Nine Virtues: Integrity

Image from "guide images". Quote from C.S. Lewis

Image from “guide images”. Quote from C.S. Lewis

The DP textbook, Our Own Druidry, defines integrity as “Honour, being trustworthy to oneself and others, involving oath-keeping, honesty, fairness, respect and self-confidence”. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles”.

The ADF definition certainly packs a lot in, and it is interesting to note that the Nine Noble Virtues of Asatru count Fidelity, Truth and Honour as separate virtues, while ADF lump them together as part of Integrity. I think that the concepts of honour, truth and integrity do overlap a lot, so it makes sense to consider them as manifestations of one virtue.

I think of integrity as being what you do when nobody is watching: how well you actually live your Virtues rather than just “perform” them for other people. Seen this way, integrity might actually act as the foundation stone of all the other virtues.

“Honour” is a word that often gets misused in today’s discourse, and perverted into justification for such atrocities as “honour killings”, but in its original form it is simply the quality of right action, of behaving in a respectful, trustworthy and honest way. As part of integrity, honour allows for trust, which builds lasting and mutually supportive relationships.

Integrity, like courage, also means standing up for what is right and true even in the face of opposition, and not allowing yourself to be cowed by peer pressure or public opinion, but stay true to yourself. One common Druidic saying, probably dating from the 18th century Druid Revival and the works of Edward Williams (Iolo Morganwg) is “Truth against the World”. Speaking the truth, even if nobody else wants to hear it, is a Druidic duty.

The ADF definition also mentions “oath-keeping”, which was a vitally important part of many Pagan cultures. The ancient Norse (and modern Heathens) swore oaths on an arm-ring which was held sacred to the gods, especially Thor. To break such an oath was to invite the enmity of the gods and of your tribe. Even today, it is important that your word is your bond, and you don’t make promises you cannot or do not intend to keep.

The “self-confidence” attested to in the ADF definition is a consequence of living a life of integrity, and knowing who you are, what you believe and what you stand for. Gandhi said that “happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony”. Without integrity, one cannot be confident in oneself.

Image from "best quotes" (CC2.0)

Image from “best quotes” (CC2.0)

References:

ADF, Our Own Druidry. ADF Publishing, 2009

Oxford English Dictionary for Students. Oxford University Press, 2006

Michael J. Dangler, The ADF Dedicant Path through the Wheel of the Year. Garanus, 2010

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