The Myth of the Silent Oath...
"Our deeds towards those we hold dear & those we honor should be living examples of Oaths .. even though no Oaths have been made. For truly, if we live like our forebears, no Oaths are necessary. This is thau."
I had this quote on my site... At one time I think I probably fully agreed with it... At this point I see flaws in it... Towards Family/Kin I would agree, but the statement goes beyond that to include Kith and those we consider Friends... Ultimately our Elder Kin saw very important things in Oaths. It was a way to extend those bonds similar to Kinship to those we thought worthy... It was something very real that was placed into the well which helped tie us to each other... Now, I'm not saying go out and make an oath with every person you are acquainted with... But I do see it as an integral part of binding with folk in true friendship.
Now as far as 'oaths' go...
I believe there are several levels of "oaths". Becoming someone's 'Blood Brother' would probably be the most serious, next to one to the Gods and that of marriage... Down from that are ones taken at Symbel, Faining, or some other religious Rite. These would include such things as "Hold Oaths" as we see used in Theodism. One that could be argued to be as strong as that of a 'Hold 'Oath' would be an old custom of extending friendship. In that custom a Sword is sent/presented from one person to another with these words attached "Here is my sword, with it goes my friendship". Down from that would be such things as boast of friendships or toast to friendships at events such as Symbel, Faining, or other gatherings... Last, but not nearly least of these would be person to person talks, wherein pledging of friendship occurs between folk...
What's the common link between all of the above? The most important is they are spoken... They have life breathed into them and can thus be placed into the well... There is the idea among Irminist and some Theods and Asatruars, that there is no such creature as the "silent" oath-boast-toast... For something to be placed into the well, it has to be given life. To do this, breath must be given to it, another words it needs to be spoken... Thus the reason I believe the quote is flawed... If the friendship isn't spoken about and confirmed at some point by both parties, where is the life in it??