The Germanic Path

Library for Circle of Stones topics
Forum rules
If you find a topic of interest and want to continue the discussion then start a new topic under The Hearthfire with a similar name and add a link back to the topic you want to continue.
To copy a link just copy the url on the top left of your browser and then put in your post, highlight it and press the url button.
User avatar
Eilthireach
OBOD Druid
Posts: 1913
Joined: 12 Feb 2003, 13:58
Gender: Male
Location: Bavaria
Contact:

Postby Eilthireach » 08 Jun 2006, 10:06

I would like to recommend two recent additions to the growing number of books on Germanic topics:

1. Taking up the Runes by Diana L. Paxson

Paxson, already well known in the North American Germanic scene through her membership of The Troth and her own active group Hrafnar, has published a voluminous book on the runes that is based on the rune courses that she gives from time to time.
The book is suited for beginners as well as for the more progressed runester.
The theory part is absolutely okay, even if it didn't contain much new information for me it contains everything that has to be there.

What I liked most about the book is its orientation towards practice. There are lots of suggestions for small and big rituals, invocations, meditations, spirit journeys and all the other elements of a modern spiritual practice. It is not a scholarly book, it is very much aimed at the student "taking up the runes" and heading towards practice with them.

In my personal experience, the runes are most likely to show their true being if you deal with them as often as possible and in ways that are as different as possible. This book shows many ways how to introduce the runes into one's daily life. In that, the book is unique and I recommend it to every serious runester (Elder Futhark).

2. Exploring the Northern Tradition by Galina Krasskova

This is a relatively brief (200 pages) and very precise introduction into the Germanic spiritual tradition(s). What makes this book valuable are three things:
- there is everything there a beginner might want to know
- the book is written by a person who really practises the religion, not only talks about it from a scholarly position
- it contains some of the best descriptions of the Germanic gods and goddesses complete with poetic invocations.

The last point is it which lets me recommend this book also to the more experienced practitioner. The descriptions are very vivid and colourful and let immediately rise a picture of the respective deity before the inner eye. Despite the "vividness" of the Germanic pantheon, I often find this a weakness in other books.

The book also contains excellent chapters on other elements of the Germanic tradition(s), for example values, the blót, the seasonal festivals etc.

It may be mentioned here that I do not agree with every word that the author says. For example, I don't share her opinion that Heathenism and paganism are two different things and that only Heathenism is rooted in a cultural background, while paganism is not. There are also a few lines on Rokkr (shadow) worship that I don't agree upon, but summa summarum this doesn't do harm to the book.

With greetings from beneath the Bavarian Alps,

Eilthireach /|\ .

I wish to learn the things that are
and understand their nature
and to know God.
(Corpus Hermeticum I,3)

Image

User avatar
Eilthireach
OBOD Druid
Posts: 1913
Joined: 12 Feb 2003, 13:58
Gender: Male
Location: Bavaria
Contact:

Postby Eilthireach » 14 Nov 2006, 09:33

Heilsa!

Summer is definitely over by now and the winter half year has begun. For me, this is always a time of intense study, reading and writing.

Odin is the master of wisdom, who even has sacrificed himself to receive the knowledge of the runes. It seems fitting to put the time of study under his patronage.

Maybe this example can also show that Germanic ritual texts need not necessarily be limited to a simple "Hail to Odin!", as they are so often published on the internet and even in books.  :wink:  
   
May Odin always bless us with the fire of his inspiration.

Eilthireach /|\.  
 

Invocation of Odin

I invoke Odin, the High One, the Lord of Asgard.

Hail to you, Odin, Allfather!
Your children have gathered to greet and to honour you!

You are the father of the Gods and of mankind,
your breath has given life to Ask and Embla.
You have offered your sacrifice at Mimir's Well
not just for yourself, but for your people.
You have gained wisdom of all things past,
of all things present and of those yet to come.  
Nine days have you hung in the windy tree
sacrificed yourself to yourself
to bring the sacred runes to your people.
You are the God of warriors and kings,
sitting in the high seat in the halls of Valhalla.
You send your ravens across the Nine Worlds
and wolves lie down peacefully at your feet.
You lift your spear to the skies
which sealed the fate of Sigurd the Vaelsung.
You ride in the wild hunt in the dark days of winter
thundering across the frozen land.

High One, Allfather, we welcome you in this sacred place!

Ring Giver
Grey Wanderer
Seeker of Knowledge
Father of the Runes
Life Giver
Wind Rider
Wise One
God of Magic
Fire of Inspiration

By the spear, by the raven and by your rune Ansuz (draw) come, Allfather, and be present in your strength!  
Come into the grove of the Old Ways
Come into the ring of your people
Come into the hearts of all who honor the Earth.

(Pause – wait for the manifestation of Odin)

High One,
we thank you for leading us onto the Ancient Ways.
We thank you for the friendship and community with like-minded people.      
We thank you for your guidance and inspiration.    

We ask you:
Enlighten us with your inner fire as we continue our quest for wisdom.
Let us partake in your knowledge of the ways of the worlds.
Grant us the strength to find our own True Will, so that we may fulfill our Wyrd with courage, honour and with the joy that comes from feeling at home in our tradition.

Allfather, Raven God, Master of all Wisdom and Magic, accept our offering!

