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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Nine Virtues

  In heathenry you will hear people talk about the 9 noble virtues (often abbreviated to NNV), a modern list of positive character traits devised by the Odinic Rite in the 70's based on ideas from Norse mythology. Some of these 9 are more historically accurate than others, but in a modern context all of them seek to provide a general guideline of qualities worth nurturing. Some people really like the NNV, while others find the whole idea useless.
  The original Nine Noble Virtues are:
 Courage
Truth
Honor
Fidelity
Discipline
Hospitality
Self Reliance
Industriousness
Perseverance
  Now persoanlly I like to switch out loyalty for fidelity, because I feel that loyalty has a closer meaning to what I feel that "virtue" should be, whereas fidelity is too similar to part of how I would define honor. Fidelty means a strict adherence to promises, devotion to duty, and faithfulness to obligations, while loyalty means steadfast allegiance, faithfulness to a person, ideal, cause, or duty. I also prefer honesty over truth as something we can nurture within ourselves. So my personal NNV would be:
 Courage
 Honesty
 Honor
 Loyalty
 Discipline
 Hospitality
 Self-reliance
 Industriousness
 Perseverance
Obviously these are goals to be worked towards constantly and everyone will have a different understanding of what they mean. Part of what I like about them is that even outside the context of heathenry they are still a good guideline for living; you could apply these to your life as a CR, or neo-pagan, or witch, or atheist, or what-have-you and they would still be useful and I like that universal quality. Of course everything must be done with moderation and it's just as easy to go to far with any one of these as it is to not have that quality at all...
   Now personally this is how I see each virtue. Courage is facing fear and not letting fear control you. Honesty is being honest with yourself and others. Honor is living an honorable life by holding true to your principles and keeping your word. Loyalty is being faithful to the people, things, and causes that matter to you. Discipline is self-control and doing what needs to be done. Hospitality is being a good host and a good guest. Self-reliance is trusting in one's own abilities and judgement. Industriousness means being diligent in getting things done. And pereseverance is persistance and seeing things through.
  After an interesting discusison on a heathen parenting group I have been contemplating how to blend the ideas behind the NNV with the only moral guideline, of sorts, that I grew up with, a framed print of the "Children Learn What They Live" sayings by Dr. Dorothy Nolte (http://www.empowermentresources.com/info2/childrenlearn-long_version.html). Being raised a secular agnostic we really had no religious influences at all but we had a nice needlepoint of the list of those sayings that hung in the kitchen which I looked at each day. The idea is a short list of negative things that a child could grow up with and the result followed by positive things and the results. So, for example (this is a work in progress), for heathen children it might be something like:
  If a child lives with fear, they learn to be afraid
   If a child lives with deception, they learn to lie
  If a child lives with inconsistancy, they learn not to listen
 If a child lives with betrayal, they learn to be mistrustful
  If a child lives with irresponsibility, they learn to be lazy
  If a child lives with hostility, they learn to be defensive
 If a child lives with encouragement, they learn courage
 If a child lives with truth, they learn honesty,
 If a child lives with respect, they learn honor
 If a child lives with reliabilty, they learn loyalty
 If a child lives with responsibility, they learn discipline
 If a child lives with welcome, they learn hospitality
 If a child lives with independance, they learn self-reliance
 If a child lives with expectations, they learn industriousness
 If a child lives with challenges, they learn perseverance

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