Courage is a trait that many people don’t easily see in themselves. It is usually something found in specific people like firemen or soldiers. Courage is the virtue that urges the fireman and soldier to put his or her life on the line to save another in the face of danger. Danger seems to play a large role in what it means to be courageous. The Dedicant Handbook defines courage as “the ability to act appropriately in the face of danger.” The American Heritage Dictionary defines it as “the state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger with self-possession, confidence, and resolution…”
There has to be adversity to overcome in order to possess courage, however the danger doesn’t always have to be physical. Sometimes the danger is simply isolation, alienation, or persecution. Standing up for what you believe in only to be regarded as an outcast is just as much an act of bravery as plunging into a burning building to save another.
When I think of modern people who possess courage, I think of firemen, war protesters, and anyone who stands up against oppression. When considering courageous figures from my hearth culture, I automatically think of Lugh because he ignores his orders to stay away from The Second Battle of Mag Tuired and, instead, takes his weapons and confronts the enemy. I also think of Boudicca, the warrior queen who led her people against Roman invaders after having been raped by some.
The reason for warriors to have courage should be obvious. Druids and other spiritual and philosophical leaders need courage to pursue their beliefs. In our age, this is especially true. Anyone who practices a minority religion must have courage even to do the simplest of things like wear a religious necklace. Similar things could be said of producers who infuse their art with their own individuality. Many modern artists like to express their spiritual or political beliefs within their art and such expression could be met with controversy. For other producers, like farmers, using certain farm equipment or transitioning to experimental, sustainable methods could require courage.
Courage is an important virtue to have. Without it, little progress would be made because it takes bravery to stand up to the status quo. To be a modern Pagan often requires courage and we should all embrace it whether or not we identify with the warrior class.
~Grey Catling, 2008