Monday, February 13, 2012

And then there is my oath

In passing, someone asked me what the other reasons were for me not being concerned about HOGD/A&O claims. Part of my reply was that it really did not matter because I am forbidden to learn from the HOGD/A&O Adept outreach thanks to my oath as an archive officer. The HOGD/A&O demands that you swore an oath of secrecy to learn their additional lessons and rituals---in other words, you never tell anyone what you have seen unless they too are under the oath.

The oath that I took as an archive officer is an "override" oath. In other words, it overrides all the previous oaths I have ever taken...and all the future oaths that people try to put me under. I am obligated to preserve the information of the system...by whatever means I see fit to do so. In other words, I am make the decision of how to preserve the information, not someone else, and publication is always an option on the table. Therefore, the HOGD/A&O has to bar me from learning their stuff just because the material can only be learned under the oath of secrecy issued by them. It does not matter whether they trust me or not, they have to bar me because there is always the chance that I will decide that absolute secrecy is not the proper method to preserve the information.

Because of this, it does not matter what the HOGD/A&O claims. In good conscience, I am not able to apply to learn the new revolutionary material of their system...because I can never again swore an oath of absolute secrecy. Nor can they, in good conscience, allow me into their Order or associate program.

Archive officers may not be the only people who are barred from learning their system. In fact, I suspect that anyone who has ever served as a Co-Chief of an esoteric Order is also barred by their oath. One of the things that the Co-Chiefs of an esoteric Order control is what belongs to what Grade, and what is actually a secret and what is not. In other words, they decide what can be revealed and when it is revealed.

Therefore, anyone who is not wholly of the HOGD/A&O pretty much has to be barred from ever serving as a Co-Chief or Sub-Chief of any Order other than the HOGD/A&O. Again, I have served in this type of position, and because I still have students answering to me, I cannot in clear conscience ever apply to learn the full Inner Order curriclum of the HOGD/A&O. I am responsible for sharing information, and the buck stops on my desk for deciding who gets what information and when.

So my oaths, current and past officerships, bar me from even entertaining the notion of learning stuff from the HOGD/A&O. Hence it does not matter whether their claims are true or not, or my personal beliefs regarding such claims. Nor does it matter whether the HOGD/A&O and its leadership trusts me or not, for they can never be absolutely sure of my future actions and decisions, thanks to my oaths and responsibilities.

I can never be allowed to know the truth behind their claims, therefore it does not matter one iota to me (beyond the economics of resources and members) what they claim. And yes, that does mean that I have to act as if their claims have absolutely no substance. But then again, I only have to be nasty if the HOGD/A&O threaten the survival of the lodge (Bast Temple) and Order (BIOGD/BIORC) that I belong to. If they allow my group to survive in peace, then I can afford to stay out of the war.

{And before you ask, not even my current lodge can change the "override" oath I am under.}

6 comments:

David Griffin said...

FYI: Having seen how so many people in the Golden Dawn community have used their oaths for toilet paper, when it comes to the higher grade material, we now require legally binding confidentiality and proprietary information agreements based on several legally defendable aspects of intellectual property law.

Considering that everyone knows that we would actually prosecute any breach of contract, I seriously doubt that anyone will risk the potential damages of violating the agreement.

This is a mere updating of traditional oaths of secrecy, adapting them to the social reality of living in a literary age.

Nick Farrell said...

On this I agree with David Griffin. Oaths are important, but it is really important to know what you are swearing to. Any oath needs to have meaning, otherwise it is futile and silly. In HOGD we swore for example, we used to swear that all the material must have the label of the order on it. This took up a lot of paper as each unit had to have the label of the order. In MOAA we provide a course pack. The old oath did not apply so what was the point of making people say it. MOAA tells people that they have to take an oath of secrecy on the material they learn within the Order. If the material is public domain it would not be covered simply because it has not been learnt from us. We want to encourage people to research into the Golden Dawn tradition and history to do that they have to write and many of their words will have to be public domain to get the necessary feedback from the Golden Dawn community.
Unlike David I do not see the need to threaten members with court action for breaching their oath. I find that the order has its own safe guards against those who break their oath. Threats are one thing, but one day you will have to actually go to court and the moment you do, the secrets you have tried to protect will become public documents as part of the case. If the oath is properly performed in a magical environment, the person will know what they are meant to say and what they are not.
I also agree with you. A member of an order cannot take an oath with another group because the two will simply cancel everything thing out. Even without your "recorder" status it would be impossible for you to take an oath in another order. How can you pledge to keep secret the Hebrew alphabet in one order and then talk about it in another?
The oath problem is amusing when you see different Golden Dawn groups "advertising" what they sell. How can groups say they are different from other groups while their oath requires them to be secret about EVERYTHING. The short answer is that oaths always require common sense and a feeling of conscience. Sometimes you have to spill the beans just to tell people what to expect.
For example if I say that MOAA runs a practical magical curriculum which is both traditional but adds in practical magical techniques to expand those traditional teachings, I have actually broken my oath. If I even list those techniques i have made it worse. Common sense dictates that sometimes you have to tell people things.
The only thing I get really arsy about is keeping people's names secret. It is not difficult to work out who is in MOAA if they appear online. But you will not get me listing them. In fact we do not keep a formal database of members. There have been incidents where a database of members has been used in court and the names and addresses of members of an Order were made public to make on side's point against another. I personally think that is against what being a secret order is all about rather than protecting information which can be found in a public library.

Solitary Dawn said...

Apart from the likely fact that the material would be discussed in court, there are some other issues. Maybe it is just the lawyer in me but if it is indeed true that the material provided by the Third Order or SCs is indeed centuries or even millennia old, how can it be protected by today’s IP laws? I mean obviously you can protect your own creations, the form, you put older material in, your own translations, interpretations etc. But an ancient oral traditions or ancient manuscripts as such? Usually things become public domain after some time. So what exactly is protected now? If it is really SC material, another question is whether the rights – if it would be still protected under IP laws (which country btw) – were properly handed over and whether the SCs were indeed the rightful initial holders of said material. In a court case this could lead to the necessity of summoning the SCs to testify. In that case the Chiefs would not be that secret any longer. I am far away from suggesting or encouraging anyone to break any oath they are bout to. But such a case could indeed be pretty interesting – from the legal point of view of course.

Peregrin said...

Hi Morgan and Fraters...

My, what an Oath you have there, Morgan. As Kipling would say, "you're a better man than I am" :)

@David, Nick and Fr Arcad - thanks for the info and clarifying my thoughts on this.

From memory I read somewhere one of the reasons why the court case went against Mathers and for Crowley re publications in the Equinox, was that Mathers did not say the material was his personal stuff. This made it, de facto public domain (though that is new term).

I am all for, and keep, all of my oaths. However, I think legal additions would complicate things, as Fr Arcad skilfully points out.

Now, if I was in the situation of being taken to court for revealing secret material I'd received from Order A, there is an obvious fall back. Unless I was stupid enough to just copy the material as I received it, I would just say I got it from another secret Order, Order B. In effect I'd say, sometime, oh let's say 1850, some rogue member of Order A pissed off and started Order B with this material. And this, not Order A, is where I got it from.

Unless, as Fr Arcad says, the material was claimed and copyrighted by a modern person or group as their own IP, I'd be home free. Just saying... :)

David Griffin said...

@ Peregrin

The advanced second order material of the R.R. et A.C. in the A.O. are protected by copyright law, and two types of IP law.

Frater N said...

It is curious that mundane law, not to mention magic, oaths, and the integrity of those who progress to the second Order are not enough to protect material that wants to see the light of day . . .

This suggests to me that the Life Power has its own schedule for making the closely guarded more acessible.

Given the context of protection and secrecy, it would be ironic to have the material released with no trace as to where it came from.

We usually don't know a mole is a mole until it is too late . . .