What are the Nine Noble Virtues ? They are a set of moral and ethical standards that where composed from a number of sources. Sources include the Havamal, the Poetic and Prose Eddas, and parts of the Icelandic sagas. They are followed thru different branches of people who follow the old gods but are sometimes interpret in different ways but there seems to be some universality as to what the virtues are and what they stand for. There is a page on Wikipedia with some explanation on the origin of the NNV . They are guidelines for honorable behavior in physical and moral courage, honor and fidelity, and the tradition of hospitality .But realize the nine noble are not ancient wisdom. It’s a modern construct, but loaded with ancient baggage.
1 . Courage ; Courage in both forms , physical and moral . Courage isn’t always about getting physical to another person.Courage is the bravery to do what is right at all times ,the courage to stand up when the situation needs it . It’s more about standing up for what you believe in and what you know to be right and the correct things to do , even if it’s not the popular opinion. Many agree that it takes a lot of courage to follow te NNV particularly if you live in an area that most people are from the mainstream religions . Standing up for your beliefs in amongst other bigger religions requires as much moral courage as getting into a physical battle.
2 .Truth ; Truth comes in different ways , either truth to yourself or truth towards another . Always telling the truth can be harder to do then one should presume . So often it seems easier to tell people what they would like to hear instead of somebody’s true wishes . Not many people can handle the truth these days , and on other occasions you dont wanne tell the truth just because you dont wanne hurt or harm the other person . But beeing untruthfull will disappoint them later. This only leads to disappointment in one’s friends and that , down the road may poison relationships and bonds . Not telling the truth can be easyer in the short term but will come back later to bite you in the ass when you are revealed and shunned as not trustworthy . Truth should be handled with most care and always be upheld . In that matter is the truth like an oath , never brake or shame it .
Then second I rede thee, | to swear no oath
If true thou knowest it not;
Bitter the fate | of the breaker of troth,
And poor is the wolf of his word.
Sigrdrífumál – 23
3 . Honor ; A persons reputation and moral compass. Honor is one of the most important mathers in the life of many Heathens . Honor reminds us that our deeds, words, and reputation will outlive our bodies long after we are gone , and that the person we are in life will be remembered for a long time. Are you known as a fine, upstanding member of the folk? Do people come to you for advice, and trust your word when it is given? Or do they avoid you, and always look for confirmation of something you tell them? The answer may be a good indication of how your honor is viewed by others .These are 2 stanzas from the Havamal that cover honor as example .
Cattle die, | and kinsmen die,
And so one dies one’s self;
But a noble name | will never die,
If good renown one gets.
Cattle die, | and kinsmen die,
And so one dies one’s self;
One thing now | that never dies,
The fame of a dead man’s deeds.
4 . Fidelity ; Fidelity( Loyalty ) is not simple, it involves remaining true to the Gods, and people around you. Much like honor, fidelity is something to be remembered. In many early heathen cultures, an oath was seen as a sacred contract — someone who broke a vow, whether it was to a wife, a friend, or a business partner, was considered a shameful and dishonorable person indeed. The NNV all link together — if you fail to adhere to one, you may have trouble following the others. If you let somebody or the gods down , then you’re turning your back on your entire community and all that they stand for.
To his friend a man | a friend shall prove,
And gifts with gifts requite;
But men shall mocking | with mockery answer,
And fraud with falsehood meet.
5 . Discipline ; Discipline includes using one’s personal will to maintain honor and other the virtues. It’s not easy to be an ethical and just person in modern times — it takes alot of work and effort, and a lot of mental discipline. Your will comes into play with that. Upholding the virtues is a choice, and it’s a much easyer to just ignore them and do what society expects . Discipline is the ability to show your courage, your loyalty, your sense of self-reliance, in the face of personal challenges.
6 . Hospitality ; Hospitality is more than just opening your door to a guest. It’s about treating others with respect, and being part of the society. For the ancestors, hospitality wasn’t a question of simply being nice, it was often a matter of survival. A traveler might find himself wandering for days or more without seeing another living soul. Arriving in a new village meant not only food and shelter, but also company and safety. Traditionally, once a guest had eaten at your table, it meant they were also granted your protection and safety while under your roof.
He hath need of fire, who now is come,
numbed with cold to the knee;
food and clothing the wanderer craves
who has fared o’er the rimy fell
He craves for water, who comes for refreshment,
drying and friendly bidding,
marks of good will, fair fame if ’tis won,
and welcome once and again.
7 . Industriousness ; The concept of industriousness reminds us to hard work as a means to achieve a goal. Work hard at everything you do — you owe it to yourself, to your family, to your community and to your gods. I figure my ancestors never sat around being lazy – working hard was inherent to their survival. You didn’t work, you didn’t eat. Your family might starve if you were busy loafing instead of doing something. I try to make sure that I keep my mind and body working at all times – that doesn’t mean I don’t have down time, it simply means that I am at my best when I feel a sense of accomplishment.”
He must early go forth | who fain the blood
Or the goods of another would get;
The wolf that lies idle | shall win little meat,
Or the sleeping man success.
He must early go forth | whose workers are few,
Himself his work to seek;
Much remains undone | for the morning-sleeper,
For the swift is wealth half won.
8 . Self-Reliance ;Self-Reliance is the virtue taking care of oneself, while still maintaining relationships with Deity. It’s important to honor the gods, but also to take care of the body and mind. To do this, many Heathens find a balance between doing for others and doing for the self. To thrive as part of a community, we must also be able to thrive as individuals.Even people who find themselves limited by disease or other factors can still function in society to the best of their abilities, the only people allowed to rest on their laurels are the successful or the dead . The stronghest people or community are the one’s that doesn’t need anything from anyone outside .
The lame rides a horse, | the handless is herdsman,
The deaf in battle is bold;
The blind man is better | than one that is burned,
No good can come of a corpse.
9 . Perseverance ; Perseverance reminds us to continue pushing onward, despite potential obstacles. To persevere is to not only rise up in the face of defeat, but to learn and grow from our mistakes and poor choices. Anyone can be mediocre. Anyone can be average. Anyone can do just enough to get by. But if we want to excel, and live up to our fullest potential, then we have to persevere. We have to push on even when things are hard and frustrating, or even if it seems like things are completely impossible. If we don’t persevere, then we have nothing to strive for. Our religion teaches us that the world is an imperfect place, and nothing comes easy. We need to continue to seek after that which we desire. In this imperfect world there are no free lunches or easy accomplishments especially in the tasks we have set before ourselves.We must be willing to continue on when we are pushed back. If somebody loses a job for his/her religion, the answer is not to go back and hide, but to strive forward until one finds a vocation where one can more forward and live as an Heathen should .Perseverance is not about how many times you get knocked down or fail but how many times you stand up again .
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