I drove my wife’s new car at about 5am this morning. I’d promised I wouldn’t. And I don’t have auto insurance because I can’t afford it, having totaled two cars in 2011 back when I was having serial migraines. This is self-destructive behavior on my part, and of course my wife was waiting at the door for me to return when I got back. I deserve what I get.
But I vowed to her “by everything that I believe is holy” — that’s a euphemism between me and my wife for my Gods, as she is still a believing Catholic and has difficulties with my polytheism — that I would not drive her car again until I again have insurance and only then with her permission. I don’t have a car of my own. I will keep this vow. It’s my third vow I’ve ever sworn in all my life.
Not keeping promises, and especially not keeping solemn vows, is as I said a path of self-destruction. I’m not often a liar. The Delphic maxims say Make promises to no one, but many of the Delphic maxims are out of date, expired. Making promises is a part of modern Western culture. If they’re legally binding we call them contracts. We make promises all the time. And I can hardly practice Rule your wife when I’m her wife too and when ethics and morality have evolved for the better amongst folks with any sense. And Know thyself. In theory, impossible. In practice, difficult and capable of only superficial fulfillment. Heraclitus said You cannot step into the same river twice, for the water you stepped in has moved on. What he didn’t say is the self that stepped in the river has moved on as well. You can’t know a constantly changing self all that well, in my opinion, no matter how important it is — and it is important — that you make your best effort. —So oaths have become part of modern polytheism.
Two Maxims that have not expired however are Control yourself and Detest disgrace. I wanted to drive that new car oh so much. So I did. I did not control myself, and I am disgraced.
One thing that will happen if you do not keep your promises is that some Deities will not accept your offerings. I’ve learned that when an anointed candle I burn for Hekate does not burn completely I’ve done something She does not approve of. The candle I anointed and lit at 3am is burning sideways now, the wick has shifted in the soft wax, and I know the candle will not fully burn. This is a UPG, or just something between me and Hekate maybe, but pattern recognition suggests it’s true. Being unfaithful not only to your loved ones but also to your Goddess is indeed a path of self-destruction. It lessens one — it lessens me — as a person.
But now I’ve made my oath, and I intend to keep it. I fear breaking an oath I swore upon (silently) the names of my Gods.
Now all I can hope is that my memory will serve me well. I can be forgetful. Heraclitus also said One should not live as if one were asleep.
[EDIT: Also is it any wonder that my marriage is in trouble, seeing I break promises and often live as if I were asleep?]