A Heathen's Path, About Me, affirm life, Asatru, Christianity, courage, Goddesses, Gods, Heathen, Heathenism, joy, Magic, Pagan, Paganism, Power, Religion, strength, The Vices and Virtues Project, Vices and Virtues Project
Today I speak of the third of the Nine Noble Virtues: Joy
This may seem like an odd virtue to have, since the first two were Strength and Courage. Not to mention that other virtues tend to be thing like Chastity, Humility, etc. Certainly there should be things that would work much better as a virtue than Joy.
Well, maybe not. While it isn’t easy to really have and hold any of the Nine Noble Virtues, upon reflection I think Joy is both fitting, and incredibly difficult to have and hold onto. Yet it is very important to have in life.
There is a building in the Nine Noble Virtues, one building upon each other. Strength is the foundation, but without the will it is useless. Courage comes next, giving us the Will to, well, use our Will. But when you take up the ways of Power, it is often a sad and lonely road. Hence the need for Joy, so that you can enjoy both the power you have, and the life you live.
In my own Path, the Path of Power as I like to call it, a part of that path is the Way of the Warrior. And something I have found in that is the fact that I embrace life fully. This may sound odd, a path of death leading one to a heightened sense of life, but it’s not as counter-intuitive as you might think. When you stand on the edge of loosing something, it suddenly becomes far more precious. This is something my ancestors knew well.
The life of a warrior is like a sparrow in a storm flying through the mead hall. A brief moment of furious joy in the wild destruction.
That’s my mangled version of an old Norse saying.
Each bite of food becomes more flavorful. Each drink sweeter. Each breath is savored. Life itself floods into you on the edge of your blade. Mors Certa, Hora Incerta. It fills you, overwhelms you, and you become a being full of life even as you walk with death.
But how does one find joy, especially in dark times, which these certainly are with the horrible economy, world falling about our ears, and religious radicals parading about screaming for the submission of the non-believers? There seems little to take joy in these days, when all seems to be lost, or well on its way there.
This, however, is when the Virtue of Joy is most needed. One must Affirm the Joy in one’s life, just as one Affirms their life. The first step is the hardest, you must affirm your life, look over every part of it and first say “This is my life, I shall affirm this life, and in all its horror I shall glorify my life.”
It doesn’t matter if your life is terrible, you’ve lost everything, you’re being abused, etc. You have to take that life in both hands, grab it tightly, look dead into its horror and say “MINE!” You must will yourself into every part of your life, gather it too you, and draw it in, because all the joy and horror is what has made you who you are.
And once you have all that joy, pain, darkness, light, sorrow, stress, and doom in you, then you can change it. People try to escape the pain in their life, but this is a mistake. You can’t escape pain, one because there will always be pain and two be cause your pain will always follow you until you defeat it. So you face it, and in facing it make it yours, and in making it yours and affirming it, you regain the power of it. It will not matter if you have lost everything or are being abused, because once you can affirm your life, and all the things you have done (no matter how horrible) you can then affirm yourself. And once you can affirm yourself, take pride in yourself, no one can take that away from you for as long as you Will the Affirmation. This ability comes from ones Power and Will, from ones Strength and Courage.
These are not idle words. I have lived them, everyday through many hardships.
Once you have done these, then you can find Joy. When you affirm your life, suddenly your burdens are blessings, the fires of your destruction become the fires of your rebirth. You have faced death, and embraced it, and thus do you find life once more. And in finding life, seek the Joy in life. Do not chug your expensive coffee, but savor each sip. Let it roll over your tongue, see if you can’t pick out the individual flavors. Make each sip as if it was the last you would ever have, make each cup as if it was the last you would ever have. Do the same for your food (you might find you need to eat less. We eat sometimes for the comfort of eating, and by changing the act from the repetitive motions, but to the savoring of flavors, you might need less. I myself find that I don’t eat much in the way of junk food, because I approach it this way. A chip or two at a time, savoring the flavor, does more than stuffing my face). Do this when listening to music, or watching a show. Take a walk, and take it slow. Listen, see how many birds you can hear, or cars for that matter. The feel of the ground, the wind, everything. Sink into it, and embrace it. Act as if it was your last walk ever, and you wanted to make it last as long as you can.
It is also important because Joy is better than guilt. We are taught so much these days that we should feel guilty. This is largely because of our culture being dominated by Monotheistic beliefs, and we all know the stereotypes of Jewish guilt, Catholic guilt, Protestant guilt, etc. Then of course we have racial guilt, environmental guilt, capitalist guilt, and so and so forth. But guilt does nothing but weight us down. Heathenism isn’t about feeling guilty for what you do, it’s about taking joy in what you do. Some might argue that this is a bad thing, that too much joy and pride are bad, but i heartily disagree. To live life without regrets (or without regretting) is far better than to go through life regretting everything “bad” you’ve done. So cast off your guilt, and take up your joy!