So Mote It Be

You can’t attend too many Pagan circles without hearing someone say “so mote it be!” It’s one of those phrases whose meaning quickly becomes clear from its context: “may it be so” or the stronger “so must it be.” I can’t hear it without thinking of Yul Brynner as Ramses in The Ten Commandments saying “so let it be written, so let it be done!”

I never paid much attention to the phrase until I heard it in a Baptist church. After the shock wore off I remembered I was at the funeral of a Mason. I quickly connected the dots and realized this was yet another rubric Gerald Gardner and company lifted from Freemasonry. has a reprint of a 1927 article that interprets the phrase as “the will of God be done.” I think that interpretation commits the classical religious error of assuming my will and the will of God are one and the same. A look at the simple meaning of the phrase combined with Wicca and modern witchcraft’s emphasis on empowering those outside the popular circles of power clearly indicates the phrase’s proper meaning is as I’ve seen it used in numerous Wiccan rituals: “as I will, so mote it be!”

Can we end a magical working with “so mote it be” and say it with the confidence of a pharaoh issuing a command? If we have thought through the situation, if we are certain what we’re doing is neither unethical nor trivial, and we’re willing to accept responsibility for what we do, why shouldn’t we?

If we are going to live our lives our way and not as popular culture says we must, at some point we have to stand up and say “this is what I want. This is how I will live. This I value and that I do not.”

So mote it be!

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About John Beckett

I grew up in Tennessee with the woods right outside my back door. Wandering through them gave me a sense of connection to Nature and to a certain Forest God. I’m a Druid graduate of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, the Coordinating Officer of the Denton Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans and a former Vice President of CUUPS Continental. I’ve been writing, speaking, teaching, and leading public rituals for the past eleven years. I live in the Dallas – Fort Worth area and I earn my keep as an engineer.

  • heatherphillips315

    Thank you, so much. I am a candidate in another druid order and was having some internal debate as to the appropriateness of the phrase "so mote it be" in the initiation ceremony. (I much prefer Yul Brynner's phrase, actually.) After reading this post, I began stumbling through you blog. I much enjoy it, and will read deep green religion and your blog in future.