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Monday, October 8, 2012

Thoughts on the Testament of Morann

     The Testament of Morann is the advice given to a king on how to rule well. At first glance this piece may seem simple and may also seem like something that doesn't apply to anyone not planning to rule, but in fact much wisdom can be gained from studying this text. The first section discusses the power of reciprocity and the benefits gained from holding to the ideal of Truth. The second section teaches the new king how to judge well and by what measure to judge all things. The final section discusses superior things and the four types of kingship. When taken as a whole these sections help us to see the right order of the world and how to maintain it.
     It is important to understand why the first section looks at both the power of reciprocity and the power of Truth, because although these two concepts are often viewed as separate, in reality they expressions of one ideal. Reciprocity is the universal balance that is maintained; when we give, we get in return. Truth is the equilibrium of the universe, it is the pivot point on which reciprocity rests. Each one exists as an expression of the other and neither could exist without the other. Within the text this is expressed through lines such as “Let him exalt mercy, it exalth him” which teach us that the characteristics we embody will in turn be drawn to us and “It is through the truth of the ruler that milk-yields of great cattle are maintained.” Which shows us that is through the manifestation of Truth that reciprocity yields positive things for the king's subjects. On a smaller scale this can be found to hold true within the lives of each individual and each Druid; when we speak and live Truth our lives will reflect blessings and we will draw to us the things we embody.
      The second section focuses on the king’s judgment of all things within his kingdom. At first glance this may seem superfluous to many of us but in fact much wisdom is hidden in these lines, for the king is urged to judge all things by their own produce as we can see from lines like “Let him estimate the earth by its fruits”. This is good advice for anyone, because it urges us to judge anyone or anything only by the end product, surely a method to reach a fair and impartial judgment. If we seek to judge not through emotion nor based on the item or person themselves, but only on the result or product, then we will judge fairly and well.
     The final section is the most poetic of the piece, opening with the lines
     “Darkness yields to light
       Sorrow yields to joy
       An oaf yields to a sage
       A fool yields to a wise man
       A serf yeilds to a free man
       Inhospitality yields to hospitality”.
    These also contain deep wisdom if studied. The first two lines set up our understanding of the rest of the wisdom we are shown, for indeed darkness yields to light and sorrow to joy by their own nature and just so does a fool yield to a wise man. This is not a statement about the intelligence of men or about the choices people make in different situations, but rather it is a commentary on the natural order of the world and how one condition or person yields to another. This segment then segues into a description of 15 characteristics that the king should have, followed by a list of ten things that “extinguish” the rule of a bad king; when studied closely we can see that these ten are reciprocal benefits of the 15 things listed in the previous line, reinforcing that to exemplify certain characteristics is to draw blessings to our lives. The writer then proclaims that the king “may die” and “will die”, and “may depart” and “will depart” but that what matters is how he rules for that is how he will be remembered. This is important advice for us all to remember, because we will all die one day and it is by our actions during life that we will be judged by those who come after us. And final this last section discusses four types of rulers: the true ruler, the wily ruler, the oppressive ruler, and the bull ruler. We can also look at this in broader terms as describing four types of people in general; the one who lives by truth, the one who lives by doing what is in their own best interest, those who live by force and outside control of others, and those who are in constant conflict with others.
    The Testament of Morann holds much wisdom for living as a good king, or as a good Druid. It shows us how to live in Truth, judge wisely, to seek the natural order, and describes the four types of rulers.  Knowing all of this it is up to us to choose which of the four “types” of people we want to strive to be. If we want to be a person who lives by Truth then this work gives us many of the tools to find that path and master the wisdom needed for it; in the end whether we seek to be a good ruler, a good Druid, or a good person all of these tools will be needed.

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