This is the fifth 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.
“Be truthful always, save when speaking would lead to a great harm.”
What does it mean to be truthful? One of my favorite quotes comes from my favorite musical, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s iconic masterpiece, Jesus Christ Superstar. (The 1973 movie version.)
The quote comes when Ted Neeley’s Jesus is taken to the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate to decide Jesus’ fate—that is, whether to crucify him. Pilate sings during the trial, and in his song, he offers the lines:
“But what is truth? Is truth unchanging law?
We both have truths – are mine the same as yours?”
The first time I heard these lines, they struck me to my core. I was 17, zoned out on mood stabilizers and anti-depressants, and only a few months out of a brief stint in a psychiatric hospital.
Yes, in my never-ending search for truth, I’ve asked similar questions. But it was seeing that not-at-all-subtle movie that really sparked something new within me.
It changed the way I try to understand truth. That is, it helped me realize that the only truth I’m in control of is my own. The way other people understand truth depends entirely on them–their core belief system, their experiences, their desires.
I think we can all agree that some things are revealed as fact–things confirmed through repeated experimentation, mass experience–things like birth and death or like the basic need for clean water and sunlight to sustain life. Those are truths we all know and accept.
Even so, there are still people who deeply believe the world is only a few thousand years old (or flat, or that dinosaurs never existed), despite evidence to the contrary.
I don’t say that to make fun. Heck, it’s my truth that Fae live in the rivers and woods, that we exist in more than one dimension, that cards can reveal mysteries from the Universe–with little evidence to support those things.
However, I recognize a difference between holding a belief based on faith (even with a lack of concrete evidence), and believing something where all evidence points to that belief being false. So, while we all hold varying views of truth, some things are self-evident.
This tenet asks us to cultivate an awareness not only of our own idea of truth, but of the truths others hold dear. It asks us to speak and live in those truths.
But what if speaking our truth puts us or others at risk? This law covers that dilemma, too.
In today’s society, you may be surprised to learn that witches are still persecuted in various countries. In fact, just a few months ago, a woman and her children were killed by family members for practicing witchcraft. Whether or not she truly was didn’t matter. She was accused. And as we’ve seen in the past, that’s enough for some people.
That’s why coming out of the broom closet can be frightening. I know that I am open about not only my practice, but also about the fact that I’m a queer woman. For me, the need to share my beliefs in order to make a better world is stronger than the fear of other people’s ignorance.
In a previous entry, I touched a bit on the difficulties of being openly witchy. So, if you choose not to reveal that side of yourself (or anything that might inspire hatred), doing so would not be in contrast with this law. As much as it may hurt to deny any part of yourself, it isn’t being dishonest if you’re doing it for your own safety or that of someone else.
Remember, you deserve to feel safe.
For most of my life, before ever hearing of the Ordains, I’ve tried to be honest and transparent in all that I do. The older I get, the more important it is to continue the search for truth.
So, what is your truth? Let me know in the comments or find Maiden’s Circle on Facebook.
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA
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