This week’s question was asked by John, from Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

He asked: Do you recall back in the 70's, I believe it was, where a whole bunch of witches got together and tried to come up with a set of rules (13 of them I think..)?  And, shortly there after this council disbanded...
Do you happen to know who made up this group? Why they disbanded? or even how they formed in the first place?


Hi John,


What you refer to is the American Council of Witches, which met in 1974, from April 11 to April 14.


The purpose of the group was to come together to find the common points of agreement among the various groups practicing in the United States, in order to present some sort of unified statement of belief to a public which largely did not understand Wicca.


There were 73 participants, and the document they arrived at is the 13 principles of Wiccan Belief. From what I've been able to find out, it was written by Carl Llewellyn Weschke, along with Selena Fox (Of Circle Sanctuary, who is responsible for the pentacles on Veteran's Grave markers) and a number of people from the Covenant of the Goddess.


Some of these people are still quite active in the Pagan Community. I haven't found a complete list though.


The group disbanded later on in 1974, perhaps because their work had been accomplished, and perhaps, in part, because Wicca is an inherently non-governed religion.


The statement of beliefs is:

Principles of Wiccan Beliefs

1974, Council of American Witches

1.   We practice rites to attune ourselves with the natural rhythm of life forces marked by the phases of the Moon and the seasonal Quarters and Cross Quarter.

2.   We recognize that our intelligence gives us a unique responsibility toward our environment. We seek to live in harmony with Nature, in ecological balance offering fulfillment to life and consciousness within an evolutionary concept.

3.   We acknowledge a depth of power far greater than that apparent to the average person. Because it is far greater than ordinary, it is sometimes called supernatural, but we see it as lying within that which is naturally potential to all.

4.   We conceive of the Creative Power in the universe as manifesting through polarity -- as masculine and feminine -- and that this same Creative Power lies in all people, and functions through the interaction of the masculine and feminine. We value neither above the other, knowing each to be supportive to the other. We value sex as pleasure, as the symbol and embodiment of life, and as one of the sources of energies used in magickal practice and religious worship.

5.   We recognize both outer worlds and inner, or psychological, worlds sometimes known as the Spiritual World, the Collective Unconscious, Inner Planes, etc. -- and we see in the interaction of these two dimensions the basis for paranormal phenomena and magickal exercises. We neglect neither dimension for the other, seeing both as necessary for our fulfillment.

6.   We do not recognize any authoritarian hierarchy, but do honor those who teach, respect those who share their greater knowledge and wisdom, and acknowledge those who have courageously given of themselves in leadership.

7.   We see religion, magick and wisdom in living as being united in the way one views the world and lives within it -- a world view and philosophy of life which we identify as Witchcraft -- the Wiccan Way.

8.   Calling oneself "Witch" does not make a Witch -- but neither does heredity itself, nor the collecting of titles, degrees and initiations. A Witch seeks to control the forces within her/himself that make life possible in order to live wisely and well without harm to others and in harmony with Nature.

9.   We believe in the affirmation and fulfillment of life in a continuation of evolution and development of consciousness giving meaning to the Universe we know and our personal role within it.

10.  Our only animosity towards Christianity, or towards any other religion or philosophy of life, is to the extent that its institutions have claimed to be "the only way" and have sought to deny freedom to others and to suppress other ways of religious practice and belief.

11.  As American Witches, we are not threatened by debates on the history of the Craft, the origins of various terms, the legitimacy of various aspects of different traditions. We are concerned with our present and our future.

12.  We do not accept the concept of absolute evil, nor do we worship any entity known as "Satan" or "the Devil", as defined by the Christian traditions. We do not seek power through the suffering of others, nor accept that personal benefit can be derived only by denial to another.

13.  We believe that we should seek within Nature that which is contributory to our health and wellbeing.


What's interesting is that today, there are so many variations and self-styled Wiccans about, many of which follow something other than what the above statement includes. There are some who believe homosexuals should not practice Wicca, and some Wiccans who do not worship the God. e.g. Dianic Wicca. Some Wiccans have little to do with nature.


In general though, most accept most of what is stated here.


© 2008, Deirdre A. Hebert