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This is the fifth of the noble virtues, and always it builds on the others. Freedom is one of those rare things in life, that I think we in the West have so long been used to having in various forms we forget just what life would be like without it. At least on a secular level.

But what we often forget is that freedom was bought with blood, long ago at times, not so long ago at others.

Religiously, freedom has been remarkably scarce in a lot of the world over the last thousand or so years. In the Monotheistic religions, freedom isn’t that big a deal. Quite the opposite in fact, at times. One is rarely free in a system that tells you from birth you’re born guilty of sin or something like it. One is even less free if the only way out is to give your immortal soul to a deity so that he might forgive you your sins. One time at work, I had the experience of listening to a man pray to Jesus and declare himself a slave to that God so that his son might be helped onto the right path.

It’s a fairly common attitude, though rarely stated so explicitly. Most Christians call themselves the servants of God. Muslims, at least a number of them, do call themselves slaves to the will of Allah. Jews typically look at it as a marriage contract, at least they used to. All told, though, none of them are really “Free.”

Still, what is Freedom. Is it being free to do as you please, without regard for others? Not really. To me, Freedom means no body owns you. Your body is your own, your mind is your own, hopefully any money you have is your own, etc. In someways then, we are never completely free, but the term Freeman refers to a person who was not beholding, and I figure that works pretty well.

So how does this relate to the other virtues of strength, courage, joy, and honor? Simple, you can’t truly have those things, especially honor, if you are in slavery. If you are owned, your strength belongs to another. It won’t matter if you do or don’t have courage, because your will is not your own. Yes, a slave can have joy, but it is always tempered by the fact that it can be stolen away. Honor is impossible to have, because your integrity, choices, and word are not yours to give. Only through having freedom can one truly possess the other virtues. It is also true that it is only through possessing the other virtues, can one become free.

Of course, with freedom comes conflict. To me, this is a good thing, but to most conflict is terrible and to be avoided. In some ways, the big conflict we’ve had for the last ten years has been about freedom. Not just freedom of religion, but freedom from religion, as those who are slaves to their god see with hatred those who are freed and with the mentality of slave desire all to be made slaves so they do not have to feel terrible about the empty feeling that comes from not being free. They see what comes with freedom as sinful because they have not the will and power to live with that freedom.

Freedom is a cruel mistress, she demands blood and strength and will, and oh so many lack these things and would will to be taken care of. But to be cared for in all ways is not to live life. I’ve been there, life was easy as long as you went with the program, followed all the rules, and were willing to take all the pain and anger of the provider, and accept blame for all the things that went wrong, regardless of if the fault was yours. That’s no way to live. Freedom comes with a great and terrible price. But it is every so worth it to be free when you get there. Each day is a fight, and you must learn to get drunk on the fighting for it, but never will you know such power, such will, such joy, as when you are free by your own power!

This is why freedom is so important, both secularly and religiously. This is why it is a Virtue to Heathens. We understand well the slavery that swept the world and stole our peoples away from then Old Ways. We understand how important it is that we have freedom so that we can keep rebuilding them, and hopefully one day draw not just our peoples, but all peoples, back to the ways taken from them, suppressed and vilified.