by Ellen

     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 
"Pagan Community."

     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  publically  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 decieving.  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  colleaques 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.