Last month, I showed you how the Virtues of the Asatru and Druid (ADF) traditions differed and that only three of them were the same:
(You can see last months article here )
This month, we shall be looking at the Virtue of Courage in a little more detail, and, with the help of an Asatru Gythia (gyðja) and a Senior Druid, we shall see how this Virtue is used in modern society and everyday life.
The Meaning of Courage:
Sylvie Charbonneau, Gythia ~ Mapleheim Kindred (Asatru):
‘The courage displayed by our ancestors, and the courage required to get through modern life spring from the same source in our souls. However, they are applied differently, due to the society and context in which they are found. In olden times, the threats to life and property were far more apparent than they are today. While it takes a lot of courage to stand and fight for your family when raiders invade, it also takes a lot of courage for a struggling father to work three jobs to be able to feed his family. The bravery shown by the ancestors was far more visceral and visible, and thus far easier to identify as courage. Every day existence in the past was a struggle to survive, whether it be against beasts, foes or even the weather and seasons.
Our modern society has dulled the fight or flight response in humanity, making the reaction to danger more difficult. The few professions today where courage is required are easily identified by every person in society. Our soldiers, police officers, fire-fighters and search and rescue teams put their lives on the line for the betterment of their community. Their personal safety comes second to the need of the people. They display the true courage of a hero when they face down an armed attacker or run into a burning building. They are part of the few who choose to walk the deadly grounds in the computer age.
Modern Heathens today can display their courage in many different ways. It takes bravery to stand up and go against the flow, when your morals and personal beliefs go against the mainstream. Many a Heathen has found themselves in bitter opposition to a situation that goes against their values. Friends, family and co-workers might challenge our resolve, but the true modern hero holds his or her ground and says: Here stand I, alone if necessary, for what I believe.’
Julie Desrosiers, Senior Druid ~ Thornhaven Grove (ADF):
‘Courage is very simple to describe: it is facing fear or adversity, being afraid or worried or despairing, and still getting the job done. It is understanding the risk(s) that you are facing, and acting anyway. It can be confused with foolhardiness-really the difference is in truly knowing what you risk in losing (other’s esteem, your reputation, your livelihood, your life). Whether standing in front of an audience or an enemy line, courage is brought to bear.
While simple enough to explain, it is more complex in application. In a situation, for instance, when you are compromising your true self to keep the peace in your family, does it take more courage to stop compromising and be yourself, or continue to compromise until a time when you no longer can hurt others by being yourself, dealing with the personal strife that this might cause on your own?
Some would say standing up for your beliefs and values takes the most courage – while others might argue that compromising for the sake of peace or harmony takes the most courage. Either way, it is safe to say that it takes courage to know the risk or strife associated with a particular action and sticking with it regardless.’
These two outlooks are interesting, aren’t they?
Notice how the Asatru description of courage is more forthright, advocating a certain level of courage to stand up for what you believe to be right. Whilst the Druidic approach advocates both to stand up and/or finding the courage within to compromise, enabling ‘the whole’ to run smoothly.
Each viewpoint is as valid as the other, in my opinion, and both reactions can take a great deal of courage to follow through.
I identify more with the Druidic description of this virtue than the Asatru version. I, like many others out there, am still learning that life is full of times when the decision on how to use your courage can be as tough as actually using it.
I believe, that true courage is knowing when to stand up and when to stay quiet. It’s realising the consequences of whichever action you choose, battling your fear and still doing it. I speak from experience. I’ve been in several situations where I’ve realised that I have far more courage than I ever would have imagined or thought possible.
What do you think courage is and how would you describe it?
Remember, you also have much more courage that you think.
I would like to end this article with a lovely video I found a while ago, which matches the subject matter perfectly.
‘Courage Is’ by The Strange Familiar.