Any spiritual path offers certain standards of conduct for its followers, and Asatru is no different in this regard.
We do not have a list of “thou shalt nots” in Asatru, and even a simple list of our virtues is not easy to assemble. The Germanic tribes did not write down concise guidelines for human behavior. However, by studying the epic tales, the sagas, and the poetic lore of our people we can arrive at a feeling for the traits our ancestors looked for in themselves and others.
Here, then, is a partial list of these qualities. (The following is adapted from the highly recommended We Are Our Deeds, by Eric Wodening):
Industriousness – Be productively engaged in life. Avoid laziness. Strive to accomplish good things.
Justice – Let equity and fairness be your hallmark. Treat others in accordance with what they deserve, and give each a chance to show his or her best.
Courage – Fear is natural, but it can be overcome. Train yourself to do the things you fear, both physically and morally.
Generosity – An open hand and an open heart bring happiness to you and to others. The miserly are never happy.
Hospitality – In ancient times, travelers were greeted with food, drink, and a warm place by the fire. See that your guests never want.
Moderation – Enjoy all good things, but do not overindulge. No one admires a glutton or a person who cannot control his or her appetites.
Community – Cooperate with kin and friends, do your fair share, and remember your responsibilities to others.
Individuality – Although we belong to a community, we are also individuals with distinct personalities and clearly-defined rights. Respect the individuality of others, and insist on the same in return.
Truth – Be honest and straightforward in all your dealings. Avoid deceit and deception.
Steadfastness – Learn to persist, to endure in the face of adversity without discouragement. Do not be blown about by every changing wind.
Loyalty – Be steadfast in your commitment to others and to yourself. Have a true heart.
Wisdom – Learn from your experiences. Grow in the understanding of how the world, and the people in it, work. Comprehend as much of the universe as you can in the years available to you.
There is nothing complicated about these twelve simple traits, yet they provide endless opportunity for growth. Develop them in yourself, and you will stand high above the crowd!
© 2005, Stephen A. McNallen
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