So far we have explored the Nine Virtues called out in the ADF Dedicant Manual and how they interact and relate to one another. In the next section we will explore three virtues that are not on the ADF’s list but that I consider personal virtues. We will also show how they relate to the Nine Virtues of ADF. These virtues are: Creativity, Curiosity, and a Sense of Humor.
I think one of the reasons that Creativity and Curiosity do not appear as ADF Virtues because they are inherent in, or similar to, several of the virtues already listed. Sense of Humor is something that most Pagans have, but don’t really think about and so it doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.
“the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination” – Dictionary.com
Creativity is a virtue that I hold dear and try to foster in my life everyday. To be creative does not only mean painting a masterpiece or writing the next Pulitzer Prize winning novel. Sometimes it means figuring out what to do with the leftovers so they don’t go to waste. Creativity forces us to find new ways of looking at the world and finding new potential in everything. Creativity assists in finding new ways to apply knowledge as well as new ways of passing that knowledge onto others. It keeps pious actions such as ritual and tradition from getting stale. A visionary must have creativity. Without it, they would not be able to think and see beyond the here and now. You have to have courage to be creative and let that creativity manifest to the public. You have to overcome the fear of public criticism. Sometimes the creative juices seem to flow very slowly. This is where Perseverance comes in. You have to stick with your endeavor and work through the blocks. Integrity comes into play to make sure that your creativity doesn’t lead you down a path that will take you outside the values held by you and your community. Creativity can aid in the pursuit of Moderation by allowing you to find new ways of enjoying life that are better for you. For example, you may be trying to curb an ice cream addiction by substituting blended frozen bananas as dessert. Fertility is creative. You allow your creativity to flourish. Hospitality enables you to share your creativity with others and, in turn, benefit from other’s creativity. Brainstorming sessions and group discussions are a good example of this.
“The desire to learn or know about anything; inquisitiveness.” – Dictionary.com
I believe that curiosity is a virtue that is worth fostering in everyone’s life. It leads us to ask questions and search for new answers. It allows progress to be made and new ways of overcoming problems to be found. Without curiosity we would have never gone to the moon, we wouldn’t have small handheld computers, and most of our modern medicines would never have been developed. I have always had a deep seated need to learn new things. I have been this way since I was a child. I begged people to read to me until I could finally read to myself, then I began to devour books on any subject that I found interesting. I would also, to the dismay of my parents, follow random interesting looking strangers and begin asking questions about who they were and what they did. Even today, if something piques my interest, I research, read and ask as many questions as I can. I believe that to stop learning would mean mental death. Once the mind stops receiving new information, all development and growth stops and decay begins to set in.
Curiosity is one of the vehicles used to gain Wisdom. If you have no desire to learn, you aren’t asking questions and are not gaining new knowledge. It aids Piety by asking why we do certain things certain ways. As we learn, this can deepen the meaning of our rituals and keep them from becoming stagnant. Curiosity is a prime component of Vision. Dreams are built by asking why and why not then learning how to manage the answers to make the dream reality. Curiosity fosters courage. By asking questions we begin to eliminate ignorance and with knowledge fear lessens or disappears enabling us to move forward while others may be standing still or moving backwards. Curiosity aids perseverance. There is nothing like a good puzzle to motivate someone to push forward though bumps in the road. It also leads to asking questions about the obstacles that may lead to new routes to the goal. Curiosity enables us to look at ourselves and our values and ask “why and I doing this” or “Why an I NOT doing that”. This kind of introspection allows us to make sure we know what we stand for so that we can make sure our actions our consistent. Through Curiosity, we learn new ways to keep our balance. A lot of times moderation goes out the window when we are bored. By remaining curious and open to new ideas, we can better keep ourselves on track and in check. Fertility is aided by curiosity as well. Though questioning and learning, we increase the things we, and the community of which we are a part, can create an nourish. Being genuinely curious about others is the beginning of the relationship building process. We ask questions of them and, hopefully, the curiosity is reciprocated and they ask questions of us. The give and take relationship relates directly to the virtue of Hospitality.
Sense of Humor
“The trait of appreciating (and being able to express) the humorous;” – Dictionary.com
I believe a Sense of Humor is one of the most important virtues a person can have. It may not seem as lofty as wisdom, as fierce as courage, or as warm and fuzzy as hospitality, but the ability to laugh at ones self and to make others laugh is vital. A friend of mine told me about a group of people that she was seated next to in a restaurant. They where there for a church breakfast. She reported that it was all very serious and all the participants looked absolutely miserable. She then commented on how different it is at Pagan gatherings. We are usually smiling, joking and laughing. I firmly believe that without a Sense of Humor you are destined to a life of doom and gloom. A Sense of Humor can make some wisdom more accessible to the masses. It also helps to mitigate some of the pompousness and ego that can creep in when teaching others. Piety is enlivened by a Sense of Humor. Being able to laugh at yourself means that even though things seem to be planned perfectly, we acknowledge that things go wrong and that’s ok. It keeps our rituals and traditions from becoming the stodgy lifeless affairs that a lot of us have fled from. Visionaries need a Sense of Humor to keep them grounded. Sometimes grand designs and schemes turn out to be ridiculously improbable. If you are able to recognize and laugh at your own ridiculousness, you will not feel as resentful when these types of plans are criticized by others. Courage can be bolstered by laughter. There is an adage that I have heard through out my life that speaks to the relationship between a sense of humor and courage, it boils down to “laugh in the face of your fears”. If you can find something to laugh about a frightening situation you find yourself in , it will dispel some of the fear and allow you to do what needs to be done. Laughter can help you persevere though rough times in life. I remember one of the best ways I dealt with my grandmother’s death, was telling funny stories about her and laughing with my relatives. I tend to deal with most hard times with a healthy dose of humor and smartassedness. Hold onto your Integrity when dealing with humor of any type. Make sure that when you are being funny that you aren’t insulting or putting down others. Some people find these kinds of jokes funny, but they end up weakening the community as a whole. Moderation is needed in conjunction with a sense of humor to ensure that jokes don’t go too far and that there is a balance between gaiety and seriousness. Some may not see how a Sense of Humor and Fertility could relate but laughter is contagious. It propagates itself and spreads from person to person within a group. This virtue also shows up in conjunction with hospitality. Generally a person with a good sense of humor is one that people like to be around. Sharing humor with others and allowing yourself to join in with the laughter of others is a great way to build community and get past differences in order to build relationships.
In conclusion, the virtues we hold speak to our overall character. Wisdom, Piety, Vision, Courage, Integrity, Perseverance, Hospitality, Moderation, and Fertility are small words for big concepts. Their true meanings are as much a gut feeling as a dictionary definition. We each see and experience them a bit differently, but the core meaning remains the same. These virtues are ones that we strive to embody even though we know we will certainly fall short from time to time. Hopefully as we go through life, we will begin to see more examples of when we have adhered to the values than when we did not and when we fall short, we pick ourselves up, dust off and try again.