OK my first big stumbling block. If Wiccans believe in a different system than Christianity, how can Wiccans curse people to the Christian Hell? Since from what I've read so far Wiccans don't believe in Hell to begin with.
Bear with me, I'm learning...
Wiccans don't believe in a "HELL=AFTERLIFE" per se...as a place? as a Divine retribution by our G-ds? As an opposite to the Summerland? Can a Deity create such a place for their own followers?
Giving up the Bretheren or the Mysteries would render you no longer one of "us", but one of "them". If you're one of "them", you can go where "they" believe.
I found this particular aspect of this thread so thought provoking that I have been studying all day. I wondered what would have made Gardener put it in as a rule. That led me to learning about "The Burning Times." I'm not Wiccan. I'm still trying to figure out who I am still, but I do have a base knowledge of who Gardener is even though I have not read his work.
Now this is not meant to be argumentative. It is solely meant to add to the conversation and hopefully inspire independent thinking and research in my fellow newbies.
In addition to the rendering oneself no longer wiccan by a form of collusion with outsiders, I think it could it also be seen from additional perspectives, which I shall explain.
History teaches us that hundreds of thousands of people were put to death during "The Burning Times" even though not all were witches. Would it not make sense for Gardener to take said information into account and place the rule based on common sense. For instance, something along the lines of, Look what they did to alleged witches in the past. Do you think they would not do that to us as well? This is why secrecy is necessary.
Also, I read somewhere that taking another individual's free will into account and respecting it is also important to Wiccans. By divulging information of other Wiccans to outsiders, is that not also taking away those Wiccans' free will? Taking away their choice to be known and potentially harassed for it?
These are just another two reasons I believe could have been the cause for Gardener putting the secrecy law into place.
I believe his reference to a Christian Hell could also stem from the fact that many were burned at the stake in history. What do they always say about so called "evil doers"? They will "burn in Hell". Maybe Gardener meant burning at the stake to be a literal, physical manifestion of a Christian Hell on earth, so to speak.
Now I will address my thoughts on the validity of that law in today's day and age. Is it valid or is it outmoded?
I would have to say I still believe it valid. Sadly, with no paranoia involved, only clear minded reasoning, I can not honestly say that any pagan is 100% safe from being burned at the stake. It was still within the Twentieth Century that the KKK burned crucifixes on the lawns of African Americans and murdered Emmett Till in 1955. It was also during the Twentieth Century that Brandon Teena (Teena Renea Brandon), a transgendered young adult was brutally murdered in 1993 for being transgendered. Although his death led to hate crime laws, they are still not 100% percent effective. A law, no matter how well intended, does not protect one from a crazed zealot. Plus, as recently as 2001, most likely even more recent than that, Protestants and Catholics were still killing each other in Ireland. A modern day example of potential death resulting from differing beliefs.
As I said, this was not meant to be argumentative in any way. I only wished to share my thoughts and see what others thought. After all, is it not the "old way" to exchange thoughts, ideas, and information? I also hope this made sense, as it is almost two in the morning where I am and I'm tired. LOL!