This is the third entry in a series on a set of Pagan guidelines known as the Ordains. The Ordains, as we know them today, can be found in the works of Gerald Gardener. Maiden’s Circle uses a simplified version that has been edited and altered to reflect our core beliefs.

“Watch, listen and withhold judgment; in debate may your silences be long, your thoughts clear and your words carefully chosen.”

The third law may be one of the hardest for many of us to follow. In today’s atmosphere of charged tension, internet anonymity, and rampant unbridled passions, silence is a rarity for the average person.

Honestly, I’ve broken this “law” countless times. Especially when it comes to the second half—long silences in debate are not my forté. It’s tough not to insist that I get to express my thoughts. That said, I’ve found that the times I do follow this tenet, discussions tend to flow far more smoothly.

Overall, I do believe this particular law is a golden rule in any conversation. To watch, listen, and withhold judgment is paramount to creating a deeper understanding and connection with other people.

This is true for general conversation, as well as for arguments or debates. When we stop to listen and pay attention to people—their behaviors, their physical responses, small facial ticks—all our interactions with them are instantly improved.

Despite my shoddy adherence, I think this is one of the more important Ordains. Our relationships suffer when we are unable to step back and listen. When we fail to observe and understand people, we end up neglecting our most basic human need: connection with others. And we risk damaging further connections when we speak before thinking.

I’ve always tried to choose my words with care and consideration. Perhaps it’s a response to an unstable childhood–a way to gain some control over something in my life (much like my never-ending need to clean). Or maybe it’s a symptom of mental illness or undiagnosed autism. Perhaps, even, it’s due to the fact that I believe all words carry power. Beyond the power individuals ascribe to them, words are powered by history and societal use.

Whatever the reason for my obsession with words, they can bring me great anxiety. Not only must I choose the correct words when I speak and write, but I notice when others use the “wrong” ones.

So, I consider how my words will affect others as much as possible. However, this can be difficult when I’m in an emotionally charged situation. That’s when it’s most important to stop and observe, to think and speak in love.

I have found this to be easier in times of peace. When it’s most crucial to listen is often when it’s hardest. At least it is for me. But these times seem to matter most.

This guideline reminds me, even during the toughest of times, just how critical it is step back, to observe, and to listen. I see the value it adds to my relationships and the growth that can facilitate. And as long as I keep that close to my heart and try to govern my actions accordingly, my relationships will thrive.

Do you notice that you’re more or less likely to stop and listen when emotions are high? What things do you do to improve and nurture your relationships and interactions with other people?

With love always,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA

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