Dedicant Path ADF Virtues – Vision

29 12 2013

ADF defines Vision as “The ability to broaden one’s perspective to have a greater understanding of our place/ role in the cosmos, relating to past, present and future.”

The dictionary defines it as –
1) The faculty or state of being able to see
2) The images seen on a television screen
3) The ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom
4) A mental image of what the future will or could be like
5) An experience of seeing someone or something in a dream or trance, or as a supernatural apparition.
6) A vivid mental image
7) A person or sight of unusual beauty.

As can be seen from both these definitions, vision involves many things, but primarily it is the ability to create the future. As the ADF definition explains, it begins by looking at how past decisions and actions have affected where one is now, and then considers what actions and decisions one needs to make in the present to bring about a desired future. It is being able to see a future one desires in your mind’s eye, as well as the path to get there. But it also involves the ability to see many possible futures and therefore to choose which one you want to create. Vision is vital to successful leadership however I question whether it can be considered a virtue as it is not really related to excellence of character.

To have vision one needs to know history – mythology, lore and genealogy so that one doesn’t make the mistakes of the past. One needs to be wise to be able to anticipate problems or see opportunities. One needs to be creative to use the imagination to “see” the vision. One needs vision itself to have the drive and motivation necessary for perseverance. Using mental training, and especially visualisation meditation, can help us to improve our capacity for vision.

The ADF definition also talks about the importance of knowing our place and role in the cosmos. For example, scientific advances continually remove us from our self proclaimed pedestal in the universe by uncovering just how insignificant we really are. Astronomy in particular is a very humbling experience. The ancient Norse explored the same concept through the idea of the Web of Wyrd spun by the Nornir. This is an idea similar to fate – or as the author of The Real Middle Earth says, Wyrd means “that which unfolds in life is the natural outcome of all that came before.” Prophecy and divination were highly respected as ways to discover where one’s Wyrd might flow. Both the ancient Norse and the ancient Celts had gods of vision or prophecy like Heimdall and Brighid, and these show the importance that vision held in ancient pagan society.

In conclusion I feel that while it is important as Druids to have vision, and it was something highly respected in ancient cultures, it’s not really a virtue. Instead I think there are other virtues that could replace it. Personally I would consider my ninth virtue to be Ahimsa, non violence to any living being. This is not a virtue that warrior cultures such as the ancient Indo-Europeans would have followed although it did develop out of the Indian Vedic cultures by 500 BCE. In my opinion this is the highest virtue and I seek to express it in many areas of my life.

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

Bates, Brian. The Real Middle Earth: Magic and Mystery in the Dark Ages. London: Pan Macmillan Ltd, 2003

Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press.

Dedicant Path ADF Virtues – Perseverance

28 12 2013

ADF defines Perseverance as “drive; the motivation to pursue goals even when that pursuit becomes difficult.”

The dictionary defines it as –

1) Persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

These definitions of perseverance are very similar and accurately reflect the definition in my opinion. Perseverance is having a goal and pursuing it despite the challenges that one faces. It is not giving up when things become hard or difficult. It is having determination and purpose. It is doing things even when we don’t enjoy them. It is living for a higher purpose than simply pleasure seeking and being disciplined enough to keep to that. It is all about attitude. When I think of someone who is persevering, I think of a sportsman who trains day after day to become the best, or the athlete who injures themselves on the track but keeps running anyway, through the pain, because finishing the race is the important goal for them. I think of the businessman who is passionate about an idea and, despite getting turned down by many banks, he keeps searching for someone to invest in his business. I think of the person in ill health who commits themselves to a strict diet and exercise regime to turn their life around. I think of the person who takes hundreds of driving lessons and fails to pass many times, but keeps taking the test until they succeed.

To persevere one needs to have clear goals, a determined and patient attitude and a belief in one’s ability to overcome all obstacles. But like all other virtues, Perseverance is the mean, its in between laziness and stubbornness, and there is a fine line between these. Perseverance becomes stubbornness when one does something to look good, out of pride or arrogance rather than because it is right. Perseverance means one works hard, puts in 100% effort and never, ever gives up. ADF values excellence, the ancient Greeks saw excellence of character, arete, as vital to living a flourishing life and I think this is why Perseverance is such an important virtue. Without perseverance, developing a character of excellence is impossible. Without perseverance, one will not put in the effort to complete aspects of the Dedicant Path course that one needs to in order to pass e.g meditation. Without perseverance, little is ever achieved.

Cultures like the ancient Celts and Norse would have valued Perseverance highly. To stay fit for fighting, to keep going through harsh winters, in the face of a dangerous environment where death was an everyday occurrence, they would have persevered. They also told many stories of heroes who often had to persevere through trials in order to achieve their goals. Just like them, we too are inspired by tales of perseverance in the face of large obstacles and we hold up those who do overcome as our modern heroes. It is therefore very important to exemplify this virtue in all aspects of our lives.

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

Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford University Press.