Chapter 15 - The Sabbats - part d
Considering the medieval persecution of witches, the idea of Wicca borrowing from Christianity may seem rather peculiar. However there are aspects of Wicca that have been clearly derived from Christian sources, just as Christianity drew heavily from earlier pagan religions. A prayer from Carmina Gadelica, entitled God of the Moon (197), was adapted by Doreen Valiente for the 1953 Yule ritual, which became a standard part of the Book of Shadows ever after. According to Valiente, Gardner challenged her on the day of the ritual to come up with an invocation, so she drew from the Carmina Gadelica. Was this simply a challenge, or because Gardner was not good at spontaneous ritual? The original goes:
“God of the Moon, God of the Sun,
God of the globe, God of the stars,
God of the waters, the land, and the skies,
Who ordained to us the King of promise.
It was Mary fair who went upon her knee,
It was the King of life who went upon her lap,
Darkness and tears were set behind,
And the star of guidance went up early.
Illumed the land, illumed the world,
Illumed doldrum and current,
Grief was laid and joy was raised,
Music was set up with harp and pedal-harp.”
It is ironic that the provenance of such pieces should have been hidden by Gardner under the pretence of ancient roots, when there were far more genuine ancient roots in the material he had to hand. He published a version of this invocation in his book Witchcraft Today in 1954, without any credit to Valiente.
“Queen of the Moon, Queen of the Sun,
Queen of the Heaven, Queen of the Stars,
Queen of the Waters, Queen of the Earth,
Bring to us the Child of Promise.
It is the great mother who giveth birth to him,
It is the Lord of Life who is born again.
Darkness and tears are set aside
When the Sun shall come up early…”
Instead he claimed that he had seen it as part of an interesting ceremony “the Cauldron of Regeneration and the Dance of the Wheel, or Yule” for which he stated the above chant was used as part of the ceremony of Drawing Down the Moon, with the members of the coven chanting and dancing in a sunwise direction. Was Gardner referring to the ceremony he did with his own Coven here, or did he indeed hear the chant previously and was Doreen Valiente mistaken when she claims to have written the invocation herself for Yule 1953?
Regardless, it seems that the Carmina Gadelica was a popular source of inspiration for Sabbat rituals. Another piece from the same work, the charm, The Guardian Angel (18), contains lines in one of its verses that were incorporated into the Spring Equinox ceremony. The verse goes:
“Be thou a bright flame before me,
Be thou a guiding star above me,
Be thou a smooth path below me,
And be a kindly shepherd behind me,
Today, tonight, and forever.”
 Triumph of the Moon, Ronald Hutton, 1999
Extract from: Wicca: Magical Beginnings written by d’Este & Rankine, 2008 (Avalonia.) PB / Kindle @ https://amzn.to/3Ay4HJr. Shared here with the intention to inspire and inform the now and future generations interested in Wicca and other Pagan traditions inspired by it.