In ADF there are 9 virtues which have been chosen by the Clergy Council for the students to reflect on them. There is no stressing in that a student has to life by those virtues, though they certainly can be enriching in life. They have been chosen for their importance in ancient and modern times. ADF doesn't require its members to cultivate those virtues, though their cultivation can certainly have a life enriching effect. In the DP the student is required to reflect on those virtues, s/he doesn't have to agree with them.
This is a shortened version of what I wrote for my DP. This symbol […] shows what I took out because I see it as too private to post on the internet.
1. The Nine Virtues
Our Own Druidry (the Dedicant Handbook) defines wisdom as follows: "Good judgment, the ability to perceive people and situations correctly, deliberate about and decide on the correct response."
The German word for Wisdom is ‘Weisheit’, which means ‘knowledgeable, having life experience’, coming from the Indo-European root *ueid (Seebold, 2002). Prior the word probably meant “seen”, “having seen something”. Thus there is a connection to the virtue of vision, to experience, knowledge and understanding.
We become wise through the recognition of a greater pattern. Recognition is gained easier through experience, which is shown in Norse Mythology by Odin. In Welsh Mythology Gwion received wisdom by chance but then had to go through a pattern of initiatory transformations. Therefore a lot of wisdom comes from learning from past experiences, our own and those of others.
A wise person applies wisdom by recognizing the whole pattern of a situation, and acting accordingly for the benefit. A wise person cannot be wise without knowing herself, which is a prerequisite to control your self. Therefore wisdom is often connected with temperance. In Myth this is mirrored in the connection of wisdom with the restoration of Balance (Egypt, Mesopotamia), which is taken up again by Aristotle, where wisdom is needed to find the middle between two extremes (Keller, 2001). This again we find in Hebrew and Gnostic Mythology where wisdom is connected to a female deity with mediating functions. Wisdom is an active virtue as it implies a wise action, knowledge alone won’t bring any change.
Wisdom is something I aspire to, but I know I am often failing. This happens mostly when reacting too fast, or acting on an emotion. My job […] certainly helps me in this way, but especially in private life I don’t always act upon it. So while there are some people who would consider me sometimes wise and have told me so, I actually see myself as still having a long way to go. Luckily I’m in good company, as Myth teaches us, that also the wisest and even the Gods sometimes fail.
Our Own Druidry defines piety as follows: "Correct observance of ritual and social traditions, the maintenance of the agreements (both personal and societal) we humans have with the Gods and Spirits. Keeping the Old Ways, through ceremony and duty."
Piety derives from the Latin adjective pius “devout”, “good” which is connected to Indic piyadasi “beloved of the Gods” and used to denominate the ideal of a man respecting his responsibilities to the Gods, other people and the state. Piety is found in nearly every religion, meaning an inner attitude and behavior in conformity with the respective religious organization. In the past and in ADF, piety encompasses social as well as personal relationships.
Someone becomes pious by doing the service needed with the inner attitude. Both are one side of a medal. In crises or losing faith situations it can be that we have only one, but perseverance can help us “keep the fire burning” against the storms inside and outside. By integrating piety within the personality, it is always there in the personal attitude and daily routine, even if it’s not a high day. I feel piety is an important virtue in ADF as ADF puts its focus on the relationship towards the kindred. Therefore, keeping agreements is essential for a good relationship. I am a person who tends to keep agreements, though I don’t know if I am pious. My husband would say “definitely”, however I have the urge to do more, but need to settle for less to keep the balance with other things. This too could be an aspect of the tripartite: piety needs to be balanced in what the person does socially (and for him/herself), for the community and for the Gods; it should not be exclusively for one party.
In Germany the word is translated as “Frömmigkeit”. It has become antiquated and people tend to use “spirituality” instead. I do not feel the latter is adequate; as it is strongly connected with the mind and I feel the actual act of service and the physical world is missing. I have come to use the Latin pietas instead.
Our Own Druidry defines Vision as follows: "The ability to broaden one's perspective to have a greater understanding of our place/role in the cosmos, relating to the past, present, and future."
Vision is the application of wisdom to perceive situations and people through past experiences and observations. It is as well knowing our place in the net of wyrd through seeing the interconnectedness and thus be able to see the emerging trends of the future. This enables leaders or visionaries to make wise decision and actively form the future, by trying to bring on the possibilities that are in harmony with our aims.
A lack in vision can be seen when people are unable to think outside “their box.” It’s going beyond present and future in imagination and seeing what needs to be done to realize a chosen cause. Visionaries are mostly ahead of their time. An oracle is often a way used to focus one’s vision, but fundamentally I believe that it’s about reading the wyrd; feel the changing wind before the storm comes, through mindfulness, observation, and wisdom.
