Dedicant Path ADF Virtues – Piety

6 10 2013

ADF defines Piety as “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.”

The dictionary defines it as –

1) The state or quality of being pious, especially:

    a) Religious devotion and reverence to God.

    b) Devotion and reverence to parents and family: filial piety.

2) A devout act, thought or statement.

In my opinion, Piety is about more than just correct action. It is wide ranging covering action, thought and words not only towards gods and spirits but also towards other human beings like family. When I think about Piety, the first word that comes to mind is Reverence (acknowledging that which is greater than oneself). Doing the correct thing is not enough, but neither do I think that belief is a necessary component. Instead Piety is about Reverence and its corresponding actions – devotion. An action can be pious without belief but I don’t think that it can be pious without reverence. In the end it is about respect and relationship – acknowledging our relationship with the cosmos and acting on that understanding. Piety is how we build relationship.

When I think of a Pious person, I picture a praying monk, someone devoted to his or her spiritual beliefs, who takes them seriously and acts on them. I picture someone who is humble, polite and reverent towards ultimate reality, whether it’s the gods, spirits, ancestors or simply the universe itself. Humility is the first step to Piety, Courteousness is the second, Reverence is the third and lastly comes Devotion – correct thoughts, words or deeds to maintain our agreements, traditions and duties. In ancient Indo-European cultures it was believed that one had duties towards the Kindred that one must keep in order to maintain order in the universe and stop chaos taking over and destroying society.

A virtue is both a quality and a behaviour and therefore I would agree that Piety is a virtue. It is a virtue we must show not only towards what we consider divine but also towards our families and by extension our ancestors. Familial piety e.g obeying parents and looking after them in old age is just as important in my view as piety towards gods or the universe and it is the root of ancestor veneration. By following the religious practices and ideals of our ancestors, we are showing piety towards them. ADF also values Piety towards the Earth Mother and Nature Spirits – which requires living in a sustainable way. Some say Piety is about public display but I think it is much more about our personal lives, maintaining our own daily spiritual practices, and while its important not to be ashamed of our Druidry, simply doing things for public show is hypocritical and wrong. What really counts is what is in the heart.

ADF. Our Own Druidry: An Introduction to Ár nDraíocht Féin and the Druid Path. Tucson: ADF Publishing, 2009

American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000