Interestingly, the phrase is also found in the Second Degree rite of the Ordo Templi Orientis where the Saladin (a title given to one of the initiating officers) questions the Wazir (who is the sponsor) saying: “Do you vouch that he is properly prepared?” This provides us with another possible source for its inclusion in Wiccan ceremonies. The Ordo Templi Orientis, as a quasi-masonic order, most probably inherited the term from Freemasonry. Gardner was proud of his involvement with the Ordo Templi Orientis of which he was made a member by Aleister Crowley in 1947. There were no active lodges in the UK at the time of Gardner’s initiation by Crowley and therefore we have to assume that Gardner’s experience of the order was limited; regardless of the degrees he was awarded, though he may have been given copies of the rituals.
It is also believed that Gerald Gardner had some involvement with Freemasonry or Co-Masonry and this is often cited as the reason for the inclusion of this term. However, it is also worth noting that many of the other characters whose work may have contributed to or influenced the practices of Wicca were familiar with or had involvement with either Freemasonry or Co-Masonry, including Aleister Crowley as we have already seen. As such the term would have been a familiar one and its use in Wicca could be ascribed to anyone familiar with basic Masonic practices, not just Gerald Gardner.
The phrase ‘properly prepared’ is one which has a history of use in regards to magickal thought, though of course not necessarily in the same context as found in the Wiccan Tradition, we will still consider them here for the sake of completion.
Proclus, the last of the great Greek philosophers, in his classic work Metaphysical Elements circa fifth century CE mentioned it when discussing the concept of the ultimate divine being, writing:
“That also, which is most admirable and laudable in this theology is, that it produces in the mind properly prepared for its reception the most pure, holy, venerable, and exalted conceptions of the great cause of all”.
We also see the phrase in Mathers’ edition of the Key of Solomon the King when we find the following in the introduction chapter:
“Therefore, O my son! Thou mayest see every experiment of mine or of others, and let everything be properly prepared for them, as thou shalt see properly set down by me, both day and hour, and all things necessary; for without this there will be but falsehood and vanity in this my work; where are hidden all secrets and mysteries which can be performed…”
Here the writer of the Key of Solomon is instructing his son Roboam on the magickal arts. Although not a formal initiation ceremony, this instruction may be considered as part of Roboam’s formal introduction to the magickal arts and therefore it is interesting to note that ’properly prepared’ is stressed here, as it is in other instances in the Key of Solomon in regards to the preparation for ceremonies.
In the instance of the Key of Solomon the writer is instructing his son. In Wicca, as already stated, initiations are always conducted woman to man, and man to woman. Contrary to some of the modern suggestions that this cross-gender transmission was the result of social and sexual attitudes of the 1940s and 1950s, we find that it might instead have its roots in old folk beliefs. One such example clearly illustrates a belief held in the Devonshire and Cornwall areas, that it was important to pass the power of charms between the sexes. This was reported in the Pall Mall Gazette newspaper of 23rd November 1868, in which a witness in the inquest of the death of a child refers to a charm which she was told about many years before by a man for use on burns, saying that:
“A man may tell a woman the charm,
Or a woman may tell a man;
But if a woman tells a woman,
Or a man a man,
I consider it won’t do any good at all.”
 The Secret Rituals of the O.T.O, Francis King, 1973
<1> The Religion of Babylonia & Assyria, Jastrow, 1893, also quoted in The Book of Witches, Hueffer, 1908
<2> An Historical Essay Concerning Witchcraft: With Observations Upon Matters of Fact, Hutchinson, 1718
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.