I have talked about truth before, in my essay on developing the ability to see the truth in all matters. In it, I talk about the different truths that we perceive- subjective and objective truths- that are often very different. As Knights, we offer ourselves to stand in the way of danger, to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. In order to do so, we must perceive accurately the nature of that danger.
I should at this point be clear that part of my bias as a therapist is not to feed into distorted realities. There is a balance that must be found, however, between subjective and objective realities. I’m reminded of a client whose boyfriend had hidden drugs in her belongings, and she got caught with them. It delayed her possible discharge by a couple of years, and she was understandably not so happy about it. The boyfriend, to be fair, did work to turn it around, got serious about his substance abuse treatment, etc. But when she talked about getting back together with him, she said “He lied to me, and that cost me two years of my freedom. I can’t trust him.”
I knew the boyfriend, and I think that he was sincere, that he loved her, and that he’d changed. But her reality was that she couldn’t trust him, ever. And while that was technically a distortion of reality (probably!), it was a reality that we couldn’t change. The relationship was not repaired, even though that’s what she came to therapy to work on. And at the end of our time, I had to say “I can’t help you achieve that goal. I can help you accept that the relationship is over, to grieve the loss of it and to learn from it. But I can’t help you repair the relationship because your truth won’t allow it.”
When I think about truth and Magick, I am often reminded of the section in Modern Knighthood that talks about those who believe they’re under attack, and “fire off energistic salvos” because they see themselves as being under siege. This brings to mind several people that I’ve worked with who claim that they can’t ground negative energy. They’re not happy when I tell them that this inability has nothing to do with the energy and everything to do with their perception of it. Somehow, they have the idea that “dark” or “bad” energy is… I don’t know, sticky, I guess.
It is not my responsibility to convince these people that they are wrong. It’s not my job to make them understand. I know, however, that I am a Knight in part because I want to help others, and I need to resist the urge to try and help those who don’t really want help. Those who seek an external source for their problems, regardless of the evidence to the contrary, don’t want help- they want excuses. I would suspect that many Knights could fall easily into the trap of wanting to help those who don’t really want help.
It is for this reason that we must be able to see Truth, and to speak it- but let us not in speaking the truth succumb to the desire to force it upon another. Consider the symbology of the sword, the edge that cuts away illusions. There are, in most western examples of swords, two edges, and that double-edged sword is used in our Magickal tradition for a reason. Every story has two sides to it, and so does every truth. As pagans, it is not our mission to force our truth upon another. As Knights, it is not our responsibility to accept another’s truth if it does not agree with our own, nor are we obligated to allow ourselves to be drawn into another’s dysfunctional reality. At some point, then, we needed to develop the ability to say “No. I can’t support your truth. It may be true for you, but I don’t see it, and I can’t contribute to it.”
In other words, we have develop the ability to say “I can’t help you.” That’s not something we’re good at, acknowledging that we can’t help- especially to ourselves! However, as Knights serving our community, we need to be aware that saying “I can’t help you” is part of self-care, and that’s true regardless of whether the reason is that the person is wrong about the cause or because the situation is beyond our capabilities to handle.
Truth is not always pleasant- in fact, it’s often unpleasant. The ability to accept the truth, regardless of whether or not we like it, is an essential quality of a Knight, and one which our Code of Chivalry says we must learn to cultivate “in all matters.”
Not just the ones we like.