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Author Topic: Oaths, secrecy, and the "Old Laws" in today's world  (Read 4158 times)
Derg Corra
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« Topic Start: April 06, 2007, 06:45:36 pm »

Hello everyone, first post on the new board.

I have decided to actively pursue a Wiccan path but had a few questions about the way things work in a modern coven situation for when that time comes for me.

I understand that there are covens that require swearing of an oath, etc...  I know this from reading the Internet and books, etc...  My question is, when does the oath effectively "take place"?

I have read some versions of the Book of Shadows (particularly Lady Sheba's) and discussed some of it with others, including things that were probably originally meant to be kept secret.  For instance, I mentioned the swearing on your mother as part of one of the initiation rituals to my own mother.  It is just the way I have always been.  Naturally, she wasn't very pleased but I had felt the need to be completely open and honest with her.  Again, this is not information that was confided in me rather something that is more or less in the public domain in this day and age, either available via books or the Internet.

I do realize that swearing an oath I would have to change the way I handle my own privacy.

My main question/concern is, would I still be accepted into a traditional coven after discussing these "secret things," or did I somehow manage to break the oath before I've even taken it by reading and discussing texts there were never "meant" to be public (but now readily are)?  I worry that I've broken the so-called "Old Laws" before I truly even become a dedicant to the religion.

My initial reaction was that since I have not taken any oath to this point and the information that I've shared is publically available that I am not in any danger of being "unable" to join a coven, but I just wanted to get some others' opinions on this.  When does this oath of secrecy "start"?  The moment one begins to explore Wicca or rather when their time of initiation comes?

Thanks.

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Star
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« Reply #1: April 06, 2007, 06:48:22 pm »

Hello everyone, first post on the new board.

Welcome to the Cauldron!
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« Reply #2: April 06, 2007, 07:45:10 pm »

My initial reaction was that since I have not taken any oath to this point and the information that I've shared is publically available that I am not in any danger of being "unable" to join a coven, but I just wanted to get some others' opinions on this.  When does this oath of secrecy "start"?  The moment one begins to explore Wicca or rather when their time of initiation comes?
I'm not Wiccan, but the ones I know are fairly reasonable.  (The ones I care to know well, anyway.  Wink )  I can't imagine any reasonable person expecting you to keep an oath you never swore.

Plus, in the example you mentioned, you got the information out of a published book.  If secrets were revealed, it's Lady Sheba's (and any other authors) problem, not yours.  After all, there was nothing stopping your mother from picking up the same book and getting the same information.
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Derg Corra
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« Reply #3: April 06, 2007, 07:49:35 pm »

Thank you for the welcome and also thanks for your advice.  The folks I have met seem to be pretty reasonable too but I don't want to give them the wrong first impression, since I know one of the big things about Wicca is honesty.  I am just starting out so I just wanted to start slowly without "assuming" anything.

Thanks!
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« Reply #4: April 06, 2007, 07:55:54 pm »

I worry that I've broken the so-called "Old Laws" before I truly even become a dedicant to the religion.
Another thought - there are a couple of approaches to secrecy in magical traditions that might be confusing you.  I'm sure there are others who can elaborate, but to "keep secret" to mean can mean at least 3 different things.

1.  Don't let anyone know you're a witch or they'll burn you and your coven mates.  This is pretty much absurd in this day and age - at least in most of the world.  But there could be other consequences to consider when discussing your religion with others.

2.  Keep the details, or even the existance of, your magical workings to yourself.  Some believe that talking about a working diffuses it's power.  This kind of secrecy would begin whenever you felt it was appropriate.

3.  Don't reveal oathbound information to those outside of the faith.  This would begin with initiation, or depending on the coven, whenever it is that you actually take the oath in question.  Don't worry.  No oathbound tradition is going to give you access to that information before then anyway.

Oh, and by the way, Welcome!
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« Reply #5: April 06, 2007, 07:56:34 pm »

My main question/concern is, would I still be accepted into a traditional coven after discussing these "secret things," or did I somehow manage to break the oath before I've even taken it by reading and discussing texts there were never "meant" to be public (but now readily are)?  I worry that I've broken the so-called "Old Laws" before I truly even become a dedicant to the religion.

My initial reaction was that since I have not taken any oath to this point and the information that I've shared is publically available that I am not in any danger of being "unable" to join a coven, but I just wanted to get some others' opinions on this.  When does this oath of secrecy "start"?  The moment one begins to explore Wicca or rather when their time of initiation comes?

You can't break an oath you didn't make.

Also, most *oathbound* stuff, as I understand from the edges they DO talk about, has more to do with keeping the members of one's religion and what happens there private.  It's not so much "don't EVER tell ANYONE that the staff is BLUE!" and much more "Don't tell anyone that Fred over there had a breakdown over the realization that he doesn't need to be perfect."  Now, that also includes the privacy of the gods in some cases.  (hence the restriction against giving the names of the gods).  But it's still stuff that IS private-style stuff, not public-information stuff.

I'd say, be upfront about what you've told other people if it comes up.  Don't lie about it, that's a bad way to set up any relationship.  But people that DO get wigged out about what you've said to other people from publicly available reaction?  You really don't want to deal with people that are going to get on your case about things you said before you were even involved with them.
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« Reply #6: April 06, 2007, 11:29:19 pm »

As has been said, you can't break an oath you haven't taken.  Relax.

As to when the oath 'starts' it starts just as you say it... but if you ever take that oath, you will be in the company of a High Priest and High Priestess and covenmates who will have made it clear to you.  And, one of the advantages of belonging to a coven is that you always have other people to check back with; if a situation comes up in which you aren't sure how to keep your oath within it, the fall-back plan is always the Power of Earth: silence.  Don't say or do anything until you check with your HPS & HP.  Many things are easier to understand after discussion... that's why this forum is so popular!  Smiley

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