A lesson on the Nine Noble Virtues
Some of the qualities we hold in high regard are strength, courage, joy, honor, freedom, loyalty to kin, realism, vigor, and the revering of our ancestors. To express these things in our lives is virtuous, and we strive to do this. Their opposites – weakness, cowardice, adherence to dogma rather than to the realities of the world, and the like – constitute our vices and are to be avoided. Proper behavior in Asatru consists of maximizing one’s virtues and minimizing one’s vices.
These convictions of personal honour are well described by the Nine Noble Virtues and the Six – Fold Goal. The Nine Noble Virtues are: Courage (heartiness), Truth, Honor (worthiness), Fidelity (troth), Discipline (hardiness), Hospitality (friendliness), Industriousness (work), Self-reliance (freedom), Perseverance (steadfastness). And the Six – Fold Goal is: 1.Right 2.Wisdom 3.Might 4.Harvest 5.Frith 6.Love
The Six – Fold Goal is a statement of our beliefs as a people. It is those things for which we are willing to live, and die.
We believe we have the right to 1. Right. The following of Just Law for the benefit of all. This does NOT mean restrictions, this means that we, as a people, generally recognize that there must be just Laws if we are going to exist together in an advanced society, and that having and following those Laws is Right.
We also believe in the society’s right, as a whole, and the individual’s right to attain 2. Wisdom.
We recognize the importance of 3. Might as it relates to both individuals and societies and we hold that it is Right and True for the Might of the individual or society to dominate those of lesser Might. In this case, this is more of a recognition of a reality that exists in our physical world of Midgard, than it is of any kind of idealist belief that “Might Makes Right”.
The next Goal, that of 4. Harvest, is the belief that we deserve the fruits of our labors. That it is Right for us to reap the cycles of nature, to provide nourishment for the folk. Or as the case may be, we feel it is Right for us to receive monetary rewards (harvest) for our hard work.
5. Frith is the peace and prosperity that comes with the fulfillment of the Nine Nobles Virtues and all the Six – Fold Goal. Frith refers to the thriving of the folk, in this case, the Asatruar.
And finally, 6. Love, is the Goal most often unappreciated, in my opinion, by the rest of society. When most people hear Love as one of the Goals, they assume it to mean the romantic love between two people, or maybe the love of an adult for their child. And while these are beautiful and worthy things, the Love referred to here is the vitality and lust for life embodied in Frey and Freyja. It is the erotic thrill of life itself, the lust of passion and the senses, the enjoyment of pleasure. This is natural to our people and, we believe, Right for us to enjoy.
The original Nine Noble Virtues of the AFA circa 1973:
STRENGTH IS BETTER THAN WEAKNESS…
Let others wallow in their vulnerability! We are not ashamed to be strong. The cult of the anti-hero will find no support in us, and the Gods we follow are not for the weak.
COURAGE IS BETTER THAN COWARDICE…
By facing life’s struggles with courage, we constantly extend our capabilities. Without courage, nothing else can be done!
JOY IS BETTER THAN GUILT…
Let us take pleasure in our humanity, rather than being ashamed of who we are. Misplaced guilt – because of our sexuality, or our strength, or our greatness – has enslaved us long enough!
HONOR IS BETTER THAN DISHONOR…
We must be true to what we are and what we believe, and we must always act with nobility rather than baseness. Our personal standards must be banners held high in our hearts!
FREEDOM IS BETTER THAN SLAVERY…
We have no master! Those who would enslave us, whatever their excuse, are our enemies. The totalitarian ant nest is repugnant to those who demand the free, bracing wind of the Northlands!
KINSHIP IS BETTER THAN ALIENATION…
The isolation and loneliness of modern life is foreign to us, nor is it a necessary evil. We call our Folk to return to kith and kin, to family, clan and tribe.
REALISM IS BETTER THAN DOGMATISM…
Blind faith has no place in Asatru. Our ancestors may have been sublimely mystical, but they were at the same time severely practical. We must respond to this world, and act in it rather than wait calmly for the next.
VIGOR IS BETTER THAN LIFELESSNESS…
Do, and dare! Take risks and taste the richness of life. We refuse to be mere spectators. Passivity is for sheep, and we prefer to be wolves!
ANCESTRY IS BETTER THAN UNIVERSALISM…
Asatru springs from the soul of the Northern peoples, and it is suited by its very nature to our needs. It is intertwined with our existence as a people. We respect all, but it is right and just that we honor our own ancestors first!
The Nine Noble Virtues of Today (1999):
Courage – The ability to do that which is unpleasant, hard, or frightening.
Truth – The act of living your life, according to your convictions, openly and completely. The Commitment to honestly discuss your views of life and religion with anyone that should ask you. The avoidance of being hypocritical. Speaking the truth as you know it, under all circumstances.
Honor – (esp. personal honor) Honor is an abstract thing. It involves your reputation, and your personal integrity. It is possible to have a bad reputation, and be an honorable person. To be honorable, you should always strive to be fair and just in your dealings. You should always live up to your word, once given. You should characterize integrity. If you believe in a thing, you have to stand up for it, if you give lip-service to a cause, you have to take action for it if you ever have an opportunity.
Fidelity – Loyalty. Successfully staying committed to a cause, belief, person, or organization; especially in the face of adversity.
Discipline – The ability to correct yourself without any supervision, so that you remain true to anything which you undertake. The ability to restrain yourself in public, so that you outwardly remain calm and in control despite internal emotion. The ability to accept unfortunate circumstances without whining or crying. The ability to carry out actions entrusted to you, even if you believe there is no longer hope of success or reason to continue.
Hospitality – Treating others (especially guests) with courtesy. Tending to the needs of the guest, including offering your food, drink, and accommodations, especially to fellow Asatruar.
Industriousness – The continued effort to produce
Self-Reliance – The ability to survive, and overcome any obstacles without depending on others; especially those outside your family.
Perseverance – The ability to stay committed to a cause or course of action until you find a way to accomplish your goals. This does not mean continuing to expend effort in a fruitless direction, but rather, continuing to find a way to accomplish the ultimate goal.
The Nine Noble Virtues are all interrelated. You cannot conceive of fidelity without honor, and without courage you cannot maintain it. You must have courage and truth in order to have honor, and with honor, you will build self-reliance and hospitality. Without Perseverance, you will not be able to pursue the other Virtues, and with the pursuit of discipline, comes self-reliance, honor, and truth. Honor, and truth allow you to achieve fidelity, and perseverance allows you to maintain the virtues.
The point of the Nine Noble Virtues is that Asatruar should strive to increase the areas of strength in their lives, and seek to minimize their areas of weakness. These “Nine Noble Virtues” are not to be found anywhere within one of our Texts, rather this is a concept that has evolved in this modern era. The Nine Noble virtues are concepts of behavior that we have compiled from the examples put before us by our ancestors and in the Sagas. Behaviors that we admire and feel worth of emulation, and actions that speak to us louder than a list of rules ever could. Any given Asatru group may or may not promote these ideas exactly as described here, they may not have “The Nine Noble Virtues” on a plaque on their wall, but they are certain to admire truthfulness, honor, courage, people that are hard working, folks that are loyal, those that are hospitable, and so forth. We don’t need a list of rules to tell us what is or isn’t allowed if we strive to be a better person and embody these ideals.