I find it easier to show this virtue on the job. In religion I use this virtue to show our understanding of the cosmos. If I’m using it in other areas as well, time and results will tell.
Our Own Druidry defines Courage as follows: "The ability to act appropriately in the face of danger."
Courage means acting even though there is no guaranty of one’s physical or moral integrity in the outcome. It is about overcoming one’s fears, danger, pain and threats without expecting a reward. It’s about trusting actively in destiny. It’s acting towards a greater cause or because it is the right thing to do, to set the balance of the cosmos straight. In ancient time it was through courage that one could earn fame and honor and thus living a purposeful life.
One of my favorite mythological figures displaying courage is Gawain. He did what was right to do, what needed to be done and thus balanced the cosmic order of the seasons or in another story the balance between male and female. He trusted himself and stood up for what was right. He used wisdom and had a vision about the greater interconnectedness. He continued along the difficult path and thus showed perseverance and integrity in staying authentic to himself and his role. Showing courage is about acting, about doing something, trying to change something, not just “putting on a courageous face”, which I see more as perseverance and dignity.
In our society today it is difficult to show real courage for a greater cause. Living a comfortable civilian life, the courage I can show is of moral or social quality. [...]
Our Own Druidry defines integrity as follows: "Honor; being trustworthy to one-self and to others, involving oath-keeping, honesty, fairness, respect, self-confidence."
Integrity comes from Latin integer, whole, complete. It is not a virtue that can be displayed in one action like courage, but one which is shown by inner consistency in different, habitual actions. With the courage that is needed to act according to our ideals in inner consistency and the perseverance to bring us through stormy weather, it makes for an honorable life. Integrity is composed of different levels and therefore it is fitting that it is described by different adjectives. It is near to piety and moderation as it is about balancing within and without.
I can see different levels of integrity: On the psycho-physical level to be whole means to be healthy as far it is within my capabilities and responsibilities. The importance for the ancients is shown in the “Brehon Laws”. Though some people are luckier than others, many health issues today arise through our own vices. But it’s as well about being true to ourselves. We have to be radically honest with ourselves and our values to live them with authenticity and by this show integrity. Our ideals have to be integrated within us, so that we act consistently with them and express them in behavior.
On the interpersonal level it means being trustworthy; our word has to count for something. Therefore we have to be sure, when committing. I have to know my strengths and weaknesses, my place in life and cultivate self-confidence. Only then I can respect people with different values without devaluating them out of my own uncertainty and remain flexible in my ideals. By this we bring honor to us, our family, tribe and land.
On the greater level it’s again about knowing one’s place, knowing one’s role, fulfilling one’s destiny. By keeping my oaths I keep the cosmos in balance. Maintaining my agreements and relationships is an act of piety.
It is about how we relate to ourselves and others, the land and the Gods.
Our Own Druidry defines perseverance as follows: "Drive; the motivation to pursue goals even when that pursuit becomes difficult."
Perseverance means standing one’s ground through hardship. It is differentiated from endurance in that it means taking action and continuing that action. A greater purpose or goal is at the end of the “rocky road” in spite of the obstacles we continue. It is a strong expression of intrinsic motivation.
In myth perseverance is often demonstrated by heroes going on a quest, often involving different tasks. One of the oldest myths demonstrating perseverance is found in the Gilgamesh-Epic. For the Celts one could think of “Cwulch and Olwen” with the different tasks.
I believe I showed the strongest perseverance in my life during my studies: Although travelling between France and Germany, fulfilling representative duties at my husband’s side in France, studying in Germany I completed my degree within the set time, which only 0.7% of all the students of my study course throughout Germany accomplish. [...] . What helped me was that my goal and my reasons why this had to be done were clear. I always knew that it was my decision I could have chosen an easier path but I had my reasons and went on. I would do it all again.
The Dedicant Handbook defines hospitality as follows: "Acting as both a gracious host and an appreciative guest, involving benevolence, friendliness, humor, and the honoring of "a gift for a gift."
Hospitality has been rooted in ancient cultures as a religious duty, infringement leading to a loss of honor. It involves reciprocity, assured survival and save travel and was a necessity for commerce. In certain cultures there existed rules as to how long the right of hospitality is granted (e.g. Bedouin). Today hospitality is usually about courtesy, how we relate and act towards each other, though in religious matter and in relationship to the kindred it can still be a matter of survival. The further importance today is shown by the correspondence of hospitality with integration of strangers.
