DP Nine Virtues
Dedicant Studies Continue
Moderation is the careful balance between excess and deprivation. It is through this balance that one may live a healthy and fulfilling life. It is not being a slave to or dragged down by ones appetites, or walled in by addictions. Also it is not excessively depriving oneself of physical or psychological needs in misguided attempt to “purify ones soul” or some other nonsense. That being said, in many instances of excessive behavior, the excess is being used to fill some type of void within the person, often of a spiritual or psychological nature. Ironically, excessive deprivation (anorexia for example) can also occur for the exact same reason. Hence, keeping ones physical, psychological, and spiritual needs satisfied in a balanced manner is the best way to keep the virtue of moderation. We need all the aspects of our being to be whole, healthy, and happy people. There is no point of denying our bodies as “evil and unclean” in favor of our spirit or denying the spirit in favor of a materialistic and soulless mechanistic worldview. There is no dualist split, Instead, like a Yin-Yang, matter and spirit and both integral parts of a seamless whole.
Another aspect of moderation is not using more resources than one needs. For example buying more useless junk on a whim or because the advertisers convince one to buy it in order to be “happy” (in other words fill the void which never works anyway so one buys more stuff in a never-ending consumeristic loop). This includes not wasting natural resources like water, food, wood, and petroleum. As Druids, by curbing our own excesses and encouraging moderation on a global level, we can help heal the Earth and make sure that everyone gets their basic needs met no matter who they are or where they live.
Wisdom is the acquisition of knowledge gained from experience and the correct application of that knowledge. However, wisdom isn’t just about gaining experience or having it, but learning from it so one doesn’t repeat ones mistakes. That’s why there are sometimes twenty year olds with wisdom far beyond their years and sometimes eighty year olds that are no wiser now then when they were twenty. Wisdom is about taking the long view, thinking ahead to the future consequences of our present actions. Take the environment for example. Destroying the environment for short term monetary gain without giving a thought for the impact it will have on future generations or even just a few years down the road is a perfect example of a complete lack of wisdom.
Wisdom also impacts the other virtues. One needs wisdom to discern which virtue applies to a given situation and how best it may be applied. For example, using moderation in hospitality; being wise enough to choose a balance between being virtuously hospitable and being a doormat for people to step on. Wisdom is making the choices and compromises that allow one to live in the right way.
Vision is seeing beyond yourself. It is looking up at the stars all the way down to the gutter and pondering where you fit in between. Vision is feeling the span of the centuries and the tides of history in your bones and the glittering fantastic possibilities of the future in your heart. It is the endless quest for meaning and understanding and the thrill of new discoveries when meaning becomes clearer and understanding gets that much closer. It’s the delicious feeling you get when contemplating the mysteries of the universe, whether they are the birth of galaxies, the existence of the dark dimensions of the Sidhe, or even the beautiful and lovable mystery lying sleeping next to you. Vision is the sense of wonder you get looking at the patterns of tree branches against a moonlit sky, the strange wistful longing you get looking out to sea at the distant horizon. Vision is gazing at the grand tapestry of all there is, dumbstruck with awe and humility, yet knowing your own thread makes up a part of this divine weaving. It is feeling this connection pulse in your soul and seeing beyond yourself to fully realize your place in the cosmos.
Courage is often defined not by fearlessness but by going forward and doing what needs to be done despite being afraid. It is standing up for what is right even when it is not popular. Courage is not taking the easy way out when things get tough. Unlike perseverance however, it is not a question of motivation or drive, it is conquering fear to accomplish the set goal.
One of the most courageous things one can do is to truly know oneself and be able to face ones shadow self. And then having done this, have the courage to acknowledge ones limitations and seek improvement where necessary. Facing oneself with all illusions stripped away is one of the hardest things a person can ever do. Only the truly courageous will ever even attempt it.
