The Nine Virtues
WISDOM - This is something that comes with age and/or experience. One cannot get this from books, really. For me to judge situations and handle people requires me to stay centered and try to understand just what is going on – and that means I must pay attention (!), something I don't always do. The operative word here, for me, is listening .
Having said that, I can say that I've learned over the past 50 years that I can often successfully help others when asked. I've had quite varied and extensive experiences through travel – I've lived in various places in the USA , UK and the Caribbean . And I've dealt with many different kinds of people. But the most important thing is that I'm very aware of just how little I know!
PIETY - Honoring my Gods, Ancestors and Nature Spirits, in public ritual, private ritual, meditation and trance is central to my practice. Spending time with my Grove-mates is not only instructive, but great fun and community as well. My private rituals keep me centered in the world. My meditation helps keep me centered in my life, and builds a foundation for my trances, which let me speak with my Gods, Other Kin and Dead.
I have made vows to some of the Gods and feel very strongly about keeping those vows! Meditation on the Gods is a good way of being sure what it is that They want, especially when problems or conflicts arise in my worship of them.
VISION - This is basic to my pagan understanding. Most people today in our modern western culture can't see beyond their cars, air conditioners, tv's and computers. We live totally insulated from the natural world, something the ancients would have never understood. For myself, vision means that I must look deep within myself and use whatever means necessary to find my place in the cosmos, and perhaps I may someday see just how we all fit in together.
And my view of the world and cosmos has been changing constantly. The more I learn the more things change! I just try to find a quiet, centered place in myself during meditation and allow understanding.
COURAGE - The study guide mentions acting appropriately in the face of danger. However, courage is not only about physical danger. It has been said that the courageous person feels fear, but acts anyway. People need courage to face themselves and to understand just who and what they are. This can be the scariest task of all. Self knowledge and acceptance gives us strength, and the Gods are only too happy to help.
INTEGRITY - This is essential to any well-lived life. Be true to myself, be true to others, be true to the Gods. If I make a promise, it must be kept. To honor my actions is to honor myself!
Often situations arise where compromise is necessary. The hard part of this is to make a compromise that doesn't violate my ethics. While necessity sometimes makes me bend them a bit (that is what compromise means!) I refuse to do anything which might violate them.
PERSEVERANCE - Ah, this is the hard one! Procrastination is so easy. But my goals will never be attained unless I persevere, carving time out of my day to read, perform ritual and keep my journal. I may not be 100% successful, but I will do my best.
Outside events conspire to derail much of what we do. But just because I have to put off something for a while doesn't mean that I have to give up! Sometimes just plodding away at work will get it done, and better late than never.
HOSPITALITY - It is necessary for me to understand that I am not alone in the world, no matter how self-sufficient I may be. And, as I have needs, so do others. Another word for hospitality is courtesy, something often lacking now days. I do my best to be kind to others, entertain and behave as a guest should.
This also encompasses tolerance. I cannot be truly hospitable if I am not tolerant of those whose lives are not like mine, especially if I have felt persecuted by them (such as by fundamentalist Christians). I can be firm, but I can always be polite.
MODERATION - This is the middle path. And not an easy path at that! I focus well, fixating on projects to the exclusion of all else. I am the diet-Nazi. But I can find balance with meditation. It truly helps. And balance is another word for moderation!
I can have everything! I just can't have it all at once. Some people confuse moderation with denial, and this is not so. Denial is a negation of pleasure or duty. Moderation is the affirmation without upsetting my balance.
FERTILITY - Back in my youth I abandoned the Wicca over this word. I understand it better now. Creativity is another word for fertility. As a gay man I shall probably never have children of my seed. But I have spent my life creating – and shall continue to do so!
I have a fertile imagination and Brigit blesses me with inspiration. Ideas can flow from me much as Athena sprang complete from the mind of Zeus. And ideas can grow and find nurture in me. I am truly fertile.