A while back, I shared a link to a story about revivalist Polytheists in Greece who were enduring the unsurprising scorn of the Greek Orthodox Church. A quote from that story is with me today- a Bishop of the Orthodox Church mentioned that a "few" of the Pagans were "Pagans of principle"- his words. The rest, he said, were more involved in the recension of the Old Ways for (basically) pageantry and pedantics.
Over a thousand years of being the undisputed masters of the spiritual destiny of the West has made most Christians of any stripe very condescending; this is nowhere more apparent than in the way most devoted Christians automatically assume that one cannot be truly and perfectly principled and moral (or even truly at peace) without Christianity.
I don't have to tell most of my readers this; they've likely already experienced this attitude in people firsthand. But what the Bishop said inspired me today; I've been thinking about what it truly means to be a "Pagan of principle", and I've been just as inspired by how the Heathen path as I know it allows modern people to be just that- truly principled people- with what I feel is the most historically grounded, realistic, and visceral "code of morality" out there today.
Most Asatruar follow some variant of what they call the "nine noble virtues"- and many times blessed be these virtues, and all who take them as friends and guides to everyday life! Those who do, without a doubt, are good, honest, courageous people motivated by noble goals. When one examines (along with the many great authors and researchers who have examined) the seeds of historical reality to see what the authentic Heathen "code for living" was, one gains quite a reward. The nine noble virtues- in their many forms- serve well to approximate it, particularly in the universal insistence on guest-friendliness and loyalty to kin.
But I've thought long and hard on the "root" of the nine noble virtues, and the roots of the honor and social codes of the Ancestors; it is easy to see, if one is prepared to see, how the true origin of our Ancestors' behaviors in life-situations is the ancient and powerful notion of High Mindedness.
Let there be no doubt or obscurity on the matter: our Ancestors, and therefore all of us, are the People of the Sun. We are the descendants of the Ir-men, the people of the Tyr-pillar, the people of the Great Tree, the people who sprang from the blood of humans and the spiritual power of Gods. The solar disc- the glaring eye of Odhinn's triumphant Eagle, represents the victory of consciousness over the dim and dark powers that would drag all order and beauty down to Ur-chaos.
While we live, we live with the consciousness of the Gods in us. After we die, the Godly form bestowed on us by Allfather and his brothers, guided by the light we have preserved in this life, lives on. No greatness or nobility is ever truly lost. While we live, we are in possession of a precious gift, the most ennobling and precious gift that any wight or sentient being can have.
And it is this gift- this solar consciousness which has within it the entire conscious pattern of the Nine Worlds, and the possibility of unfolding into a direct and complete consciousness of wholeness- which is the best power any being can boast of having. It is this light of Gods and Men that gives rise to the notion of "High Mindedness"- the true human being, the true "Heathen of principle" is beholden to nothing but the highest principle in the Raidho-order of reality: the principle of constructive and beautifying cooperation and preservation.
It is stitched in the weave of Fate that we human beings were meant to apply our Godly consciousness, our minds, to the path of cooperation with one another, as the Gods cooperate to create and maintain and defend the great work of the Nine Worlds. There is no room for doubt here; we are creators like the Gods, by virtue of our gifts, and furthermore, our gift is not for us alone, but something that can and must be shared- the human "high mind" of solar-awareness is meant to protect and beautify this world, our lives, the lives of others, and to preserve what is good.
Co-creativity and Co-operation are part and parcel of the same mystery. No society worth the name ever arose on the merits of one man or woman; no society ever thrived or survived on anything other than high-minded cooperation and preservation. We have an enormous creative power and potential, and few understand that this luminous field of possibility, smoldering inside of most, but illuminating others, is the radiant presence of Allfather's spirit, which is the spirit of the Gods.
You feel it when you sense and appreciate beauty; it is why we feel so at peace when we arrange our homes in tidy ways, with beautiful, meaningful things displayed proudly, and welcome guests in. It is why we strive to build our lives around beautiful displays of nature, and neat, safe neighborhoods. It is why we create and appreciate art, music, poetry, and the like.
People talk much of "proof" for the existence of Gods or the Godly spirit, but no person who has experienced the power of creativity and orderly, beautiful aesthetics need worry over such proof. One moves in the current of Man's Fate and moves towards Man's highest intended destiny when one appreciates the beautiful things in this world and in other people.
People sometimes ask me why the "animals" (meaning "non-human living creatures") don't have this "high mindedness"- and accuse me of being "anthropocentric"; and to those people, these days I answer: they have it because we have it, and we humans are natural consecrators: we can consecrate non-human living beings, bless them, share with them, preserve and protect them, all because of our gift. We are in a web of connection and interaction- the divine light burst through fully consciously in us; it now flows from place to place and fills the web. The question becomes: will you become a willing channel?
We were meant to share our power, our special abilities. To beautify this world, preserve its many lives and forces, and live in harmony, in balance with it and with one another. When we violate this innate, Fateful directive, we see the emergence of the ugly, the destructive, and the perilous. We see and feel the difference. We know the face of the vicious wicked; we know it all too well. Only the insane can't see it and recognize it for what it is.
If there was a definition of "insanity" that I could accept, it would come down to this simple but profound thing: it would include those who have lost (or never had) the ability to sense and feel the difference between what is ennobling and what is degrading; between what is truly, spiritually healthy and what is baneful. What I am discussing is a feeling, something deep inside that guides and shelters and protects. Something innate guides the healthy people of this world away from the violating powers and the scourge of the horrid and perilous; something makes most people naturally resist the shackles of the unjust and the oppressive.
I love to think of the powerful values of the Ancestors: to have open generosity and undaunted courage; to be steadfast in friendship and uncompromising in enmity when facing the destructive and the ugly; to be faithful to kin, to one's lord, and faithful in love- to have family pride and pride in the Ancestors, keeping Troth with the sacred powers... such high-minded values rest within the ancient Teutonic belief in inexorable Fate, and the need to endure the needful and unavoidable challenges that will arise to any who stands for such high and noble values.
As I said, for me, all of these values go back to "High Mindedness"- which means to climb the rays of Odhinn's Sun-like mind and to come to understand the nature of one's own internal illumination, and to realize that we can rise above the destructiveness and greed and peril that characterizes the state of Nature's raw, red talons and which characterizes the state of the Thursic powers that still course through the deep places of the world and the cosmos.
We humans are the blossoms of the MANNAZ mystery, the vessels of and participants in the work of the Gods in our own world, with a duty to spread the light of the possibilities of the High Mind to all things. We begin with ourselves, celebrating the victory of light in us, and from there, we radiate it like the sun radiates light to all the world.
This is what freedom is: to be free of the darkness of the Thursic worlds is to be free of the selfishness that would prevent us from being generous; to be free of the unconscious drives to destroy and dominate that would prevent us from being loyal to friends and self-sacrificing for the family and community; to be free of the ignorance that prevents us from seeing ourselves as parts of a greater whole, and part of an ancestral line, allowing us to see with wisdom how the Web of Wyrd contains us all and to be proud of the greater story of which we are a part. The solar mind of the great Eagle of Odhinn has given this freedom.
We can be merciful; we are free from the unforgiving law of the talon unless we have no other recourse to it for the good of all. We can be compassionate; we can be thoughtful; we can be open-minded to many sides of many issues, weighing with wisdom the merits of what confronts us in life; we can be patient and we can be better than the bulk of those who seek only insipid self-glorification and wealth at any cost. We can see entire societies in this world based on fear, not high-mindedness; it is an eternal truth that fear is the polar opposite of the solar-minded attitude.
We see entire societies based on fear of sexuality and prudish, (sometimes violent) unthinking adherence to the words of dead scriptures; we see entire societies where the value of human life- especially female human life- has all but been lost. The way of high-mindedness is the way of life's value. Life is the seat of the solar force; it is the "high seat" of every possibility of beauty and power- and thus, no "tradition", no matter how venerable, can justify the wanton destruction of life, injustice, or the imprisonment and mistreatment of entire genders or types of people. Those who fight against these sorts of injustices fight with the righteous wrath of the Aesir- they are the true spiritual princes and spear-disir of our times.
A person who can be free in this High-Minded way of being, and increase and preserve the beauty and harmony of this world, that person is the most principled human- none can claim to be more so. And none will have a more honored seat in the Halls of the Gods when the Fate of death finally sends them to the Hel-way and then to the Doom-ring.
I do not offer promises of reward in the afterlife as some incentive; the Ancestors did not, and I do not- I offer only the truth that each person who engages the High-Mindedness that is Man's greatest gift will make him or herself into a sun in this life, and that light will shine beyond the boundaries of this life, because that is what suns and stars do. Those who remain in darkness will have only the darkness of the self when death closes their eyes and all other lights have failed.
This is not "reward for services rendered or obedience tendered"- this is "prepare your destiny now through your nobility- or lack thereof." No white Christ will let you off the hook for your own darkness- and no true "life of principle" is possible for those who have not taken full responsibility for their own light.
For those who imagine our Ancestors to have been violent, brutish people who allowed only warriors fallen in the act of battle to go to Odhinn's drinking hall, think again: it is well proven- at least to my satisfaction- that the ancient Heathens believed that men who were slain in combat and who died with the bloodstains of atrocity on their hands did not merit Valhalla. Those interested further in this point should see Rydberg's "Teutonic Mythology" for more information and evidence. Now, as in the distant past, the heavens are reserved for the stars- light for the light, and darkness for the darkness.
May the Ginnregin keep you all very safe. Let your minds join Odhinn's great victory, and be one of the heroes who helps keep the world safe until the end of Worlds.
Follow unwaveringly the course of Raidho-beauty and Wunjo-life.