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Secrecy and Wicca

How Much Secrecy is Necessary?

By Randall Sapphire

Wiccans tend to be against secrets. Most Wiccans are against secret lists of banned web sites in Internet monitoring software and against secret decision making in government. Most Wiccans know that too much secrecy can easily be used to cover up things that would fare very poorly if exposed to public scrutiny, such as blocking access to Pagan web sites while claiming to only block porn and hate sites.

Unfortunately, some Wiccans do not practice what they preach when it comes to secrecy. While they condemn secrecy in others, they still maintain broad oaths of secrecy about their particular practices. While keeping most religious and magical material oathbound might have been necessary during the Burning Times or in England prior to the repeal of the laws against Witchcraft, I certainly see no need for it now — at least in most “first world” countries. Names and addresses of group members, perhaps, but ritual information, no.

Those who insist that secrecy is necessary in Wicca generally use some common arguments to support their position. What follows are my responses to some of the common reasons I’ve seen presented over the years in support of keeping material oathbound.

1) It’s always been done that way.

My Response:
There’s little evidence to support this claim. Most of the true family trads I know of do not have oathbound information. In some, certain empowerment/initiation rituals can only be performed on family members, but information per se isn’t really an oathbound secret. As far as I can tell, Wicca seems to have acquired its ideas of oathbound material from the Masons and from the magical lodges of the 1700-1800s.

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