The Seventh Principle Of Clarity (Athena's Rule):

7. I will maintain clarity in all relationships.

As human beings, we are a social people, and we are driven to have relationships with others, yet we rarely choose to see people as they actually are. Instead, we tend to fit them into the categories, pictures, and mental puppets that populate our heads. Part of a discipline of clarity is striving for the ability to see and appreciate people exactly as they are, and not as they should be, or how they would be most attractive or useful to you. This involves letting go of your hopes and expectations for them, and judging objectively how far to trust them and in what way, without finding the answer to that judgment anything other than realistic and neutral.

To have clarity in any relationship, first you must be realistic about the boundaries of that relationship. Nothing can be clear without good boundaries. It is important to be straight about how intimate each relationship is, what each person expects from it, and whether each person is satisfied with its current structure and rules. Even if nothing can be done about dissatisfactions, it is better to know things than not to know them. It is also important to know how far you can trust each person, and in what areas.

Most of trust-building, and knowing where to place someone on the scale of intimacy, should depend on the honesty with which both parties can discuss the relationship and its current status. The more that cannot be said between people, the less clarity there is, and the more likely that hard decisions must be made about whether or not to push for more clarity or resign that individual to a less intimate position in one's life. Sometimes, no matter what the feelings involved, there will simply be no way to achieve full honesty, and thus they must be kept at a distance. On the other hand, no relationship should be judged less worthy of honorable behavior or courtesy because it is less intimate. In fact, the less intimate a relationship is, the more you owe them at least the bare minimum of the aforesaid virtues.

The ideal relationship is one where you can maintain objectivity, yet not close yourself off from the flow of feeling. It is a delicate balance beam, and takes practice. Most human beings tend to err on the side of too much feeling. As a member of a monastic Order, it may seem more sensible to err on the side of distance, but a path of spiritual discipline is not synonymous with becoming a robot or a Vulcan; when we shut ourselves entirely off from our feelings for others, we become dry, parched, resentful, and intolerant. Whichever side you naturally fall to, part of a discipline of clarity in relationship is a constant striving for the middle ground, the balance point between emotion and objectivity.

Unequal relationships with dependents are covered in the explanation of Principle #5; this will deal generally with equal relationships between adults who can consent to stay or go.

1) Family

We are assuming here for adults, such as parents or adult siblings or other relatives, or those who are not related by blood yet are family of the heart. Family members often have a great deal of conflicting emotions between them, especially if they have been known throughout someone's childhood, or are replacements for elements that were missing in childhood. It is often harder to retain any kind of objectivity with them than it is with people that one meets as an adult, as one's first image of them may have been formed at a time when one was not yet capable of objectivity.

The best thing for lack of objectivity regarding a family member is distance without total separation. The more bound up they are in your negative patterns, the more distance you may require, especially if they are abusive or emotionally dangerous, but unless there is good reason to cut them out of your life entirely, at least some kind of connection should be maintained, if only the occasional letter or call. It builds compassion to see people as they are, even those who are troubled or caught in negative patterns.

2) Marriage and Long-Term Lovers

It would not be impossible for a member of the Order to be married, or to have a long- term love relationship. It would be difficult, though - less difficult if the lover or spouse was also a member of the Order, and therefore would more wholly understand the issues involved. To make a commitment to the Gods is to put the Gods first, and the marriage second. If the lover or spouse is not a member of the Order, great compromises must be made on their part, and great sacrifices, and great understanding would be required of them. It would not be fair to take on any relationship where you were at all unsure of their complete understanding of the difficulty involved. On the other hand, it is forbidden to pressure anyone into entering the Order, so sometimes hard choices would have to be made.

As a comparison, among polyamorous individuals, lovers are sometimes ranked in order of priority as "primary" or "secondary". Being a secondary lover does not mean that one is not loved, only that the primary lover takes priority, usually due to seniority or a more intimate commitment, possibly a legal marriage. Belonging to the Order can be likened to having a primary relationship to the Gods and your oaths, and any marriage you may have will be secondary to this. Branch members who were married or in a long-term relationship would have to prove, along with their partner, that this move was seen as a wholly positive one.

3) Friends

There is no better resource than friends, and there is no reason why anyone should give up outside friends when entering the Order, so long as they do not shift you into negative patterns, and they are reasonably supportive. It will be necessary to be clear and honest with them over what sort of rules you will be living under, as your time and schedule would for the most part be at the disposal of the Order.

A lay member should strive toward clarity and honesty in their relationships, and there is no reason why they cannot follow this precept fully. Fear of losing a lover is not a good reason. If excessive honesty would lose them, then they are meant to move on.

[Order of the Horae]