The Nine Noble Virtues are ethical guidelines, based on virtues found in Ancient Norse Paganism and set out in this form by the Odinic Rite in the 1970’s. Instead of saying that I choose to follow these guidelines, a more accurate description would be that these nine virtues mirror my own personal thoughts and feelings on morality and ethics. Instead of telling you what you must and must not do, the Nine Noble Virtues show you how to be the best person you can be. There are no hazy grey areas where you’re unsure of what the right course of action is, instead by striving to always uphold these ideals in all areas of your life you’re actively working to become a better person.
Courage is not necessarily the bravery to fight in some epic battle. Sometimes it is as simple as standing up for yourself and your beliefs in the face of opposition. It is not turning away from a challenge because you are worried you might fail, but instead meeting it face on. Courage is doing what you know is right, even when it is not easy.
This above all: to thine ownself be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.
I believe you must be able to be truthful with yourself above anything else. Truth is being able to admit to yourself when change is needed in your life, and if you cannot change, you cannot grow. Truth is also related to honour in that acts of deceit or dishonesty are also dishonourable acts.
Honour is more than outward actions, honour is the feeling of guidance from your own personal moral compass. It is not something that can be achieved by following rules, but instead by always following what you know in your heart to be right and decent and true. It’s more emotional than logical and a dishonourable act is not one that is simply frowned upon, but deeply felt to be wrong.
We often hear about marital fidelity and, while that is important, the virtue of fidelity covers a much wider ground. Many people pledge their fidelity to their Gods, swearing to always be faithful and true. I think this virtue is relevant in every one of your relationships, from your lover to your family and friends, to your personal relationship with deity.
Discipline in some ways goes hand in hand with courage. You must be brave enough to take action but also have the strength of will and self-discipline to keep your actions in line with your ideals. Discipline is the strength to refuse temptations and stay on your path when things are hard and everything seems to be working against you, as well as when everything is going well and life is easy.
Hospitality is the basis for building a community. In a much wider sense it is acknowledging that every living thing is deserving of courtesy and respect. To be hospitable then is to act in the best interests of everyone, instead of indulging in acts of selfish inconsideration. These can be simple things like putting litter in a bin, or giving up a seat on the bus to the more traditional sense of providing a bed for the night.
You will never achieve anything if you depend on other people to support you or fight your battles for you. You must take responsibility for, and become an active participant in, your own life. More than this self reliance means that the only thing you need to make yourself happy is you – you do not need material possessions as a crutch to support you or make you feel good about yourself. That’s not to say you should lead a monastic existence, but simply that you do not place undue importance on the things you own.
A Christian saying that I have always liked is “Pray to God, Sailor, but row for the shore.” I may not follow the religion, but that quote has always been meaningful to me. You must not sit back and expect things to come to you, instead get up and work your hardest for them. Industriousness is a good work ethic, whatever your career. It is always giving the best you can, and being the person that your colleagues, friends and family can count on to help out and get things done.
The finally virtue, perseverance, is linked with all the others, and with all aspects of our lives. Perseverance is the grit to keep on going, even when it is an uphill struggle. If something is worth attempting then it is worth seeing through to the end, and the final victory when won after hard work and effort will be that much more rewarding.