This is the fourth 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.
“Never boast, or threaten, or speak evil of anyone.”
I love this one. That’s not to say I’ve always been good at sticking to it. Although I try not to boast or gossip, I can’t say I’ve never threatened anyone—including myself.
As far back as I remember, I’ve had a strong distaste for gossip. Perhaps it’s due to that popular saying, often attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt: “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”
For sure, that saying impacted me at a young age, but I think it goes deeper than that. I grew up in a teensy town in Mississippi. It was the kind of place where everyone knows everyone else. Even if I’d never met a person, they knew me or something about me before we were ever introduced.
For people in that town, this was normal. Accepted. But it’s always made me uncomfortable. The idea that folks are talking about me when I’m not around—and sometimes sharing personal secrets—squicks me the heck out. Now, as an adult, I try to avoid people who gossip and tend to stay quiet at times when I can’t avoid them or escape the situation.
It’s one thing to say, “How’s Jane?” and get a quick update on the basics of someone you care about. It’s entirely different to hold a full conversation detailing all the things someone else is doing in their life. It’s worse, even, when judgment of those things comes into the discussion.
In my experience, those who gossip aren’t doing it for anyone’s good. In fact, talking negatively about another person tells more about the gossiper. It tells me that isn’t a person I want to trust with with the private moments of my life.
Boasting is a more complicated matter. With today’s current trends, I think many of us struggle to draw lines between self-love and self-aggrandizing.
It brings to mind a conversation between my partner and I. We were discussing the merits of self-reflection. That is, the process of observing and analyzing aspects of one’s own personality and choices.
While I firmly believe that to be an important step on the path of spiritual growth and healing, he is of the opinion that self-analysis is no more than masturbatory narcissism. So, with that mindset, one might avoid ever speaking of the good in their life. They see it as bragging/boasting, which our society has taught us is in poor taste.
However, I think it’s necessary to draw those lines. We each should spend time reflecting on ourselves, on our choices and thoughts. We are happy (or comfortable) focusing on our failures. Failure, after all, is where we learn most so that we can grow.
But our successes deserve just as much focus. We can learn plenty from success that failure can’t teach. Failure shows us what went wrong, but success shows us what to repeat.
Does that mean we should let success or good luck go to our heads? Should we, in acknowledging our success, let everyone we come across know how successful we are?
Well, yes and no.
Yes, we should accept our success and feel good about it. It’s healthy to celebrate our wins. But no, everyone doesn’t need to hear the story of how we landed that big deal.
How do we draw that line between boasting and celebrating or, simply, sharing our good fortune? Intent comes into play here.
If our goal is to show someone how much better off we are than them, that’s bragging, and it serves no purpose. If our goal is to inspire, to help people see what’s possible, to feel good about ourselves without putting others down–well, there we have a purpose. There we are engaging in self-love.
It’s okay to love ourselves. It’s okay to celebrate the good in our lives and to share that with others.
Bragging isn’t sharing. It isn’t celebratory. It’s meant to elevate oneself above another, in a way that makes the other person feel lower. And it’s plain rude.
Threatening others is even ruder. To say you’ll have someone punished for harming you is one thing. It’s more like self-defense. But to seriously threaten harm to another for any reason goes against my beliefs. It goes against the “Harm none” law (which I discussed here), so try to avoid it.
That includes threats of self. Self-harm is a common problem, especially in sensitive communities like ours. Someone who’s sensitive to the myriad of energies that we come across every time we step outside is more likely to deal with thoughts of self-harm.
The same can be said for any sensitive person or anyone dealing with mental illness. To threaten ourselves or others is almost always a no. For sure, there are times when we must protect and defend ourselves, but for the most part, we should never need to threaten anyone.
So, this law is actually three-in-one, and I can say I’m a fan of it. Don’t speak evil of or gossip about others. Don’t brag to make yourself feel superior. And don’t threaten anyone.
For me, it’s an easy one to follow.
What do you think? How else could you interpret this law?
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA
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