(Offering)

Eilthireach, August 2006

I wish to learn the things that are
and understand their nature
and to know God.
(Corpus Hermeticum I,3)

Image

User avatar
DaRC
OBOD Ovate
Posts: 4684
Joined: 06 Feb 2003, 17:13
Gender: Male
Location: Sussex
Contact:

Postby DaRC » 14 Nov 2006, 13:19

Most excellent Eilthireach I'm glad to see your return to the Hearthfire here after your summer's wandering.

May I poach this invocation?  I feel that the time is coming for me to work with Odin.  
I'm hoping to start on the Ovate grade soon - my current tutor is Yurt-ing it up and response times are slow.

Cheers, Dave.
Most dear is fire to the sons of men,
most sweet the sight of the sun;
good is health if one can but keep it,
and to live a life without shame. (Havamal 68)
http://gewessiman.blogspot.co.uk Image

User avatar
Beith
Posts: 3514
Joined: 03 Feb 2003, 18:28
Gender: Male
Location: Somewhere over the rainbow
Contact:

Postby Beith » 14 Nov 2006, 14:58

Gruess-Gott Eilthireach!

I loved reading the invocation above. I read it earlier and re-read it just now. It's fantastic, full of strong powerful masculine energy and images. I liked it very much.

Just noting the reference to the Wild Hunt. Can you point me to a good germanic tale on that ? (preferably in English - Du weisst mein deutsch ist nicht so gut...veilleicht nach ein glass Wein no zwei es kommt besser?!)
we also have legends of the wild hunt and the Welsh likewise.

In the Germanic version - does Odin lead the hunt? Are those pursued the living or the souls of the dead? Are they condemned to follow the hunt? Do the animals of the hunt (eg. hounds) have specific colouring? (eg. in our lore, the white bodied-red-eared hounds signify otherworldly creatures...likewise with otherwordly cattle in other legends - the roan colouring is something "other")

Is there a particular night when the hunt takes place or can occur any stormy night within the dead of winter?
In germanic folklore, are there "witness accounts" to the hunt?

sorry for the barrage of questions but just interested to look at similarities and differences!

thank you again for posting your invocation. It is a work of art and beauty and well worthy of the man himself!

Beith

User avatar
Eilthireach
OBOD Druid
Posts: 1913
Joined: 12 Feb 2003, 13:58
Gender: Male
Location: Bavaria
Contact:

Postby Eilthireach » 14 Nov 2006, 15:40

Hello Dave!

Thank you! Nice to meet you again!  :wink:  

Of course you may use my text!

Hello Beith!

Thank you for your kind words!  

The best text on the web that I know of regarding the Wild Hunt is this one by Kveldulf Gundarsson:

http://www.vinland.org/heathen/mt/wildhunt.html

A few remarks to your questions:

The Wild Hunt is lead by Odin and his wife Frigga, sometimes in her emanations as Hulda/Holle or Berchta/Perchta.

Those pursued/threatened are the living. Living humans encountered by the Wild Hunt sometimes make their reverence and are gifted with a treasure. Those who try to flee are usually taken away with the Wild Hunt, never to return.        
It seems to me that some of the "the spirits return to earth" mythology that the Celtic traditions see at Samhain is located around Yule in the Germanic traditions. One reason for this could be that the latter don't have an equivalent to Samhain. The Germanic festival that is roughly located near Samhain is "Winternights" and it does have ancestors worship, but is lacking the above mentioned "ghosts" aspect.  

To my knowledge the animals have various colours. I know the red-eared hounds of Irish mythology, but they don't show up in Germany/Bavaria.

The Wild Hunt takes place during the 13 wih-nights or holy nights, roughly between one day before the winter solstice (=mothernight) and New Year.
But I guess a winter storm on January 15 would probably still be seen as work of the Wild Hunt.  

There are many folk tales of "witness accounts" to the hunt. Many of them are decribed in Grimm's "Teutonic Mythology", of which an English translation should be available.      

I have to go now!

I think it is nice to see this thread come to life again.

With greetings from beneath the Bavarian Alps,

Eilthireach /|\.

I wish to learn the things that are
and understand their nature
and to know God.
(Corpus Hermeticum I,3)

Image

User avatar
Beith
Posts: 3514
Joined: 03 Feb 2003, 18:28
Gender: Male
Location: Somewhere over the rainbow
Contact:

Postby Beith » 14 Nov 2006, 19:31

Thanks Eilthireach - much appreciated!

That is great info. I need to look back into our folklore. Interestingly, alot of "Wild Hunt" imagery centres around an actual historical figure in middle ages - Gearóid Iarla - the Earl of Fitzgerald, who is said to ride out with ghostly riders on the wild hunt across the countryside. I will post something on that whenever I get around to it!

Just a note to you and DaRC in case you did not see it already (though perhaps you already know) - Merlyn is setting up a Rune Forum (I think in Druidcraft as a subforum)...if I recall correctly, both of you are very much familiar with the Futhark and symbolism? It would be great if you would join in !

all the best
Beith

User avatar
DaRC
OBOD Ovate
Posts: 4684
Joined: 06 Feb 2003, 17:13
Gender: Male
Location: Sussex
Contact:

Postby DaRC » 01 Dec 2006, 11:24

Hi all,

just to let you know I've posted my essay on the Northern Soul in the Rune sub-forum of the Druid Craft forum
http://www.druidry.org/board/viewtopic.php?t=19124

I hope it is of interest.  Cheers, Dave.

