The Nine Noble Virtues of Asatru – Honour
In my previous post I started the breakdown of my interpretation of the Nine Noble Virtues of Asatru with Courage. The NNV are a moral code of conduct, a Heathen ethic, comprised of commendable qualities or traits. The virtues are
Please note that these are my own interpretations!
Third – There is Honour.
I have already elaborated on honour when discussing courage, personally it is one of the most important of the NNV to me and I will touch on it in most of my posts. Honour is definitely one of the NNV that is the most open to interpretation. Most will say that courage and honour go hand-in-hand and that is true, but the two are not mutually exclusive. Some would say that ones honour is ones reputation, that is also true to an extent. To me being honourable means to be of worth and to be an example of integrity.
This is where the notions of Courage and Truth intertwine for me, since without these two virtues I believe that Honour is not possible. Courage is the bravery to do what is right and to act in spite of fear. Whereas Truth is the willingness to be honest and to say what one knows to be true and right. When you are courageous and truthful, then honourability is yours. When you are courageous in your doings, especially in the pursuit of truth, then honour will follow you.
In social settings, your internal honour becomes your outward reputation. The problem with only seeing your honour as your reputation is that this honour can be sullied and diminished by outside forces whether your internal honour undergoes change or not.
That is why Honour to me is more about my own self-worth and integrity, for that cannot be sullied if I truthfully know that I am worthy. Ones integrity is ones ethical conduct.
and see to his work himself;
who sleeps at morning is hindered much,
to the keen is wealth half-won.”“Not reft of all is he who is ill,
for some are blest in their bairns (homes),
some in their kin and some in their wealth,
and some in working well.”
Before I continue, I must digress and explain the heathen concepts of personal Wyrd and Ørlög.
Ones Wyrd can be equated as ones Karma, but karma that is continually shifting and changing as we go on with our lives; a process that continually works the patterns of the past into the patterns of the present. Wyrd is a moving concept in that it can change and flow as the situation demands, but always relies upon ones past actions and deeds – ones Ørlög. Ones courage and sense of truth drives ones honour which then in turn affects ones deeds (Ørlög) which then affects your Wyrd, thus through honourable deeds you increase Wyrd for both you and your descendants.
Now with that said, there are no sins and there is no spiritual atonement or salvation or a sense of forgiveness like what is believed in Judeo-Christian religions. In heathenry, the only atonement you need is for when you have wronged your fellows and it is up to them whether you can make right the wrongs you have committed. There is only what you know to be right and what you know to be wrong- if you do good Ørlög in the eyes of the community and your fellow man, your Wyrd will increase, whereas when you do wrong, it decreases. Right and wrong are not to be confused with lawful and unlawful – a can of worms in its own right. It is best to stick with the law, but when the law fails… well, that is up to you and your integrity. Remember, what was honourable at the time of pre-Christian Europe, may not be honourable in today’s society, thus you must act accordingly.
“I counsel thee, Stray-Singer, accept my counsels,
they will be thy boon if thou obey’st them,
they will work thy weal if thou win’st them:
never in speech with a foolish knave
shouldst thou waste a single word.
From the lips of such thou needst not look
for reward of thine own good will;
but a righteous man by praise will render thee
firm in favour and love. “
Honour, same as the rest of the NNV, can be taken too far – you may even suffer from delusions of grandeur as you wade further away from the shore and become lost and flounder in your ego and sense of self-worth. When your honour (or rather your ego) has been damaged or slandered, you may lose touch with what made you honourable in the first place, your sense of truth and integrity – you have then become overproud your ethical conduct will start to slip – leading to a loss of friends and reputation.
“Like an eagle swooping over old ocean,
snatching after his prey,
so comes a man into court who finds
there are few to defend his cause.”
“If haply a fool should find for himself
wealth or a woman’s love,
pride waxes in him but wisdom never
and onward he fares in his folly.”
Remember that the ability and will to be humble and honour (to respect) others before yourself will bring honour upon you, if you fail to do that and succumb to your own vanity, then your honour has failed you.
A few stanzas rom the Hávamál (Sayings of the High One)
“I found none so noble or free with his food,
who was not gladdened with a gift,
nor one who gave of his gifts such store
but he loved reward, could he win it.”
“Let no man stint him and suffer need
of the wealth he has won in life;
oft is saved for a foe what was meant for a friend,
and much goes worse than one weens.”
”With raiment and arms shall friends gladden each other,
so has one proved oneself;
for friends last longest, if fate be fair
who give and give again.”
“The pine tree wastes which is perched on the hill,
nor bark nor needles shelter it;
such is the man whom none doth love;
for what should he longer live?”