The Ordains: Part 16 – Keep An Open Mind
This is the sixteenth entry in a series on a set of Pagan guidelines known as the Ordains. The Ordains, as we know them today, can be found in the works of Gerald Gardener. Maiden’s Circle uses a simplified version that has been edited and altered to reflect our core beliefs.
“Witches should never close their minds to knowledge.”
This seems like a simple concept: Keep an open mind in all things. Versions of this tenet can be heard all over the Pagan community. In fact, long before learning of Gerald Gardner’s Ordains, this has been a stable belief in my life. The belief, of course, being that taking in knowledge constantly is a basic part of being a witch.
I’d go so far to say it’s a need. That’s how it’s presented for me, in any case. Even as a young child, I devoured new knowledge. Books, documentaries, magazines, television, overheard conversations, and exploration of secret places—I did everything I could to consume a constant stream of information.
Some people say it’s a Gemini thing.
Whatever it is, I certainly leaned into the Jack-Of-All-Trades archetype, and that’s likely a huge reason my practice is so eclectic. Even now, there are only a few topics in which I consider myself deeply educated, my religion being one of them. Often enough, I’ll gain as much information as I need to be proficient in something before I’m ready to move on to the next pursuit.
I find this trait common amongst those who call themselves witches. We are a people of varied interests. It seems that nearly every witch I meet has her finger in at least three cauldrons. Nearly.
It’s easy to think that every single person in the witch community is open-minded and loving, with no trace of hatred or judgment in their hearts. However, there are those practitioners who believe their way is the only way. It’s unfortunate, and the rest of our community has a way of ignoring that those people even exist.
I think it’s important that we acknowledge them, though. The idea that Paganism doesn’t have these kinds of people is dangerous in that it allows them to flourish unchecked. If no one’s paying attention to them, then there’s no one to help them see that their unwillingness to accept others or other ideas is ultimately harmful. And the more closed-minded people there are, the less safe our community will be.
That’s more my interpretation of keeping an open mind, and I realize this tenet seems more about the general absorption of knowledge. But I think it’s wise to look at these tenets a little deeper than at face value.
Being open to understanding another person’s experience is necessary for growth, especially now when it seems that many people struggle with empathy.
At it’s core, this tenet reminds me of something I’ve always believed: knowledge is power. This belief came from a funny place, I think. Long before I knew anything about religion other than what I’d been told, I heard that phrase and taken it on as my own personal mantra.
It was the motto of the popular Schoolhouse Rock children’s series.
I see this as another example of how this path chose me just as much as I chose it. I could have latched onto any other aspect of that show, any other motto. But I chose “knowledge is power” to guide me. (Not to mention the song about the number 3; it truly is a magick number!)
It’s my firm belief that a person who is always learning is always growing. A person who’s always growing is always improving. And a person who’s improving themselves is more capable of improving the world around them. This is necessary for the future of our world.
We can gain knowledge by listening quietly when others speak, even insofar as to wait until they’re finished to ask questions. We can read any and every book that catches our eye, regardless of the reviews it may have. (The worst that can happen is that we don’t like the book.) It’s our job as witches to take in information, verify and confirm the truth of that information, and add it to our personal knowledge base.
You never know when it might come in handy.
Are you open to learning new things? What is one thing you learned this week that you never would have considered? Imagine you could live forever—what sorts of knowledge would you pursue with infinite time? Share your responses in the comments or on Facebook. Check out the Maiden’s Circle Learning Collective while you’re there!
From my open mind to yours,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA
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