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Not Enjoying The Silence

Back in May, a white supremacist touting himself as a Heathen stabbed and killed two young men on a train in Portland, Oregon, when those two young men attempted to protect a pair of Muslim women from the supremacist’s attacks on them.  Members all across the Heathen Community raised their voices in an attempt to educate the rest of the world on what we actually believe and practice, lest we get lumped in with the “bad Heathens”.  I rarely get political, but it was enough to drive me to write a blog post about Declaration 127.

(You can find that blog post here, and Declaration 127 here.)

On August 12, 2017, violence erupted when white nationalists gathered for a “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Ostensibly organized to prevent the removal of yet another remnant of Confederate history–this time, a statue of Robert E. Lee–from a city park, it quickly became apparent that this “march” was more about making history repeat itself, than about defending history so that it doesn’t repeat.  The white nationalists gathered around the site, “defending” it with Viking-styled shields.  Don’t believe me? Check this out:

(You can find that photo here.)

The response of the Heathen community in the wake of what has been described by some as an act of domestic terrorism? Thus far, I’ve seen maybe two posts. And I’m not enjoying the silence….neither is Tyr.

As technically-a-person-of-color (I’m of Asian descent; Chinese, specifically) who happens to be Heathen, and also happens to be spending his afterlife inhabiting a white Southern woman, I find that once again, I cannot keep my mouth shut.  I can’t keep politics off of this blog right now; to do so would go against every fiber of who and what I am. Before I proceed, you might want to thoroughly acquaint yourself with the beginning of that last sentence: I am notwhite guy; repeat: I am notwhite guy. I’m also devoutly Heathen. All set? Okay, that clarification completely out of the way, let’s continue:

As a group of people practicing a Reconstructionist or at least Reconstructionist-derived religion, Heathens, on the whole, are obsessed with history.  We only know what we know about our faith–enough to actually have this faith and have it continue to exist–because of historians, and anthropologists, and archaeologists.  Because we are so needfully well-acquainted with history, most of us are also very well aware of that old adage: 

Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. ~Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke was an Irish statesman–a Dubliner, to be precise–as well as an author, orator, political theorist, and philosopher, who supported the American Revolution.  It’s a great quote, and growing more and more powerful by the day in our modern age, but the truth is, there are absolutely zero corroborating sources proving that Burke ever actually said or wrote those words.  That he said them first is a tradition.  However, we do know of someone else who absolutely said something quite similar:

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” ~George Santayana

So who the heck was George Santayana?  He was a Spanish philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist who was raised and educated in the United States from the age of eight and identified himself as an American, even though he maintained dual citizenship.  In fact, he spent most of his life not far from where I’m writing this: in Boston, Massachusetts, the birthplace of the very same Revolution that Edmund Burke so firmly supported. 

Why is that so important for this discussion: that Santayana was of Latin/Hispanic descent?  Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past two years, you can likely arrive at that answer easily enough.  A person of color, and specifically, an immigrant person of Spanish descent actually said the words that both sides of the present argument are constantly using against each other in the worst ways imaginable. Chew on that for a minute.

Michelle and I both have written numerous posts here and elsewhere in defense of not tearing down Confederate monuments, and not erasing the Confederate flag as a symbol of heritage (not hate!), largely based on the argument of Santayana’s famous quote.  We stand by those arguments. However, on the other side of our arguments, which come from a very genuine place of standing behind that aphorism, there are people like those guys with the viking-style shields in Charlottesville, Virginia who are ostensibly defending the same things for the same reasons, but not really.  And they proved that conclusively on Saturday, August 12, 2017.

Because those people wouldn’t “dirty their mouths” with a quote from a Spanish immigrant, if they had actually known that was who said it.  It would be totally valid and “okay” if it had been said by the white guy from Dublin, but, oh my, the shock and disgust if they realized it had been said by a Spanish immigrant! (Who’s mother, by the way, was raised in the Philippines.)

This brief history of quotes (and the juicy irony involved) aside, the fact remains that the initial vision of those white nationalists (before the “real violence” ensued) is an image of a bunch of white, bearded dudes, standing in solidarity, behind a freaking Viking-style shield wall.  The guy who actually drove the car that killed the one person who perished in this “debacle”–who, incidentally, was white, just like the two young men who lost their lives in Portland, Oregon, back in May (not that that should matter, mind you, but the tragic irony should not be lost on anyone, which is why I point it out)–also stood in that initial wall, holding a shield.

(Don’t believe me? Check out this photo. He’s the second from the left, in front of a poster bearing yet more appropriated Heathen symbols, as well as appropriated Christian symbols: the Algiz rune, and a Chi Rho, respectively.)

And yet the Heathen community stands largely silent this time around, and I would really, very dearly, like to know why? So would Tyr.

For that matter, why aren’t Christians screaming about their symbology being appropriated by these asshats?  Because not all Christians are of the conservative, alt-right variety, anymore than all Heathens are of the white supremacist, neo-Nazi variety….

Plenty of people were out there screaming and yelling and having hissy fits back in 2015, when the outcry against the Confederate flag grew so loud that the General Lee, the car driven by the Dukes of Hazard, legit got a makeover, and resulted in the show (still in syndication) getting banned, even though most of its storylines that even touched on race relations in the South involved inclusiveness, rather than bigotry. (Though I never really cared for the show, I can honestly say it was a bit of a “redneck primer” on inclusivity, and I give it kudos for doing that way back in the 1970s.) Yet when it comes to actual religious symbols from whatever faith being bastardized, everybody’s suddenly mute? What gives?

Instead of an outcry on either side of the religious divide over such important matters, the one thing that everybody seems to be able to agree on is crucifying our current president for his statements in the aftermath of Charlottesville 2017.  I am not a fan of Donald Trump.  I try to largely keep my opinions on such things out of this blog, off of our Facebook page, and generally out of my sphere of discussion in general. Trump gets zero frith in my heart or mind, to the point that he’s so utangardh that he basically doesn’t exist to me.  In other words, I put him so “far away from me” that I don’t let his energy touch my own in any capacity. I find that’s healthier for me.  However, while I can understand people’s outrage that he did not single out the white supremacists involved (further proof, most argue, that he’s “in bed” with those people), that’s not the rhetoric being used by most people in opposition to his reaction to decry what he said.  No, what he’s being crucified for is saying that there was wrong on both sides.  Honestly, this is one of the few times in his presidency that he’s actually said something halfway honest or halfway correct.

So how dare I make such a statement?  How could somebody–anybody–who is against racism and patently against Trump himself deign to say such a thing?  Because we’re living in a world where everybody so desperately wants their side to be right that they’re willing to invoke violence to prove it, no matter how wrong they actually are, and even an imbecile like Trump can see it!

Don’t get it twisted: I am in no way, shape, form or fashion attempting to defend Trump in all this. What I am saying is that if what he actually meant in his statements is that “two wrongs never make a right“, then for one, brief shining moment in his presidency, he’s actually been right about something!  And we should probably all take a moment to bask in the shock of that, before moving on toward cohesion.

Because I don’t know if anybody else has recognized this yet, but our country hasn’t had anything remotely resembling cohesion, when it comes to racial relations, since seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin fell to gunfire on a rainy February day in Florida in 2012.  That was during the Obama administration, folks–long before Trump was even a glimmer in the eye of the American conservative right-wing; back when he was just some orange-haired loudmouth whose primary vocabulary consisted of the words “You’re fired!”.  That was when we actually had a president of color!  That was the tragic death that began both the “Black Lives Matter” and the “Thin Blue Line” movements, and yet, forgotten by most people in the ensuing violence, raging arguments on both sides, and subsequent hate crimes, the dude who actually shot Trayvon Martin was also a person of color, and patently not a cop:  George Zimmerman is a man of Hispanic descent (specifically, Peruvian) who worked as an insurance fraud investigator while working towards an associate degree in criminal justice.  Zimmerman shot Martin while “serving” as the head of the local Neighborhood Watch program: he thought Trayvon “looked suspicious”, pursued the young man, and subsequently shot him.

What color the people involved in a situation–any situation–are ultimately does not matter when innocent lives are being lost. The symbols of my faith and your faith ultimately do not matter when innocent lives are being lost, either.  What ultimately matters is that we are all one family–the human race–and when we lose even one member of that family, we all lose.  There are no sides in that; there shouldn’t be any sides at all!  When someone dies innocently, everybody loses. Period.

If people are going to be building shield-walls around anything–any ideology–it should be that one!  Yet, that isn’t the case, unfortunately.  In fact, in most circles nowadays, if you have the cajones to say the words “all lives matter“, you’re instantly labeled as part of the racist scum! How the hell does that work out?

I became Heathen because faith, folk, and family was an ideal I could get behind: because, for me, treating other people honorably and fairly is the very crux of my faith, and the entire human race is both my folk and my family.  Very quickly, I discovered this was patently not what these words represented to most other Heathens, thanks to the bastardization of that phrase by the white supremacists among us.  To that subset, faith means guarding (white) folk and their (white) family from any outside forces seeking to “muddy” those waters with “other colored blood”.  Gobsmacked really is too small a word to describe how I felt upon said discovery.  I came to this Path because the core of it–that phrase, now bastardized–represented everything to me that I have believed my entire life, and now I am left with the astonishing realization that, like that famous quote from The Princess Bride, that phrase “does not mean what I think it means”.  

And maybe that’s the main reason why people are so gods-damned silent in the wake of Charlottesville 2017, even when the bastardization of the symbols of our faith are so morbidly less hidden in this “debacle”, than they were in the crime committed against those two young men (and the Muslim women they were trying to defend) in Portland, Oregon, three months ago.  Maybe it’s because the very foundation of our faith has become rocky ground on which to stand.  Or maybe it’s because there are far too many would-be Vikings among us, and not enough faithfilled people.  That “us versus them” sentiment was the very thing on which the Viking mindset rested, wasn’t it? I mean, after all? We see the thirst for it–that “us versus them” mentality–every time a member of our community says foul things about “those Christians”, lumping every follower of Christ in with the conservative crap-eaters; every time a member of our community talks about the Christian “weak god” or “dead god”; every time a member of our community types the letters UPG with hate and disdain as an expression of how “non-historically-accurate” true experiences of living faith are or possibly can be. It’s hard to cry out against people taking sides–no matter what those sides might be–when you’re a community divided in upon itself because people are so damned busy creating sides to take!

As a Chinese-American dead guy inhabiting a white Southern woman, I am quickly reaching a point where I am honestly afraid to wear my Thor’s Hammer in public or proudly show off any of the other symbols of my Heathen faith–runes included.  I’m afraid that people will “get the wrong impression” and label me as a racist. I am just as afraid, at this point, of the “inclusivity-championing liberals” as many Muslims, Hispanics, and African-Americans are of certain factions of the conservative right-wing.  And it patently should not be that way for either side of the equation! Yet, here we are.  And silence by our community in the wake of Charlottesville 2017 only serves to perpetuate that climate of fear.

So I will not join in that silence!

My faith is in a Deity(s) Who looks down upon this human race and sees, without doubt, and for once and for all, that we are all the same family.  My folk are those who will stand with me, against injustice: whether that injustice is due to race, creed, gender, or any other “dividing” factor.  And my family is the human race.  As Bruce Lee once said:

“Under the sky, under the heavens, Man, there is but one family.”

And I raise my own shield, not to defend some statue wrought by human hands in another time or place, or even some distant history which is too easily revised to suit the current political climate, but instead to defend that Truth which has always been with us:

We all matter.  Every man and woman is someone else’s mother, father, brother, sister, spouse, child. And every mother, father, brother, sister, spouse, and child matters.

We will never enjoy true peace until we realize this. Hate will continue to grow, no matter how bright and shining the motives of those who decide to take the side of the Right and the Just.  Until everyone is on that same side–so long as sides remain–we’re all living in No Man’s Land. And No Man’s Land is the place of stalemates, not victory.

 

 

 

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Everyday Magick: A Most Un-Beltane-y Beltane

If you’re Pagan at all, you know that next week is a High Day: Beltane.  In the Welsh Druidic Tradition, it is called Nos Galon Mai, which translates roughly to “Night at the Heart of May”, which always struck me as odd, because the first of the month is hardly the heart of May, is it?  In our Grove, we’ve traditionally celebrated the marriage of Bloedwedd and Lleu as a part of our “ritual festivities”, and the symbols of fertility, Sovereignty, and Divine Union that can be found within that treasured myth.

But if you break down the story of Bloedwedd and Lleu, ultimately, it isn’t a story of any of those things–it’s a tale of betrayal.  And that’s pretty “un-Beltane-y”, to say the very least.  When you really break it down, it’s sort of on the same level as if Christians had a big important feast day to celebrate Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Christ. I mean, yeah, that action was absolutely necessary to fulfil the Prophecy of the Messiah, but it still sucked out loud, when you really break it down, right?  The story of Bloedwedd and Lleu that comes down to us from the thirteenth century via the Mabinogion sucks on a Judas-Isariot-level, yet it is also absolutely necessary that it happen, in order for Lleu to truly claim his Sovereignty, just as Judas’ betrayal of Christ was necessary for Him to claim His.

So what is Sovereignty?  We’ve all heard it in the context of government–kings and queens are also called sovereigns, right? Or we’ve heard of the “sovereign state”: a governing body with absolute power.  If you take it back to the original Middle English (dating roughly to the period from which the Mabinogion hails), it means “alteration by influence of reign”–in other words, someone basically takes on a whole different set of natural characteristics when they become king or queen.  Keep in mind that we’re talking about a period in history when divine rule was an accepted “thing”; it was a fact of existence to people of that time that God Almighty placed whoever was on the throne on that throne in the first place. Also keep in mind that almost all of the extant Celtic Literature (and that includes the Irish ones) that we have to go on, and that mentions Sovereignty, comes down to us from this same period in history.

So, then, what is it, and how Celtic is it, as a concept, really?  How ancient is it as a concept? Is there actually any pre-Christian basis for it, or is this a Christian ideal dressed up in Pagan language?  Well, a bit of both, really…..

In modern Druidry (Historical Reconstructionist and otherwise), Sovereignty is still very much bound to the concept of rulership–of being king or queen of one’s own life.  We are all “altered by influence of reign”, but in order to reign in the first place, we must rule rightly.  So what the heck does that mean? It means to live one’s life as an exemplar of the Celtic Values/Virtues.  What’s an exemplar? It’s someone who is considered an example that deserves to be copied, which is what a good ruler should be in the first place, right? To use Christianity as an example for a moment: the reason that Christ is Sovereign is because He is an exemplar; we can see things in Him that should be actively copied in our own lives (which is what Christians are supposed to be doing with their lives: they’re supposed to be copying Christ).

So, going back to the story of Bloedwedd and Lleu–a story of betrayal, remember–what exactly are we supposed to be copying in it? Where or who is the exemplar in that equation?  If you don’t know the story, basically it goes a little something like this:  Lleu was the illegitimate son of Arianrhod (a Mother Goddess figure), and she was so embarrassed by his birth that she put a curse on him saying that he could never be Sovereign (or go through the rites of manhood which were at that time necessary to achieve Sovereignty).  She said he could never have a name, unless she gave it to him (so Lleu’s Uncle tricked her into giving Lleu a name); could never have a weapon (one of the Celtic symbols of coming of age as a man) unless she granted it (so Lleu’s Uncle tricked her into doing that, too), and could never take a “wife of woman-born” (so Lleu’s Uncles, who were also great magickians, gathered together flowers and herbs and made them into Bloedwedd, the Flower-Faced Maiden, so that she could be Lleu’s wife).  Ultimately, it’s a story that involves a lot of shame and trickery, and a certain level of entrapment (because all Bloedwedd really wanted to be was flowers, not a wife!).  So once she marries Lleu, Bloedwedd finds another man who treats her more like the flowers that she is, instead of like a wife, and she conspires with him to kill Lleu.

Because she is made of flowers and herbs, many Pagans (Druids included) have chosen to view Bloedwedd as representative of the Land.  In many Celtic tribes, part of the “coronation process” (the process of becoming king or queen) was a ritual wherein the one ascending the throne was literally married to the Land they would be governing (not just to the people who lived on that land, as we think of rulership today, but to the Land itself).  That view of Bloedwedd as the Land, combined with what we historically know about Celtic rites of kingship, is probably how this became “The Beltane Story” in many Pagan Circles and Druid Groves in our modern world.  But is she, really? I mean, is this just something we’ve all grafted on to this story–viewing her as representative of the Land–or is she really that, and if she is really that, what does it say (or should it say) to us that the Land (Bloedwedd) actively betrayed its Rightful Ruler (Lleu)?

If you’ve been following this blog and my Facebook Page for awhile, you’ve heard me speak of the Land often as part of the Sacred Three of Celtic/Druidic Tradition: the place of the Ancestors, and us.  Clearly, it involves a whole lot more than “just a bunch of flowers and herbs”!  That concept of the Land as the place of the Ancestors is the real reason why ancient Celtic rulers were married to the Land as part of their “coronation process”: it was a binding back to the Values/Virtues of those who had come before, and in order to be worthy to rule, one had to prove that they upheld that long line of Tradition.  Within the story of Bloedwedd and Lleu, we find a ruler (Lleu) who is bound to symbols of the land (note the little L there), instead of to the Tradition of the Land (see what I did there?).  No wonder he wound up betrayed!

That level of betrayal is what can potentially happen to all of us when we hinge our lives on symbols of what we think are Virtues/Values (or what we’ve been fed are authentic Virtues/Values), instead of on the actual line of Tradition that is the whole of Human Virtue/Values.  When we get so caught up in symbols, we lose sight of what is Real and what is Right; we lose our ability to be worthy to rule ourselves, much less anyone or anything else.  That, to me, is the real lesson of “The Beltane Story” of Bloedwedd and Lleu.  So, what is Real and what is Right, and why should I or anyone else get to define that? Isn’t that also a very slippery slope?

What is Real and what is Right is respect for all other humans, regardless of the labels which society may have placed upon them, as equals, until proven otherwise. I don’t get to define that, nor am I defining that: it simply is.  What does “until proven otherwise” entail, then? It means until they have proven conclusively that they do not value you or treat you with that same level of respect.  Rightful Rule means looking back over the history of our Ancestors and seeing where they got this simple principle right, and where they got it very, very wrong, and then actually learning from their mistakes, so that we do not ourselves repeat them.  That is what it truly means to be “married to the Land”. Anything less than that is but a marriage to symbols–like that of Bloedwedd and Lleu–and will lead us nowhere good…..

I invite you this Beltane to divorce yourself from symbols (from labels; from the boxes we put ourselves and other people in), and instead renew your vows to the Land: to what is Real and what is Right.  Bind yourself back to the tribe that is Humanity; let go of your religious or political or racial affiliations, and realize that you are human, and so is everyone else, and that we are all equally taking this journey together.  Make a commitment to be a bit more kind; to put the word human back in the word humane.  Treat strangers as friends.  Give voice to the otherwise voiceless.  Take your place as king or queen of your own life, and defend your Sovereignty with conscious acts of loving kindness. If we would all only take a moment to do just this one thing, what a wonderful world this would be…..

(For those interested, the people in the accompanying image are my Ancestors–my Welsh-descended Ancestors, to be exact: my Grandma and Grandpa Wilson.)

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Everything You Need To Start Your Own Magick: Only 6.99!

Yes, that really sounds like I’m trying to sell you something, but I’m not.  That 6.99 isn’t a dollar amount, it’s the Six Celtic Values, the Nine Welsh Virtues, and the Aesirian Code of Nine (which is Heathen/Asatru, aka Norse/Germanic/Teutonic).  I’m talking about ethics, y’all, because to start your own magick, you are going to have to have a serious ethical code firmly in place, or you’re going to pay, and pay bigtime!

Truth is, we need an ethical code in our lives if we want to succeed at anything, not just magick.  The current “Christian climate” of rules-as-subjugation (at best) and rules-as-an-excuse-to-peddle-hatred (at worst, and, unfortunately, most often) has many, many people taking one look at the word ethics, and running the other way.  I can’t say that I really blame them.  I’ve personally dealt with that crap my whole life (grew up in The South, remember), and rule-breaking, or, at the very least, rule-overturning does sound far more appealing, when put into that particular context.   The rules I’m talking about aren’t aimed at doing either of those two things, though.  In fact, these are designed to give you a foundation to strengthen your whole life!

The Six Celtic Values are Honor, Justice, Hospitality, Honesty, Loyalty, and Courage.  These are very, very old: we’re talking pre-Christian and handed down for ages orally before they were ever committed to writing.  These are the Values practiced by modern Druids, and you’ll also find them explored in-depth in my book Dragonfly Theology.   I’ll break them down further in a moment, but first let’s take a look at the .99 I mentioned previously, because I think you’ll find it as interesting as I did how those Six Celtic Values are echoed in the Nine Welsh Virtues and the Aesirian Code of Nine.

The Nine Welsh Virtues are also sourced from Celtic pre-Christian Tradition: in this case, the traditions of the Celtic Peoples of Wales.  They are regarded as the nine keepers of the Cauldron of Awen, which I’ll grant you, sounds like something out of a really awesome Fantasy film or novel, but in the Welsh Druidic Faith is a very, very real thing.  They are Integrity, Friendship, Generosity, Wisdom, Self-Knowledge, Trust, Humility, Courage, and Innocence.

Finally, there is the Aesirian Code of Nine, which was first discovered as a carving in Denmark, dating to 825 A.D. That date may sound post-Christian, but in reality the people of Denmark came into contact with Christians only sporadically, via Viking raids (i.e., they weren’t exactly sitting down to a friendly dinner with their Christian brethren), until the 11th Century. So, in 825 A.D., whoever carved the Code was still an “Odin-worshipping Heathen”.  It is believed that it is largely based on the Nine Virtues spoken by Odin in the Havamal, from the Poetic or Elder Edda (the earliest confirmed date for which is around the latter half of the 10th century A.D., but it is believed that this is likewise based on a much older oral tradition).   Briefly, the virtues of this code are: To Honor, To Protect, To Flourish, To Have Knowledge, To Accept Change, Fairness, Balance, Control, and To Understand Conflict.

Last night, after being awakened by coyotes at midnight (which I initially thought were children screaming outside my window), I had an epiphany: if you stick all of these into a comparative table, you wind up with what you see below. (Yes, given the “coyote-of-it-all”, one could legit say “Loki Made Me Do It“!)

Celtic and Norse Ethics

So, what does any of that have to do with you? Or with magick? Or with strengthening your whole life?  Comparing and coalescing these different systems of ethics left me with a “breakdown” that I’m calling The 6.9.9 (you know, sort of like the slang “411” that the kids today use):

6.9.9. Druid Ethics

 

If we start from a place where we are behaving with Honor, our lives will necessarily flow more smoothly, and we can guarantee that if we do magick, we’re doing it for all the right reasons, instead of for our own selfish gain.  To behave with Honor means to treat everyone with respect; to treat everyone we meet with a certain measure of reverence, realizing that the same Sacred Force that drives us is also (hopefully) driving them.  (Granted, that might not always prove to be the actual case–some people are driven by things that definitely wouldn’t be classified as Sacred–but we should always start from this place, until proven otherwise. More on what to do about those people in a moment….)  Behaving with Honor also means realizing and recognizing that there are forces larger than us at work in the Universe in the first place, and showing those forces the same respect and reverence that we would to the people we love. (In other words: when you’re doing magick, you are not in it alone! Taking full credit for your magickal workings is a no-no; not to mention, it’s rude!)

Treating people with Honor will naturally lead to building Friendship, which is a way bigger concept than most people today realize.  This isn’t about how many people “like” you on Facebook, follow you on Twitter, or have subscribed to your email newsletter.  True Friendship entails protection, and protection requires justice-seeking.  Once you know what is Ultimately Right (which hopefully you’ll fully understand after exploring the 6.9.9.), you can’t just sit idly by and watch the world run rough-shod over that.  You’ve got to protect the ones around you that you call your friends and loved ones, and that should include every single person on this planet (except where people’s actions have proven their motives to be less than Honor-driven, as mentioned previously), because all of humanity is your friend, until proven otherwise.  Your Circle of Friends also includes the forces that are bigger than you that are at work in the Universe, whether you choose to call these gods and goddesses, totems, guides, or whatever.  They’re there, and the sooner you realize that, the happier you’ll be in life.  They are there to protect you; you are Honor-bound to protect them back!

When we think of Friendship in our modern world, the next thing that usually comes to mind is Hospitality: most of us like to “part-ay” with our friends, right?  My semi-adopted-son, for example, has made himself semi-(in)famous among his friends for hosting Saturday night parties at “Matt’s  Bar and Grill” (translation: our basement).  Those things can get a little rowdy, and drive his Mother and I to complete distraction, but the bottom line is: our kid is like the poster child for Hospitality, and you can readily see the effects of that when you talk to his friends.  He can ask almost any of them to do something for him in return (or for his Mother or I), and they scarcely blink before asking “what do you need done?”  When we are welcoming to others, they tend to welcome us back.  You get what you give. It’s the simple Law of Reciprocity.  Not surprisingly, this doesn’t only apply to people, either: it also applies to the Universal Powers, and, believe it or not, to Inspiration (known in the Welsh Tradition as Awen).  The more you give to the Powers-That-Be (gods, goddesses, guides, totems), the more they will give to you.  Daily prayer, blessings, and sacrifices (no, I’m not talking puppies here; I’m talking things like burning incense while making promises to do good that you intend to keep) should be our way of showing Hospitality to those powers.  But how does one show Hospitality to Inspiration/Awen? Well, if you’re already a creative person, it probably won’t come as a great shock to you that the more you create, the more ideas you get, so that you can create some more!  Again: you get what you give.

Learning and practicing these first three concepts is the beginning of Wisdom.  These first three bring you more deeply into contact with the fact that there is, in fact, something way bigger than you in the Universe.  What you choose to call it is completely up to you, of course, but exploring these first three concepts should make it pretty plain that it is there in the first place.  As you interact more and more with it, you will come to know it more and more deeply as a simple fact of existence, the same way we can no longer imagine our lives without someone once we’ve deepened a relationship with a physical friend or loved one.  This deep knowing is Wisdom.

And that Wisdom should develop in us a great thirst for deeper Self-Knowledge as well.  To truly and deeply know anyone else (including the Sacred Forces of the Universe), you have to first truly and deeply know yourself.  Getting to know one should strengthen your knowledge and understanding of the other, and vice versa. For example, how do you fit into this framework so far?  How do these things I’m talking about speak to you and inform you on the deepest levels of your being?  What is your place in the Universe? What drives you? What pisses you off? What brings you the greatest joy?

Once you truly know yourself, you’ll be in a much better position to practice real Honesty.  You can be more deeply truthful (and gently truthful, too, I might add, because sometimes the truth can hurt), and you can be more faithful in relationships because you will no longer need to hold anything back.  You’ll develop a more fair worldview, which no longer includes perpetual us vs. them scenarios, but instead leading to Loyalty: partnerships where you view the other person as on equal footing with yourself, and deserving equal and vehement protection where and when necessary.  Together, Wisdom, Self-Knowledge, Honesty, and Loyalty will keep your magick on the right track as well, as you develop the realization that you are working alongside larger forces, instead of it being “all you”.  This will make sure you aren’t going off on “magickal power trips”, and that you’re being completely honest, not only with yourself, but also with the Universe, about what your intentions truly are.

All of these finally lead us to Courage and back once again to the ideal of Justice.  Through all of these, you will find that you develop great measures of self-control.  It’s a little hard to go off “half-cocked” all the time when you’re operating from these Values, and viewing others as on equal footing with you, until proven otherwise.  But what about when you have been proven otherwise? First off, how to you prove the otherwise in the first place?  Well, what is Ultimately Right will fit into the 6.9.9.; what is Ultimately Wrong will not.  Fairly simple, right?  When you encounter something or someone that is Ultimately Wrong (and believe me, in this world, you will eventually encounter something or someone that fits under that heading), that’s where Justice comes in.  I’m not talking “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth” here; enough people have tried to promote that over the centuries without Druids joining in the devastation that line of thinking brings.  I’m talking about hopeful correction through education.  When you encounter a situation or a someone who is “otherwise“, you should first attempt to educate them on what is Ultimately Right.  Show them through your actions even more than through your words.  If that doesn’t seem to have any effect, leave it to the Universe: it may take Someone or Something to get clear to that particular person/situation.  That does not mean passively walking away; instead, it means let them know you’re handing it to a Higher Power and then actively do so through spellwork and prayer. No, I’m not saying use magick for revenge, ever!  What I’m saying here is ask the Universe to teach them to be a better human being; to make them a nicer person; to take away the things in their life that make them such an asshole in the first place. Remember that great measure of self-control I just talked about? These are the times to actually put it to work!

Every single situation that you encounter in life can be placed into the framework of the 6.9.9., measured against it, and dealt with accordingly.  That’s what I’m talking about, when I say these ethics can strengthen your life.  They’ll also provide a framework for your Spiritual Path, whatever it may be, even if you aren’t “Druidically-inclined”.  And whether you’re a magickian/spellworker, or a prayer-warrior of another kind, they can provide a step-by-step guide as to whether or not you should proceed with what you’re doing, and precisely how to go about it: what you should be asking for, and what your intentions should be. So, get with the 6.9.9., and let it give you strength, as it has given me!

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