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Oaths - What's your view?


Guest Herneoakshield
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As I was reading some more info on 1734 I came across the info about oaths within that trad and the fact there are none to be taken. the reason given for this was as follows:

 

There are spiritual and moral reasons for the prohibition against swearing oaths. As both Sean and Ruth explained, an oath is a solemn, formal declaration or promise to fulfill a pledge, often calling on God, a god, or a sacred object as witness. On the surface this seems harmless enough, but as was explained in the oral tradition if you take an oath what you are doing is saying that under other circumstances you can't be trusted to keep your word. Also, if you have to require an oath from someone it means that you don't trust that person without Divine compulsion. If that's the case, you have no business being that intimately involved with them in the first place.

 

Not taking or requiring oaths is an affirmation of personal honor and responsibility. That is part of the spirit of 1734.

 

This to me makes a lot of sense really. if you still keep the secrets you are privy to without need of an oath then you do indeed prove your honour, and trust.

 

what are your thoughts? do you feel that oaths are a necessary part of the craft or are you of a similar opinion as stated above?

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It depends really, I can see it from both sides... oath taking is part of the initiation process into my particular tradition, and its not something that would ever be left out at all.

 

On the one hand, my tradition by its nature is somewhat secretive... and it helps if someone points out exactly what you can and can't talk about, and how much detail you can or can't go into. Without someone telling me either formally or informally where the boundaries are, and me promising to keep my mouth shut about those things that aren't for sharing, how would I know? I would be happy to keep the secrets of the craft without being asked, but I first need to know what those secrets are.

 

But I do agree with what you have said, common sense and a respect for the people in your tradition should prevent you from going off and repeating everything you have seen to anyone who will listen, without the formality of having to take an oath. My HP and HPS, and fellow coven members know that I won't go off wittering about them, and I don't need to be told not to, and vice versa.

 

Hmmm, I'm gonna have to go and think about this... I can see this sparking a debate back at the covenstead, lol, should be interesting!

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As Im not part of any Covens etc, I guess any Oaths I would take would be between myself and a particular Diety!

If I were part of a Coven, etc, I would find it difficult to be certain I could maintain that Oath forever! As a Symbolic Gesture, no problem, but I know that things change, so I doubt I could hand on heart guarentee an Oath, or almost anything for that matter forever!

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Interesting stuff, Herne!

 

I can't speak for Craft or for Wicca, being involved in neither of them, but I do belive that it's absolutely vital to keep any and all oaths of secrecy sworn by a member of a coven or other group. To me it's a simple question of honour. The religion is bigger than any one person, and even if you fall out with your initiator or you decide Wicca is no longer for you, the fact remains you swore the oath to keep secret; and that oath isn't made any less important by the departure of the person who swore it.

 

I know there are plenty of internet sites where the secrets of various traditions can be found and that many people say that if these things are out there, it doesn't matter if you yourself break your oath. To me that's just an excuse. A matter of honour and personal ethics, as I said.

 

In Vodou there are many oaths of secrecy, as one might expect in a tradition that grew out of slavery. There are two deities who guard over the secrets of the temple and the priesthood, called Loko and Ayizan, and they will exact retribution on those who break the oaths of secrecy taken by members of the priesthood. Tradition has it that people who break their oaths of secrecy in Vodou tend to end up severely mentally ill, or dead, or both.

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My answer would be that the oath is of most relevance to the one that makes it. Break it easily, you break yourself easily. Have good reason to break it for your own sanity, or through new knowledge, you strengthen and heal yourself.

 

Oaths are often misunderstood and misused and this is one place where witchcraft moves away from conventional morality.

 

You must be clear whether the oath is an affirmation, a matter of honour or a binding. In the most powerful form in the magick I know, leaving aside deity as commonly understood, an oath is a joining and not a binding. It can have very powerful meaning.

 

Those who try to bind you to an oath, bind themselves as well and if the oath needs breaking, they should be the ones to free you. Many use oaths for power over you thus oaths should be offered, given, not taken.

 

In the deepest form, where the binding between a few is sundered, for any reason within the magick, it is called the 'walk of death' and is undertaken by the strongest.

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Oaths are one of the central planks of Heathenry. For those of you familiar with LOTR, the whole concept of oaths in that draws upon the Heathen religion. Fealty was marking by the giving and receiving of rings (hence, the modern wedding ring) and oaths, if sworn, could be sworn on a ring.

 

Having said that, one's word is enough within our religion. I have, in the past, given my word to something and later asked the person I had given it to, to free me for my word. Crafty sod that he was, he knew enough about Heathens to know about that, and refused to release me, so I kept my word.

 

Beyond that, some Heathens choose to make a formal oath. I'm most familiar with this in the context either of some organised groups (one I know of in Europe), where the oath is to the group, or of fealty to a god.

 

Even within the context of giving oaths, there is one god in particular who, if the oath is sworn to him or in his name, one does not break it.

 

So we have a sort of hierarchy, which marks the seriousness of the commitment, rather than any unreliability (or otherwise) on the part of the person giving the word.

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I'd never thought of it that way Herne. Oaths are part of my tradition too, and I suppose the 'first degree' one might fall into this category to an extent. I agree with Stormbringer's points, the tradition is secretive, and being told where the line is about what can or cannot be discussed is helpful. Also, it has the effect of bringing the group closer, in that they have each sworn the same oaths, and are equally bound to them and to each other.

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As I was reading some more info on 1734 I came across the info about oaths within that trad and the fact there are none to be taken. the reason given for this was as follows:

 

There are spiritual and moral reasons for the prohibition against swearing oaths. As both Sean and Ruth explained, an oath is a solemn, formal declaration or promise to fulfill a pledge, often calling on God, a god, or a sacred object as witness. On the surface this seems harmless enough, but as was explained in the oral tradition if you take an oath what you are doing is saying that under other circumstances you can't be trusted to keep your word. Also, if you have to require an oath from someone it means that you don't trust that person without Divine compulsion. If that's the case, you have no business being that intimately involved with them in the first place.

 

Not taking or requiring oaths is an affirmation of personal honor and responsibility. That is part of the spirit of 1734.

 

This to me makes a lot of sense really. if you still keep the secrets you are privy to without need of an oath then you do indeed prove your honour, and trust.

 

what are your thoughts? do you feel that oaths are a necessary part of the craft or are you of a similar opinion as stated above?

237050[/snapback]

 

This makes perfect sense to me ,i have never really thought about it in this way before,but like you say keeping the secret or acting in an honourable way ,is proof that you can be trusted,so an oath is not needed

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  • 1 month later...

I wandered off to ponder upon this one for a while. I can see what has been said in Herne's post. That makes a lot of sense, either your trustworthy or not. But I also find there can be times that an Oath is used not as a guarantee of sorts but more to highlight the severity of a situation. If you see where I am coming from?

 

I tend to use an Oath if I want to assure someone that what I am saying is going to occur. Not because they dont believe I will do something, but to display that this "event/occurrence/task" is truly important to me.

 

The strongest Oath I ever use is "On my Power".

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Oaths are one of the central planks of Heathenry. For those of you familiar with LOTR, the whole concept of oaths in that draws upon the Heathen religion. Fealty was marking by the giving and receiving of rings (hence, the modern wedding ring) and oaths, if sworn, could be sworn on a ring.

 

Having said that, one's word is enough within our religion. I have, in the past, given my word to something and later asked the person I had given it to, to free me for my word. Crafty sod that he was, he knew enough about Heathens to know about that, and refused to release me, so I kept my word.

 

Beyond that, some Heathens choose to make a formal oath. I'm most familiar with this in the context either of some organised groups (one I know of in Europe), where the oath is to the group, or of fealty to a god.

 

Even within the context of giving oaths, there is one god in particular who, if the oath is sworn to him or in his name, one does not break it.

