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Author Topic: Oaths and promises  (Read 7764 times)
Purplewitch
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« Topic Start: September 24, 2007, 05:31:58 pm »

Entirely not sure where to put this.

As a side effect of contemplating my relationship with Brigid and the reasons why I am not willing to make the same commitment to Her as I made to tM, I was thinking about oaths and promises, more particularly the kind of oath or promise of the 'level' that I made to tM, and won't make to Brigid.

Which started me thinking that I have two others I consider in that 'level', even though no-one else knows I made them or would ever know if I broke them. Ok, in the case of tM She would know, but in the other two cases, no-one would know if I broke them because no-one would know I made them, and yet I hold them to the same level as that one.

Would anything bad happen if I broke them? Maybe not. Maybe. Would anything bad happen to me (other than potential guilt)? No. (not referring to tM here lol) That's neither here nor there.

One is to/on behalf of my son. The other, involves another person, and is something that it is important to me to hold to.

Not that I was going anywhere particular with that, I was just curious generally as to other people's takes on oaths and promises since I imagine plenty of people have them, even if no-one other than them knows them so I figured I'd bounce it out and see what happens. (Specifics are not required unless you're willing and/or at liberty to share, obviously)
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Dania
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« Reply #1: September 24, 2007, 06:03:04 pm »


Oaths are not something I make lightly. The Dedication Oath to my path, and the oath to Morrigan that I made, are the only two that I've made on 'that level'...that level that is permanent, as opposed to "if you make it rain I promise to give you an offering of wine" sort of thing (which I have done).

The oaths I have made, well, if I broke them, I don't know what would happen. I don't know if I would have "hell to pay" exactly, but I would certainly have a lot to think about. I consider them binding in the highest fashion, and once I make an oath it's not something I would consider breaking (unless something really, REALLY big happened; something that I don't see happening.)

In my path there's also a difference between oaths made to the Gods and oaths made to mortals...neither should be broken, of course, but oaths made to the gods are a LOT harder to get out of. There's a requirement that the Initiate understand, that if they leave the path (which they are welcome to do at any time), they are still bound to uphold any oaths which they have made with their deities while on the path.
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« Reply #2: September 24, 2007, 06:42:10 pm »

Not that I was going anywhere particular with that, I was just curious generally as to other people's takes on oaths and promises since I imagine plenty of people have them, even if no-one other than them knows them so I figured I'd bounce it out and see what happens. (Specifics are not required unless you're willing and/or at liberty to share, obviously)

One of the things we view as being part of an oath is that there's some consequence to breaking it. (This doesn't need to be human-dealt, mind you.)

In terms of actual oaths: I break mine into group-related and personal.

The group related ones are trad-specific: I took an oath when I became a Dedicant, when I was initiated, at my 2nd degree, and I expect I will be at my 3rd degree, too. We explain the Dedicant one in advance (and people get a copy: it's mostly about keeping material marked as confidential or oathbound to the trad private, and working hard/treating the group courteously.) The others, the first time you hear the actual detailed wording is in ritual (though the concepts involved are brought up well before that.)

There's a space in these rituals for personal oaths, commitments, etc. (For example, at my 2nd degree, I made a commitment that if I decided to hive, go off on my own, etc. I would do my utmost to make sure that the things I've been taking care of for the group would be documented/handed over sanely.)

We also do some specific short-term oaths (things like attunements to specific elements: these have a few month duration, the way we do the group work side of it.)

I have also made some specific oaths to my deities, to other people (wedding promises: that one fortunately had an out, after a previous relationship experience where I broke a specifically made commitment - it was that or my sanity, but that doesn't excuse me from the consequences. Made me a lot more careful about exactly what I promise in that context, though.) I am very careful to be deliberate about it, and to outline the "If I don't do this, this is what I think a fair and proper consequence would be."

Things I've been taught to think about:
1) Precision on what precisely is committed.

2) A duration. Open-ended oaths can be *really* problematic, because sometimes people need to change; you don't want to be tied by an oath that no one really wants you to keep anymore, but that has no out clause built in.

3) Some kind of moderation: "I pledge to offer you a daily recognition to the best of my ability that day: the following things are some possible options" is a lot better than "Every day I will do [list of 5 things]" - the former is flexible. The latter is going to be really hard to do if you get sick, have mobility issues, are tending to a terminally ill relative, etc.

4) Some idea of the consequence if you don't follow through. [/list]
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Dania
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« Reply #3: September 24, 2007, 07:06:40 pm »

Things I've been taught to think about:
1) Precision on what precisely is committed.

