To Keep Silent: Discretion in Groups in an Information Age
By M. Delaney
Back in medieval times, it’s rumored that if a witch betrayed the coven, (s)he would be destroyed, often by magical means. While it’s anyone’s guess if such things are true or not, the story itself has a more important underlying point. Entrenched in Abrahamic culture, secrecy and loyalty when it comes to the metaphysical and the occult are important.
There is a reason for this importance within the coven/sect and it has nothing to do with being dramatic or even paranoid. Firstly, not everything is meant for public consumption. This may include certain rituals or magics that, in the wrong hands or in the hands of someone too immature or inexperienced to properly and responsibly use, could be dangerous or used out of proper context. In other instances, sacred rituals are often kept between certain members of the clergy or adepthood for the fact that they are sacred. They would lose their deep held meaning if just anyone were allowed to have access. Finally, members of groups are often sworn to secrecy by blood pact to keep the identities of group members and goings on within the group secret for fear of persecution.
The problem is that nowadays we live in a society where everyone’s life is an open book plastered on social networking websites for all to see. People love to name drop and enjoy sharing their group affiliations and alternative religious beliefs and practices with others. Some of the younger generation doesn’t believe anything should be kept private, that all knowledge should be shared openly and willingly, and that nothing should be worked for. Secrecy, loyalty and discretion, all things that kept a group safe from outsiders and kept the deep held meanings to certain offices and rituals sacred, are now considered antiquated ideas.
We also live in a time where the only people anyone is loyal to is themselves. This is the Me generation and while the Self is an important part of the Demonic Divine, other people are important, too. Sure, not everyone is self-centered and egocentric, but more and more in the past thirty years I’ve seen people’s loyalties shift away from their groups and friends and more to themselves. I’ve watched good friends throw one another to the wolves to save their own skins. I’ve seen people outed as Demon Worshipers to their bosses and families during feuds between coven members. I’ve seen groups pushed further underground and develop more stringent entrance policies all because one person couldn’t keep his or her mouth shut.
Groups are shrinking, some are disappearing, and many people who still abide the old ways and who aren’t in large groups are going further underground because they can’t stand the drama of larger group social interaction.
I am writing this article to implore the younger generation to reconsider their feelings about secrecy and loyalty because I believe that we lose an important aspect of our spirituality when everything is open and no longer has meaning. When rituals are misused they become benign and meaningless.
When people don’t have to work for sacred knowledge, but simply Google it and read a Wikipedia entry, they miss out on the journey and the lessons they could learn from having to work for it. Therein lays the Real Knowledge. Many of us who did work for what we know tire of listening to arrogant twenty-somethings who read a book or two, or maybe a few internet sites and suddenly coin themselves experts only to tell us that we have no clue what we’re talking about.
When we choose to not be loyal to our group just because we had a falling out with a friend, or we need to nurture our own egos, we hurt everyone in that group who also worship the Demonic Divine, even when they weren’t involved in the feud. Now mind you I’m not talking about secrecy for the sake of drama or arrogance, or for the sake of keeping anything from anyone just because, and I’m not talking blind loyalty to any single person or group. I’m talking about secrecy for the sake of keeping something sacred or for the sake of keeping members of a group safe. I’m talking about loyalty for the sake of keeping groups in tact and whole and for friendship.
Internet occultists specifically can’t seem to keep secrets and have no loyalty to those they so easily call “friend” online. This is a problem for groups who may have public websites for people to congregate on. What perplexes me is people have fallings out online when most of the time they’ve never met, and next thing you know, everyone is libeling one another all over the web.
There is no loyalty or true friendship that exists between these people. Because many people don’t really, in the physical world, know each other it’s easy to be a raving asshole toward other people when they’re just a screen name on a glowing box. So when it comes to the Internet, I propose secrecy in the sense of discretion becomes even more important.
In that I’m not saying you should sacrifice your personal morals or beliefs, or that you should agree with your friends all the time. I’m not saying you should support illegal activity. In cases where a group is doing something illegal or is doing something you morally object to or deeply disagree with, your best course of action is to leave the group and move on with your life. Chances are you shouldn’t have gotten involved with such a group to begin with if you didn’t agree with their basic foundational beliefs or practices anyway.
There are bad groups out there, but for the most part, most Demonolatry groups are full of normal people who simply want to worship with others and make friends, and perhaps even practice magic with others. Yes, wherever there is a group there is bound to be drama, fallings out, arrogance, and even secrets spilled. It’s human nature. On the Internet, as I said before, this kind of thing runs rampant.
I just want to point out some questions you should ask yourself before you:
• Get angry that a ritual is not shared with you.
• Decide to talk crap about someone in your group you had a fight with (or your group) on your MySpace page or blog.
• Decide to vehemently rally against a group or person you dislike in the community.
• Decide to share with anyone a sacred ritual you were given in confidence.
•Drop names and discuss the community with anyone who asks.
• Stalk your ex-online friends on the Internet.
