Thursday, December 31, 2015

Wisdom  Yulmonath 31st
Twelfth night of Yule - Wassail 
Sacred to all Divine Friends and Oath Night culminates the traditional twelve days of Yule.  Traditionally, it is the night of the greatest feasting.  This will usually include some form of pork; pigs were a common winter meat source and were sacrificed at this time, also the boar is a sacred animal of Freyr.  Golden apples are another treat and symbolize the youth and vitality of the New Year.  A vigil is held from dusk until dawn so that all kin may acknowledge the passing of the Wild Hunt and honor the rising sun of the New Year.


On this day we remind ourselves of the idea of Wisdom.  The quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment.  Synonyms: intelligence, common sense, judgment, smartness

"The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing." ~ Socrates

The owl is emblematic of a deep connection with wisdom and intuitive knowledge.  Wisdom, in the ethical sense of the term, is a very different thing from book-learning.  Illiterate people are frequently exceedingly wise, while learned people are often the biggest fools.

Wisdom and knowledge have different meanings, but are often portrayed as synonyms.  This is corrected by giving an example: it's wise to run a successful business because wisdom includes action.  It's nothing more than smart to write a business plan proposing a successful business because knowledge is strictly cognitive.  The difference in knowledge is knowing it; wisdom is doing it.

The Ancient Greeks considered wisdom to be an important virtue, personified as the Goddesses Metis and Athena.  Athena was portrayed as strong, fair, merciful, and chaste.  And to Socrates and Plato, philosophy was literally the love of Wisdom.  This permeates Plato's dialogues, especially The Republic, in which the leaders of his proposed utopia are to be philosopher kings, rulers who understand the Form of the Good and possess the courage to act accordingly.

Norse God Odin is not an omniscient God; in fact, his chief characteristic is that he’s always seeking wisdom, even at great personal cost.  The most famous of Odin’s myths is how he lost his eye in seeking greater knowledge and discernment.  One interpretation of this myth notes that Odin exchanges worldly vision (his eye) for internal vision (wisdom).  While he didn’t give up his worldly sight entirely, he realized that in some cases, wisdom and discernment propel us further towards our goals than what’s on the surface. our modern age, it seems people have come to believe that if something is hard, or sacrificial, it’s not worth doing. Odin, and his Viking followers, believed in just the opposite.  If something is worth having, it absolutely requires sacrifice, and it’s always worth it, no matter how great the cost.

Wisdom is good judgment.  It enables us to make reasoned decisions that are both good for us and good for others.  Wisdom tells us how to put the other virtues into practice - when to act, how to act, and how to balance different virtues when they conflict (as they do, for example, when telling the honest truth might hurt someone’s feelings).  Wisdom enables us to discern correctly, to see what is truly important in life, and to set priorities.  As the ethicist Richard Gula points out, “We cannot do right unless we first see correctly.”

When it comes to wisdom, hopefully you don’t have to lose an eye, but certainly you should be willing to place time, energy, attention, and even money on the altar of your goal.  Read difficult and dense books, seek challenging experiences that will push you outside your comfort zone, swallow your pride - perhaps the hardest sacrifice of all - and put yourself out there to find a mentor.  Consider the sacrifices to be investments in your wisdom in the long run.  It will be well worth it.

Glad Yuletide to Everyone.  Wassail!