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.

Dedicant Path ADF Virtues – Integrity

27 12 2013

ADF defines Integrity as “honour, being trustworthy to oneself and to others, involving oath-keeping, honesty, fairness, respect, self confidence.”

The dictionary defines it as

1) The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles

2) The state of being whole and undivided.

I think both these definitions encompass aspects of what Integrity means but neither one is enough on its own. Integrity is about telling the truth, standing up for strong moral principles, keeping your word, being reliable and not favouring some above others but treating all people with respect. It means being very careful with our words – not lying, flattering or exaggerating but instead saying exactly what we mean. It means knowing what’s right and sticking to it. It means not cheating, but instead playing by the rules and being fair. Ultimately it means being someone that others can trust. Trust is vital in all relationships, including with the Kindreds, and it is vital to the success of community. It also means being true to yourself, not compromising your principles or convictions for wealth, power or social prestige. It means being honest with yourself, knowing both your strengths and weaknesses and accepting yourself.

Integrity can also be used in the sense of something being “whole and undivided.” We can talk of structural integrity of a building, or integrity of an ecosystem or community. Integrity must include all these things – not just being whole in oneself, but looking after and protecting the integrity of an ecoystem or a community. Ensuring balance and harmony within yourself, the community and the natural world. It means an acknowledgement of interconnectedness and interdependence – what the ancient Norse called “Wyrd” – what one person does, what happens to one aspect of something, effects everyone and everything else…both now and in the future. We must therefore be concerned not only with our own integrity, our health and moral standing, but also the integrity of our communities and the environment in which we live.

In the book “The Druids”, the author states “From the Old Irish texts one gathers that the Druids were concerned, above all things, with Truth and preached….the Truth against the world.” It is seen as the sustaining power of creation and has magical power. There is also the tale of Cormac, who is given a magical cup by Manannan Mac Lir which breaks when lies are told over it, but fixes itself when truths are told over it. In ancient Norse cultures, making an oath was considered something sacred as can be evidenced by people swearing oaths on an arm ring of Thor. Taking a misleading oath in the name of the gods would be “breaking faith with them.” These examples show the importance of integrity to the ancient Celtic and Germanic people’s and illustrate why it is important for us as Druids today.

Finally, Integrity is about truth. It is about wanting to find the truth, not jumping to judgements, spreading rumours or believing things without evidence. It is about constantly being open to learn new things in the search for truth, even when that truth is something we don’t necessarily like. Within ADF, it means doing the serious work of research to discover exactly what was believed and practiced in ancient cultures and then building our religion upon that, not claiming our ancestors practiced things we have no evidence for. Trust, Truth, Wholeness – these are what integrity means.

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

Davidson, H. R Ellis, Gods and Myths of Northern Europe. London: Penguin Books, 1964.

Ellis, Peter Berresford. A Brief History of the Druids. London: Constable & Robinson Ltd, 2002

Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged. HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003.

Dedicant Path ADF Virtues – Courage

26 12 2013

ADF defines Courage as “The ability to act appropriately in the face of danger.”

The dictionary defines it as –

1) The state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution; bravery.

I don’t agree with either of these definitions as I define courage as “feeling fear but doing it anyway.” To me, you cannot be courageous by not feeling nervous or scared of something. You can only show the virtue of courage when you consciously face that fear. It is being willing to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty and intimidation in order to do the right thing. It is being willing to stand up for the innocent or weak even when you know the crowd will laugh at you or hurt you. It is both physical courage in the face of pain or death, and moral courage in the face of popular opposition, shame or discouragement.

Like moderation, the ancient Greek and Roman pagans called courage or fortitude a “cardinal virtue.” Aristotle said it was the mean point between cowardice and foolhardiness. And it takes wisdom to know when to be courageous. The ancient Norse and Celtic peoples also highly valued courage, especially in their battles. They told myths of heroes like Beowulf who fought against enemies much stronger than them and prevailed. The Romans recorded how courageous the Celts were with quotes from Diodorus Siculus like “the women of the Gauls are not only like men in their great stature, but they are a match for them in courage as well.” It is obvious then that the ancient pagan people’s of Europe valued the virtue of courage highly.