User avatar
Eilthireach
OBOD Druid
Posts: 1913
Joined: 12 Feb 2003, 13:58
Gender: Male
Location: Bavaria
Contact:

Postby Eilthireach » 04 Dec 2006, 08:27

Hello Dave,

my congratulations for this waybreaking work and thanks for posting the link!

Eilthireach /|\.

I wish to learn the things that are
and understand their nature
and to know God.
(Corpus Hermeticum I,3)

Image

User avatar
Twig
OBOD Bard
Posts: 4240
Joined: 05 Dec 2006, 02:55
Gender: Female
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Contact:

Postby Twig » 16 Jan 2007, 08:06

I have always felt a little, well, ashamed of my German blood. (Actually, it's Prussian, or if you go back a little further, Latvian).I always wanted to be 100% "British Isles." But this thread has given me a whole new perspective... Thank you one and all!

User avatar
Eilthireach
OBOD Druid
Posts: 1913
Joined: 12 Feb 2003, 13:58
Gender: Male
Location: Bavaria
Contact:

Postby Eilthireach » 22 Jan 2007, 12:06

Dear readers,

those of you who follow the other boards here will be aware of a visit that we had these days, of somebody who abused elements of our ancestral Germanic cultural and spiritual heritage to propagate certain extremist, right-wing and racist views.

I am shocked, disappointed and very sad.

People like these give everything Germanic a bad name and ugly face and people like these still prevent that our Germanic heritage can finally find the same awareness and care that our Celtic heritage has - thanks to the gods - long gained.

I share not a single one of the views that our visitor has expressed. I take an interest in my Germanic and Celtic heritage, but I am first and foremost a Druid Companion of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids and the Order stands against racism and extremism of any kind - and so do I.

With your kind permission I would like to continue to try to shed some light on the other, the valuable, the real side of Germanic culture and spirituality. I think that our Ancestors deserve it.        

Thank you for your patience.

Eilthireach /|\.

User avatar
pobble
OBOD Ovate
Posts: 753
Joined: 11 Feb 2003, 22:09
Gender: Male
Location: London, UK
Contact:

Postby pobble » 23 Jan 2007, 00:40

Eilthireach,
I'm so sorry that your wisdom is denied by someone supposedly in the same tradition, and yet someone who acknowledges so little in common.  May you continue your work here without any more of the same!
Image

User avatar
Crow
OBOD Druid
Posts: 4662
Joined: 10 Feb 2004, 17:04
Gender: Male
Location: East Coast, U.S.A.

Postby Crow » 23 Jan 2007, 04:40

Your contributions have always been valued, Eilthireach, and I am very pleased to have you here.

The incidents that you speak of have done nothing to change my high opinion of our many members of Germanic heritage, and I look forward to the continued participation of each and every one of those members, who exemplify the very best of OBOD ideals.

There is no stain -- no ugly face on any of you.

:shake:

:crow:
Image
“You can't study the darkness by flooding it with light.” ~ Edward Abbey

User avatar
Eilthireach
OBOD Druid
Posts: 1913
Joined: 12 Feb 2003, 13:58
Gender: Male
Location: Bavaria
Contact:

Postby Eilthireach » 23 Jan 2007, 09:19

Thank you very much, indeed!

:shake:

Eilthireach /|\.

I wish to learn the things that are
and understand their nature
and to know God.
(Corpus Hermeticum I,3)

Image

User avatar
Eilthireach
OBOD Druid
Posts: 1913
Joined: 12 Feb 2003, 13:58
Gender: Male
Location: Bavaria
Contact:

The Nine Noble Virtues

Postby Eilthireach » 06 Feb 2007, 09:45

The Nine Noble Virtues


In evil never joy shalt thou know,
But glad the good shall make thee.  (Hávamál 130)


Around the Western World there is an ongoing discussion about the crisis of values. Politicians, philosophers, churchmen and people everywhere complain in unison that values have obviously lost much of their influence and importance in our times.  
A look into the news seems to confirm that. Every day there is crime, abuse, hatred, fraud and deceit. Western societies appear to have lost the bonds that kept them together. The way people treat each other often follows but one single rule: everybody looks after one’s own profit.
With values obviously going down, not everybody misses them. Values have widely lost their positive connotations. From being understood as guidelines through the turbulences of life they have come to be seen as obstacles to individual freedom, as moral fetters chaining us to the consciousness of bygone ages. Nowadays, many people consider it justified to break the rules to get ahead.

People have always looked at religion and spirituality when it came to the definition of values. How does modern nature spirituality (paganism and related paths) respond to this?

While we all will agree that we have common values, our agreement usually ends when we come to the question  what these values are.
More and more pagans feel that their traditions fail when it comes to giving them a few elemental guidelines for  life: a few basic values to hold on to, a framework in which they can unfold their being, simple rules how to deal with the adversities of life.

