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Author Topic: Dedications, Professions, Oaths, Oh My!  (Read 16319 times)
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« Reply #30: January 04, 2010, 09:58:34 am »

I have to agree that flexibility would have to be built in to most oaths. What I am wary of are binding, lifelong dedications or vows. These can be risky.

Just something that I thought when reading this: can someone make a dedication/oath/whatever for a short period of time (for example, 1 year), and then rededicate him/herself again when it's over, if s/he still feels the same way?

I think this could be a solution for those who want to be dedicated but lack security. It wouldn't be a lifelong dedication but it could still go on for their entire life (if they keep rededicating themselves). Also, one could make the dedication period longer everytime (1 year, 2 years, and so on), until they are completely sure that their feelings won't change, and make it for the rest of their lives.
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« Reply #31: January 04, 2010, 10:41:45 am »

Just something that I thought when reading this: can someone make a dedication/oath/whatever for a short period of time (for example, 1 year), and then rededicate him/herself again when it's over, if s/he still feels the same way?

I see no reason why not; I just did so on the 1st. Smiley A number of my deity relationships are embryonic, and I don't know if we're right for each other, but since no one seems content to wait anymore (they had to do a lot of waiting until I realized that maybe a strictly Celtic path wasn't everything I needed) I made a commitment to interact, to listen, to learn and to be active in my faith for the next year. Some relationships may work out, some may not, and I'll re-evaluate that at the end of the year.
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« Reply #32: January 04, 2010, 10:58:40 am »

Just something that I thought when reading this: can someone make a dedication/oath/whatever for a short period of time (for example, 1 year), and then rededicate him/herself again when it's over, if s/he still feels the same way?

I think this could be a solution for those who want to be dedicated but lack security. It wouldn't be a lifelong dedication but it could still go on for their entire life (if they keep rededicating themselves). Also, one could make the dedication period longer everytime (1 year, 2 years, and so on), until they are completely sure that their feelings won't change, and make it for the rest of their lives.

Yes, this could be a viable option for most of us pagans. However, many religions ask for the lifelong, eternal type commitment. Mainstream religions have left a bad taste in my mouth in general and they are the reason I am wary of long-term dedications. Oaths and covenants rarely remain unbroken for long. We are simply a changing species.

The sorts of commitments you are referring to are acceptable to me, in any case. Unfortunately, when I hear the words "oath," "proffession of faith," or "dedication" I think of the lifelong "binding contract" sort first. My mind then immediately screams "RUN AWAY" in response to that. Doubtless this is not the best way to go around it, but it is my instinctual response. Perhaps I could look at it like a "New Years resolution," which is more close to what you are describing I think.
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« Reply #33: January 04, 2010, 05:23:26 pm »

Just something that I thought when reading this: can someone make a dedication/oath/whatever for a short period of time (for example, 1 year), and then rededicate him/herself again when it's over, if s/he still feels the same way?

I think this could be a solution for those who want to be dedicated but lack security. It wouldn't be a lifelong dedication but it could still go on for their entire life (if they keep rededicating themselves). Also, one could make the dedication period longer everytime (1 year, 2 years, and so on), until they are completely sure that their feelings won't change, and make it for the rest of their lives.

There are actually options for this in a number of religions - initial oaths for Catholic religious (nuns and monks) are usually for the duration of the commitment (and people may decide to go back to mainstream life after a period, and that's okay: they're not permanently vowed to the same things as someone who's made the lifetime commitment.)

It's also true in at least some forms of Buddhism: one of my former co-workers (our diversity coordinator, interestingly enough) spent almost 7 years in his 20s as a monk in Thailand (and the UK): he said as part of a presentation he did for us that it's actually quite common for people in Thailand to become monks for a period of time (7 years is quite common for some specific numerology reasons, but there are lots of other options), and then go back and get jobs and marry and have families and so on. (He also mentioned that a number of employers find it beneficial: people who've learned to live in close community bring some great skills back with them when they start working a paying job again.)

Within Pagan traditions, some initiatory trads have a time-limited oath - commonly Dedication oaths, where you're supposed to make some specific but limited commitments, but it's not expected to be a permanent state. Either someone moves forward in the tradition (initiation), or decides that path isn't for them (and hopefully parts from their commitments in an honorable way.)

In my trad, the commitments are pretty simple: an agreement to take their studies and participation in the group seriously, to keep oathbound material oathbound, and that if they decide to part from the group, they do are asked to do so in a way that allows closure for everyone involved (i.e. let people know, not just disappear; ideally have a ritual, or at least conversation, about the parting that includes the group.)