In today’s world, we see soldiers as brave because they go into battle despite the risk of getting killed. We see those who stand up for their human rights e.g the right to religion, gay rights, campaigners for democracy e.t.c, as brave because they often risk imprisonment or death in countries that seek to deny these basic liberties. I think of heroes like Rosa Parks and Nelson Mandela, who’s courageous stands against oppression of black people helped revolutionise the way society treats them. And it’s not just the famous people. There are those who work in the emergency services like policemen and fire men who must be brave in their jobs every day. There is the young person who is being bullied at school yet turns up every day and tries to learn. There is the daughter who’s mother is suffering from a mental health issue but she does her best to look after her. I love the quote from Gandalf in the Hobbit as I believe it really explains courage well. He says “Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I have found. I have found that it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.” Courage is not just about fighting battles and standing up to oppressive governments, its doing the small things in life because you know they are the right thing to do. And sometimes it is deliberately putting oneself in situations that are outside our comfort zones in order to challenge ourselves and grow as a person. Courage is just as important a virtue in today’s society as it was in the ancient pagan past. Like them we also tell stories, through our books and films, which emphasise the hero idea, the morally righteous one who must fight against the odds to overcome some enemy and save the world. Like them, we are all capable of being courageous and ADF were right to include it in their list of virtues.

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 Compnay, 2000.

Dedicant Path ADF Virtues – Moderation

24 12 2013

ADF defines Moderation as “cultivating ones appetites so that one is neither a slave to them nor driven to ill health (mental or physical), through excess or deficiency.”

The dictionary defines it as –

1) Being within reasonable limits; not excessive or extreme

2) Not violent or subject to extremes; mild or calm; temperate.

3) a) of medium or average quantity or extent, b) of limited or average quality; mediocre.

4) Opposed to radical or extreme views or measures, especially in politics or religion.

In my view, the ADF definition of moderation doesn’t fully encompass the meaning of the term and the dictionary gives a better definition. It is about cultivating one’s appetites so you are not slaves to them or driven to ill health, but it is more. It is about being moderate in attitude and behaviour – calm not violent, moderate in views e.g in politics, and moderate in desires. Moderation is important in many areas of life. If one eats or drinks too much they will get diseases like diabetes, liver failure and heart disease. If they are too materialistic they will get into debt. If they work too much they may get ill from stress. Being excessive can lead to addictions – alcoholism, gambling problems and so on. Similarly eating too little can lead to malnutrition or anarexia and sleeping too little can lead to burnout. While we undoubtedly do need to increase certain things like healthy eating, on the whole, I think we suffer more as a civilisation from excess than we do from deficiency.

I think that western society is prone to excess in other areas of life too, like energy use. We are addicted to fossil fuels and consume them with no thought of the effects on the Earth Mother and other life forms. We buy lots of things brand new rather than reusing or recycling things, or making them ourselves, and then we create lots of waste. To be moderate means to walk lightly on the earth, to reduce our consumption, to live balanced. It means to live simply and minimally, spend money wisely, be frugal…and to live in voluntary poverty. Why do we buy so much new when we could buy almost everything we really need second hand or from a charity shop, saving money and the earth? Why do we take more than we really need to meet the basics in life? Moderation is vital to living in harmony with nature and saving it for future generations. It is vital to living in harmony with the self e.g for health. It is vital to avoiding the excesses that lead to dangerous and violent fundamentalism. Too often however, we judge moderation by the social expectations of society and I think that is wrong. Perhaps if we judged how moderate we were being by lives of the poor in Africa, we might get a better view of what it really means. To meet our basic needs, not all our wants. To not be greedy, gluttonous, lustful, slothful or engage in any of the other “seven deadly sins.” Importantly, moderation relates to other virtues too – it requires knowledge and the wisdom to apply it, and how can one share or be hospitable unless one lives moderately.

Various cultures around the world have held moderation to be a very important virtue. The ancient pagan Greeks and Romans held it in high esteem and called temperance a “cardinal virtue.” Epicurus in particular emphasised a life of simplicity and moderation, suggesting we concern ourselves with mental rather than physical pleasures, live a self sufficient life in the company of friends and engage regularly in philosophical pursuits. Aristotle thought that the virtues were at the mean between two extremes. And in the east, Taoism considers moderation to be one of its three Jewels for living in harmony with nature.

Frances Willard said “Temperance is moderation in the things that are good and total abstinence from the things that are foul.” I agree with him completely – it is very important to emphasise that moderation does not mean “everything in moderation” when it involves those things that are bad for us. For instance, science is discovering more and more evidence to suggest that the healthiest diet is a plant based, oil free, whole foods diet….pretty much a vegan diet that avoids all animal products. Some think its extreme to be a vegan because society doesn’t see it as normal, however if eating animal products is damaging our health and causing chronic diseases as the science is beginning to show – I think the moderate option, the option focused primarily on eating what is good for both the body and the earth, is surely switching to a plant based diet instead.