The Germanic traditions have always emphasized the importance of values. Many source texts contain rules for honourable conduct and recommendations for a good life. On the basis of the Poetic Edda, Northern European and Icelandic sagas and Germanic folklore, a system of Germanic values called the Nine Noble Virtues was first codified in England in the mid 1970‘s. They are meanwhile accepted by most followers of a Germanic tradition as a common code of honour and outline for life. The Nine Noble Virtues are

1. Courage
2. Truth
3. Honour
4. Fidelity
5. Discipline
6. Hospitality
7. Self Reliance
8. Industriousness
9. Perseverance


Courage

The son of a king shall be silent and wise,
And bold in battle as well;
Bravely and gladly a man shall go,
Till the day of his death is come. (Hávamál 15)

In the classical sense, courage means to overcome our fear in a dangerous situation and accomplish something good without regard of our own safety. When we think of courage in a Germanic context, we often think of shield-wall and battle and days when kingdoms were won and lost by the sword.
However, even if most of us are leading rather ordinary lives today, we still need courage in many situations. In a wider sense, courage means to overcome our (sometimes irrational) fears and to persist in unpleasant situations.  

It requires courage to consciously place oneself outside of the contemporary materialistic culture and not to partake in the strategies of consume and demand, where the value of a human being is his/her bank account and modern „gods“ are worshipped in „consume temples“, as shopping malls are sometimes called.  

It is debated among pagans if we should be open about our religion or rather keep it to ourselves. The decision is personal and depends on the situation. While it is sometimes better to remain silent, there will be other times when we simply have to stand up and defend our views. If we decide to act we need courage, for we stand outside of mainstream culture in a double sense: as spiritual people in a materialistic world and as pagans in an environment that acknowledges only „established“ religions.      

There are many examples for courage in daily situations. It may be the courage to speak up against injustice, mobbing and discrimination in our workplace. It may be the courage to confront somebody who takes away our or other people’s rights. It may be the courage that we need to keep our traditions free of right-wing views, racism and prejudice. If we belong to a language minority, it may take courage to use our ancestral language even if it is considered outdated by many.
All contemporary pagan traditions are based on honouring nature and the Earth. The protection and improvement of our natural heritage often needs courage, be it the courage to ask for natural/biological alternatives in a store, write letters to media and politicians in matters of ecological importance or even become an nature/animal protection activist.

Courage is linked to honour. A courageous act will increase our honour, while an act without honour will rarely be called courageous.


Truth

Then second I rede thee, to swear no oath
If true thou knowest it not;
Bitter the fate of the breaker of troth,
And poor is the wolf of his word.  (Sigrdrifumál 24)

In Western societies, life is regulated by laws. Laws are enforced by sanctions: if you steal, you will go to prison. It is supposed that people refrain from breaking the laws to avoid the sanctions.  
A system of values such as the Nine Noble Virtues goes far beyond that, because it is ultimately based upon personal honour. We choose to act - or not to act – not to avoid sanctions, but because we want to increase our personal honour. The first prerequisite of honour is truth, to be honest with oneself and others.

There is personal truth and Higher Truth. Personal truth means honesty, keeping away from lies, deceit, boasting and rumours. Our ancestors knew well that lies can kill (see Hávamál 120). Truth means to speak the truth if we know it, even if we are the only ones who do so. Truth also means to speak up when everybody else remains silent in the face of a lie.      
However, truthfulness does not mean always to tell 100% truth regardless of the consequences. Truth has many different expressions, from the subtle manoeuvres of Odin to the straightforward action of Thor. There is a French proverb saying „toute vérité n‘est pas bonne à savoir“ (not all truths are good to be known).

Truth also includes wisdom and knowledge. Wisdom was highly valued in all Germanic cultures and no other than Odin himself gave the ultimate sacrifice on his quest for wisdom: the sacrifice of the self.
In our times of internet and global mail order it has become easy to gather information about the ways of our ancestors. Networking and discussion groups are available. Wisdom is partly a gift by the gods, but knowledge is a product of hard work. The time, effort and money a pagan spends on the quest for knowledge is indeed an Odinic sacrifice and it is our firm belief that such a sacrifice will be rewarded.

While truth means different things to different people, there is also Higher Truth, the ultimate truth that is the same for all people of all nations and ages. Higher Truth is the goal of every seeker. Like the Holy Grail we may never find it, but when we stop our quest we will (spiritually) cease to exist.

Truth can be an act of courage and increases our honour. It also encourages loyalty because people are more likely to trust a person who has a reputation to speak the truth.


Honour

Cattle die, and kinsmen die,
And so one dies one’s self;
But a noble name will never die,
If good renown one gets. (Hávamál 76)

Honour is the basis of the whole system. If we study the myths and sagas of our ancestors it becomes clear that honour was absolutely essential to them.
In several English-speaking countries of today the title „Honourable“ denotes a high-ranking official whose office is supposed to bring something good for the country and the people.  

There is external and internal honour. External honour is reputation and the Hávamál states that our honour may still live on while we are long gone. Honour is the echo that our life leaves back in Midgard. Honour involves dignity, reverence and respect for oneself and others.  

Internal honour is like an inner guide telling us what to do and how to proceed. It is rooted in ourselves and in the knowledge that what we believe in and what we do is right before ourselves, before other people and before the gods and goddesses. Honour is the deep knowledge that we can always take full responsibility for our actions
– because we have done the right thing. It is the inner quietness and contentness that comes from feeling sheltered and at home in one’s spiritual tradition.  
Honour means that we should act at the best of our abilities and possibilities. Honour is not about seeking what is easy, but seeking what is best. There should be no guilt or regrets. In this, honour is linked to courage.