2) A duration. Open-ended oaths can be *really* problematic, because sometimes people need to change; you don't want to be tied by an oath that no one really wants you to keep anymore, but that has no out clause built in.

3) Some kind of moderation: "I pledge to offer you a daily recognition to the best of my ability that day: the following things are some possible options" is a lot better than "Every day I will do [ list of 5 things]" - the former is flexible. The latter is going to be really hard to do if you get sick, have mobility issues, are tending to a terminally ill relative, etc.

4) Some idea of the consequence if you don't follow through.

These are all extremely important IMO. I didn't have *all* of those things considered when I took my oaths, but that doesn't change anything. The oath was simply formalizing what I had been feeling/doing for a long time before ever actually taking the oath.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2007, 07:09:35 pm by Dania, Reason: 3rd attempt to remove list tag » Logged


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« Reply #4: September 25, 2007, 04:21:10 am »

I was just curious generally as to other people's takes on oaths and promises

I don't have any of my own, nor do I have a clear philosophy on them, really.

But I would like to throw into the discussion, that I distinctly remember some forms of Christianity hold that Christians ought not to make oaths at all. I don't recall the reasoning behind it though ... something about good Christians honoring their commitments without having to formally declare them. Maybe. ::thinks wistfully about Koi and her encyclopedic knowledge::

Oh, and this from Miles Vorkosigan: "The problem with oaths of the form, death before dishonor, is that you eventually end up with two groups of people: the dead and the forsworn." Please Swear Sensibly would seem to be advice on a level with Don't drink and drive, except the potential damamge is more spiritual than physical.
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« Reply #5: September 25, 2007, 07:44:14 am »

These are all extremely important IMO. I didn't have *all* of those things considered when I took my oaths, but that doesn't change anything. The oath was simply formalizing what I had been feeling/doing for a long time before ever actually taking the oath.

Yep. And it's good to note you can adjust proportionately: a very specific oath ("I will do these 5 things") that lasts a month is a different situation from a very specific oath that you don't put a time limit on. You're far far far more likely to be able to keep the first one. (This has nothing to do with 'how much you want to', rather, like I said, 'sometimes life happens in unexpected ways, and those ways will eventually interfere with any kind of "I will do this list of stuff every day" that gets more specific than "I will continue to be alive.")
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« Reply #6: September 25, 2007, 11:15:11 am »


Oh, and this from Miles Vorkosigan: "The problem with oaths of the form, death before dishonor, is that you eventually end up with two groups of people: the dead and the forsworn." Please Swear Sensibly would seem to be advice on a level with Don't drink and drive, except the potential damamge is more spiritual than physical.

Although specific to The morrigan, I meant to link in this thread earlier, thanks for reminding me sefiru Smiley
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Purplewitch
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« Reply #7: September 25, 2007, 11:26:33 am »

(This has nothing to do with 'how much you want to', rather, like I said, 'sometimes life happens in unexpected ways, and those ways will eventually interfere with any kind of "I will do this list of stuff every day" that gets more specific than "I will continue to be alive.")

Life definitely has a habit of doing that.


Things I've been taught to think about:
1) Precision on what precisely is committed.

2) A duration. Open-ended oaths can be *really* problematic, because sometimes people need to change; you don't want to be tied by an oath that no one really wants you to keep anymore, but that has no out clause built in.

3) Some kind of moderation: "I pledge to offer you a daily recognition to the best of my ability that day: the following things are some possible options" is a lot better than "Every day I will do [list of 5 things]" - the former is flexible. The latter is going to be really hard to do if you get sick, have mobility issues, are tending to a terminally ill relative, etc.

4) Some idea of the consequence if you don't follow through.

Definitely good points, and both mine have duration, one is a basic time duration, the other is an "until or unless circumstantial" if you can have a circumstanstial duration  Undecided Anyway, as far as consequences go, that would depend what happened, very much so, but I'm not going into what 'might' happen just that I don't intend testing it. Especially in one case.[/list]
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Dania
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« Reply #8: September 25, 2007, 02:27:36 pm »

Yep. And it's good to note you can adjust proportionately: a very specific oath ("I will do these 5 things") that lasts a month is a different situation from a very specific oath that you don't put a time limit on. You're far far far more likely to be able to keep the first one. (This has nothing to do with 'how much you want to', rather, like I said, 'sometimes life happens in unexpected ways, and those ways will eventually interfere with any kind of "I will do this list of stuff every day" that gets more specific than "I will continue to be alive.")