In conclusion, moderation is perhaps the most important virtue for us all to learn right now, its a virtue I regularly struggle to live by (especially when it comes to food) and it is one that takes a lot of practice. We must be self disciplined, work hard and, as the ADF definition says, “cultivate our appetites.” Unless we learn to do this, and learn soon, the effects on our own health, on the Earth Mother and on all life, will be disastrous.

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

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

Dr Fuhrman, Joel. Eat to Live: The amazing nutrient rich program for fast and sustained weight loss. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2003.

Dedicant Path ADF Virtues – Hospitality

23 12 2013

ADF defines Hospitality as “acting as both a gracious host and an appreciative guest, involving benevolence, friendliness, humour and the honouring of a ‘a gift for a gift.'”

The dictionary defines it as

1) Kindness in welcoming strangers or guests

2) Receptiveness.

Hospitality involves many things. Just as the ADF definition says – it is acting as a gracious host or appreciative guest, it is honouring a gift for a gift, it is benevolence and friendliness. But in my opinion it is more. It includes welcoming the stranger, it means being generous and compassionate, sharing what you have with others, especially those in need. And to me it is that word – sharing, which I use to define hospitality. Indo-European cultures used the word *ghosti which is the root of both guest and host. It was a very important concept for them, as can be seen in a variety of ways from their myths. In Irish myths the king Bres loses his authority when he is satirised against by the poet Cairpre for his lack of hospitality. Later in a poem in the Dindsenchas, Lugh offers Bres a poisonous drink and Bres, who is under an obligation not to refuse hospitality, drinks it and dies. In his book, the Real Middle Earth, the author quotes Tacitus’ writings on the Germanic tribes. He reports that they “regarded is as bad to turn anyone away” and “to close the door against any human being is a crime.” In fact, hospitality was very important to everyone in the ancient world. In a time of no welfare state, travelers and the poor relied on the hospitality of others, there was a sense of honour in being able to share your prosperity, and exile was the ultimate punishment as it was unlikely you would survive long in the wild. It was also said that gods and ancestors would often visit people to test their hospitality.

Hospitality is a sacred obligation, a duty. It is the foundation for building relationships, whether with people, the gods and spirits or with the land. When we talk of virtues like generosity and compassion, they can seem quite abstract, but hospitality brings things back down to earth and shows clearly how to be a virtuous person – welcoming someone into your home for a meal, providing a seat, giving them a cup or tea e.t.c. It means to make your guest feel welcome and offer them the best you have. It can also include helping the homeless, fostering a child, supporting immigrants or giving offerings in ritual. Guests too have reciprocal obligations – to be a good guest, to say thank you, maybe to bring a bottle of wine to share. Yule exemplifies hospitality brilliantly – giving gifts to each other, enjoying meals together and visiting family. By viewing hospitality as a virtue, we make sharing a meal into a sacred act, and extend our religious practice into all areas of our lives. In my own life, one way I try to practice hospitality is by having parties on the eight high days, inviting friends and providing food.

Whereas asking for something without giving in return can devalue the asker and become begging, the concept of a gift for a gift, which is inherent in the ideal of hospitality, turns these transactions into an opportunity to build friendship, trust and kinship. Stanza 42 of The Norse Havamal in the Poetic Edda says “To his friend a man should bear him as friend, and gift for gift bestow” emphasising the importance of giving a ‘gift for a gift.’ In ADF it is considered a foundational theme for practice and worship.

It is important to remember that Hospitality also extends to the land. After all, when we are in nature, we are guests of the spirits of the land. Caring for the land is how we show we are good guests. Not only that, but it has been given to us as a gift by previous generations. And we must also remember that ultimately all land and wealth has come to us as a gift from the Earth Mother. It is not ours to hoard, but to share generously with others, as she shares generously with us.

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

Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged. HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003.

The Poetic Edda, edited and translated by Olive Bray, London: Printed for the Viking Club, 1908.

Dedicant Path ADF Virtues – Fertility

22 12 2013

ADF defines Fertility as “bounty of mind, body and spirit, involving creativity, production of objects, food, works of art etc, an appreciation of the physical, sensual, nurturing.”

The dictionary defines it as

1) the quality of being fertile; productiveness.

2) the ability to conceive children or young.

