Friday, December 31, 2010

Swearing to God...

It's New Year's Eve! Finally, a chance to start anew. It's time to take a deep breath, stand up like mature adults, and lie to ourselves – again.

Oh yeah – you do. I do. It's the weakness of the human condition, possibly, but that only explains it – not excuses it. As Wiccans and Pagans, perhaps we need to take a closer look at our words and the resulting effects and – yes – even Karma.

I made a resolution to – upon occasion – use this blog as something more than a chronicle of my weird health, or a source of comic relief. Don't get me wrong: I'm not going to give up journaling my twisted life, strange friendships, or cute puppy antics. (In fact, Yule picture of me and the Rufus below.)

However, as an Elder, it wouldn't hurt to try and teach y'all something now and then.

Oh, sit down and read. It won't hurt you.

Resolutions: They go hand and hand with New Year's. We review the past year, decide what we wish to change going forward, pledge to make a difference – and then don't. I know that's not true for everyone, but for most folk I know resolutions fade as soon as they return to their regular routines. Our “usual lives” are worn like well-grooved paths. Our “wheels” fit them, move smoothly along them, even if they no longer take us where we want to go.

By giving our word by declaration (such as a resolution) we are participating in a magical act. It's true – and no one knows better than the Irish. Our bards and poets could bring prosperity or curse a king's fate with the power of words. Think of the effects certain song lyrics may have on your own responses and emotions. (I use to have co-workers who got choked up when they heard “Butterfly Kisses.” Uh – OK. To each their own. Don't know the song? Spare yourself.)

By making resolutions, you are giving your word. To disregard your word is to disregard your power and, in part, disavow your magic.

Many who make resolutions sincerely try to live up to them, but fail. To me, that's a different matter. Sometimes additional help is required to make major change. If folks seek out that assistance, when they realize they can't set their wheels on a new path alone, they are still being true to their word.

There's another form of “giving your word” that is all too common, and prone to disregard. It's “the bargain with the Universe.” It's not just something we do when facing death, but in various, more immediate circumstances.

This particular “word giving” is usually a simple formula: “Dear Gods/ Old Ones/ Universe, If you let 'A' happen, then I will do 'B'.” For example: “Old Ones, give me success and I promise to adopt a highway/ join Habitat for Humanity/ save the whales.” Success comes – but it never seems to be a convenient time to keep our end of the bargain. Oh, we intend to – as soon as our time frees up.

Meanwhile, the Earth fills up with orphan overpasses, homeless in hovels, and waterlogged whale bits.

Beware, folks. You are leaking “power” and “magic.” Perhaps that's why people are so frightened by the concept of “a pact with Satan.” If you sign on the line, you are going to pay. We Pagans have no ultimate Evil forcing us to ante up. Nothing “forces” us to keep our resolutions, uphold our bargains or honor our promises.

But – there is Karma.

When we give our word, even in simple things, and “blow it off”, there are repercussions both subtle and immediate. Did you promise a friend you would day trip to the ocean, take in a movie, a museum, a new restaurant etc.? Did you “forget,” cancel, or decide to schedule in something else instead? So what – they'll understand, right? But how do you know the impact on the other person?

Here's a true example from my own life:

I had a friend who lost his job, his marriage, and the respect of his children. His friends were also his wife's friends, and they had turned their backs on him. On the phone that November, I learned that he had no plans for Thanksgiving. I told him he could come to my cousin's house with me.

I called on Thanksgiving morning, convinced him to meet me at my house, and together we went to my cousin's for a great meal, and a great time.

A few days later, he called to thank me for saving his life. He was so alone and despondent Thanksgiving morning, he was about to kill himself when my call came through.

I really didn't want to have a holiday meal with a depressed friend – but I gave my word.

(BTW: he worked out things with his wife and family and they are happily reunited.)

You never know the impact of your words.

Be attentive.

Be aware.

Be respectful of your own powers and the effects on others.

Make it a resolution!

Happy New Year!

(p.s.: All illustrations are taken from the Graven Images Oracle deck, by me and Nat Zaman. Order from Amazon by clicking on my link!)

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