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Author Topic: Cultivating Ancient Values in the Modern World  (Read 11967 times)
darashand
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« Reply #30: November 29, 2009, 12:33:47 am »

So, I've been thinking about this, letting it simmer in the back of my mind, and I'm making some progress with it.  I'm thinking that honor would include things like:

1.  Keeping your word
2.  Not making false or impossible promises
3.  Defending those who cannot defend themselves (sliding a bit in the chivalry area)
4.  Being respectful and courteous to others (shifting into Hospitality somewhat)
...

I'm sure there's more, but I'll have to stew over the concept a little longer. Smiley

I would also suggest adding, piety as well.  I think we do owe a service to the Gods we love, in return for Their love for us.





<bump>  What about the other virtues?  Justice, Hospitality...any views, definitions, thoughts?  Limericks, anyone? *g*
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« Reply #31: January 22, 2010, 02:01:05 pm »

What about the other virtues?  Justice, Hospitality...any views, definitions, thoughts?  Limericks, anyone? *g*

I know this thread has been quiet for a while, but I only just joined TC and discovered this conversation, so I was hoping I could share some thoughts.

This question of what virtues from our ancestors do we hold onto and cultivate is a really important and fascinating one for me. You could say that, in some respects, I wasn't raised Christian so much as pacifistic (though perhaps not on purpose). The role of Jesus as a radical political rebel who preached nonviolence was much more striking to me when I was a kid than any complicated Christology, and when I was thirteen I borrowed a book from my cousin about Gandhi and read his theory of satyagraha (nonviolence or, literally, "love-force"), later getting into MLK and the pacifism of the sixties and the Women/Civil Rights movements. The centrality of nonviolence and peace-making has always been the core of my spiritual life, and it's one of the things that, coming into Paganism, I have had the hardest time trying to reconcile with a respect for ancient cultures that were, admittedly, far more violent (and more comfortable justifying violence) than I'm willing to be.

But the example of Gandhi gives me some hope and some insight: he looked to the Bhaghavad-Gita, an ancient Hindu text in which Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu, counsels the great hero Arjuna, about how to be a good warrior and why Arjuna should go to war with his kin even though the act seems repulsive and dishonorable. On the surface, the Gita is all about violence and war, justifying why sometimes it's necessary to kill or injure another in order to uphold justice and the order of the universe... and yet Gandhi saw in this text a deeper message about relationship with deity and Spirit that he was able to use as a foundation for his philosophy of nonviolence. That's really inspiring when you stop to think about it!

And so, I've been trying to do the same with Celtic mythology--looking more closely at the stories and iconography of the ancestors and trying to find ways in which I can understand their glorification of literal violence as a metaphor for something else, and to see how honor which allowed violence in the past can be applied to the changing ethics of today. Emma Restall Orr does something similar in her recent book, Living With Honour: A Pagan Ethics: she interprets the Celtic emphasis on the face and head as sacred as a statement about the sacredness of individuality and the need to show respect for another's inherent unique individual existence. To "lose face" by behaving dishonorably is really a way in which one's own "face" or the "face" of another (i.e. the individuality of a person) is obscured or lost, subsumed in a relationship that demeans one or the other.

I've been trying to take other aspects of Celtic warriorship (like nakedness, for instance) and the Druidic archetype (as counselor to kings and peace-maker between warring armies) and apply this same kind of thinking. Recently, for instance, in light of the earthquake in Haiti, I've been thinking about justice and mercy, and how there are times when suffering seems so terribly unjust, and yet there is no one to blame or punish, and "mercy" can look too much like pity or condescension. But if we think of justice and mercy both as aspects of beauty, then we can strive to restore the beauty of relationship without either condemning or condescending. And the Celtic emphasis on beauty in both art and war is well documented. Smiley These are just some thoughts I've been working with recently, thinking about this issue...
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