As a fodder for contemplation, I was considering a series on the Nine Noble Virtues.
The question is … which nine?
ADF has its list of virtues, which I had explored in the dedicants program: wisdom, piety, vision, courage, integrity, perseverance, hospitality, moderation, fertility. In Asatru — likely the source for the ADF version — the virtues are courage, truth, honor, fidelity, hospitality, discipline, industriousness, self-reliance and perseverance. On the Celtic side, Aedh Rua compiled a list of 12 coir (virtues) that include dilseacht (loyalty), tairise (reliability, steadfastness), flaithiulacht (generosity), aiocht (generosity.hospitality toward strangers and those in need), ionraicas (integrity), cneastacht (sincerity), macanta (gentleness), misneach (keeping things in perspective/courage), calmacht (endurance), crogacht (ferocity), fios (wisdom) and dualgas (duty). (My apologies for omitting the crucial accent marks. I’d have to open a new program to write the words correctly….)
Virtue is important in that it identifies what you value. It’s linked to the old-fashioned concept of character. It’s a guideline for right action — action in accordance with the universal order, whether you call that rta or dharma, wyrd or firinne.
So, what do I value?
I admit I’ve always had difficulty with the ADF list. Piety snags in the throat, although I agree with the concept of faith. Vision isn’t so much a virtue as an ability; some good people in the world have little of it. Fertility makes me flee for the hills without leaving a contact phone number.
The ADF and Asatru lists always made me wonder: Where is kindness? Generosity? Mindfulness? Even unvarnished honesty? In my mind, they are too focused on hardness — and on warriors and the engines of war.
Virtue and honor have often been associated with warriors — mostly because the “bushido” mindset, so to speak, keeps them from strong-arming, subjugating and ultimately destroying their own peoples. It’s one of the reasons that there’s necessary tension between the warrior and priestly castes in Dumezil’s tripartite system.
What is virtue, then, outside of that caste — and indeed, in a world without caste? To create a world we wish to dwell in, we must provide a metaphysical blueprint for the kind of people we want to be. At least that’s my thinking.
How about you?