One aspect of honour is justice. If we hand down injustice to others, it decreases our honour. Living with honour always means to respect and guard the honour of others! If we suffer injustice against ourselves without trying to change it, we also take away from our honour. To be treated in a just way is a human right claimed by our ancestors from the earliest days.      

Another aspect of honour is truth. If we always speak the truth so that others can rely on us, we gain honour.
If our words and our deeds go together and others trust us, we gain honour. If our promises and our oaths are kept and fulfilled, we gain honour. People will come to us for advice and trust our word when it is given, not waiting for confirmation by others, and this will again increase our honour.  
If we live in honour, we can add something good to the world, to our faith and our community.

As we have shown above, honour is linked to truth and to courage.  


Fidelity

I rede thee, Loddfafnir! and hear thou my rede,-
Profit thou hast if thou hearest,
Great thy gain if thou learnest:
Be never the first to break with thy friend
The bond that holds you both;
Care eats the heart if thou canst not speak
To another all thy thought.  (Hávamál 123)

Fidelity in its original sense means being faithful and loyal to someone or something.

Since we are talking about a religious system of values here, the most important aspect of loyalty is loyalty to the gods and goddesses.
It has been said that the relationship between most Germanic deities and their followers resembles pretty much that of a Germanic chieftain and his sworn warriors. It is a loyalty towards both sides. Like the follower of a chief of old, we need to offer our honesty, faithfulness and loyalty to the gods. The gods will provide in turn their blessings, protection and guidance.  
In the Germanic traditions it is possible to attach ourselves in a special way (usually marked by an oath) to a god or goddess to whom we feel especially drawn. We honour such deities with the Old Norse word fulltrúi (patron god) or fulltrúa (patron goddess), meaning „fully trusted one“.

Loyalty means also loyalty to the ways of our ancestors. We are guardians of our ancestral cultural and spiritual heritage. As pagans we try to use the wisdom of our ancestors for a meaningful life today. A 100% reconstruction of the religion of our ancestors is impossible since many parts have been lost. In their replacement we have to proceed in a cautious, responsible and meaningful way. Inconsiderate import of elements from other traditions will water our religion down. Never too look over our hedge will create standstill. A careful middle path between conservation and development is necessary.

Another important aspect of fidelity is loyalty to one‘s spouse, family, tribe and religious group. The bond of friendship was considered sacred by our ancestors. It means not to betray one‘s friends, to share one‘s possessions and thoughts with them, to stand with them in times of (real) need and to defend them against their enemies. Injustice against our family, our tribe and everybody else to whom we have social or religious bonds was seen like an injustice against oneself by our ancestors.

Loyalty does not mean to help people who are obviously working against the common good or whose actions go against our personal convictions.
Since our personal convictions and how we see the „common good“ are pretty much a matter of personal definition, situations will occur where we disagree with others about the amount of loyalty we – or others - should have.  This does not concern our loyalty towards the gods, which in the Germanic traditions is expressed by oaths and promises. But loyalty towards other people is the one value which is probably widest open for definition and discussion.
In groups of people, be they of a spiritual nature or not, it is probably best if all participants could agree on a basic set of rules that includes an idea of how much loyalty is expected by every member. It could save a lot of discussion if problems occur later. The existence of mini-groups inside a larger group is not good in terms of loyalty, because members could find themselves in a situation where they feel the need to choose between the smaller and the larger group.      

In this light, truth and honour becomes very important. You have to act honourably and truthfully, both for yourself and your friends. Not asking too much or too little of our friends in terms of loyalty is a matter of honour, and truth is the basis for all our dealings with others, especially with friends.
Therefore, honour and truth are the most important values connected to loyalty.


Discipline

Less good there lies than most believe
In ale for mortal men;
For the more he drinks the less does man
Of his mind the mastery hold.  (Hávamál 12)

While we do not believe in the Christian concept of sin, we acknowledge the old and simple truth that too much of a good thing will reverse its effects into something bad. There are many instances in the poems of the Elder Edda where we are advised to exercise moderation.
This does not only refer to eating and drinking too much, it generally means to have ourselves under control. Our Germanic ancestors are sometimes depicted as bloodthirsty warriors who threw themselves into a battle rage every now and then and lay around on bearskins gulping incredible amounts of mead all the other time. This is not what we read in the old sagas and myths. There it is made clear that those people were most respected who had themselves under control.

This does not mean to deny ourselves all pleasures! It means to excert reasonable self-discipline, to conserve our energies and direct our will at the really important things we want to achieve. Discipline is controlled will and the avoidance of chaos. It means to uphold our virtues and follow them in our daily lives.  

In the context of religion and spirituality, it also means that we keep the discipline to stick to the ways of our ancestors. Nowadays, many pagans jump from faith to faith and practice to practice. With the amount of information available it is easy to construct one’s own religion from the elements of a dozen other paths from around the world. While this is not necessarily wrong and may perfectly meet the needs of the individual, it would not make sense in connection with a path that claims to be rooted in our ancestral Germanic heritage.  

In limiting ourselves to one path, we gain security, we gain roots and we gain the peace of mind that comes from
feeling at home in our tradition. Since we are not constantly exploring a new tradition or a deity from a completely different pantheon or a new concept, we are less likely to always need to prove ourselves and ask ourselves if we are on the right path.
This is not to say that we choose a religion, sit down and relax! Every pagan path demands regular reconsideration and effort. But I feel that a spiritual path should not be like a fashion where something new has to come up every month or so.    

