I’ve long struggled with my weight issues. When I looked at the scale and saw “274 lbs” flash across the screen, I determined something had to be done. Finally, I would take decisive action and turn this thing around.
Except there was a slight problem.
I’d been saying this since I hit 245.
But, this time was a little different. I was aware that each previous promise to reverse my weight gains had met with an early death. Clearly, promising myself I’d change things wasn’t accomplishing anything.
So, I did something I try not to do with frequency.
I made a solemn oath to Lilith that I would turn things around. Not for myself (though I admitted I would also benefit from it), but for Her. To add additional gravity to the oath, and make it even more binding, I appealed to Tyr to witness and enforce the oath should I lose the trail.
I tend to call oaths to deities “the nuclear option”, as they are serious matters. One should never make these lightly. I have only ever made one oath that had been properly witnessed and bound, and that was many years ago to Lilith. These are powerful things that can easily bind us in this world and the next, and so they should be made with care and caution. You would do well to consider the gods as sort of assholeish lawyers who will screw you over if you leave a loophole that might enable that, particularly with chaos deities like Loki, Raven, or Coyote. This isn’t to say they would move to screw you over if given the opportunity, but it’s generally good strategic thinking to not even leave that opening in the first place.
Making oaths should be approached in the same manner as safe sex and the risk of STDs. Only swear oaths to those you absolutely trust, take every preventative measure you possibly can, and make sure that damn agreement is airtight. Of course, the best way to not get screwed over by a capricious deity via a loophole is to not swear the oath in the first place, kind of like the best way to avoid AIDS or unwanted parenthood is to not have sex at all.
It’s worth noting that even the Christian deity occasionally screws over people who have airtight pacts with him, as seen in the story of Job. Job, who had done literally nothing wrong was subjected to suffering and torture by a satan, a class of accusing angel, because the satan had simply argued that humans are only pious when the weather is fair, as it were. God essentially said “that’s a reasonable theory. Go beat the shit out of Job and see if it’s correct.” And so Job, the nice guy, pillar of the community, the man who followed all of God’s laws to a tee with nary an imperfection, was still screwed over as if he’d done everything wrong. Granted, God would later reveal that he knew in advance that Job wouldn’t break, but I doubt that felt particularly justifying to Job at the time. Furthermore, Job’s family, who were similarly pious, did break and forswore God in the face of their supernaturally extraordinary suffering. Dick move, God.
This isn’t unique to the Christian deity. It’s just a good illustration of how capricious deities can be. If I listed every example of the Greek gods ruining the lives of people sworn to them, we’d be here for years. Even the gods of Asgard, for all their emphasis on honor, are not always immune to this sort of behavior.
Now, this might end up sounding like a huge advertisment for agnosticism or atheism, and in the end, that’s your choice. I and many others have found that having a deity or few in their lives improves things tremendously. If you choose a different path, then that’s your decision, and bravo for making an informed choice. But, for those who choose to worship a deity or several, it behooves us to exercise discipline whilst making promises. Don’t promise something you don’t think you can deliver on, be careful who you promise it to, watch your wording, and once bound by an oath, don’t back out unless you absolutely must, as that will reflect badly on you in the future unless both parties agree to it. In the face of a well reasoned explanation or extraordinary circumstances that you couldn’t have been expected to anticipate, most gods will amicably agree to annul the oath.
In general, just be really careful and don’t promise what you can’t keep.
I made this oath to turn around my weight gains because I knew I had to for my own health — I knew in advance how inviolate an oath would be. In fact, I was counting on it.
But that’s not going to be the case for everybody.
Make your oaths with caution and care, and only when you must.
Gods guide you.