Week 20 – DPWotY

This week sees us looking at the Nine Noble Virtues again, the virtue for the week is Vision which Our Own Druidry defines as ‘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.’

The Oxford dictionary online defines vision literally as ‘The faculty or state of being able to see.’ or what is more in context with what we are looking at as ‘The ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom.’

DPWotY asks us to read the Our Own Druidry version until we think we have some understanding of it, then we need to decide whether this covers vision in our own eyes. Is it just a matter of seeing and understanding or is there more to it?

I would say that the Our Own Druidry definition is a decent one, especially in a religious context but it isn’t enough to just see our place/role in the cosmos, we need to see how we can use that to better things, to give back to the Earth Mother in some way and for that we need to be able to use the Oxford dictionary idea of planning with imagination or wisdom, probably a little of both.

Dangler then asks us what we think understanding our place/role in the cosmos means and whether it sits comfortably. Also whether we understand the use of past, present and future in the definition.

I think it is important for us to try and realize that as an Earth Mother/Nature Worshipping religion that we are a small part of a larger whole. I suspect it is trying to get us to take a holistic approach to things in some ways. Our actions affect the planet, the ecosystem and each other and our role should be to help protect all of these things responsibly and to look after them.

The use of past, present and future is I suspect continuing on the holistic approach, we need to understand what has happened in the past, is happening in the present to be able to think about what to do in the future.

Do these terms sit well with me? Yes, I think they are trying to teach us responsible practice and to think outside the box. Therefor they sit quite well.

For me vision is a dual thing, on one hand it is seeing, we see things around us, what has happened and what could happen. On the other hand we envision with our imagination and see what could be, plan, think, hope, pray and scheme ways to make something a reality. I think both of these work well in a religious aspect, and as a noble virtue because it helps make practitioners think and plan and not blindly follow.

A good example of someone who is a visionary is our local Senior Druid, she had a vision to found a grove in Australia and for ten years has worked on that vision, making it a successful reality. She looked at what had come before, what existed now and planned for a better future. Some might argue that it is a small vision but not all visionaries have to accomplish earth shattering things, sometimes one small step leads to another, and another until they have accomplished a number of things that has a large affect.

I’ve worked in Event Management, I sometimes feel this requires a lot of vision, to pull together a team, a venue and everything else and run a successful event takes a lot of effort, planning and imagination. Acheiving it feels amazing, I wouldn’t have ever thought of it as being visionary until this essay, I certainly didn’t think of it as a virtue.

I’ve been part of a team that failed at succeeding to pull off an event, it was bitterly disappointing and the failure stung, we had a vision, we just didn’t have a strong team effort, or plan to pull it all together. I kicked myself for months over not assuming the leadership role, when it was shown that we were lacking a strong leader, I think it was a fear based choice not to.

I suppose really vision is a virtue that is required in neo-paganism and neo-druidry, we are creating something, not just for ourselves, but for others and for future generations. This requires vision, planning and dedication to ensure we are leaving something for those that come after. So if vision is necessary for this, which it is, therefore it is most certainly a virtue.

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Week 15 – DPWotY

This weeks lesson has us looking at the second of the Nine Virtues and furthering our understanding of their role in ADF and why they are held to be important. The virtue that we are looking at for this week is piety, something that on the surface may seem simple but I suspect is actually going to be a bit deep than it first seems.

We of course have readings from Our Own Druidry to complete for this task, however in addition there are several articles from the ADF site that are recommended to be read too, all of them written by Rev Dangler. However for some reason I can only find one of the articles. Hoping it is the gem of the three. :/

So the definition of piety from Our Own Druidry is 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.’ and for comparisons sake the Oxford Online Dictionary defines piety as ‘The quality of being religious or reverent.’

I have to say that the ADF definition feels cold and academic to me, more like they are saying that if you complete this sequence of events in exactly the right amount with the precise actions and a pinch of showmanship that you are pious. There is nothing there about belief, about forging strong bonds with the Kindreds and the deeply moving experiences that these can bring. It almost sounds like an atheist could do ADF and have some kind of success, how can anything work without belief?

While I respect that there is duty in our path and that there are agreements that need to maintained, I feel that there would have to be a better way to phrase it. This isn’t a dry dusty religion like many branches of Christianity have become, it is a living breathing religion, practiced both in our homes and in our groves, and there needs to be a conviction of belief.

The thing that struck a chord with me in the Oxford definition was the word reverent, faith is somewhat about reverence, we are forging bonds with supernatural powers, Gods, Nature Spirits and the Ancestors, we ask them for blessings at ritual, heck we even make offerings to the Outdwellers. Reverence doesn’t mean we have to be scared of them, simply that we are respectful and fufil our part of the whole deal, bring them sacrifices and offerings at ritual or times of the year that are important to them. Now this does I guess tie into the whole duty and maintenance of agreements thing from Our Own Druidry. However I think reverence is a good word because you believe that what you are doing is important, you believe that the Kindreds are worth honoring and that you should take the duties seriously.

Of course piety is not something that can be easily encaptulated in a few words, how does one capture all that piety means to them in a sentance? Reverence, honor, belief and observation would have to make it’s way into my description of piety but even then there is that niggling feeling that it doesn’t cover it entirely.

I know a few people personally that I would consider pious, part of that is the fact that thier faith, observations, and little things they do to honor the Kindreds is worked into their daily life. They make regular offerings, they do daily observances, the maintain a permanent shrine and are always working on their relationship with the Kindreds because it is important to them, they believe that it is important too, it isn’t about showmanship or showing off to others, a lot of them don’t talk about what they do all the time but it is noticable to those of us who follow similar paths what they are doing.