 

So we have a sort of hierarchy, which marks the seriousness of the commitment, rather than any unreliability (or otherwise) on the part of the person giving the word.

237229[/snapback]

 

I totally agree with Moonhunter, for Heathens to be an oathbreaker is an extremely serious offense, this is why oaths are never given lightly or without a great deal of thought by Heathens.

 

We even have a goddess of oaths Var, it is she who witnesses all oaths especially those of betrothal and marriage, she is also the one who punishes oathbreakers, in my experience even the other gods don't mess around with oaths.

 

Storm Raven

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What happens in a situation where say the person who makes the oath to another but the person or persons to whom the oath was given turns out to have as much "honour" as can be contained in a solid cube?

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As I was reading some more info on 1734 I came across the info about oaths within that trad and the fact there are none to be taken. the reason given for this was as follows:

 

There are spiritual and moral reasons for the prohibition against swearing oaths. As both Sean and Ruth explained, an oath is a solemn, formal declaration or promise to fulfill a pledge, often calling on God, a god, or a sacred object as witness. On the surface this seems harmless enough, but as was explained in the oral tradition if you take an oath what you are doing is saying that under other circumstances you can't be trusted to keep your word. Also, if you have to require an oath from someone it means that you don't trust that person without Divine compulsion. If that's the case, you have no business being that intimately involved with them in the first place.

 

Not taking or requiring oaths is an affirmation of personal honor and responsibility. That is part of the spirit of 1734.

 

This to me makes a lot of sense really. if you still keep the secrets you are privy to without need of an oath then you do indeed prove your honour, and trust.

 

what are your thoughts? do you feel that oaths are a necessary part of the craft or are you of a similar opinion as stated above?

237050[/snapback]

 

I completely share the opinions. But there are different degrees of involvement. In certain groups I would only engage on a surface level.... nothing requiring trust in other words. I've recently left working with a group that should have developed into something deeper because of concerns over trust. But, at the same time I had people talking to me about setting up another group with that trust instilled from the start. <_<

 

Cool thread!

 

BB

 

Mike

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What happens in a situation where say the person who makes the oath to another but the person or persons to whom the oath was given turns out to have as much "honour" as can be contained in a solid cube?

 

An oath is an oath, the person to whom it is made is immaterial, if you break an oath it harms you not the other party. This is why oaths should be entered into very warily. When you enter a professional association you are required to sign a piece of paper saying you will uphold certain standards. These standards do not depend on who you are dealing with, they are standards for you and you alone. If you break this pledge you lose your professional status (well in theory, in practice it depends on who you are but that is another bone of contention).

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So if you make an oath to a group or person which that brings you into dishonourable conduct your basicly saying your screwed because there is no get out?

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I've had to go away and think about this one, because it's a topic I'd never really thought about before.

 

I was brought up that if you made a promise you had to stick to it regardless of anything else that happened. I remember agreeing to go to one birthday party, then getting an invite to another party I'd much rather go to. My mum refused pointblank to let me back out of the original party, as I'd said I would go. After that, I learnt to be careful about what I said I would or wouldn't do!

 

I agree with a large chunk of what's already been said. When an oath is made, it's for the benefit of the oath-maker rather than the wider audience. When I quit smoking, any promises I made about not starting again were for me, and only me. Having made an oath that I was never going to smoke again gave me resolve to stick to it, even when I was desperate to pollute my lungs. If I'd backtracked on that oath, anyone who know about it would have reason to mistrust anything I laid my word to again in the future, and the only person who would have really lost out would have been me.

 

If someone demands an oath from another, then they are effectively telling that person they don't trust them. In some situations, I'm sure this is appropriate, if for example, the person required to make the oath has already proved that their word alone means nothing. But in that case, how can you trust an oath from them either?

 

I've never been part of a coven, but I can see how having every member make the same oaths on entering helps the group to bond. It shows that everyone there has the same level of commitment to the group as a whole, and to the individuals within it. I guess it's the 'Perfect love & perfect trust' thing.

 

Out of curiosity, do wedding vows count as making an oath? And if so, where do those against oaths stand on the vows? (I guess I'm really needing to ask this of the guys Herne originally quoted!)

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So if you make an oath to a group or person which that brings you into dishonourable conduct your basicly saying your screwed because there is no get out?

249394[/snapback]

 

Lupine, as has been said oaths are not made lightly or without great thought, as such they are worded carefully so that they are at least to a degree reciprocal, no one is going to make an unconditional oath of loyalty to another person or group, even if they know them and certainly not if they don't.

 

As such if the person or group that an oath of loyalty has been given to acts in a way that is dishonourable or attempts to cause you to do so, they are acting in a manner that is not in keeping with the manner in which the oath was made, nor in the spirit of the oath, in those circumstances then I would view the oathmaker as having been released from the oath for the person/group have not lived up to their part.

 

Storm Raven

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Fuzi, from my point of view the wedding vows that Mojie and I made were oaths to eachother.

 

Storm Raven

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So if you make an oath to a group or person which that brings you into dishonourable conduct your basicly saying your screwed because there is no get out?

249394[/snapback]

 

Well, yes. There is no good way out of that situation, you either break your oath or you carry it out unless you are released by the person to whom you made the oath. Either way your judgement is called into question for making an oath to someone who would put you in that situation. I have been known as "mister slopey shoulders" for not making promises at work but people have got to know that if I won't promise to do something I am basically saying that either I can't do it or it can't be done.

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. I have been known as "mister slopey shoulders" for not making promises at work but people have got to know that if I won't promise to do something I am basically saying that either I can't do it or it can't be done.

249626[/snapback]

Sounds like most heathens i know

i will say i will try but giving our word is very rare for a heathen to do.

most oaths are given with another exchange (like in a handfasting)

A heathen oath is more like a contract

 

Moj

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There is a whole world of difference between a legal contract and a moral contract.

 

Personally, if I found myself in a position where I had given my word to someone but that person turned out to either have no real concept of what honour is or if they had obtained my word through deception then that promise is null and void.

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There is a whole world of difference between a legal contract and a moral contract. 

 

Personally, if I found myself in a position where I had given my word to someone but that person turned out to either have no real concept of what honour is or if they had obtained my word through deception then that promise is null and void.

249661[/snapback]

Abso bloomin lutely.

 

I think the word honour is one of those things which Pagans seem to scream about a lot. The trouble is it cant be defined because it is actually a very personal thing.

 

One persons code of honour might be completely different to anothers.

 

I think as human beings the only thing we can do is be true to ourselves.

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And i thought this thread was about oaths

if i knew people were going to start going on about honour i would never had posted.

A oath is in my mind a moral contract that is more binding than a legal one.sometimes a oath can be and is both (Oaths taken in court).

a Oath to me is a very serious undertaking

 

 

Mojie

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An oath has as much meaning as a Jeffrey Archer novel if the person making the oath has no honour. So separating the two is a tad dumb.

 

A moral oath being more binding then a legal one? On one level I'd have to agree with you on that one.

 

But please, no passive/agressive stuff, it does not wash with me.

Edited by Lupine
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I would hope that the oath to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth would not need to be cohersed from me.

 

But I can answer that question directly. I made such and oath. And I held such an oath. On that score I have been tested and not found wanting.

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There is a whole world of difference between a legal contract and a moral contract. 

249661[/snapback]

 

I'd agree with you here, obviously a legal contract to but a house is different from a moral contract to help an elderly relative keep their garden in check.

 

You've mentioned that you were once required to make an oath in court, and stuck by that oath - obviously the right thing to do. But if you had an pre-existing moral oath, would that over-ride the legal one (question not just aimed at Lupine, but he mentioned having made a court oath)

 

Are there any situations where a moral oath can be deemed to over-ride a legal one, or would that bring us back to the person requiring the moral oath having no honour & therefore not being worthy of the oath?

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