Pagan Values

Values and Virtues

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June is Pagan Values Blogject month. I was incredibly excited to hear about this project, especially since I’ve been blogging about pagan virtues both here and at my Roman blog. As I thought more about it and what I’d like to post specifically for the PVE2011, I realized that “virtues” and “values” are not identical in my mind.

Virtue: A trait or quality of moral excellence

Value: An internal reference for what is good and desirable

These are interlinked concepts. For example, I may value clean air and I may consider being an environmental activist a virtuous way to behave. Put them together and I’m promoting something I value by acting virtuously.

So what does the pagan community as a whole value, and what do I wish were its values? I can’t speak for the whole of the pagan community and I wouldn’t try, but here is what I’ve observed over the years.

Pagan Community Values

  • Community– Many pagans find having a community of like minded people to be useful and important to them
  • Acceptance– Not just tolerating differences, but celebrating our unique life paths
  • Individuality– We value personal self-expression and personal freedom to choose our own paths and worship as we best see fit
  • Personal Agency– Many pagans believe that we are each our own best high priest/ess and that we need no mediators between us and our Gods
  • Environmental Awareness— We tend to be naturalists who want to embrace and protect our earth.
My Pagan Community Value Wishlist
  • Cultural Sensitivity— We are a borrowing people and sometimes we go over the line into cultural appropriation.  We need to understand that just because we know of a ritual or a prayer or a God/dess, they’re not always free game for us to use as we see fit. Living traditions of other cultures should be treated as holy and not used without training and permission.
  • Survivor Awareness– The pagan community draws a lot of people who come with extra emotional baggage. For people who have suffered abuse or violence, a welcoming hug from a stranger may seem less like a welcome and more like a threat. People who are recovering from substance abuse may need a non-alcoholic option for toasts, libations, cakes & ale, etc. It would be great if we could come to accept people where they are and not push on fragile personal boundaries.
  • Childhood Religious Training– Sometimes we are so busy embracing our spiritual awakening as adults, we forget we have kids in our community who are eager to be included and learn our ways and traditions. We can include them without indoctrinating them or forcing some One True Way on them.
And finally, although our values will not be identical because we’re not that sort of people (see acceptance and individuality above), our values will most likely have many overlapping points. We can celebrate our commonalities as well as our differences, and be individuals who work together as well as allowing each other the space and respect to work apart.
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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Myriad
    Jun 13, 2011 @ 20:35:11

    Very interesting post. I get a lot of worried questions from my family members about where my morals and values come from, but I think it’s best summed up by a combination of two of your values–community and personal agency. As Pagans, we take responsibility for our own morality, values, AND virtues, but we draw on the community as well.

    I also really like your wish list. I confess I have not thought much about item number two, but it is an excellent point!

    Reply

  2. Trackback: To Learn is to Do… But How? « Zen Druidry – A Journey

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