 

 

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       If you are interested in more information on Libertarian Witchcraft, or if you would like to register yourself or your group as Libertarian Witches, please contact me at the address below.  As well, I am always interested in hearing about other LibWitches' ideas on the further development of our tradition.

        Registration is not necessary to legitimately practice LibCraft; however, the registry provides a means by which legitimate practitioners can be protected from any who might use the name illegitimately, be placed in contact with each other if they wish, or more readily receive amendments to these principles and other LibCraft documents.  Information in the registry will be kept private and will not be given out without permission of the registrant.

 

Lisa D. Egger

(contact information removed at Lisa’s request: for more information please contact the Coven of the Sun, Moon and Star, and we will direct you.)

 

 

 

        This document may be reproduced and distributed freely through electronic and other media, provided that the complete text is included and no charge is made for the document to anyone receiving it.

 

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