The Nine Noble Virtues were codified by Odinic Rite member and former member of Sir Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists and National Socialists, John Yeowell in the 1970s. This shows that the Nine are not ancient codes of conduct, but rather a modern construct, cribbed from questionable sources.
What are the Nine Noble Virtues? (I will use Websters for definitions)
Courage – the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous
Truth – the real facts about something : the things that are true
: the quality or state of being true
: a statement or idea that is true or accepted as true
Honor – respect that is given to someone who is admired
: good reputation
: good quality or character as judged by others
Fidelity – the quality of being faithful to your husband, wife, or sexual partner
: the quality of being faithful or loyal to a country, organization, etc.
: the degree to which something matches or copies something else
Discipline – control that is gained by requiring that rules or orders be obeyed and punishing bad behavior
: a way of behaving that shows a willingness to obey rules or orders
: behavior that is judged by how well it follows a set of rules or orders
Hospitality – generous and friendly treatment of visitors and guests : hospitable treatment
: the activity of providing food, drinks, etc. for people who are the guests or customers of an organization
Self Reliance – reliance on one’s own efforts and abilities
Industriousness – working very hard
: not lazy
Perseverance – the quality that allows someone to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult
It’s said these were decoded by reading the lore and observing the Gods behaviors, yet often we see the gods act in direct opposition to this list. Odin lies constantly (truth), other Gods sleep around a lot (fidelity). They outsourced the building of Asgard’s wall and made the Jotun pay for it (self reliance), and they bound Fenris for fear of what he would do (courage).
These virtues aren’t bad things, but none of them are inherently heathen. These virtues are seen the world over, across multiple cultures, as good human qualities to embrace. They can even potentially fit in a heathen worldview. However, using the Nine as blanket behavioral policy negates the larger aspects of it such as inner and outer yard, Frith, and grith. It is easy to apply some of these virtues to those in your inner yard, and rightly so. You owe your inner truth, hospitality, fidelity and so on and they owe it to you. That’s part of being in the inner yard. You don’t, however, owe these things to those outside your yard, nor does the outer owe them to you.
People you’ve only just met can pose a threat, not only to you, but your inner as well. It is our duty to protect them, and if that involves lying to out-yarders, so be it. They are not owed honesty, our inner is owed honesty. It’s an easy distinction to make with just a little thought.
As heathens, we do have social expectations of our behavior and those around us. It varies from group to group and has nuance that can’t be summed up in nine buzz words that are looking to be heathen commandments and, unfortunately, are all too often treated as such. It’s unnecessary baggage.
If you choose to use the Nine as a moral compass, so be it. But please, realize it’s not ancient wisdom. It’s a modern construct, one loaded with baggage. I urge you instead: build your kindreds, your tribes, and set your own deep and meaningful morals. Not abstract buzz words, but true and solid morals.