Hospitality is as important now as it was in the ancient Indo-European societies. It still means being a good host and a good guest but it also means being a good family member, a good friend, a good neighbor, and good community member. At its heart, hospitality is maintaining relationships with others and is the cooperation that is needed to maintain society. Common sense etiquette is an often overlooked form of hospitality. Exhibiting the proper behavior while in public can be one of the most important manifestations of hospitality, for without these simple social niceties, people couldn’t get along long enough to have a civilization.
Charity falls under the auspices of hospitality as well. In this way, we can extend hospitality to strangers as our ancestors did, while reflecting our modern global view of what community is. Things like providing living wages, resources, natural disaster relief, blood donation, healthcare etc. are hospitality on a neighborhood, local and global level. Closer to home, hospitality is helping a stranger in need. An excellent example of this is my friend Colleen (also a Dedicant). During a heavy snowstorm last winter she was at McDonalds when an elderly lady fell on the icy sidewalk and broke her wrist. Colleen stayed with her until the ambulance came and went to the hospital ER with her, and waited five hours for the taxi to take her home (it was a very heavy snowstorm). Colleen even followed up and phoned her afterwards to make sure she was okay. Now that’s hospitality in the modern age.
Perseverance is the initiative and motivation to pursue goals and dreams even in the face of opposition. It is the virtue that gets things done. Having courage and wisdom etc is all very good but without the engine of perseverance, everything stagnates and does not come to fruition. Perseverance drives inventions, social progress, even spirituality. ADF itself would not be here today (nor would the neo-Pagan movement for that matter) if not for the perseverance of its pioneers and founders. Things like women’s, civil, and human rights would not exist if people like Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King Jr., or Gandhi had given up in the face of social condemnation, imprisonment, or even the threat of death.
On a personal level, perseverance is self-discipline. One cannot gain deeper insight into the Realms and evolve spiritually if they do not persevere in ones studies and meditation. Perseverance is what keeps us on the path and moving in the right direction
Fertility can be thought of in two ways. First, it is about productivity. Not just producing offspring, but producing art, music, food, ideas, theories, manifesting things in the physical world. Secondly, it is about appreciating the things in the physical world that make life rich and satisfying, the lush green world, the sensual delights of the human domain, feasting, celebrating, sex, laughing, enjoying the company of friends and loved ones. It is about experiencing and delighting in the world through the senses, the heady scents, the sweet and savory tastes, the melodious sounds, brilliant sights and sensuous tactile sensations of this beautiful manifestation of the divine that is the realm of the physical. For that is what it is, vital, life giving, and awe inspiring and not the evil and dead half of a dualist worldview.
Piety is maintaining the commitments one has made to ones Gods and Goddesses. In ADF in particular these commitments are daily devotionals and the eight high day sacrifices at the bare minimum. Beyond this minimum there is also honoring and respecting the reciprocal relationships between us and the Gods, Nature Spirits, and Ancestors as being a part of everyday life. Giving the Gods our time and love, keeping the natural world safe and whole, and honoring and remembering the Ancestors are all ways of being pious. True piety is when one wants to observe the sacrifices because of the love and respect one has for the three Realms and not done as an empty gesture out of a sense of guilt, fear of punishment, the comfort of routine, or obligation. Piety becomes dogma and loses its purpose and sincerity when it is done just for the sake of doing it.
Integrity is all about truth and honesty. Saying what you mean and meaning what you say, keeping promises and upholding your oaths, being honest with yourself and others and walking your talk. Talking about truth and honesty is useless if your actions do not reflect honesty and truth. Hypocrisy is the antithesis of integrity. For example, being anti-abortion yet sitting by and allowing children to be sexually molested and then concealing the crimes is not a sign of integrity! To violate the trust of loved ones and those you have sworn to protect and nurture is the most severe breach of integrity, though one should strive to be truthful and honest in all endeavors. To live with integrity is to live a life through oath keeping and honesty that doesn’t take away the quality of life from others, be they friend or stranger.