In my view, the ADF definition gets it right. Fertility is not just about having children but also about creativity, productiveness and more. A person is fertile if they are actively creating something, contributing to the world. It means having ideas and working on bringing them to fruition. In my opinion, it also means teaching others. Just as DNA creates and is fertile through replicating itself, teaching others like the great Druids of old did, nurturing qualities within them, replicating our skills in others is a very big way we are creative. Fertility is the virtue that encompasses a wide range of virtues into one – it is about showing initiative, being industrious, working hard and trying to improve the world.

In the ancient world, fertility was very important and people’s lives depended on it. They needed fertile land and lots of children to help run a successful and prosperous farm. A barren mother was thought to be cursed. In the Norse culture, the gods Frey and Njord and the goddesses Freya and Frigg were all deities of fertility, whether of land, sea or home, and as they appear to be some of the most important deities – this suggests fertility held a very high importance to the ancients. Similarly within Celtic cultures major deities were associated with fertility. If we also consider ADF’s cosmology, we see that the major source of fertility comes from under the earth – the earth power of potential and the wisdom from the ancestors of the underworld. Chaos is a source of fertility.

Of course, fertility also extends to the ability to have children. As a gay person, it is unlikely I will ever have children of my own. But perhaps by adopting or fostering, I can be fertile by helping bring up children in a loving home and enabling them to be positive people in society. Making fertility into a virtue is also a positive for another reason – it makes Sex into a sacred act. Sex becomes an expression of virtue rather than a sin. It means having an “appreciation of the physical and sensual” rather than being prudish about sex and beauty. It is very much about honouring the body rather than feeling shameful of it. Whether we are able to conceive children or not, whether we are feel we are creative people or not, I believe everyone can exemplify fertility in their 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.

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

Dedicant Path ADF Virtues – Wisdom

2 10 2013

ADF defines Wisdom as “good judgment, the ability to perceive people and situations correctly, deliberate about and decide on the correct response.”

The dictionary defines wisdom as –
1) The ability or result of an ability to think and act utilizing knowledge, experience, understanding, common sense and insight.
2) Accumulated knowledge, erudition or enlightenment.
3) A wise saying or wise sayings or teachings.

In my opinion wisdom is the foundation of all virtues. How can someone know what is virtuous in a situation or judge between two contradictory virtues unless they have wisdom? The ancient Celts and Germanic tribes had many gods of wisdom and their mythologies include stories such as that of Fionn Mac Mumhail who ate Fintan the Salmon and became very wise or Odin who in the Havamal is said to have hung on Yggdrasil for nine days to receive the wisdom of the runes. These facts suggest that wisdom was highly valued by the ancients and they honoured those who were considered wise.

Many have offered definitions. Charles Spurgeon said that “wisdom is the right use of knowledge” while Aristotle said that it was knowing why things are a certain way, not just that they are. Socrates said wisdom begins in wonder, while Confucius said wisdom is learned through reflection, imitation and experience. I don’t think it’s an accident that when we think of the wise, we picture old philosophers sat teaching eager students how to live correctly. Philosophy means “love of wisdom” and it’s important to study philosophy to understand how to live wisely. Wisdom is about more than simply reasoning because it sometimes defies reason. It’s not just knowing what the right thing is to do, but also applying, and acting on, that knowledge. It’s a virtue because it’s an essential part of character building.

Being wise is something that takes many years to learn and, while as a young person I don’t like that fact, my own experience over the last several years points me to its truth. Experiences I’ve faced have taught me the value of wisdom, exposing my own naivety about life. When we’re young we think we know everything and will change the world, but ultimately we mature and realise our parents are right. I think I’m becoming wiser as I get a bit older but one needs to be of a significant age to receive such a worthy title as “wise”. I believe wisdom comes from accumulating a lifetime of experiences, mistakes and knowledge. It’s a continuum on which we’re always learning new lessons, gaining experiences and gradually getting wiser. While it’s possible to learn some wise sayings and apply them to our lives, most people develop wisdom through years of experience. To be wise, one needs to be humble, open to learning and exposed to many different viewpoints, but ultimately wisdom is about what works and therefore it’s rooted in traditions – the accumulated knowledge of generations.

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

Ellis, Peter Berresford. A Brief History of the Druids, London: Constable & Robinson Ltd, 2002.

Davidson, H.R Ellis. Gods and Myths of Northern Europe. London: Penguin Books, 1964.

Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged. Harper Collins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003.