History of the Star Goddess Prayer

History of the Star Goddess Prayer September 11, 2017

The Star Goddess Prayer (also referred to sometimes as the Candle Prayer) is an opening ritual prayer in the Feri Tradition and traditions influenced by it. My first encounter with The Star Goddess Prayer was during my training in Black Rose Witchcraft, which is an outer-court witchcraft tradition that creates the foundational training to enter either The Sacred Fires Tradition of Witchcraft or the BlueRose Faery Tradition. As such it makes its way into both Betwixt and Between: Exploring The Faery Tradition of Witchcraft by Storm Faerywolf and The Witch’s Book of Power by Devin Hunter.

Image Credit: Tyson Dudley | CC0 License
Image Credit: Tyson Dudley | CC0 License

But where did the Star Goddess Prayer come from? Who is the Star Goddess? Sable Aradia has a great article on who The Star Goddess is. Another great write-up on who the Star Goddess is can be found on Storm Faerywolf’s site. T. Thorn Coyle was the first to present the Star Goddess prayer publicly and credit it to the Feri Tradition. As such she also gives a great description of the Star Goddess Hirself, writing:

“Feri Tradition honors the Star Goddess first, before any of the Elements of life, Guardians or other Deities are called into the sacred sphere. She is acknowledged, not called, for She is always with us, and we open all Feri workings with this prayer: “Holy Mother, in Whom we live, move and have our being, from You all things emerge and unto You all things return.”

Unlike religious traditions that posit a God outside the physical earth, the Star Goddess may transcend the earth, but not our cosmos. With intimate connection, She is woven into the fabric of the natural world, in space, time, stars and green growing grass. This is immanence, the Divine in all things. In Her vastness, the Star Goddess may feel transcendent, but God-out-there is not separate from the immanent God-in-all-things that many call Goddess, and Victor and Cora called God Herself. She is akin to Egypt’s Nuit, Babylon’s Ishtar, Hine Turama of the Maori and the Welsh Arianrhod, lovers, creators and Star Goddesses all. She creates from lust and bears from her womb, messy, sticky and full of life. Hers is not the creation from pure intellect, birthed only by wind and word. Feri Tradition names Her Quakoralina.

A Feri practitioner’s beliefs can range from the pure polytheism of many Gods, to an adapted monism, in which God Herself functions as the unifying force of all life. The Gods and Goddesses who embody particular energies that work in the world are said to have spiralled out from Her creative impulse. Victor would say that “The Supreme Being is God Herself. She needs no-one to help Her. She is male and female. The male is translated out through the female.”

As Hers was the first act of creation, God Herself – the Star Goddess – is present in all of creation. Immanent, She fills the interstices of our lives with mystery and beauty: in the pineapple weed pushing through the sidewalk cracks, or the flash of lightning, shattering the sky. Immanence is the voice of the breeze in the trees and the pounding of the waves on sand. Immanence is a kiss, a touch, a breath. It is your body sliding across your lover in lust and celebration.”

– T. Thorn Coyle
Evolutionary Witchcraft

In the footnotes she writes, “This prayer is traditional to Feri craft and came through Victor. You can hear in it echoes of other religious traditions.” However, the Star Goddess prayer was presented in its full form before Evolutionary Witchcraft. In the book The Word: Welsh Witchcraft, The Grail of Immortality and the Sacred Keys, William Wheeler III presents the prayer in a section about raising the cone of power. He never credits Victor Anderson, the Feri Tradition or any other source and has been accused by many of stealing a lot of Feri material for his books without proper credit.