Self-control and moderation will help us to maintain our dignity, and dignity contributes to our honour. There is also a connection between discipline and loyalty.


Hospitality

I rede thee, Loddfafnir! and hear thou my rede,-
Profit thou hast if thou hearest,
Great thy gain if thou learnest:
Curse not thy guest, nor show him thy gate,
Deal well with a man in want.  (Hávamál 137)

Hospitality does not only mean how we treat our guests, it generally refers to the way how we deal with others, the ways we create and maintain our social fabric.
It should be selfunderstanding that we treat not only our kith and kin, but everybody with respect and dignity. This includes the followers of other religions and spiritual paths. „Christian-bashing“ has become a form of entertainment in some pagan circles, but it doesn’t bring us and our path one single inch forward.

One aspect of hospitality is generosity. A common kenning (poetic expression) for a leader was „ring giver“ because it was expected that leaders be generous. Since Germanic society functioned along the lines of „give and return“, a gift or favour received created a duty to return the favour one day, even if at a different scale or indirectly. This way, an act of hospitality established a common bond between two people and many bonds made a close-knit society.
Hospitality also includes how we adress the social problems of our times like mass unemployment, poverty, crime etc. In the ancient times hospitality was a question of survival. The poor, the sick and the outcast of today’s world struggle for survival as well. However, to be lazy and rely on other people’s generosity is not in the range of this value.

Of course, hospitality will take on more personal forms when we deal with our friends, relatives or fellow pagans. The Hávamál has perhaps more stanzas about friendship than on any other subject. Hospitality is of special value in the pagan communities as most of us still hold meetings and rituals in private homes.  
 
Hospitality is linked with honour and discipline. Guests who abuse the hospitality and generosity of their hosts put their reputation and their status as guests at risk.


Industriousness

He must early go forth whose workers are few,
Himself his work to seek;
Much remains undone for the morning-sleeper.
For the swift is wealth half won. (Hávamál 59)

In order to achieve any material or spiritual goal, there is always one necessary ingredient: hard work. There is an old German saying „Hilf dir selbst, dann hilft dir Gott“ (help yourself and god will help you).  This is not to say that we aren’t sometimes gifted with something, but a gift is the exception, hard work is the rule.
Industriousness generally advocates a creative, productive and active lifestyle.

Hard work was a question of survival for our ancestors. Today, we still need to work to clad and nourish ourselves, and while the immediate working conditions in today’s business world may be more comfortable, there are other hardships now that our ancestors didn’t know: stress related illnesses, nervous breakdown, burnout syndrom, back pain from constant sitting, financial problems, tyrannic supervisors, all the problems that come from living in big cities etc. Modern offices sometimes resemble the battlefields of the past, only the weapons are different.

Industriousness means not to define, frame and forget our values, but to let them manifest in the whole way how we lead our life. Living our values we can become living examples of our tradition and ambassadors of a spiritual lifestyle in general.

Industriousness also means to stand up and actively work for our spiritual path. We enjoy many publications now on certain fields of paganism, but there are still other areas where information is scarce or nonexistant. To fill one such gap, to chart one such „white spot“ on the map would be a mark of honour for every pagan.
Another idea, the gods are pleased when we honour them in ritual, invocation and poetry. Writing one’s own ritual texts creates new and personal ways to approach the gods, it trains one’s creativity, contributes to the Skaldic tradition and increases the honour of the gods. There are so many ways how we can be busy!

On the spiritual plane, industriousness is about finding our purpose in life and maintaining it. Sometimes the purpose of life is called „True Will“ or „True Self“. It means to find out who we really are and what the gods intend us to do with our life.
When we are drawn to a spiritual path, we generally seek a new way of life, answers to what life is about and what we can do to change for the best. Industriousness teaches us to make the best of ourselves.

Not only to do something, but to do it well, links industriousness to honour. Not just to complete a task, but to complete it with the utmost of our ability will increase our reputation and our self-esteem. Another, obvious link exists with discipline. Discipline is needed in order to be industrious.


Self -Reliance

Better a house, though a hut it be,
A man is master at home;
A pair of goats and a patched-up roof
Are better far than begging.  (Hávamál 36)

Being self-reliant or self-standing means not to depend on others, both on the material and the spiritual plane. It is a form of great freedom, but a freedom that needs to be governed by wisdom.
Self-reliance means to make up our own mind, make our own decisions and live our own lives. It includes to take responsibility for our lives and to bear the consequences of our actions without looking for others to blame.

It has become en vogue to blame „the system“ for anything that goes wrong with one’s life. While the political, economical or social system of our country may indeed be unfair, we have to accept it if we can’t change it and try to improve our position rather than do nothing and complain.

Self-reliance has a material dimension. The Hávamál quotation for this chapter suggests that a simple, self-standing lifestyle is better than to depend on others.
Being self-reliant does not mean to be able to purchase many things. There is a difference between need and desire. We are free to make our choices in a mature and responsible way as to what things in life are really important to us. Constantly running after the latest must-have posession leaves little time for other things.
Followers of different spiritual traditions have found that controlling one’s material desires allows a more independent and spiritually rewarding life. Knowing this, several religions (e.g. Buddhism, Hinduism, Catholicism) ask a „vow of poverty“ of part of their clergy.
This is not to say that we need to be poor to lead a spiritual life, or are denied to enjoy the fruits of our labour. It means that we take our life in our hands and set our own priorities in a responsible and self-standing way.