Many Myths show the importance of hospitality and it is not uncommon that Gods visit mortals and punish or reward the hospitality given to them. Hospitality is seen as so sacred that it is hard for us in our times to understand that the safety of a stranger is valued more than one’s own daughter for example.
There is the hope of reciprocity in hospitality, which means both parties involved need to be courteous, oblige to the social rules. In the ADF definition this is expressed by “gracious host” and “appreciative” guest. What the host does should not be regarded as a matter of course and the guest should know his boundaries. I like the Tunisian motto: “Feel like at home, but remember you’re at our place.”
For ADF this is an important part which differentiates it from other traditions: The “ghosti” relationship is fundamental in service to the kindred and for our alliance with them. “A gift for a gift” – keeping the cosmos in balance, though it is not always the person given a gift that will give the gift back
Our Own Druidry defines moderation as follows: "Cultivating one's appetites so that one is neither a slave to them nor driven to ill health (mental or physical), through excess or deficiency."
Moderation comes from Latin moderatus measured, meaning measuring one’s drive’s. It is already proclaimed at the temple of Apollo at Delphi with meden agan “Nothing in excess”. Thus moderation means lessening extremes and finding a balance between needs and necessities.
It is nicely shown in the Swedish "lagom" meaning just right and the legendary ceremony of a horn being passed around in a hall just rightly filled and everybody had to drink just so much that all received the same amount. The legend of lagom shows as well that some consideration for others should be part of the process.
Moderation can be applied to all actions, thoughts and emotions. Cultivating moderation is very important in our time, as it can help us balancing our lives and therefore leading a healthy life. Especially in our world, where most jobs are in the service or mental area we have more an more people suffering of Burnout and other mental disease. Moderation can help here finding a balance.
Moderation stands in one line with integrity and piety and stands as the first step: It is centered on how I balance my “temperament” and myself, while the next level, integrity, includes interrelationships, which needs moderation to succeed and in the priestly caste the cosmic pattern is included.
Our Own Druidry defines fertility as follows: "Bounty of mind, body and spirit, involving creativity, production of objects, food, works of art, etc., an appreciation of the physical, sensual, nurturing"
What perseverance is for the warrior, fertility is for the providers and producers. It is the maintenance of life through the production of objects, promotion of natural growth, and cultivation of art. It’s not about igniting the fire, but keeping it burning, as every good lady of the house would have done in ancient times. The outpouring in fertility is shown in the generosity to share with the community around. The inclusion of creativity implies an intrinsic motivation, cultivated in the attitude showing this virtue.
This means “practice your craft” and put your heart into it. Contribute to your society and the maintenance of the cosmic wheel and the balance of the universe. Fertility encompasses quality and quantity, depending on the specific product. You will most certainly sometimes need perseverance to keep you going.
The other side of fertility is the physical, sensual and nurturing aspects. We have been given this body and it is the temple of our divine spark and thus we should treat it. Fertility is the foundation of life. Not just in a procreative sense, but in a very real and tangible, as our bodily needs have to be met in order for us to function on other levels. Sensuality can also be interpreted as being mindful in the moment and using all your senses. In this, it is a life of promoting joyous virtue and showing us ways to live a worthwhile life. It has to go hand in hand with moderation, as too much of a good thing can bring harm.
I like this virtue a lot, because it is the foundation of life, the foundation of joy and how we can sense our feelings and emotions. But then again, my Patron is a fertility Goddess, so it’s not really out of the blue that I have a special connection to this virtue.
There are a lot of different virtues systems, some of which overlap with the 9 virtues of ADF. I thought about adding one or two, but I feel the virtues are quite complete and well fitting to the tripartite cosmology on different dimensions. All persons can profit from leading a good life and cultivating the 9 virtues, but some are more important for certain classes. For the priests and intelligentsia that would be: Wisdom, piety and vision. For the warriors: Courage, integrity and perseverance. For the producers: Hospitality, moderation and fertility. But the triad can be applied on a vertical axis too, where wisdom, courage and moderation show things we should cultivate within ourselves. Piety, integrity and hospitality are something we should apply when relating to others, be it human, Nature Spirits, Ancestors of Gods. The last vertical triad teaches us about the bigger picture of cultivating a broader view outside ones own “little world” which is shown in vision, perseverance and fertility working toward long term goals, stressing a (cosmic) continuation.
Seebold, E. (2002). Kluge - Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache: Walter de Gruyter.
Keller, M. (2001). Die Tugend als Mitte bei Aristoteles (Hausarbeit zum Proseminar: Aristoteles, Boethius von Dacien. Die Frage nach dem Glück des Menschen. Fachbereich: Katholische Theologie). Mainz: Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz.