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Column: Oathbound | The Wild Hunt

Column: Oathbound | The Wild Hunt

There’s a image of a gaggle of individuals. They’re standing in a front room, though there are sufficient of them in body that the small print of the room are principally hidden. All of them are smiling, wearing comparable garments, circling a easy altar. On the altar is lengthy piece of cloth with a logo carved in wooden affixed to the entrance.

That’s all I can say about it. I want to print this photograph and put it on my dresser, a signpost for me to the touch every morning and keep in mind, that is who I’m now. I’m within the photograph, close to the left of the group, standing tall and smiling. I like how I look there, surrounded by my fellows, and there are few sufficient photographs I can say that about, however I can’t take the danger that another person would see it. There are issues on this photograph which might be oathbound: the image on the altar, the variety of individuals within the room, the garments we’re sporting. Solely these of us who’ve taken the oath are allowed to know them.

I’ve by no means stored a secret like this earlier than.

EDITOR’S NOTE: In lieu of the oathbound materials, please take pleasure in this photograph of the writer and pal [L. Babb].

I’m not a secret keeper by nature. I consider, virtually greater than I consider in anything, within the circulate of data. My favourite heroes rising up have been the fresh-faced youths of the black and white films, contaminated by the fever of righteous journalism. “The individuals should know!” they might say, crushing a newspaper of their proper arms, their low cost fits belying a knowledge that had nothing to do with ambition or cash. Principally they have been performed by Jimmy Stewart, and in that they’ll all the time have a bonus on me.

I listened to my earnest reporters and I believed them. Secrets and techniques have been the instruments of the wealthy, backstabbing, upper-class man within the fancy go well with, the type of character performed by Claude Raines, Sydney Greenstreet, or Lionel Barrymore. One of the best device, typically the one device, that our plucky hero had in his arsenal towards such evil was the reality.

I informed the reality as a matter in fact, scrupulously, at size – and worse, I assumed that everybody else did as properly. When Jeremy, in third grade, stated that his house within the farmlands of Kansas had been the sufferer of an nameless drive-by, I believed him. It didn’t happen to me till years later that the muttering in school that day may need been amusement that I had taken the bait. Mr. Ellis, whose spouse bought Amway to my mother and father, informed me that there was a dragon in a close-by valley. I believed him, although he appeared stunned that I requested after the dragon every week, a month, a yr later.

My potential to entry that credulity has been an actual profit in magic. A willingness to consider a number of paradigms as concurrently true has unquestionably been what introduced me to eclectic Paganism, and has all the time shaped the core of my theology. Till final week, although, I used to be not conscious of the luggage that credulity introduced with it, that keen-eyed, trustworthy a part of my trickster-loving soul that has all the time hated maintaining secrets and techniques and telling lies.


I can’t give particulars on the oath that binds me. There are lots of features of the Fellowship of the Phoenix which are open to anybody on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, however the ritual during which I handed from being a Seeker right into a member of the Order itself is just not certainly one of them. Each facet of that night time, from the second I approached the door till I went house, I’m sworn to maintain between myself and different members of the Order.

There is part of me that’s intensely delighted by this. “I can’t inform anybody the oath that binds me.” If that isn’t probably the most fairy-tale-cursed-prince nonsense on the planet, I don’t know what’s. These are the trimmings of magic – teams gathered in personal, the solemnity of formality, well-known voices contorted round arcane phrases. That is what I’ve studied for years to enact.

Then again, just like the fairy-tale prince in his bear disguise, I additionally really feel trapped. I’ve held many secrets and techniques in my life – heavy ones, secrets and techniques which have formed my physique and my identify. They’ve weighed heavy, and I’ve spent years banishing them. Queer people fall again on the phrase “talking my fact” an excessive amount of, however it’s a superb phrase and a real one. Taking over a brand new secret looks like taking a step again right into a time the place I wanted to measure each phrase towards my viewers and decide whether or not this was the right time and area to say the reality.

An altar [L. Babb].

“What do you consider the magical objective of secrecy?”

We’re sitting in an excellent, comparatively upscale Mexican restaurant. There’s a fountain within the middle of the room, spotlighted beneath a skylight, with torrents of philodendrons dripping off of it. It’s daylight, and just a little methods throughout the room a party is beginning to assemble.

“Uh,” I say. The overwhelming majority of my information, magical or in any other case, comes from books. “I haven’t actually considered it.”

My elder nods, and prompts me on. “Do you assume magic is simpler if it’s stored secret?”

I consider the rituals I’ve deliberate weeks prematurely, in order that my spouse will know to be out of the home. Nonetheless, I shake my head. “No. I feel – I feel it’s simpler to do, perhaps?”

They nod. “I feel that issues are stored secret to guard the expertise, to permit us to be absolutely current within the second,” they are saying, and pause. “I do know you’re nervous. I’ll inform you what to anticipate within the ritual, if you need.”

“Oh! No.” I shake my head. “No, I don’t need to know beforehand. I simply need some reassurance.”

They take my measure after which nod, spreading their palms. “What can I inform you?”


“Magic appears foolish!” one other elder tells me, once I ask him that very same query. “It does. If individuals aren’t inside, in the event that they don’t know, then it’s simply so many costumes and unusual symbols. Protecting it secret protects it.” He pauses, measuring his phrases. “And the act of maintaining it secret makes it necessary. It provides it actual weight.” He motions with one hand, as if hefting a heavy ball.

There are individuals everywhere in the room, rigorously curled round their dinners as they take heed to him. He is aware of extra secrets and techniques than most of us right here and it provides him an influence that I don’t assume is solely intentional. “It’s psychological!” he says, grinning. “Yeah? We now have to note it, and take into consideration the truth that it’s secret, so it stands out. Does that make sense?”

I take into consideration my greatest pal, whose follow is intuitive and achieved virtually totally in secret, who guards their phrases intently, even with me. “One thing stored between two individuals is highly effective,” they inform me, once I ask. “And it retains others from messing it up.” Which isn’t fairly the identical, however it is sensible sufficient.

Once I reply the query myself, out loud, the nerdiest a part of me rears its head. What do I take into consideration the magical function of secrecy? “I’m very postmodern about it,” I say, nonetheless not totally satisfied I do know what that phrase “postmodern” means. “I feel that, no matter you consider about secrecy, that’s true for you. So should you assume that protecting a secret makes it extra magically highly effective, it does.” That is sufficient for the dialog, and for the one that requested. It’s sufficient for me, till I give it some thought extra.

Magical instruments [L. Babb].

Here’s a story that I can inform in its entirety, with out pausing to weigh my phrases.

This summer time, over the course of my first research with a instructor, I used to be given the task of consecrating my magical instruments. The ritual that I used to be given pulled from Wicca, Conventional Craft, and Ceremonial Magic – none of that are my normal path – to name on a god and goddess to bless the merchandise at hand. I dismissed it as actual “cup and dagger stuff,” however I sucked up my incredulity and nonbinary annoyance and received right down to work.

My spouse safely out of the home, I cleared out the lounge and arrange a circle. 4 occasions in 4 months I referred to as on my patron and his spouse to bless my very own dagger, wand, cup, and pentacle. Every time was somewhat simpler, rather less self-conscious, a bit of extra profitable.

The fourth invocation was by far the most effective. I used to be accustomed to the sample of the ceremony by then, and I might loosen up into it, following my instinct so as to add slightly additional providing right here, a bit of extra drumming there. A full head of steam behind me, I constructed as much as the climax of the ritual and dipped my dagger into the cup of wine, enacting the Nice Ceremony, the last word symbolic procreation – and concurrently there was a banging at my window.

I froze, dagger nonetheless submerged. I used to be not naked- even within the privateness of my own residence I don’t go skyclad – however I used to be sporting little sufficient to hope fervently that the home windows wanting down into our backyard condo have been closed sufficient to dam line of sight. By no means thoughts the candles, the brightly coloured altar, the massive knife poleaxed in the midst of the symbolic PIV; all I might assume was how grateful I used to be to be sporting pants.

“Hey! Hey, are you guys residence?”

Hector lived on the opposite aspect of the condo constructing together with his pet (named Pet.) He had realized that he might yell in our window a few months earlier when he interrupted a screening of Jurassic Park, and had made frequent stops by since. We all the time tried to say whats up, however even when I had needed to answer this time, I might have needed to cross my circle to get to the window.

By no means thoughts the ritual. By no means thoughts the dagger, nonetheless in its cup.

I appeared down at my arms and began to giggle to myself, cautious to remain totally silent. Oh my gods, I assumed, the Nice Ceremony made a toddler.

One other spherical of banging. “Hey! Hey, are you able to hear me?” I shook in place, closing my eyes. There was nothing I might do however to attend it out, dagger in hand, till Hector left and I might snort out loud, breathless, and end the ceremony, grinning.

We moved quickly after that, and I didn’t see Hector once more. There’s a probability that he appeared in via a crack within the blinds and noticed me sitting there, solely nonetheless, candles and all. There’s greater than an opportunity that he had heard my drum, got here to see what was occurring, and knew that somebody was house. However I stayed silent. I stored the key of my ritual, however I didn’t – couldn’t – cease the influence that it had.

I feel that’s how silence works. The query, then, is find out how to use it.

The Wild Hunt all the time welcomes submissions for our weekend part. Please ship queries or accomplished items to eric@wildhunt.org.
The views and opinions expressed by our numerous panel of columnists and visitor writers symbolize the various diverging views held inside the international Pagan, Heathen and polytheist communities, however don’t essentially mirror the views of The Wild Hunt Inc. or its administration.

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