In May, I showed you how the Virtues of the Asatru and Druid (ADF) traditions differed and that only three of them were actually the same:
- Courage (read the Courage article here)
- Perseverance (read the Perseverance article here)
This month, we shall be looking at the last of the three, the Virtue of Hospitality in a little more detail, and, with the help of an Asatru Gythia (gyðja) and a Senior Druid, we will see how this Virtue relates to a Kindred and a Grove, and the members therein.
The Meaning of Hospitality
Sylvie, Gythia ~ Mapleheim Kindred (Asatru):
Hospitality is one of the virtues that those who practice Asatru hold in high esteem in themselves and in others. There are many examples in the lore and the sagas of how hospitality was important to those long ago. In a time when all travel was done on horseback or on foot, refusing admittance to strangers at the door might be condemning them to death by exposure in inclement weather. As the Gods were also known to wander Midgardh in disguise, being inhospitable to the Gods might lead to unfortunate circumstances.
In modern times, Heathens are widely known for opening their homes and their kitchens to those who are visiting. When we welcome people into our houses and serve them the best of what we have, we strengthen our bonds of community and kinship with those around us. But hospitality doesn’t mean we restrict ourselves to caring for only those who come to our homes. It can and does include caring for friends and kinsmen by helping in any manner possible when they are facing difficulty. The hospitality of your hearth means that you are there to help those around you with whatever you are able to provide. This can mean anything from helping fill someone’s refrigerator when they are needing a helping hand, helping someone else move into a new house, or helping re-shingle your kinsman’s roof during an emergency.
Julie, Senior Druid ~ Thornhaven Grove (ADF):
I take my cue for this virtue almost entirely from the rune Gebo, which speaks of the obligations that come with being a host or guest. Hospitality is about interdependence, between ourselves, and between us and the Gods. It speaks to humanism, the human connection that we have with each other, and need to maintain in order to survive individually and as a race. It encompasses compassion, sensitivity, understanding the needs of others, and not waiting to asked. We are all guests in each others’ lives, and the best thing we can do is be good guests and good hosts. As a host, I give freely without expecting return. As a good guest, I ask for little, bring a gift or help pitch in, and know when to leave. The same can be said in terms of our relationship with our Gods. As the Gebo rune states, a gift demands a gift–for all the blessings we receive from the Gods, we must return their generosity with offerings and devotion. And as guests on this planet, we must take as little as possible, and work to improve the world, rather than simply take from it.
This virtue has a very personal connection with me. When my husband and I were moving from the UK to Canada, then Canada to the UK and finally from the UK back to Canada over the span of eight years, there were many times that we only owned a suitcase each and that was all we had in the way of belongings. Each of these times, our family and friends stepped up and offered us help. The hospitality came in many forms including a place to stay, free furniture, loans of a car to find an apartment or to get equipment and food. It even included, what was known jokingly at the time, as ‘reverse pillaging’, where groceries were actually gifted to us and put in our hands.
We will always be grateful for this hospitality, love and help we received during that desperate time. We know that we will never be able to ‘pay’ everyone back for all the help we gained, at least the folks concerned know it was very appreciated and that we would always be there for them.
Hospitality is, in my opinion, the most under used virtue in this modern age. Too many people are more concerned with their own lives than sharing and helping others. We saw this on a major scale during 9/11 where for a couple of months everyone in New York opened their doors, homes and hearts to those in need and gave all they could. Once the crisis had passed, however, the people of New York went back to their independent lives with no interest in sharing or giving hospitality.
The point I am trying to make is that we should not wait for a disaster like 9/11 or Haiti to galvanise us into action. Hospitality is something that should be practised everyday, even if in a small way to your family and friends or the greater community around you.
When was then last time you gave true hospitality to someone?
Or, indeed, received it?
This video is wonderful and, although it is an advertisement, you will understand why I wanted to show it here.
Finally, now that I have come to end of these three articles and will start anew next month, I just wanted to say that I recently attended a discussion by the Thornhaven Grove (ADF) on Virtues. It was a wonderful evening exploring the differences and similarities of the ADF, Norse and First Nations Virtues. If you get the opportunity to discuss the Virtues with a diverse group of people, do so. It was a most entertaining and informative evening. 🙂