With the GOP primary and the upcoming presidential race, there’s been some discussion about family values on the radio. Many of the conservative candidates claim that they represent “family values” in the USA. I always cringe when I hear that. I studied a little (a little) linguistics in college, and I remember one particular lecture about frame semantics. We didn’t delve into it fully, but from what I absorbed, the basis is that we associate words with a variety of other words and concepts. In politics and arguments, framing can be used to associate oneself with particular beliefs – or to associate others with something else. For example, by saying you’re pro-life implies that people who believe abortion should be legal are actually pro-death. People who are pro-choice will say that’s not the case at all, but the fact that their opponents are “pro-life” can be enough to make those on the fence wary.
I think the same applies when a candidate claims to represent family values. In doing so, the candidate is sending the message that those not in his or her party lack family values. I am well aware that there are Republican Pagans, but for the great majority of Republicans, family values equate with Christianity. I understand that conservative Christians feel their beliefs are correct, but it makes me cringe and roll my eyes all the same.
Now that Rick Santorum has dropped out of the race, I heard a sound clip of his last speech on the radio. He talked about representing family values and it got me thinking about Druidic family values. It is unfortunate that frame semantics makes us sound like we have no morality to those unfamiliar with Paganism. We do have morals and values. Our varied paths means that there are some differences, so I won’t attempt to write anything definitive or even pan-Pagan. Let’s focus on Druidic family values.
Let’s start with family itself. The Celts were a tribal people and family was essential to survival. We can get a sense for how the ancient Irish viewed family through law documents. Family was often extended among the upperclass through fostering which was believed to promote bonds. Divorce had to be mutual and each party entitled to what they needed to live comfortably. Many holidays included coming together as a community to celebrate. This was on a grand scale during Lughnasadh when several tribes would gather. Indeed, the worse punishment a Druid could inflict on an ancient Celt was a sort of societal excommunication. Clearly, closeness to family was important. It still is! Modern Druids are often very family oriented. I cannot speak about the Henge of Keltria due to my limited experience with them. I’ve seen a bit about OBOD rituals with children in attendance. ADF, being public and open, is very welcoming to families with children. Compared to many closed Pagan circles, Druids love doing things with family – learning together, playing together, being outside together, and ritualizing together. I definitely appreciate some solitary time to meditate, trance, and commune with my personal deities, but special rituals with family are also very important to me.
Besides a love and value of family and togetherness, what are a Druid’s values? Although these may vary a bit by tradition, many modern Druids agree on a set of virtues. Ár nDraíocht Féin encourages thought and discussion of nine: wisdom, piety, vision, courage, integrity, perseverance, hospitality, moderation, and fertility. I discussed the nine virtues back in 2009 when I completed my Dedicant Program. I also included another possible virtue – sensuality. I won’t go into them here except to say that I consider the virtues often as I go through life. Another “value” that unites us is honor. Many Druids take oaths and our sense of integrity very seriously. We want to bring honor to ourselves, our tribe, and our Kindreds. With that in mind, we do our best to go through life honorably. I don’t mean to preach to the choir here, but it becomes annoying when others assume that, just because we don’t follow the Ten Commandments, we are somehow amoral. I venture to say many of us are social liberals, so some of our values may appear to be lacking. Our general acceptance of the gay, lesbian, and transgender community is one example that probably makes conservatives cringe. However, in my opinion, it goes back to a love of family and togetherness. Druids would rather stay together than alienate and ostracize someone simply because they love another. If we push anyone away, it would be because they dishonored us through unnecessary violence or threats.
So what are your thoughts on Druidic Values or Virtues? If you are from a different Druidic tradition, are virtues discussed? Are there differences?