1. Has the group or person done something illegal in which you could be held accessory to, like molested a child or physically* killed a person? If yes, in instances like this, you need to take your concerns, with proper evidence, to your local police, then possibly go into hiding. If a group is doing something this terrible, chances are they would have no qualms hurting you if they found out you snitched. *I say physically because curses don’t count. I’ve known groups who cursed people who died. You can tell the police that someone’s heart attack or car accident was caused by a curse, but the likelihood anyone is going to believe you is minimal.
2. Is your problem a personality conflict with another member? Instead of blabbing about the entire group and hurting everyone or trying to get other group members on your side by talking crap about the person you dislike, perhaps trying to resolve your issue directly with the offending member is a better solution. Only involve other group members if they truly can help to resolve the situation (they may not agree there is a situation), otherwise you are asking them to pick sides. If the situation cannot be resolved, ask yourself if you can be civil to this person at group meetings and rituals. If not, then you have to decide whether you should leave the group and move on. Most often you leaving is the best option. Otherwise you risk leaving calamity and a divided group (whose problem it wasn’t to begin with) in the wake of the personal dispute between you and the other person. Oftentimes groups will remove persons who are disruptive and causing drama.
3. Is someone else in the group targeting you and trying to run you off? You can try to wait it out and see if they get bored and find someone else to pick on. Oftentimes you’ll find that those who try to run others off are usually bullies and will find someone else to target. Also be assured that these are the people 19 who will eventually be seen for what they are and the smart group leader will remove them the second they realize the person is systematically running people off. Many times bullies are difficult to spot because they mask their actions in good intentions by helping to run off truly problematic members (others who create drama or discord), often hold the confidence of someone higher up in the group, and wear a veneer of innocence, “I was only trying to help.”
4. Do you disagree with the group leader’s methods of handling a situation or person? Or their stance on a particular issue? Can you compromise? If the leader is unwilling to compromise, do you understand why? If the answer is no and this really bothers you and you take it personally, chances are it’s time for you to leave the group. If you disagree with the leadership and direction of a group you’ll never be happy in that group and you’ll only become more resentful until you become a problem by talking crap about the group leader no matter how inadvertently with other group members. You’ll be seen as the trouble maker and removed for causing calamity in the group.
5. Is a ritual being kept from you for a good reason? Not all rituals are meant to be shared with just anyone. Ask the ritual keeper honestly why you cannot have the ritual. There may be a very good reason. It may be a simple reason such as, “I need to dig it out of my notes” or, “I don’t have that ritual in electronic form and I have no time to research it and type it up for you.” Or it could be because you need to be working toward a certain goal or a specialty within the Adepthood or Priesthood in order to receive it. Before getting angry, consider consulting with your Patron or Matron and asking if they will give you a certain ritual. If given a certain ritual via ascension, make sure you ask before sharing it with anyone else. Perhaps it was only meant for you, or perhaps you’ve been marked as a ritual keeper, which means you determine who gets the ritual and who doesn’t.
6. Should you share a sacred ritual with anyone who asks? Is it your place to share it? Do you hold the ritual sacred? Or are you just interested in someone else stroking your ego in order to get it? Does the person want it for a genuine reason? Are they just dabbling? Is the ritual safe for someone of their level? Do you know the person in person? Will the meaning of the ritual be cheapened or ignored by the person you are thinking of giving it to?
7. Should you attempt to destroy via slander and libel (both things you can be sued for) an entire group because one member or all of them bruised your ego or hurt your feelings? (This also applies to individuals.) What purpose would it serve? I’ve watched people waste their entire lives attempting to destroy others. They end up destroying themselves instead. You’ve heard that saying the best revenge is living well. Consider that. Instead of channeling all your energy into destroying a group or people/persons you don’t like, why not channel that energy into starting your own group and surrounding yourself with people you do like? At the end of your life do you want to say, I spent my entire life messing with other people to get my revenge? Or do you want to be able to say, I spent my entire life surrounded by friends and cultivating my own spiritual connection with the Demonic Divine? If you really feel a need to get 20 back at people you feel have hurt you, curse them and move on. If they truly have done something wrong, the curse will hit them where it hurts. If not, at least you can let go of some of those feelings you have.
So consider these questions and possible resolutions before you resort to pasting your dirty laundry on the web for all to see, or before you drop a name. Chances are most people are going to make up their own minds about other people and their secrets anyway so your efforts will be moot.
It’s also likely most people are going to question your loyalty and approach you with caution if you openly talk crap about others. If you don’t agree with a group or person, fine. Feel free to share your disagreement with those who ask about your experiences. I don’t advise going out of your way to do it, though.
Beware libel and slander because some people are willing to sue if they feel their name or group has been wrongly maligned by your mouth or words. All they have to prove is that you knowingly and willingly did it. Not whether or not what you said was true.
That’s an easy case to prove if you’re posting things to the Internet.
Perhaps this is where To Know, To Will, To Dare, and To Keep Silent comes in. ■
Author: By M. Delaney
Originally Appeared in: The Black Serpent