“You Lied!” Some Thoughts on Honesty and Pagan Practice

You Lied!” Some Thoughts on Honesty and Pagan Practice

Author: Bronwen Forbes

When I first began to formally study Paganism, it was drilled into my head over and over: “A witch is only as good as his or her word.” In other words, there is a direct relationship between the quality and effectiveness of your magick and how good you are at telling the truth and keeping promises.

Which makes sense, when you think bout it, because say, for example, you are doing a working to find a new job and you promise Hestia that if you get a job you will volunteer so many hours a week a the local soup kitchen in Her name. Then suppose you promise your friend that you will meet her for lunch and something better comes up and you break your promise to your friend. Why, then, if you don’t keep your word to your friend should Hestia have any reason to believe you’ll keep your promise to her? Odds are you won’t get that new job if Hestia has anything to do with it.

This is partly a matter of will. If magick is, as some say, “change in accordance with will, ” this implies t hat a person’s will is pretty important. And a major component of will is the strength to do what you say you will do – no matter how hard that may become. If your word is good, chances are your will and your magick will be pretty strong.

I was also taught that it’s okay to lie if it’s a matter of life and death. I would say: evaluate the situation very carefully before choosing to lie “for the greater good.” Let me give an example. About eight years ago I was a very busy volunteer with a local no-kill animal rescue organization. I was also – and still am – totally, utterly and completely smitten with beagles.

So when I saw a miserable shy little beagle on our town’s high-kill Humane Society’s web page, I leapt into action. I tried to adopt Joe the Shy Beagle, stating openly that I was a volunteer with the no-kill rescue group. The folks at the Humane Society wouldn’t let me have him, stating that they were afraid I’d just turn around and adopt him out to someone else. We went back and forth on this issue for a few days while Joe cowered in the back of his cage. Meanwhile, the clock ticked down to the day that Joe was scheduled to be euthanized. And since no one wants to adopt a dog that’s literally paralyzed with fear (except me, apparently) , I was running out of time if I wanted to save Joe’s life.

So I lied.

I told the staff at the Humane Society that my husband had completely fallen in love with Joe and we now wanted to keep him. And a day later I brought Joe home. Within a month I’d sent him to live with my mother after he freaked out because the neighborhood kids had gone a little overboard with Fourth of July fireworks. He’s been with my mother ever since.

Did I do the right thing? On the surface, yes I did. I deliberately lied – and made my husband lie – in order to save an animal’s life; an animal, I should add, that my mother loves very much. For years I used this example to teach my students to think about their actions and the ethics of those actions. I was actually proud of the fact that I’d saved Joe’s life and cited the whole incident as an example of “harm none; all life is sacred.”

Except there’s more to the story. My family currently lives with my mother, which means we live with Joe. Beagles are, in general, cheerful, outgoing, friendly, cuddly, happy little dogs. Eight years after I pulled him out of the back of his cage at the Humane Society, Joe is still none of these things. He cowers, snarls at the other dogs, and (most disturbingly) if startled by motion four or five feet away, snaps at my five-year-old daughter (who was raised with dogs and knows how to behave around them) . It’s only a matter of time before he bites her. Joe is also slowly dying of stress-related health issues.

Had I not lied to the Humane Society staff all those years ago, Joe would have lived a few more days and been humanely euthanized by a painless overdose of barbiturates. But I did, and now I get to watch a desperately unhappy dog take years to die by inches – and possibly do serious damage to my child before he goes.

Did I ultimately do Joe any favor? In my opinion, no. Have I done him harm? Absolutely. And that, gentle readers, is bad magick.

There are also less painful, more practical spiritual reasons to keep your word and live as truthful a life as possible. For example, if you aspire to join a British Traditional or a British Traditional-based coven, you’re going to be expected to swear at least a few oaths. And these groups take these oaths pretty seriously. In other words, if you’ve developed a reputation in the community for being flaky about commitments or gossiping (breaking your word) spreading wild stories or inventing training/lineage credentials (lying) or you’re just generally an all-around unreliable person, you’re not going to be invited to join an oath-taking group. Of course, even if you’re not interested in joining a traditionally-minded group, it would still be nice not to have a bad reputation in the community, wouldn’t it?

