Other Models of Heathen Ethics

July 29, 2014 at 3:58 am 3 comments

I found some more models of Heathen ethics that could possibly be part of my Self-Care Virtues project, Harrison K. Hall has an excellent series of posts, beginning with an examination and critique of the Odinic Rite’s Nine Noble Virtues. He comes up with his own list, the Ten Guiding Tempers, which are designed to balance each other out.

Heathen Ethics Part 1: Nine Nearly Useless Virtues

Commentary: Personally, I think *most* of the virtues can be good principles depending on how they are interpreted- unfortunately all too often they are interpreted in a very “might makes right” manner. The main problem as I see it is that this set is rather unbalanced and incomplete. Several concepts, like “discipline and perseverance” are very close and arguably redundant. Self-Reliance, Discipline and Industriousness have to be *seriously* modified and qualified for people with disabilities, and all too often are used to shame them.

Part 2: Racism & Heathen Taqiyya

Taqiyya is a “loophole” in Shiia Islam that if a Muslim’s life is in danger for revealing his/her beliefs, the person can pretend to be a non-Muslim (and violate the faith) without being guilty of blasphemy. I understand the point he’s making here about the hypocrisy of racist Heathens. But  I thought use of “taqiyya” would be more directly relevant in the case of Heathens who pretend to be Christian out of fear of discrimination.

Part 3: AFA’s Nine Noble Virtues (the “honor is better than dishonor” one)

“The best of the bunch, to my mind, is “Realism is Better Than Dogma”.  It’s probably the only one of the virtues that I can appreciate without conditions, because it balances two things that can both be considered valuable in the right circumstances.   You can use tradition and scripture…but all things being equal, chose the most pragmatic option.”

Part 4: Social Consequence

Hall makes the point that following “traditional” Heathen virtues have different social consequences and impact in a as a tiny minority in a non-Heathen modern industrialized society than in an ancient Norse feudal/tribal society.

“If you are willing to weaken the entire strength of a community for the sake of your own ego?  You shouldn’t belong to a community.  You can be Heathen, Asatru, or whatever; these aren’t terms that any one person gets to bestow upon or remove from another person.  A community, however, requires a certain amount of sacrifice for the greater good.”

Part 5: Modern Virtues

OK, so if this other stuff isn’t working, what factors should we consider in constructing modern Heathen ethics?

1) Anthropological Sources Cannot Be the Primary Source for the Material

I think we should look at history to help give us an idea of the worldview of our spiritual ancestors, but being too wed to the past makes it difficult to make it relevant to modern realities.

2) No Mystic Hangups– ethics aren’t mystical, there don’t need to be nine of them

3) Nothing Included that Speaks to Politics and/or Racism, One Way or the Other

I think if we construct our ethics carefully enough, anyone who is actually honorable won’t be using them to justify some form of oppression or discrimination. If they are, then why the Hel are they in our community?

I also think ethics definitely have political implications, but what those implications are and what policy ought to be pursued as a resulted should be left up to the individual.

Part 6: Taking it Back– discussion of the “We Are Our Deeds” concept

Part 7: Ten Guiding Tempers

Part 8: Your Ancestors, My Ancestors

Aren’t all of our ancestors sacred and worthy of reverence?

Other Heathen/Germanic Ethics Models

Urglaawe Virtues– There’s a great article here (it’s on a PDF, didn’t want to give a direct link so people didn’t get a “surprise download”) about contemplating the virtues of Urglaawe, the Pennsylvania Deutsch Heathen tradition on the 12 Nights of Yule.

Rokkatru Ethics & Values– I realize Rokkatru, the tradition/path that focuses reverence on the Jotuns, may or may not be considered “Heathen” but I think it’s worth a look.

Further analysis of these ethical systems will be forthcoming, for now I will continue working on the lists I began with!

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Harrison K. Hall  |  August 16, 2014 at 4:31 am

    Wow! A few weeks later and I still can’t believe someone linked so much of my work! That’s kind of a nice feeling! 🙂

    To provide context to my statement in Part 5 about ethics and politics, I wasn’t trying to portray that ethics had to be completely, 100%, apolitical. It was more that ethical building blocks shouldn’t be founded on the basis of group dynamics and personal politics. “Ancestry is Better than Universalism” struck me as just as something written based on the factioning of the moment, and not on a firm ethical basis. That really rubbed me the wrong way, and I sorta fixated upon it as a result.

    Ethics should CERTAINLY be applied to politics…but I’m not so sure that they should be formed as direct answers to political situations. If you have a firm idea of your ethics, than you’ll know how to respond to the politics no matter how they change….where as forming your ethics ad hoc to face the politics strikes me as defeating the purpose of ethics in the first place.

    Reply
    • 2. caelesti  |  August 16, 2014 at 5:53 pm

      Well I do anything I can to promote Heathen/Pagan/Polytheist voices of sanity, balance and just plain *positive* messages! Leaving on a trip today so I’ll talk more about ethics and other things when I get back! I also linked to your post about Marvel Thor in my latest post, Gods of Hollywood vs. Gods of Asgard.

      Reply
  • 3. Pagan Blog Project Archive Post | The Lefthander's Path  |  January 4, 2015 at 10:20 am

    […] –  Other Models of Heathen Ethics July […]

    Reply

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