Skryclad: Clothed In Visions
Observations of the light and the dark of what is, was, and might be in the Pagan community's expansion and evolution.
I'll Tell You
It is a fairly common custom for Traditions and Schools to have materials that are oathbound, teachings or practices that can only be shared with members or initiates. I have friends that are old school Witches, or Masons, or one of any number of systems that can eloquently explain why they have oathbound materials. I will not speak for them, and I honor their right to follow their ways. The Tradition of which I am a member, the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, does not have any teachings or practices that are oathbound, in fact it is more accurate to say that we are openbound. It is not my intention in this post to assert that oathbound, openbound, or any other approach is better than the other. What constitutes better is a matter of your perspectives, values, the purpose of your system, and the nature of your goals. What I’d like to offer here is information on how we manage boundaries for our lore and practices. The Assembly has been around since 1984 and we are 13 covens with a 14th in the process of formation.
Most of our covens offer rituals and workshops that are open to invited guests as well as ones that are open and announced online. Often these are pretty much the same as the ones that we would do in a closed setting. There are some rituals that work best where there is greater trust and mutual knowledge between the participants, and these rituals tend to be closed. This is not about keeping lore secret, it is about protecting the boundaries that allow for vulnerability and emotional openness in a magickal working group. If someone inquires about one of the closed coven rituals, they will often get a lengthy anecdote, and often the outline for the ritual. We do value the preservation of privacy and confidentiality because they support personal growth and exploration. Sharing the how and the what of our rituals and practices does not harm us nor lessen our sense of their sacredness. People being initiated into our Tradition have the option to invite close friends, spouses, family and so on to their initiations even if their beloveds are not part of our Tradition. Although there are specific ritual components that are required for each degree, every ritual is custom written for the needs of the individual initiates. One of the outcomes of more openness in our initiations is that all that are present are subjected to an impetus to grow and evolve. We have seen this have a positive effect on both our covens and our invited guests. Secrecy is not the root of our mysteries.
There are things that we do withhold based on needs for safety. There are keys that give access to the use of sacred objects, our regalia, astral temples and so on that are not readily shared. These keys often take the form of chants, ritual actions, and so on. It would not be prudent to leave copies of your car keys on the hood or post your passwords online, and the same applies to some parts of our Tradition. The sharing of these is based on need, trust, and mutual respect.
Our Tradition as the re-enchantment of the world as one of our missions which means that we teach and share broadly, but there is also an obligation to do so responsibly. Some techniques and rituals that are powerful are also potentially dangerous. This means that these need to be taught after confirming that the student has enough of the prerequisite knowledge and experience to begin the more advanced studies. Often these sorts of techniques and rituals are best taught in person so that an experienced practitioner can spot errors and issues before significant harm occurs. In this setting it requires personal discernment and judgment to make sure the lore is passed on fully and safely.
I, and many others, engage in experimentation and exploration to create or recreate rituals and techniques. Some of these experiments fail, others are partial successes, and a few shine from the start. Whether it is art, craft, or tech, I choose not to share these creations until they have been tested, polished, and vetted to my satisfaction. The motivation here is quality control. New materials are withheld until they prove their worth.
Part of our Tradition’s cohesion is based upon the relationships between individuals and between covens. Our sense of what is ours is more about the look, the feel, and intangible qualities of connection than specific writings or liturgical practices. Moreover, we are continually, albeit carefully and slowly, creating new materials so there is no sense of scarcity nor a desire to hoard what we have. The mysteries do protect themselves and the greatest mystery we honor is that there is no end to more learning and to creativity.
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