On the other hand, and completely tongue-in-cheek here, the “white lie” rules that apply outside the Pagan community apply here, too. In other words, if anyone of any gender asks you, “Does this robe make me look fat?” your best option is, of course, to say no!

But in all seriousness, being as truthful as possible can only make you a better practitioner, a better covener, a better community member, and an all-around better person. We need more of those. I think Joe the Beagle would agree.

 

Happy Saturday to all my Readers!


I hope everyone is having a great weekend. I am so sorry I am running late today. Today is not really a good day for me at all. I have been crying off and on since yesterday afternoon. I had a real good tear jerker this morning and then I took a nap. I know someone once said I whined alot. Today that person would be right. I know everyone knows I had three wildcats. I also had three little precious kittens and a mother cat. I went out yesterday morning and I generally holler, “where are my babies?” and the kittens come a running. I feed them, pet them and love the devil out of them. When I went outside yesterday to feed them, I hollered and nothing came. My pentagram flipped over. I knew them something was horribly wrong. I walked around the porch and I saw where the lattice had been crashed thru. This is where the momma cat and kittens stayed. There was nothing there except fur, fur everywhere. I started to cry. Then I got up and walked around the porch and found one of the wildcats dead. This like to have killed me. I picked him up and cried and cried. Then I heard a faint cry. I got up to find it. It was one of the other wildcats and he was hurt. Something had tried to kill him by get at his jugular vein. He had bites all over him. I called the vet and I rushed him to the vet. The vet did emergency surgery on him and he is going to be fine. The other wildcat I checked out before we left. He was in the barn covered in blood. I washed him off and he was all right. I have one little kitten left and two wildcats. We were talking to some of our neighbors and they have had animals that are being killed too. They decided that late in the afternoons they were going hunting. In the late afternoon is when the coyotes and the coyodogs are most active. I know I probably didn’t spell coyodog right. A coyodog is an animal that mother or father was a dog and the mother or father was a coyote.  This animals are meaner than a coyote. These creatures will attack humans and anything else that sticks its head out.

The poor little kitten that managed to escape the killings, I found him yesterday afternoon. I had walked these grounds and hollered for him. Nothing! Then late yesterday, I got the idea to get a can of food and pop the top. I popped the top and here he came. He wasn’t running, he was staggering and looked very dazed. I picked him up and brought him in the house. I believe the poor kitten was in shock. Today he is doing much better. He is took up with me in my bedroom. My husband says he looks like my other cat. I don’t see it but he does. I want to keep him but my husband doesn’t want anymore cat after Stinker is gone. But I honestly believe he is leaning toward me keeping him. At least, I know he will make his mind up that way, lol! But I just wanted to tell you why it is not a good day for me. I have lost two momma cats, two kittens and a wildcat. It is a very sad day for me.

I am going to post spells today. Something I don’t never seem to have time to do during the week day. If some of them turn out to be geared toward the nasty side, now you know why.

I love you all and have a very blessed weekend,

Lady A

 

“You Lied!” Some Thoughts on Honesty and Pagan Practice

“You Lied!” Some Thoughts on Honesty and Pagan Practice

Author: Bronwen Forbes

When I first began to formally study Paganism, it was drilled into my head over and over: “A witch is only as good as his or her word.” In other words, there is a direct relationship between the quality and effectiveness of your magick and how good you are at telling the truth and keeping promises.

Which makes sense, when you think bout it, because say, for example, you are doing a working to find a new job and you promise Hestia that if you get a job you will volunteer so many hours a week a the local soup kitchen in Her name. Then suppose you promise your friend that you will meet her for lunch and something better comes up and you break your promise to your friend. Why, then, if you don’t keep your word to your friend should Hestia have any reason to believe you’ll keep your promise to her? Odds are you won’t get that new job if Hestia has anything to do with it.