The only one that binds people *after* they leave is the oathbound bit, which is pretty simple for Dedicants and wouldn't require substantial ongoing privacy that might be hard to keep. (Personal details of people in circle, details of our Samhain ritual, a few small bits of trad practices.)
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« Reply #34: January 04, 2010, 06:35:37 pm »

I did a brief self-invented dedication ceremony many years ago, dedicating myself to a pagan path. It was more an acknowledgement of what had already happened.
I read your lengthier post(s) on Moon Ivy's thread I referenced in my OP. Incredibly cool experience. Smiley
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« Reply #35: January 04, 2010, 06:37:47 pm »

No, oaths are not impossible to keep, just very difficult.

Very prudent of you. I have to agree that flexibility would have to be built in to most oaths. What I am wary of are binding, lifelong dedications or vows. These can be risky.

I also concede that it is better to have tried and failed than to never have tried at all. A phrase that might be more applicable here, perhaps, but potato potāto and all that.
I agree. And I would also be tempted to say that if one is not 100% sure of the oath in question, then don't go through with it!!! A little nervousness of anxiousness, fine. But if you're unsure if it's the right decision, no way! I'd think this is the smartest thing for yourself, as well as any involved gods or paths.
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"She who stands on tiptoe / doesn't stand firm. / She who rushes ahead / doesn't go far. / She who tries to shine / dims her own light. / She who defines herself / can't know who she really is. / She who has power over others / can't empower herself. / She who clings to her work / will create nothing that endures. / If you want to accord with the Tao, / just do your job, then let go." ~ Tao Te Ching, chp. 24

"Silent and thoughtful a prince's son should be / and bold in fighting; / cheerful and merry every man should be / until he waits for death." ~ Havamal, stanza 15
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« Reply #36: January 04, 2010, 06:42:09 pm »

It's also true in at least some forms of Buddhism: one of my former co-workers (our diversity coordinator, interestingly enough) spent almost 7 years in his 20s as a monk in Thailand (and the UK): he said as part of a presentation he did for us that it's actually quite common for people in Thailand to become monks for a period of time (7 years is quite common for some specific numerology reasons, but there are lots of other options), and then go back and get jobs and marry and have families and so on. (He also mentioned that a number of employers find it beneficial: people who've learned to live in close community bring some great skills back with them when they start working a paying job again.)
This. is. so. cool. I'm jealous. I wish there were something comparable in the US (although I doubt I'd become Buddhist!) or even that there were more readily-available, weekend-long "retreats" like those sponsored by Christian organizations.
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"She who stands on tiptoe / doesn't stand firm. / She who rushes ahead / doesn't go far. / She who tries to shine / dims her own light. / She who defines herself / can't know who she really is. / She who has power over others / can't empower herself. / She who clings to her work / will create nothing that endures. / If you want to accord with the Tao, / just do your job, then let go." ~ Tao Te Ching, chp. 24

"Silent and thoughtful a prince's son should be / and bold in fighting; / cheerful and merry every man should be / until he waits for death." ~ Havamal, stanza 15
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« Reply #37: January 05, 2010, 02:34:09 pm »



I take commitments seriously in all parts of my life. My fiance and I, for example, have commited that once we get married the word divorce does not exist between us. Whether this holds water when things get down to the nitty gritty I cannot say. However, we are seriously considering a mutual pre-nup that states we cannot sue for divorce.



As a member of an oath bound tradition, complete with initiations, I obviously take my oaths very seriously...... including the one to love and honour until death do us part.

Neither my husband nor myself consider this oath to be any less binding then oaths taken to my gods on other subjects......

How could a mundane legal document be more binding than a personal oath?
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« Reply #38: January 05, 2010, 02:36:47 pm »

  • If you have dedicated yourself (professed, sworn an oath, et. al.), how did you know you were ready?
  • More specifically, I'm somewhat interested in if anyone has dedicated to a specific path or religion, rather than a specific god/dess as appears more common on TC. (I'm thinking more like an Asatru profession or Christian confirmation.) How did you come to that decision? If you like, feel free to share what you did or what that entailed.
  • Alternately, if you have NOT professed or dedicated yourself, why not? Do you think you would in the future, why or why not?


