History of the Wiccan Phrase "So Mote it Be"

Wiccan Tradition Draws from Freemasonry

So Mote it Be
Patti Wigington

"So Mote it Be" is used at the end of many Wiccan and Pagan spells and prayers. It's an archaic phrase that many people in the Pagan community use, yet its origins may not be Pagan at all.

Meaning of the Phrase

According to Webster's dictionary, the word mote was originally a Saxon verb which meant "must." It appears back in the poetry of Geoffrey Chaucer, who used the line The wordes mote be cousin to the deed in his prologue to the Canterbury Tales.

In modern Wiccan traditions, the phrase often appears as a way of wrapping up a ritual or magical working. It's basically a way of saying "Amen" or " so it shall be."

"So Mote It Be" in Masonic Tradition

Occultist Aleister Crowley used "so mote it be" in some of his writings, and claimed it to be an ancient and magical phrase, but it's very likely that he borrowed it from the Masons. In Freemasonry, "so mote it be" is the equivalent of "Amen" or "as God wills it to be." Gerald Gardner, a founder of modern Wicca, was also believed to have Masonic connections, although there's some question about whether or not he was a Master Mason as he claimed to be. Regardless, it's no surprise that the phrase turns up in contemporary Pagan practice, considering the influence that the Masons had on both Gardner and Crowley.

The phrase "so mote it be" may first have appeared in a poem called the Halliwell Manuscript of Regius Poem, described as one of the "Old Charges" of Masonic tradition. It's not clear who wrote the poem; it passed through various people until it found its way to the Royal Library and, finally, to the British Museum in 1757.

The poem, written around 1390, includes 64 pages written in rhyming couplets in Middle English ("Fyftene artyculus þey þer sowȝton, and fyftene poyntys þer þey wroȝton," translated as "Fifteen articles they there sought and fifteen points there they wrought.") It tells the story of the beginnings of Masonry (supposedly in ancient Egypt), and claims that the "craft of masonry" came to England during the time of King Athelstan during the 900's. Athelstan, the poem explains, developed fifteen articles and fifteen points of moral behavior for all Masons.

According to the Masonic Grand Lodge of British Columbia, the Halliwell manuscript is the "oldest genuine record of the Craft of Masonry known." The poem, however, refers back to an even older (unknown) manuscript.

The final lines of the manuscript (translated from Middle English) read as follows:

Christ then of his high grace,
Save you both wit and space,
Well this book to know and read,
Heaven to have for your mede. (reward)
Amen! Amen! so mote it be!
So say we all for charity.

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Your Citation
Wigington, Patti. "History of the Wiccan Phrase "So Mote it Be"." Learn Religions, Aug. 26, 2020, learnreligions.com/so-mote-it-be-2561921. Wigington, Patti. (2020, August 26). History of the Wiccan Phrase "So Mote it Be". Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/so-mote-it-be-2561921 Wigington, Patti. "History of the Wiccan Phrase "So Mote it Be"." Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/so-mote-it-be-2561921 (accessed May 30, 2023).