Exactly. I have made no oaths to do specific things, though. I can see how it would get out of hand, and, you're right, life really does get in the way.
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« Reply #9: September 25, 2007, 02:40:28 pm »

Exactly. I have made no oaths to do specific things, though. I can see how it would get out of hand, and, you're right, life really does get in the way.

 I haven't made any oaths to my gods, because I don't want to let them or myself down if I fail. Not that I will fail, but one never knows about the future, and I just can't speak words that will bind me to something that I may have no ability to follow through with. Words are extremely important and powerful in my path, and I won't use them where I should not due to unforeseen circumstances.

It does help, though, that Set's opinion of oaths of action is "Dude. I don't want you to promise me you'll act, I want you to ACT."  Tongue
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Dania
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« Reply #10: September 25, 2007, 02:45:56 pm »

I haven't made any oaths to my gods, because I don't want to let them or myself down if I fail. Not that I will fail, but one never knows about the future, and I just can't speak words that will bind me to something that I may have no ability to follow through with. Words are extremely important and powerful in my path, and I won't use them where I should not due to unforeseen circumstances.

The only oaths I took were to honor and responsibility, and dedicating myself to service. What "service" entails is up to me and my Mother to work out as the case may be; just as it always has been. I had no problem taking either oath, because it was simply restating my intention, and it was something I was going to do *anyway* and considered myself bound to do, formal oath or no.
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« Reply #11: September 25, 2007, 04:34:50 pm »

Exactly. I have made no oaths to do specific things, though. I can see how it would get out of hand, and, you're right, life really does get in the way.

There's one set of things we do as part of post-1st degree training that involves attunment to each of the elements for a period of time (at least a month, people have the option to do longer.) Part of that is a specific commitment to commit to doing something specific.

We then caution people to be *really* carefully what they commit to - because at least once in that month, you will have a day when you fall over exhausted. And you will likely have another day where a friend or family member has an urgent need, and you want to help. And so on. Usually people get the hint, and either pick an "X times weekly" thing, something really really simple (lighting a candle, say) or something that is not time dependent.

All of mine were "Read X books related to the topic" (because that's a way I learn and take in information well: the books were not "Ooh, gee, here's geology" - I read food history, and mining history, and Kurlansky's "Salt" book, and so on.) And then one "Will take less than 5 minutes a day, and does not actually *require* that I be able to focus, though obviously, that's preferable." (Lighting a candle, making music, dancing, and drinking water were, I think, my four.) But that's me.

Those were hard enough - the physical action, not the reading part - that I'd be really hesitant to try anything more complex on a daily basis without dropping a couple of other things I'm doing first. (My schedule tends to alternate between 'home with a reasonable amount of time' and 'get up at 5:45, leave for work at 7, get home after evening events at 9:30, fall into bed.' which makes a specific daily practice really hard on those days.)
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« Reply #12: September 25, 2007, 06:48:51 pm »

I was thinking about oaths and promises

I was actually sort of thinking about this question just last night.

During one of my "worser" migraine episodes, I was extremely agitated and suddenly couldn't stand to have any metal on me.  I frenetically took ALL my jewelry off (and that's saying something, given all the rocks I wear in my experimental crystal grid) EXCEPT my wedding ring.

I was lying there wondering why I hadn't taken my wedding ring off, and decided it was because that ring represented a specific...responsibility?...oath?...vow?...

Then I started thinking about all the jewlery I have that is symbolic of Brighid and started questioning why I DID take that off.  It made me wonder if maybe I wasn't as serious about my dedication to Brighid as I think I am.

Then I remembered my tattoo.  It doesn't matter what Brighid symbols I do or don't wear.  I have one permanently etched on my skin that is specifically intended to represent that dedication.

That made me feel better.  Cheesy

Other than that that, I don't think I have anything to add to this convo except that I am also extremely careful about oath making.  In fact, I don't think I've ever done it, other than my marriage vows (which were intended to portray OUR interpretations, not necessarily society's), my oath when I was sworn into the bar, and my dedication to Brighid -- which is a dedication, rather than an oath to do or not do something particular.
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« Reply #13: September 25, 2007, 06:57:32 pm »



In an odd way you touched on part of the reason I have never taken/have always refused to take marriage vows.   Shocked Speaks volumes since I will be taking them.
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« Reply #14: September 25, 2007, 07:00:53 pm »

In an odd way you touched on part of the reason I have never taken/have always refused to take marriage vows.   Shocked Speaks volumes since I will be taking them.

The responsibility part?  Or the interpretation part?
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