ETHICS OR ETIQUETTE
Recently in conversation with friends in a small intimate
gathering, I mentioned outer-court names and passed on gossip.
Later I was told that I had "violated etiquette." Had I?
Etiquette is socially accepted forms of behavior, agreed
upon by the members of a community. Ethics involves morality,
the nature of right as determined by a group or an individual.I
believe there is a great deal of confusion of these terms in the
Going by fairly traditional rules there are the "Laws of
Wicca." Among these there is a very firm one saying one should
never reveal another person as a Witch without their permission.
However a person who has revealed themselves publicly as a
witch shouldn't complain. And is it a violation of ethics to
tell of a person by their outer-court name? Only insiders could
know the legal name of the person, so what is the danger?
Ethics can be fairly easily agreed upon in the general pagan
community. Anything that puts someone else in an embarrassing or
dangerous position is unethical. We all make mistakes at times,
but we try to act in a manner consistent with our ethical code.
Etiquette, on the other hand, is very deceiving. We assume,
since we are all members of the "Neo-Pagan Community" that we
have the same etiquette. But the only etiquette I have ever been
explicitly told about involves greetings to be exchanged between
members of a group and their high priestess or between two high
priestess of different groups. What about a more common meeting?
Say a friend of mine is tired of being a solitary and wishes
to come to a group celebration. What etiquette should I follow
to bring this person to such a circle? I could either contact
the group beforehand and ask permission, or tell them I will be
bringing a guest, or I could simply bring a guest - with no
warning at all. In the first situation, the responsibility and
decision is theirs; in the second I am responsible for my guest's
behavior; in the third I am a boor and will never be invited to
their circles again.
No one has covered all the possible conflict situations in
the Pagan Community. So there is no way I could agree to follow
an "etiquette." My general code is simply to use common sense,
and give the other person an easy out. For example, if you think
someone else is a Witch and wish to find out, you might tell them
that you are one. To receive trust you have to give it first.
A secondary problem in this situation is how does one keep a
secret? Should one only speak in whispers, or when no one is
within 100 paces? I think that looks furtive and produces suspi-
cion in the mind of outsiders. Or do we follow Poe's lead and put
the secret out in the open and disarm the opposition?
I know several people who studiously "maintain secrecy" but
everyone knows that they are "witches." Worse, because of their
secrecy, their colleagues don't know what a witch is except it
must be nasty since they won't speak of it. I do not proclaim my
religion, nor do I hide it, and I have never had any problems. I
hear 3rd hand horror stories but would like to hear first hand
experiences, good or bad. Please write me c/o Panegyria.