Self-reliance is linked to courage, honour and industriousness. Sometimes it takes courage to take the responsibility for our actions on ourselves. Being self-standing and independent will increase our honour. Self-reliance is achieved through industriousness, both on the material and spiritual plane.


Perseverance

Away from his arms in the open field
A man should fare not a foot;
For never he knows when the need for a spear
Shall arise on the distant road. (Hávamál 38)

Perseverance is that which is needed in living all other values. As stated above, success is mostly the product of hard work and we need to continue our efforts if we want to reach our goals, be they of a material or spiritual nature. To continue also means to start anew if we are thrown back by failure. Honour is not gained by picking up the pieces that come easy to us, but by overcoming our personal limitations and the obstacles on our path through hard work and – sometimes - struggle.

Life is not always easy and sometimes the sense of failure or bad luck may be so overwhelming that we are tempted to call it a day, give it all up and surrender our goals to the flow of time. It is not a shame to fail, even the Aesir (gods) suffered defeat, as the story of Balder’s death shows. And yet the sagas and myths are full of stories of heroes overcoming great obstacles and finally gaining victory. In this sense, we still can be heroes today by just continuing to go after our goals.

All this translates into our spiritual lives as well. Sometimes the gods don’t seem to hear us. Sometimes what we have planned to be a splendid ritual ends up in a mess. Sometimes a visualization exercise just doesn’t work. In a group there will at times be quarrel and disappointment instead of unity and friendship. There are days when our spiritual life may seem useless, without reward or downright boring. As long as keep our perseverance we can still start anew and give it another try!  

Perseverance is connected with self-reliance and industriousness. We must look for solutions and ideas in order to complete a task. Not to give up early will also increase our honour.


Conclusion    

A better burden may no man bear
For wanderings wide than wisdom;
It is better than wealth on unknown ways,
And in grief a refuge it gives.  (Hávamál 10)

We have now finished our journey through the Nine Noble Virtues. They are not set in front of us like the moral codes of the big religions, carved in stone for all times. These values are quite flexible. They are all interdependent (depending on each other and on the environment/situation) and always open for personal evaluation.
This way they correspond brilliantly with the Germanic concept of „fate“ which is called Wyrd and does not mean a future that is laid down in eternity by an all-guiding hand, but a dynamical process of becoming, which creates itself always new out of its own causes.
In the end it remains in the responsibility of every practitioner how deeply he or she wants to get involved with a honour code. It is a question of personal honour, a honour that is always paired with wisdom. Of course it also stands in the freedom of the practitioner to add other values as is seen fit. Values like equality (of race, gender, religion etc.), wisdom, generosity and boldness appear in more recent suggestions of moral codes based on the wisdom of our Germanic ancestors.


Thanks

I am greatly indebted to Freya Kä for her numerous and invaluable contributions to this article. Thank you!!   :shake:  

Many authors have dealt with the role of virtues in Germanic belief. Their findings serve as inspiration and food for thought. I am especially indebted to the following three essays:  

Raven Kindred:  http://www.webcom.com/~lstead/RBValues.html

Ealdriht:  http://www.ealdriht.org/modules/virtues/

The Troth:  Our Troth (book), Chapter 27, Troth and the Folk; not available online

All quotations from the Poetic Edda in this article are taken from the Bellows translation, online under:  
http://www.northvegr.org/lore/poetic/index.php


Eilthireach /|\
Idis-Thing 2007

User avatar
Lady Nimue
OBOD Ovate
Posts: 4514
Joined: 19 Apr 2003, 20:19
Gender: Female
Location: Avalon...upon my Dragon, journeying to Anglesey and the Isle of Merlyn
Contact:

Postby Lady Nimue » 06 Feb 2007, 15:13

I love this work. For me it embodies the values that I believe are important for my personal quest.

I thank you so much for taking you time and effort....well done!
Lady Nimue-
Guardian of "MERLYN'S GROVE AT AVALON GLYN"...... a Certified OBOD Sacred Grove and Certified National Wildlife Refuge.
"I Walk with the Animals"

ImageImageImageImagegive vegitarianism a try!

User avatar
pobble
OBOD Ovate
Posts: 753
Joined: 11 Feb 2003, 22:09
Gender: Male
Location: London, UK
Contact:

Postby pobble » 06 Feb 2007, 19:42

This is a wonderful posting.  So great to see an exposition of this topic.
Image

User avatar
DaRC
OBOD Ovate
Posts: 4684
Joined: 06 Feb 2003, 17:13
Gender: Male
Location: Sussex
Contact:

Postby DaRC » 07 Feb 2007, 14:53

Eilthireach (and Freya Ka)  :shake: this is an excellent write up on the Nine Noble Virtues - certainly one of (if not THE) best I have read.  It's a great post and reminds me of a discussion on a usenet group I was involved in a few years ago.   It led to me writing this, which I have revised here...  


Ninefold Way
As someone whose spirituality is Heathen but philosophy is Druidic, which reflects my roots & upbringing in England; a land of Celtic and Germanic cultures.   Having read the Nine Noble Virtues in several formats I found it's emphasis too individual and grim (Odinists please excuse the pun)  - industriousness, self reliance, perseverence & discipline - without the flair and concern for truth that is in the Celtic writings.  I was not alone in this.  It has been called the Gewessi path.  For me Industriousness & Perseverance are an outcome of creativity and discipline whilst Self Reliance is integral to bravery & honour - it is inhospitable to become an unnecessary burden to others.   I have tried to reflect this Gewessi path structurally,  attempting to include our Celtic and Germanic heritage.  