Gardnerian Initiate here, oath bound to the trad, yada, yada, yada.  Each initiate has their own personal relationship to the gods, so our initiation and oaths are tot he tradition itself, not necessarily the gods.
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« Reply #39: January 05, 2010, 06:37:49 pm »

As a member of an oath bound tradition, complete with initiations, I obviously take my oaths very seriously...... including the one to love and honour until death do us part.

Neither my husband nor myself consider this oath to be any less binding then oaths taken to my gods on other subjects......

How could a mundane legal document be more binding than a personal oath?

True, that is certainly a very good point!

The marriage vows are about the only lifelong oath or commitment I will take willingly.
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« Reply #40: January 06, 2010, 11:06:01 am »

True, that is certainly a very good point!

The marriage vows are about the only lifelong oath or commitment I will take willingly.


And yet, I suspect, from your idea of considering a binding pre-nup, that you do not expect that oath to be binding.

If that is the case, why bother?

I also suspect that I have some very old fashioned ideas about commitment. I had no fear of making my marriage vows, any more than making my craft vows, probably because it is my belief that:

1) there are NO perfect marriages, and I know there will be times I will have to work harder at it than others.

2) there is no perfect religious experience, and there will be times when I am closer to and more distanced from my gods.

I have often wondered if this is a generational thing. Is it more a young person thing? This idea that you can't make a concrete commitment to something because, gee, what if you made a mistake and something better comes along later?  And by this statement I mean the general YOU population, not you, anyone personally here.
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« Reply #41: January 06, 2010, 11:39:34 am »

I have often wondered if this is a generational thing. Is it more a young person thing? This idea that you can't make a concrete commitment to something because, gee, what if you made a mistake and something better comes along later?  And by this statement I mean the general YOU population, not you, anyone personally here.

Well, you're in my parents' generation, and I had no problem entering into a marriage with the expectation that it would be a lifelong committment.  Nor committing to a deity permanently enough to seal it with a tattoo--which I'm aware can be removed, but I don't really think of that as an option.  (Although the relationships are very, very different, divorce is an apt analogy here; I know it exists, but it's not something I consider an option for resolving issues in my marriage short of outright abuse or something similarly drastic and unlikely.)  Nor committing to being a parent, which in my case was a decision I made consciously and was aware would be a lifelong thing.  It's not something I do lightly, obviously, because I take oaths very seriously (especially lifelong ones) and want to be sure I've made the right choice and will be able to stick with it--but when called for, I will do it.

Of course, I'm just one person and might not be representative of the whole generation, especially not the parts of the generation that are significantly younger than I without quite being the next generation.  (Lykos, for example, is nine years younger than me and I guess that might make for a significant difference.)
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« Reply #42: January 06, 2010, 11:43:03 am »

(Lykos, for example, is ten years younger than me and I guess that might make for a significant difference.)

Not least in the shape of things where "ten years younger than me" (I think we're close in age, aren't we?) is, in our culture, barely considered maybe potentially adult, and thus there's a major pressure to not lock oneself into long-term stuff at that age.
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« Reply #43: January 06, 2010, 11:53:32 am »

Not least in the shape of things where "ten years younger than me" (I think we're close in age, aren't we?) is, in our culture, barely considered maybe potentially adult, and thus there's a major pressure to not lock oneself into long-term stuff at that age.

I should correct myself, btw:  Lykos is nine years younger than me, not ten.  (I corrected it in my post, but looks like I didn't get to it before you were typing your reply--sorry.)  Still, similar concept.  And yeah, off the top of my head I think we're reasonably close in age, though I tend to default to that assumption in the absence of indications otherwise for some reason.  I'm turning 30 (what? when did that happen?) in about a month, for reference.

This may or may not be the best place to mention that when I got married, I was...  actually pretty much the age we're discussing here.  But I do think you've got a point.  It honestly didn't occur to me that I was marrying "young" at the time (outside of frustration over not being allowed champagne for the toasts because I wasn't legal yet), but since then I've gotten the feeling that there's a lot of societal pressure not to do anything that permanent at that age.  That could very well color how someone of that age sees something like marriage or a lifelong religious vow.
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« Reply #44: January 06, 2010, 12:00:21 pm »


I'm 23, for reference, and I definitely notice an expectation that I will "keep my options open". People frowned on the fact that I dated one guy for four years, because they thought I was committing myself too much too early. (And this was just dating- no talk of marriage or even moving in together.) With the exception of college, making big commitments is a no-no, since apparently we are in no way mature enough to make those sorts of decisions or follow through with them. Roll Eyes
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