Does it go back further though? Storm Faerywolf traced the prayer back to the Cretica by the 6th Century (BCE) Greek poet and seer Epimenides of Knossos in which he addresses the god Zeus as the chief god of the Olympians:

“They fashioned a tomb for thee, O holy and high one-
The Cretans, always liars, evil beasts, idle bellies!
But thou art not dead: thou livest and abidest forever, 
For in thee we live and move and have our being.”
– Epimenides

This is believed to be what Paul the Apostle is referencing in the Acts of the Apostles when he is addressing the Romans:

“For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, To The Unknown God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.”
Holy Bible (King James Version)
Acts 17:23-29

This phrase is also echoed in the Charge of the Star Goddess by Gerald Gardner, which was later reworked into poem form by Doreen Valiente, to remove what she felt was too Crowley-esque of an influence on the Charge of the Goddess, which was originally known as “Lift Up the Veil” in the original Gardnerian Book of Shadows. Jason Mankey has a great article on the history of the Charge of the Goddess that I think you will find interesting. Gardner’s original Charge is heavily influenced by Aradia, or Gospel of the Witches and Aleister Crowley’s The Priestess Speech from the Gnostic Mass. So it’s understandable why Doreen wanted to re-work it. Here’s the Star Goddess portion:

“Hear ye the words of the Star Goddess.
I love you: I yearn for you: pale or purple, veiled or voluptuous. I who am all pleasure, and purple and drunkenness of the innermost senses, desire you. Put on the wings, arouse the coiled splendor within you. ‘Come unto me.’ For I am the flame that burns in the heart of every man, and the core of every Star. Let it be your inmost divine self who art lost in the constant rapture of infinite joy. Let the rituals be rightly performed with joy and beauty. Remember that all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals. So let there be beauty and strength, leaping laughter, force and fire by within you.And if thou sayest, ‘I have journeyed unto thee, and it availed me not,’ Rather shalt thou say, ‘I called upon thee, and I waited patiently, and Lo, Thou wast with me from the beginning,’ for they that ever desired me shall ever attain me, even to the end of all desire.”
– Gerald Gardner
Lift Up The Veil

“Mother, darksome and divine,
Mine the scourge and mine the kiss
Five-point star of love and bliss
Here I charge ye in this sign.

Bow before my spirit bright
Aphrodite, Arianrhod,
Lover of the Horned God,
Queen of Witchery and night

Diana, Brigid, Melusine
Am I named of old by men,
Artemis and Cerridwen,
Hell’s dark mistress, Heaven’s Queen.

Ye who ask of me a boon,
Meet ye in some hidden shade.
Learn my dance in greenwood glade,
by the light of the full moon.

Dance about mine altar stone.
Work my holy Magistry,
Ye who are fain of sorcery,
I bring ye secrets yet unknown.

No more shall ye know slavery
Who tread my round on Sabbat night.
Come ye all naked to the rite,
In sign that ye are truly free.

Keep ye my mysteries in mirth
Heart joined to heart, and lip to lip.
Five are the points of fellowship
That bring ye ecstasy on Earth.

No other law but love I know,
By naught but love I may be known,
And all that liveth is mine own
From me they come, to me they go. ”
– Doreen Valiente
Charge of the Goddess (Prose Version)

This version was later replaced by a non-poetic version around the 60’s being more reminiscent of Gardner’s original format. The Star Goddess portion of the Charge of the Goddess states:

“Hear ye the words of the Star Goddess, she in the dust of whose feet are the hosts of heaven; whose body encircleth the Universe; I, who am the beauty of the green earth, and the white Moon among the stars, and the mystery of the waters, and the heart’s desire, call unto thy soul. Arise and come unto me. For I am the Soul of Nature, who giveth life to the universe; from me all things proceed, and unto me must all things return; and before my face, beloved of gods and mortals, thine inmost divine self shall be unfolded in the rapture of infinite joy. Let my worship be within the heart that rejoiceth, for behold: all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals. And therefore let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honour and humility, mirth and reverence within you. And thou who thinkest to seek for me, know thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not, unless thou know this mystery: that if that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee. For behold, I have been with thee from the beginning; and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.”
– Doreen Valiente
Charge of the Goddess

Sorita D’Este  and David Rankine point out similarities to this phrase in the Charge of the Star Goddess with the Ritual of transformation in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in their book Wicca: Magickal Beginnings: a Study of the Possible Origins of the Rituals and Practices Found in this Modern Tradition of Pagan Witchcraft and Magick. The Ritual for Transformation of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn is provided in Isreal Regardie’s The Golden Dawn. The ritual includes this part which addresses Isis as the Queen of Heaven, crowned in starlight:

“Hail unto Thee, O thou mighty mother. Isis, unveil thou, O Soul of Nature, giving life and energy to the Universe. From thee all things do proceed. Unto Thee all must return. Thou springest from the Sun of splendour, shrouded from all. Lead me to the truth, bright maiden of the Night, and guide me in all my wanderings in darkness, as I travel upwards and onwards to the Light of the Eternal Crown. Come forth, O gracious Mother. Come unto me and dwell within my heart, Thou who art crowned with Starlight, who shineth amongst the Lords of Truth; whose place is in the abode of the Light of Heaven.
– Israel Regardie
The Golden Dawn: The Original Account of the Teachings, Rites & Ceremonies of the Hermetic Order

D’Este and Rankine also point out that this phrase is mentioned in Milton’s Paradise Lost where an archangel is speaking to Adam, which states:

“O Adam, one almighty is, from whom All things proceed, and up to him return, If not depraved from good, created all Such to perfection; one first matter all, Indued with various forms, various degrees Of substance, and, in things that live, of life”
– John Milton
Paradise Lost

It’s unclear if Milton was inspired by the Biblical verse in Acts or upon Epimenides of Knossos, as his works are heavily influenced by both Biblical and Greek mythologies.

Feri initiate Mikey pointed out to me that the phrase is also present in the Gayatri Mantra of the Rigveda, one of the oldest religious text known. Some of the first translations of these texts in English were by scholar Sir William Jones and William Quan Judge, a mystic, esotericist, and occultist, and one of the founders of the original Theosophical Society along side Helena Blavatsky and Henry Steel Olcott. The mantra holds importance in Theosophy and William Quan Judge wrote about it in “Commentary on the Gayatri“.

  • Sir William Jones Translation (1807): “Let us adore the supremacy of that divine sun, the god-head who illuminates all, who recreates all, from whom all proceed, to whom all must return, whom we invoke to direct our understandings aright in our progress toward his holy seat.”
  • William Quan Judge Translation (1893): “Unveil, O Thou who givest sustenance to the Universe, from whom all proceed, to whom all must return, that face of the True Sun now hidden by a vase of golden light, that we may see the truth and do our whole duty on our journey to thy sacred seat.”

Common Theosophical translation adapted from William Quan Judge’s translation as presented by Lucis Trust:

“O Thou Who givest sustenance to the universe,
From Whom all things proceed,
To Whom all things return,
Unveil to us the face of the true Spiritual Sun
Hidden by a disc of golden Light
That we may know the Truth And do our whole duty
As we journey to Thy sacred feet.”

Image Credit: Mat Auryn
Image Credit: Mat Auryn (original creator of this image)

The Star Goddess Prayer Timeline

Here is the timeline I’ve been able to trace regarding the history of the Star Goddess Prayer:

18th – 12th Century BCE – Gayatri Mantra in the Rigvedas (1700–1100 BCE)
6th Century BCE –
Epimenides of Knossos
1st Century CE – Acts of the Apostles (80-90 CE)
17th Century CE – Paradise Lost by John Milton (1667 CE)
19th Century CE – Sir William Jones Translation of the Gayatri Mantra (1807 CE)
19th Century CE – “Commentary on the Gayatri Mantra” written by William Quan Judge (1893 CE)
19th-20th Century CE – “Ritual of Transformation” of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (1887-1903 CE)
20th Century CE – “Ritual of Transformation” published in Israel Regardie’s Golden Dawn (1937 CE)
20th Century CE – “Star Goddess Prayer” used in Feri Tradition (1944 CE*)
20th Century CE – “Lift Up the Veil” & “Charge of the Star Goddess” (1949 CE)
21st Century CE – “Star Goddess Prayer” published and “stolen” by William Wheeler III (2002 CE)
21st Century CE – “Star Goddess Prayer” published in Evolutionary Witchcraft by T. Thorn Coyle (2004 CE)

* Estimate based upon 50 years before the date of Cora Anderson’s Fifty Years in the Feri Tradition published in 1994 CE


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