Pagan Speak – August 2003 – Oaths

Pagan Speak for August 2003
Topic 2: Oaths
The taking of oaths is an integral part of many religious ceremonies. What types of oaths do you think are appropriate or inappropriate? Is it ever OK to break an oath? What are the consequences to breaking an oath?

When someone talks about oaths, I generally get the creeps. I mean, if you aren’t doing anything illegal, or immoral, or really weird, why do you need an oath? Yeah, I know there are a lot more to oaths then just asking people to cover up or not reveal what’s going on.

Looking at oaths a little deeper, I can see how they are useful, in some situations. Requiring an oath before teaching someone some knowledge can help to make sure that the student recognises the importance of what they are learning. The oath can also help to reinforce some of the ideas, especially if the lesson include ideas about how to uphold a faith or present yourself to the world.

I’m not sure I agree with oaths of secrecy as part of joining a society. Personally, I’ve never been part of a “secret society”, so perhaps that colours my opinion. But I tend to see their oaths and “secrecy” as a bit silly. I suppose they have their place though.

As for breaking an oath, I think there are times when it is appropriate. If you have sworn an oath of secrecy, it would be appropriate to break it if something illegal occurs. And in this case, there should be no ramifications arising from the breaking. But if an oath is broken for no good reason, then some sort of consequence is appropriate. For example, if you swear an oath to uphold your faith against all detractors, yet you consistantly allow friends make fun of your faith, then you have broken your oath. The consequeneces in this case would be personal, I believe, but also should be imposed by the group to which you swore the oath. Perhaps it would be wise to revisit some lessons, or to do some volunteering, or something similar.