The virtue of fortitude is sorely lacking in modern people, and this is true of the Pagan community as well. There are so many hangups in explaining UPG or new research sources, a fear of being ‘wrong’ can cripple a person’s spiritual journey; stagnating growth. When we come to an obstacle we are afraid to face, there really is no other way except through. In the ancient world Courage was most closely associated with warrior bravery and action, including heartfelt conviction. Hell, even Socrates had seen battle before settling into his intellect. There is a belief involved, a level of earnestness that is essential to courage.
Decisiveness is needed to make choices based on courage; it is to act with poise which generates from proper dedication to Gods and Self. In Greek mythology the hero Perseus, Son of Zeus, displays courage in the archetypal Hero fashion. With some help from the blessed tools of the Gods, Perseus is victorious in some of the most impossible challenges. He is able to take the head of Medusa, using the reflection from Athena’s mirror to see her; Hade’s helmet of invisibility and Hermes’ winged shoes for stealth. These tools remind Perseus he is not alone; he has the help of Gods and gives him the courage to face any foe. As a matter of fact, most heroes tend to have some extra ‘help’ in the background. We too can be as Perseus in recognizing our skills, which are gifts from the Gods.
I have known people with courage in small ways; not battling monsters like Perseus, but facing real personal obstacles. My friend Dennis was the most courageous person I’ve ever known. He knew he was dying from Cancer at 33 and faced it with a fierce Taurean love in his heart. There was fear at some level, the uncertainty of facing an unknown afterlife; but the love experienced in his new wife kept him strong, in order to make sure his affairs were organized in the end. I don’t know if I would have the courage to do that, but he wanted to make sure his children would be taken care of and all affairs were in order. Even at the end, Dennis’ sense of integrity motivated the courage I never knew he had…summoning the will to stay for others, in pain. That is compassion with courage and something I am reminded with every Spring, as he died on the Equinox looking out at green pastures dotted with wildflowers. The world was beautiful, young like him and he smiled. I woke that morning from a dream with him…still asking after everyone else. Selfless compassion is couragous…and it frightens me.