The foundation of  All Truth comes from:

Personal - Land - Be true to yourself
1. Bravery (courage) - seek excellence in all endeavours, be self reliant, evil can hold sway only whilst good people let it.
2. Creativity - Every time you wish or want, you plant a seed, that seed is the source of growth.
3. Discipline - Faith is the basis of discipline, nature is the basis of faith, Nature is a manifestation of Spirit.

External - Water - Be true to others
4. Honesty - Mean what you say. Say what you mean.
5. Honour - Have principles and hold them for your Gods, your Tribe and your Land.
6. Hospitality - Respect yourself, others and their rights

Social - Sky - Be true to life
7. Justice - Seek always the path of 'right'; it's usually on the left - the path of most resistance.
8. Knowledge - with knowledge comes responsibility. When you make a choice, you change the future .
9. Loyalty - Never betray a trust. Trust that you'll not be betrayed.

Underneath this there are concepts, seen in both Celtic and Germanic cultures, about the law of the tribe, that the individual need counts less than that of the clan or tribe - this is the enclosure or Gard (which is where we get the word garden) that protects the individual from the chaos of the outside world.   These 9 steps are the path around this safe garden.  If an individual steps outside the law there is no protection at all; in modern parlance they have lost their human rights, in old Anglo-Saxon they have become a wer-wulf; a human wolf and they could be killed without retribution.

(I hope you feel this contributes rather than detracts from the discussion) :blink:
Cheers, Dave

User avatar
Eilthireach
OBOD Druid
Posts: 1913
Joined: 12 Feb 2003, 13:58
Gender: Male
Location: Bavaria
Contact:

Postby Eilthireach » 08 Feb 2007, 09:48

Greetings!

I thank you all for your kind words!  :tiphat:

Good morning Dave!  

As someone whose spirituality is Heathen but philosophy is Druidic, which reflects my roots & upbringing in England; a land of Celtic and Germanic cultures.  


This is nicely put and very much to the point. It is also true for Bavaria and I guess for many other European lands.   :shake:

Having read the Nine Noble Virtues in several formats I found it's emphasis too individual and grim (Odinists please excuse the pun)  - industriousness, self reliance, perseverence & discipline - without the flair and concern for truth that is in the Celtic writings.


Too grim.  :D

Well, I guess most people studying the NNV will find some values missing that are important for them. Several writers have complained about the lack of community-oriented values, which was one of the reasons why the Twelve Aetheling Thews came into being.
Myself, I would like to see a greater emphasis on wisdom, knowledge and truth, things that are very important for me on the spiritual plane. I have therefore tried to elaborate a bit on wisdom and knowledge in the chapter on Truth.

I think the most important thing is to think about this topic and to develop personal values at all. Which values these may be, is secondary. Although it is nice if more people come up with the same ideas.    

I like the Gewessi Path. It sounds practical, reasonable and I like the ideas of extracting rules for a moral code from both the Celtic and Germanic cultures and to unite them under the Druidic triad of Land, Sea and Sky. It gives me the feeling that these values are rooted in the land and in the ancestral cultures, not superimposed from somewhere else.    

It is a nice work and I will look further into the Gewessi path! Thank you!

Eilthireach /|\.

I wish to learn the things that are
and understand their nature
and to know God.
(Corpus Hermeticum I,3)

Image

User avatar
DaRC
OBOD Ovate
Posts: 4684
Joined: 06 Feb 2003, 17:13
Gender: Male
Location: Sussex
Contact:

Postby DaRC » 08 Feb 2007, 19:15

I think the most important thing is to think about this topic and to develop personal values at all. Which values these may be, is secondary. Although it is nice if more people come up with the same ideas.
For me this is the most important part - the taking of previously gained knowledge, examining in the light of one's own experience and then creating something personal and relevant for the future.  

Cheers, Dave.

User avatar
Alasdair
OBOD Ovate
Posts: 949
Joined: 25 Nov 2004, 03:30
Gender: Male
Location: Home
Contact:

Postby Alasdair » 13 Feb 2007, 03:25

For those more experienced on the Germanic path, I have a question.  I picked up a book for a dollar or two at a used book store out west.  It is entitled "Hammer of the North: Myths and Heroes of the Viking Age" by Magnus Magnusson.  Anyway, he mentioned that Odin's great hall in Asgard was Valholl, the Hall of the Slain, and that Valholl was "wrongly transliterated into English in its genitive plural form as Valhalla".  Has anyone else heard of this?  Thanks!!

Edit: An additional insight I picked up.  I read a bit more into this book, and there's a story of Thor and how he journeyed to the land of giants, the castle of Utgardar-Loki.  There are tremendous similarities between this and the Celtic tale "The Hospitality of Cuanna's House".  It is full of metaphors (both stories involving thought, as well as old age), and both take place in a seemingly 'imaginary' location that vanishes upon realization.  Coincidence, the same story/people origin, what?  Very interesting stuff either way!
To the mind that is Still -- The whole Universe Surrenders.


Return to “Circle of Stones Classics”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest