After my mild rant last week, I find myself relieved to tell you that there is in the works within the Sinnsreachd community to codify their beliefs and way of life. I’ve read the document and find that it does, as I had hoped, fit well with my own beliefs. It’s a very basic set of codes, but it tells me that others have been led the direction I’ve been pulled – though they are much further along the path than I am!
The point? I was raised southern Baptist. I need something that I can break down, for myself and for the Christians still in my life (the fam, not the hubs). I was drawn to Astaru’s Nine Noble Truths, but I find myself much happier with the Sinnsreachd Virtues (as they’re referred to in the document). They are as follows (I’ve placed a star next to the Virtues that line up with the NNTs, though some could argue that Strength could be matched with Perseverance from NNTs):
1. Honor *
2. Courage *
3. Hospitality *
4. Truth *
5. Loyalty *
Now each of these speak to me as truths I embrace in my life – or at least try to. I know I struggle with Temperance, though the lessons put before me, especially in recent years, have done wonders for my self-control. But I wanted to briefly cover what each of these things mean to me.
1. Honor – When I give someone my word, I follow through. Period. My honor code, more than my religious one, actually dictates my honor; being courageous, being truthful, being loyal – these are honorable things. It’s about being the type of person you’d be proud to call parent or child, friend or lover. Looking at it from a religious-spiritual side, it’s about living a life worthy of your Gods. And with the fantastic example that our Gods, heroes, and ancestors have left for us, those are indeed some mighty big shoes for our honor to fill. That might be daunting to some, but – if anything – it reinvigorates my own desire to live an honorable life.
2. Courage – Some people look at courage as fairly black and white, you must go out into the world and do something frightening like fight in a war or face a charging bear. And, yes, warriors are courageous and honored within Sinnsreachd and most Celtic/Gaelic cultures – I honor our warriors of all stripes. But there’s more to courage than just that. Taking a stand against injustice, standing up for something you believe in when it isn’t a popular opinion, that is courageous as well. It was my guilt over my cowardice about my faith that pushed me to come out to my family as a Pagan this past year (even though I still did it in what some would see as a cowardly way, I am at peace with it). Courage is following your heart far away from your hometown; and it’s staying where you are for monetary reasons when you are being drawn elsewhere.
3. Hospitality – Hospitality is something that has been ingrained upon me from childhood. I’m southern. ^__^ You open your home to people – especially friends and family – and you feed them and make everyone feel a part of the family. Hospitality has always been easy for me. When I was younger, my Momma used to say that I was going to open a halfway house for outcasts – particularly of the LGBT community. And it is basically what I’ve always done. I’ve grown more careful about the people who I keep close after several unfortunate events in my early 20s (the first year or so Joshwa and I were together), but I still open my home to people. Joshwa and I are still called to create a community place – a calling we are happy to embrace.
4. Truth – This one is pretty self-evident, I would assume. A man or woman’s word is their honor (as discussed previously), so if they are not truthful their word is worthless, which means they have no honor. Even to people who no longer think in terms of honor – in a society where our highest levels people who’s very title is synonymous with being a liar – for the average person to be known as a liar lowers their position within community. While I think this is a sad commentary on our government, the focus of this shouldn’t be political (at least in this instance).
5. Loyalty – Now this is a point of importance that I’ve been questioned on lately, particularly because of the stands I’ve taken against toxic family members. Let me state simply, loyalty is extremely important to me. But when loyalty is betrayed by one party – be that through physically, verbally, or emotionally abusive behavior or by the abandonment of affection – releases the other party from the bonds of loyalty. I know not everyone will agree with this, but I think it is foolish to keep yourself in a relationship – even a familial one – to someone who has betrayed your loyalty. That is why we have made the decisions we have over the last few years to distance ourselves from people – particularly in our families – who bring nothing positive and – for a few of them – were actively negative influences in our lives. Because at the heart of it, my loyalty lies first and foremost with the family that is Joshwa and I and any children we have. Though some would argue our insistence on finding our own place despite the desires of our families selfish – we do not place our small family as most important for selfish reasons. We do it for our children, who we want to grow up in a better way in a better world.
6. Temperance – As I said before, temperance or self-control is the virtue I struggle with the most. I’m prone to bursts of emotion and while I can hold a grudge like no other, for the most part my emotions are surge and ebb, even my anger. Or should I say especially my anger? I’ve made strides to cut out the addictions from my life – I went from requiring at least a coffee or soda a day to going several weeks without anything. I’ve quit smoking – despite a hiccup earlier this year. I don’t think of all of this as a spiritual thing most of the time, but it is very important to me none the less.
7. Strength – Strength is about more than physical prowess – though I do believe that has its place, particularly in Sinnsreachd and other Celtic/Gaelic faiths. Strength is also about emotional strength and strength of character and strength of mind. It’s about being the best you can be and utilizing your strengths to help your community.
This is something about Sinnsreachd that speaks to me deeply – they honor a class system. Not a necessarily monetary class system, like we have here in the US – it’s a class system where everyone has their place. And this speaks to me because I have a real problem with our society’s obsession with what are seen as “acceptable” aspirations for the future. As if our society could survive without people doing the jobs that are seen as “less”. Anyway, sorry for the sidetrack – moving on.
8. Piety – Now I have struggled with the idea of piety for a while. Growing up in Christianity has given me a twisted ideal of what piety meant – I always associated piety with a holier-than-thou attitude or living a monkish lifestyle. But piety is literally defined as “reverence for God[s] or devout fulfillment of religious obligations”. Piety is about having a relationship with your God or Gods. For me that relationship is what has driven me from my comfy, limited worship of only Danu and An Dagda to opening my eyes and my heart for Brighid, Manannan, and Lir – scary, but completely worth it.
9. Justice – This is one that is almost a given considering the other virtues, particularly honor and truth. Of course, not all of our laws really fall under this for me – there are plenty of laws that I think are ridiculous and others that are unjust. Justice is the reason that I’m politically active and why I take my responsibility to vote seriously.
Now, I can think of other things that important to me – family being the most prominent – but these are the ones within the religious tradition that I’m learning about and feeling drawn to. I’ve enjoyed taking the time to explain what these mean to me. Hope it was enjoyable and maybe even helpful for you, as well.