For our Irish ancestors, a sacred oath was never limited to this realm. In fact, it was often entered into with, or initiated by, those in other realms. The veil between realms was always thin and those on the other side were always accessible.
They called it geis, pronounced guess. A word with origins that include prayer and request. A lovely idea if one is asking for the support and assistance from those who have gone before us or those of a divine nature. However geis also implies a destined occurrence and in this context it was those in other worlds reaching out to those in this world. It could be daunting. Throughout Irish literature, geis referred to a magical demand or injunction placed on a person. It was central to kingship as kings were required to maintain an equilibrium between the community and the sacred. Especially the sacred land and sacred realms. Breaking a geis would result in death for the ruler and devastation for the community.
While I have no notion that breaking the geis I forged with my father after his death will result in my death, I know it would have an impact on the vitality of our family. He has asked me to hold the family as sacred and to continue to weave the bonds of love, passion, dedication, and joy. His geis is a gift I receive. A gift I give.
Judith – firstname.lastname@example.org