Sunday, August 18, 2013

Honoring our Oaths

El Astado by TifaMephisto
Entrance into many Wiccan communities today no longer involves taking an Oath.

In Traditionalist Craft, 
it is considered a very serious matter.

When you join your destiny with ours, 
you take an oath.

How important is it to honor the oaths we take?

These are good questions.

First of all, what the heck IS an oath?

Webster defines an "oath" as follows:

oath. 1. a (1) : a solemn usually formal calling upon God or a god to witness to the truth of what one says or to witness that one sincerely intends to do what one says (2) : a solemn attestation of the truth or inviolability of one's words.

Wikipedia says even more:

An oath is either a statement of fact or a promise calling upon something or someone that the oath maker considers sacred, usually God, as a witness to the binding nature of the promise or the truth of the statement of fact. To swear is to take an oath, to make a solemn vow.

The essence of a divine oath is an invocation of divine agency to be a guarantor of the oath taker's own honesty and integrity in the matter under question. By implication, this invokes divine displeasure if the oath taker fails in their sworn duties. It therefore implies greater care than usual in the act of the performance of one's duty, such as in testimony to the facts of the matter in a court of law.

I like the first sentence in the second paragraph of Wikipedia's definition.

The essence of a divine oath 
is an invocation of divine agency 
to be a guarantor of the oath taker's own honesty and integrity
in the matter under question.

Honor and Integrity.
Those are two words we don't hear often enough in today's world.
And when we do, it's from a news reporter
telling us of yet more corruption in the government or corporate world.

Many children aren't taught about honor and integrity anymore.
Those principles were taught, ironically enough, 
in Sunday School.
A Welsh Elder and her students
 and I had a conversation about this last summer.
An entire generation has grown up
without learning some important lessons about behavior
that they used to learn in Sunday School
 at the church of their parents' choice.
This could be one reason
a person might choose to be born into a Christian family?

Of course, we can't make a blanket statement
about parents not teaching children ethical behavior.
The fact is, most pagan children I've met 
are amazingly well-balanced people,
who are a joy to be around!

This is not necessarily the case in the general population.

So what is honor? What is integrity?

Honor has been described as honesty, fairness, or integrity
 in one's beliefs and actions.

I think most people understand "honesty,"
but for good measure, I'll define it.

Honesty is the quality of being free of deceit and untruthfulness;
of being sincere.

That word "integrity" comes from the Latin word integritatem
which means whole and complete. 
So integrity is the inner sense of wholeness, 
and that wholeness derives from qualities 
such as honesty and consistency of character.

A person who has integrity acts according to 
the values, beliefs, and principles they CLAIM to hold.

They are honest.

Their word is their bond.

When they say they will do something, 
they do it.

They are sincere, and free of deceit.

They honor their oaths.

In most ancient societies,
breaking your oath was dangerous.
 Deities took oaths sworn by them very seriously, 
and breaking the oath could bring dire consequences. 
In Traditionalist Craft, an oath breaker is called a Warlock.  
(Middle English warloghe,
 from Old English Warloga, oath-breaker. War, pledge; + logs, liar) 
Not only do warlocks break their oaths; 
 they wear masks of deceit. 
But that's another blog.

We in Oakmist also believe oaths are to be taken seriously.

When you join your destiny with another group of people by oath, 
much is expected of you. 
At the oath-taking, a few important responsibilities are explained.
 One such responsibility is that 
you will protect the coven and the grove as an entity, 
forsaking all others if necessary 
to support your brothers and sisters of the Craft.

Forsaking all others... that's a hard row to hoe, 
and can be a difficult thing to be asked to do.

But we do ask it. 
And what that means to us is that you keep your commitments. 
If you have a choice between drinks after work with friends 
or attending an important meeting or rite, 
which has been pre-scheduled, 
you forsake the drinks and attend the rite.
 In that way, you strengthen the bonds between the members of the group, 
and prove your allegiance.  
We learn that we can depend on you.

If you take the oath, 
we expect you to honor your agreement, 
as do the Gods. 
 The Goddess blesses those who honor their oaths, 
in ways you could never imagine.

Oakmist is Dedicating a new student tonight.

A Dedication Rite is a very good opportunity 
to remind other members of the coven of their own oaths, 
given in a ritual like this one. 
It's also an excellent opportunity 
to renew their oaths 
and to tighten the bonds of the group.

We look forward to celebrating a new member!

Rowan of Oakmist

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