So Rev. Dangler suggest that we explore our own view, are we pious? How? Do you need to be pious to understand piety? Well that is a tough one, I think piety is important, however I don’t think I have reached a point where I could describe myself as pious. I think I have a long way to go to be pious, I try to work things into my personal life, little observations and actions to show the Kindreds I care and am being reverant to them. However I also think there is more I could be doing. As for do you need to be pious to understand piety, well I suspect that is subjective. I think that you don’t need to be pious to understand the concept, however I also suspect that if you aren’t remotely pious you aren’t going to be in a position to understand exactly how important or why it is, it is going to be a more dry and academic understanding of the virtue.

If I had to choose between whether going through the motions was more important or putting your heart and soul into it I would have to go with the latter. I’m a great believer in actions speaking louder than words, however in this situation I think heart and soul driven observance is going to speak louder than a perfectly enacted ritual with lack of reverence. You have to show that it is important and that you care about what you are doing, and if that means that you are away from home and can’t do a precise ceremony with all the accoutrements doing what you can with what you have but working it like it is still just as important.

While I respect the intention of having piety as one of the Nine Virtues I do wonder if it is perfectly suited to a Neo-Pagan setting. I’ve met an awful lot of neo-pagans who are constantly doing spellwork with the intention of getting something out of it, they execute elaborate rituals with fancy set-ups but lack the faith to back it up. They don’t work on reverence, they don’t forge relationships with the dieties they invoke, I sometimes wonder if they even believe in them. I also wonder whether it could be a virtue that attracts a misguided attitude to Neo-Pagan religion, a metaphorical club that people whack each other over the head with, ‘You are not a real pagan, because you don’t do such and such.’ type situations. Just because we choose to observe something one way doesn’t mean it is the right way, or that other people are doing it wrong and piety could be a type of weapon for sparring with. I think ultimately it is better that it is one of the nine but I think it is a double edged sword.

Anyway that turned out to be a long rambly post, this is going to need to be perfected a lot before it can be an essay for the virtues. I think I need to reflect more on this virtue, I have a lot of conflicting ideas on it and struggle to find the words to say what I mean.

 

 

Week 13 -DPWotY

This entry is week thirteen and brings me ever so closer to being caught up on all my notes being turned into blog entries, I really have been quite slack at the blog aspect of this journey, something I hope to improve upon as we travel through to the end of the DP and wherever I go after.

Week thirteen is the first of the Nine Virtues which I often think of as the Nine Noble Virtues due to the books on Asatru I have read often refering to them as being noble. The first virtue we are looking at is not one that appears in the nine of Heathenry, and is Wisdom.

Our Own Druidry sums Wisdom up as ‘good judgement, the ability to perceive people and situations correctly, deliberate and decide on the correct response.’ The Oxford Online Dictionary defines this noun as ‘The quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgement; the quality of being wise’.

Wisdom or being wise, is about utilising one’s experiences and drawing upon the experiences of others from sources such as the written account and historic sources to form an opinion or judgment that is informed. It is an objective thing, considered from multiple angles and taking in opinions other than our own to assess a situation.

The dedicant manual and the Oxford dictionary agree that wisdom is good judgement, I think that the experiences Oxford cites as part of wisdom tie in niecly to the remainder of the dedicant manual description of wisdom. A person’s experiences will give them a unique perspective, however it will also allow them to draw upon these past situations to help see to the heart of a person and/or situation more clearly. It may also provide them with fuel to consider in deliberations when trying to decide the correct response.

Wisdom is something that should grow with age, the more a person has experienced the more resources they have to draw on, to enable them to see to the heart of the matter, or to see the potential pitfalls and problems with an idea or situation. I don’t think it is a skill that is ever perfected, as no one person is perfect and we all bring a unique mix of experiences to our practice, I think we have to acknowledge that we can be wise, but never to wise to learn new things.

Certainly I can see why it should be a pagan virtue, even if it isn’t a heathen one, wisdom is needed certainly by our leadership since they often make decisions on our behalf, but also by us as individuals, so that we can question and grow as a person but also as a grove or orginisation. We need to be able to question if something is right, not just accept it blindly, to learn from our experiences so we can let others benefit from them and to grow healthily on our journey.

Wisdom can occur at any age, as a child I was the youngest sibling, and often had adventures across the country side with my older siblings. I remember we would get in bulls every year to breed with our heifers and cows, the bulls would be very aggressive, because we would always have two, one for the heifers who was smaller and less aggressive and one for the cows who was bigger and stronger and usually a testosterone driven monster.
Some cousins from the city came to stay with us one year and we were playing in the fields when one of the cousins decided we should play by the creek. The quickest route to the creek was through one of the paddocks that had a bull in it, my cousins wanted to go through that paddock but I strived persuade them how bad an idea it would be.
You see I remembered what had happened to a farm hand a few years earlier who strolled into a bulls paddock without any thought for the danger. He had ended up in the emergency room bruised and with three broken ribs. Thankfully it kept them occupied long enough that one of my older siblings arrived who they listened to because they were older and therefore perceived as more knowledgeable in the eyes of children.
We were able to draw upon these experiences and realize that although cutting through the paddock would be the quickest route, it would not be the wisest due to the danger it posed.

I think wisdom is important as being the first of the virtues because it is so interconnected with the others, that it teaches us to look for the pattern, the connection between them all, wisdom tells us why moderation is good, helps us understand vision, tempers our courage, lets us maintain and grow integrity, understand our mistakes while we perservere and I’m sure it ties into hospitality, piety and fertility in ways I haven’t even discovered yet. This realisation of connectedness is important because it teaches us to take a more holistic approach to things, but also that everything is connected, we are connected to our family, our grove, our friends and this planet on so many levels, it is wisdom that helps us navigate all of this with some level of success.