This is partly a matter of will. If magick is, as some say, “change in accordance with will, ” this implies t hat a person’s will is pretty important. And a major component of will is the strength to do what you say you will do – no matter how hard that may become. If your word is good, chances are your will and your magick will be pretty strong.

I was also taught that it’s okay to lie if it’s a matter of life and death. I would say: evaluate the situation very carefully before choosing to lie “for the greater good.” Let me give an example. About eight years ago I was a very busy volunteer with a local no-kill animal rescue organization. I was also – and still am – totally, utterly and completely smitten with beagles.

So when I saw a miserable shy little beagle on our town’s high-kill Humane Society’s web page, I leapt into action. I tried to adopt Joe the Shy Beagle, stating openly that I was a volunteer with the no-kill rescue group. The folks at the Humane Society wouldn’t let me have him, stating that they were afraid I’d just turn around and adopt him out to someone else. We went back and forth on this issue for a few days while Joe cowered in the back of his cage. Meanwhile, the clock ticked down to the day that Joe was scheduled to be euthanized. And since no one wants to adopt a dog that’s literally paralyzed with fear (except me, apparently) , I was running out of time if I wanted to save Joe’s life.

So I lied.

I told the staff at the Humane Society that my husband had completely fallen in love with Joe and we now wanted to keep him. And a day later I brought Joe home. Within a month I’d sent him to live with my mother after he freaked out because the neighborhood kids had gone a little overboard with Fourth of July fireworks. He’s been with my mother ever since.

Did I do the right thing? On the surface, yes I did. I deliberately lied – and made my husband lie – in order to save an animal’s life; an animal, I should add, that my mother loves very much. For years I used this example to teach my students to think about their actions and the ethics of those actions. I was actually proud of the fact that I’d saved Joe’s life and cited the whole incident as an example of “harm none; all life is sacred.”

Except there’s more to the story. My family currently lives with my mother, which means we live with Joe. Beagles are, in general, cheerful, outgoing, friendly, cuddly, happy little dogs. Eight years after I pulled him out of the back of his cage at the Humane Society, Joe is still none of these things. He cowers, snarls at the other dogs, and (most disturbingly) if startled by motion four or five feet away, snaps at my five-year-old daughter (who was raised with dogs and knows how to behave around them) . It’s only a matter of time before he bites her. Joe is also slowly dying of stress-related health issues.

Had I not lied to the Humane Society staff all those years ago, Joe would have lived a few more days and been humanely euthanized by a painless overdose of barbiturates. But I did, and now I get to watch a desperately unhappy dog take years to die by inches – and possibly do serious damage to my child before he goes.

Did I ultimately do Joe any favor? In my opinion, no. Have I done him harm? Absolutely. And that, gentle readers, is bad magick.

There are also less painful, more practical spiritual reasons to keep your word and live as truthful a life as possible. For example, if you aspire to join a British Traditional or a British Traditional-based coven, you’re going to be expected to swear at least a few oaths. And these groups take these oaths pretty seriously. In other words, if you’ve developed a reputation in the community for being flaky about commitments or gossiping (breaking your word) spreading wild stories or inventing training/lineage credentials (lying) or you’re just generally an all-around unreliable person, you’re not going to be invited to join an oath-taking group. Of course, even if you’re not interested in joining a traditionally-minded group, it would still be nice not to have a bad reputation in the community, wouldn’t it?

On the other hand, and completely tongue-in-cheek here, the “white lie” rules that apply outside the Pagan community apply here, too. In other words, if anyone of any gender asks you, “Does this robe make me look fat?” your best option is, of course, to say no!

But in all seriousness, being as truthful as possible can only make you a better practitioner, a better covener, a better community member, and an all-around better person. We need more of those. I think Joe the Beagle would agree.