Thoughts on 'foundational' qualities.

In many occult traditions (Wicca and Witchcraft are but one of them.) there is a set of foundational qualities that are upheld as important. In the zeal of attempting to classify things by their elemental associations, we find the following qualities ascribed alternately to each element depending upon the mood of the persons whom we are speaking to.

These qualities are:

  • To Know
  • To Will
  • To Dare
  • To Keep Silent
While I don't usually ascribe to much of what has been upheld as 'ancient' tradition in most arenas of modern witchcraft, I do have to confess this is a point that I have a difficult time arguing against. My interpretation, however, may leave many of my contemporaries in a state of aghast shock.

To Know
This quality is immensely valuable. You need to have some kind of concept of what you are doing. This can hold true in the occult or in the mundane matters that we deal with. Knowing what you are doing and what you are working with also calls for one to value education and the processes by which a person acquires knowledge. The trait to know also requires that we value wisdom and experience.

To Dare
I don't know where to begin stating something on the matter of courage. And that, my friends, is what the trait to dare is all about. Courage is a special quality that we should all work to cultivate in ourselves. I'm not saying that we should act foolishly and do reckless things because we're going to prove how brave we are. It is a trait that allows us to stand up and do what is right when the prevailing social forces are against it. It is also the reason why people can act as heros in the face of harrowing instances. Courage can be found in all areas of life.

To Will
One may have difficulty with this particular concept. Goodness knows I did for a long time, and then it became clear just what exactly is being discussed here. It is our ability to choose to act that is highlighted here. It is as simple as the definition of the term. We choose how we respond to situations, even if it is not a fully processed and weighed decision to act. We decide to be alive everyday. With sufficent concentration, one could make their heart stop beating. One could take a deliberate action to end their life at any time, some of these actions seemingly accidental. We decide not to take the actions that end our lives, thus we choose to live. We will ourselves to live. This is but one of many choices we make during the day.

To Keep Silent
Some choose to say that this little trait is a vestige left over from the Burning Times. If you have learned anything of me thus far in my bits of writing, you will have learned my opinion upon the Burning Times. I may actually write something more cohesive on that at some point. This trait, however, is not discussing some need for secrecy or to take a vow of silence. It is extolling the virtue of discretion. We do not generally bandy about our bank account numbers for any one to read. We keep information that must be secure close to ourselves and quiet. The same is true for our occult knowledge because it is a deeply personal knowledge. We may choose to share with others what we know, but it is a calculated sharing that is always limited in some fashion to keep us safe. This is what is being extolled in the quality of silence referred to here.

Now, one may wonder why I am musing on this little matter. It occurred to me this afternoon following a conversation with a Seeker into the Craft that these four 'virtues' of the occult are highly valuable but not for the reasons that so many uphold. And the interplay between them is perhaps more important.

With knowledge, we can act on a situation and make an informed and rational decision. The action taken will require, as all actions do, a measure of courage to risk the unknown. Discretion colors our decision making process and our actions as to keep us and our interests safe. This is true in all areas of one's life. Hopefully, my fellow witches and occultists will recognize this as well.