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View Full Version : What's the copyright status of these neopagan texts and chants?



Mark Moore
05-15-2016, 04:09 AM
I'm writing a Wiccan novel, and I'd like to include quotes from some well-known texts in the Wiccan/neopagan community as well as have my characters say some of the chants, but I'm unsure as to the copyright status of them (or even the author of some of them):

The Wiccan Rede

The Rede of the Wiccae (this is an expanded version, various versions of which are floating around)

The Charge of the Goddess

The Charge of the Star Goddess

"Isis Astarte Diana Hecate Demeter Kali Inanna" (I've heard this chant in two different songs.)

"We all come from the Goddess, and to Her we shall return like a drop of rain flowing to the ocean." (three different songs)

"Mother of Darkness, Mother of Light, Earth beneath us all in flight. Songs of love and love of light, guide us to our heart."

"Hoof and horn, hoof and horn, all that die shall be reborn. Corn and grain, corn and grain, all that falls shall rise again. Sage and crone, sage and crone, wisdom's gifts shall be our own. Crone and sage, crone and sage, wisdom is the gift of age."

CL Polk
05-15-2016, 04:17 AM
none of those are in the public domain, I'm afraid. you'll be hard pressed to find recognizable neopagan chants that are in the public domain, as the religion is too new. gaining permission and license is difficult and expensive, just like quoting song lyrics.

King Neptune
05-15-2016, 09:50 PM
It's usually safer to make up your own.

blacbird
05-15-2016, 11:24 PM
It's usually safer to make up your own.

Yup. And also useful to know what U.S. copyright statutes specify.

caw

Mark Moore
05-16-2016, 12:42 AM
Hmmm, thanks. I guess I'll have to make up my own chants.

It's a shame that such well-known and well-circulated texts in the neopagan community are copyrighted, and the chants are of unknown authorship (as far as I can tell).

King Neptune
05-16-2016, 12:51 AM
Hmmm, thanks. I guess I'll have to make up my own chants.

It's a shame that such well-known and well-circulated texts in the neopagan community are copyrighted, and the chants are of unknown authorship (as far as I can tell).

If you can find an origin, and it was more than 90 years ago, or something like that, then you'd should be safe, but if you don't know the origin, then the owner might turn out to be nasty, if an owner appears.

CL Polk
05-16-2016, 02:46 AM
unknown? Have you never read doreen valiente?

veinglory
05-16-2016, 03:48 AM
The authorship of most of these is very easily discovered. The Charge of the Star Goddess is largely out of Valiente and is explicitly available for sincere use and adaptation by practitioners but use in entertainment is a different thing. However it is widely adapted and you could authentically use an adaptation in your own words that would come from the larger tradition rather than be a derivative work.

The rede itself for example is known from Valiente out of Crowley and originates in its current form from the mid-60s. I have characters state and discuss it in a novel because it is a widely used principle with no history of being defended as a copyrighted work by any particular person or group. But nothing can be assumed. Longer works would be better referred to rather than quoted at length. I, personally, would not make them up if the story is about real practitioners, unless it was within the scope of the adaptations people do create in this sphere.

Cath
05-16-2016, 02:05 PM
It's a shame that such well-known and well-circulated texts in the neopagan community are copyrighted, and the chants are of unknown authorship (as far as I can tell).
It's the very same law that gives you the right to claim your words as your own and not be used by others for profit, so I wouldn't be in too much of a hurry to diss it.

Weirdmage
05-16-2016, 11:09 PM
Have you contacted Wiccans/Pagans local to the area where your book is set? Or, do you have any personal experience with Wicca?
-I ask because these are actually living religions (, no matter how much some people dismiss them as too new), and as such you really should do some proper research.
It would depend quite a bit on your plot what you need to research, and I know just enough to be aware that there is a lot that you can get wrong, so asking someone who has personal experience of Wicca would be my starting point.

Mark Moore
05-17-2016, 01:36 AM
Have you contacted Wiccans/Pagans local to the area where your book is set? Or, do you have any personal experience with Wicca?
-I ask because these are actually living religions (, no matter how much some people dismiss them as too new), and as such you really should do some proper research.
It would depend quite a bit on your plot what you need to research, and I know just enough to be aware that there is a lot that you can get wrong, so asking someone who has personal experience of Wicca would be my starting point.

I do have personal experience with Wicca. I've been to two different metaphysical bookstores in my county (both of which have since closed), participated in a local pagan Yahoo! Group (which is no longer active), and watch YouTube videos by pagans. I'm also reading some books. The general consensus seems to be "Do what's right for you" and "Don't get hung up on the 'rules'."

Also, there is no central governing authority of Wicca. Sure, there are the various named traditions, each with their own beliefs, but most are solitary practitioners that follow their own path, worship whichever deities that they choose, and borrow from any number of pantheons and religious traditions. It's very eclectic.

The characters in my novel live in Summerland Key, Florida, which is not extremely far from where I am. They create their own little coven and piece together their own rituals (their teacher, a local metaphysical bookstore owner, puts a lot more detail into the rituals, whereas the other two girls keep it more stripped down and focus on the wine and sex magic).

Catherine_Beyer
05-19-2016, 04:10 AM
Copyright is something that automatically exists. Its not something you file for. So when in doubt, yes, its copyrighted. (Unless it is older than 1923, which won't be applicable here, since Wicca isn't that old)

Now, the Wiccan Rede (the 8 word saying) is used all over the place, including published works. I would think you're safe mentioning it. But long poems and chants are other people's creative works, just as your manuscript is your creative work.

CL Polk
05-19-2016, 06:32 AM
you know a saying in the public domain called, "Don't teach your grandmother to suck eggs?"

It applies here.

And "Do what's right for you" and "Don't get hung up on the 'rules'." is all very fuzzy and nice, but if you don't have approval, you don't have approval.

I suggest you actually do some research to find the authors of the chants you're interested in. you've already gotten a solid lead, as you have already been referred to the author of a bunch of the chants you've mentioned. Save yourself some trouble in the long run and hit the books now.

Or, save yourself the research and write your own chants. But if you quote copyrighted material without permission you're breaking the law.

blacbird
05-19-2016, 10:59 AM
There's also a non-legal issue of "creativity" and "originality" involved.

caw