Tag Archives: Virtues

Is Paganism Dangerous?

The Daily Wail piece provoked a few interesting responses. On facebook a chap expressed fear that it would make us look dangerous. I posted a smiley back. According to one school of popular thought, Pagans are a bunch of tree hugging, hippy vegetarians – minor nutters and fringe lunatics, amusing but not dangerous at all. Then there’s the right wing fascist-christian (which is NOT mainstream Christian) view that paints us as Satan worshipping baby sacrificers out to pillage your children and molest your goats.

Who do we think we are? There are pagans who want us to stop talking about magic and fairies so that people will stop thinking we are nutters and start taking us seriously. Damh the Bard wrote a beautiful response to that point here. (More Daily Wail issues, and an excellent post). I agree wholeheartedly with him. I don’t want to water my beliefs down to make ‘normal’ people comfortable.

If the wrong folk consider us dangerous, we’ll be back to the bad old days of persecution, when you could lose your job for being pagan, and social services might want to take your children away. If the Daily Wail brigade seize power, we’ll be nailed up alongside the immigrants, gays environmentalists, academics and other hate figures. So by making it very clear that we’re not dangerous at all, that we won’t rock the boat or cause offence, we are protecting our interests and our way of life. Come the revolution, we will not all be shot.

Bollocks to that, I say!

When I think about my pagan ancestors, I think about Boudicca standing up to the Romans, and the Druids who would not submit to Roman authority. When I think about my Gods, and the heroes of myth, I am short of examples of people who ‘heroically’ kept their heads down and didn’t make a fuss.

Being a Pagan means having values. Anyone who has no values is not, as far as I am concerned, any kind of Pagan at all. We might not have a book of rules, but we have honour, we have ethics. The wiccans have ‘an it harm none, do what you will’ which is a complex, powerful tenet. The Heathens have their nine noble virtues to guide them – and damn fine virtues they are too. Druids have all the values of their Celtic ancestors to look back at, and some fine modern writers as well – Brendan Myers on Pagan Virtues and Emma Restall Orr’s book on Pagan Ethics are fabulous texts. We are a people with values, ethics, and a sense of honour. Sure, there will be exceptions, and any pagan who wants to self identify as having no values is very welcome to go ahead and post a comment. I’m prepared to bet there won’t be many.

We chose Paganism to some degree because we are free thinkers. We chose it conscious that it would not be easy and that we’d be out on the edges for so doing. We found our paths in courage and in trust, in hope of making something better than we had. We may disagree about what is best, but I’ve yet to meet a Pagan who doesn’t care passionately about a range of issues.

In any kind of decent society, all of the above means we’re a bunch of hippy tree huggers who the mainstream is slightly puzzled by. Not dangerous, but a bit weird, in a ‘makes a good filler story for the news’ kind of sense. In America, the government is trying to crack down on free speech. In the UK, the government is poised to sell off nationally owned forests and keep poor people out of higher education. In a society that throws away its values for the sake of short term political convenience, someone with principles is highly inconvenient. A whole community who will not shut up and submit to the ‘necessary evils’ others feel entitled to inflict. Yes, in that situation we could choose to be very dangerous and make ourselves unpopular.

It’ll be a matter of personal choice. If the going gets tough and basic human rights are threatened, if the environment is further put at risk, do we go quietly and keep ourselves safe by saying nothing? Perhaps we should all pretend to be agnostic and hide our opinions until it’s safe to come out again?

If it’s a choice between safety and honour, I see no choice at all.

Hospitality

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:

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. 🙂

Blessings to your Hearth,

Edain
Edain Duguay.com
Paranormal/Fantasy Novelist, Best Selling eBook Author and Award Winning Blog Writer.

Author of the blogs:
English, Pagan and in Canada
Worlds Of My Own Making
Gramarye, The Magical Homestead

Contact Edain @ FacebookTwitterYoutubeBlogger

Perseverance

In May (May’s article HERE), I showed you how the Virtues of the Asatru and Druid (ADF) traditions differed and that only three of them were actually the same:

This month, we shall be looking at the Virtue of Perseverance 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 Perseverance

Sylvie, Gythia ~ Mapleheim Kindred (Asatru):

Steadfastness (or perseverance) is a combination of all the Nine Noble Virtues.  It takes a lot of perseverance to be courageous, truthful, honourable, loyal, disciplined, hospitable, industrious, and independent. It is cumulative effects of the small actions, repeated on a daily basis that makes people reliable and steadfast.  It is prevailing against the quiet desperation of the soul that can set in when life seems ready to overwhelm you.  Perseverance keeps you sitting at your desk for another hour of overtime, when you would rather leave and go to the beach.  It is the repetition of scales and arpeggios for the musician, and the fortitude necessary for the long-distance runner to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  It is the quality that made our ancestors repeat the sowing, weeding and harvesting of their crops, and to keep their animals healthy so they would survive the winter.

Steadfastness helps to ensure the continuation of the individual, the family unit, and society as a whole.   It is far easier for someone to abandon their responsibilities and walk away, than to overcome the situation by staying and trying to resolve their problems.  It takes perseverance to get up every morning to go to a job you might hate, but that you need to assure the survival of your family and your pride.

As the Havamal tells us, “the lying down wolf never got the lamb, nor sleeping wight slew his foe”.

Julie, Senior Druid ~ Thornhaven Grove (ADF):

Perseverance is not unlike courage, in the ability to push through hardship or difficulty. It is also linked to the concept of vision, in the sense that in having a vision, you are able to remain focused and work towards it. Perseverance is an act of will, and taps into one’s discipline, the ability to continue applying oneself to a task or goal regardless of external (and sometimes internal) factors. Perseverance is also a means of dealing with conflict or problems. Dealing with conflict with equanimity, holding on to the vision and pushing through–this would exemplify perseverance in the face of adversity. In offering your suffering/struggle to the Gods, perseverance becomes a holy act, and brings in another virtue: faith. Having faith that what you are doing is part of the “Great Plan” helps you persevere. That being said, there is always a fine line between perseverance and stubbornness–one should always be open to changing course if the original course proves wrong or pointless.

I have to say that both descriptions of perseverance are, in my opinion, spot on. Life, itself, would not exist if not for perseverance, survival is yet another word for it.

When one perseveres and succeeds, the mental, and in some cases physical, rewards are outstanding, the sense of achievement is intense and well deserved, no matter the reason.

We persevere in our lives a lot more than we think we do and often we have no clue that we are persevering until we step back and look at our actions or someone points them out to us.

  • If you took a step back right now, what areas of your life would you recognize as times of sheer perseverance and determination of will?
  • Or is perseverance something you have found to be lacking in your life, perhaps something you need to work on?

To end this month’s article, I would like to share with you an inspirational journey of perseverance taken by one woman:

Blessings to your Hearth,

Edain
Edain Duguay.com
Paranormal/Fantasy Novelist, Best Selling eBook Author and Award Winning Blog Writer.

Author of the blogs:
English, Pagan and in Canada
Worlds Of My Own Making
Gramarye, The Magical Homestead

Contact Edain @ FacebookTwitterYoutubeBlogger

Courage

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:

  • Courage
  • Perseverance
  • Hospitality

(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.

Blessings to your Hearth,

Edain
Edain Duguay.com
Paranormal/Fantasy Novelist, Best Selling eBook Author and Award Winning Blog Writer.

Author of the blogs:
English, Pagan and in Canada
Worlds Of My Own Making
Gramarye, The Magical Homestead

Contact Edain @ FacebookTwitterYoutubeBlogger