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“!)
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):
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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