PBP: “H” is Hospitality, Not Just For Heathens

Let's have a Druish moment, shall we? A few years back I did the Dedicant work for my membership in ADF, Ár nDraíocht Féin. I also did it in a year by following Michael Dangler's Dedicant Program Through the Wheel of the Year ; it was a well laid out plan following a week by week curriculum I had no problem following. I had just had my daughter seined in the ADF church and had decided this would be a test: if I can do the work required for the D.P. whilst handling my new motherhood, I could probably participate in a Master's program I was considering. So I bought the books, read them during nursing sessions and nap times, and before I knew it the year had passed and I was taking my oath. What initially drew me to ADF, aside from the scholarship and dedication to excellence, is the Virtues. Having more of a witchy background than Heathen, I had never encountered these before in my personal spiritual studies and if I had it was brushed aside. At that moment, I had a new family growing and needed something to bring them together from the very beginning. I was committed in my partnership, as a parent to be the example. Little did I realize, this would also extend to the rest of my life as well.

Recently I visited my mom and met her new husband in Florida... and experienced some good ol' southern hospitality pretty much wherever I went. This got me to thinking about Hospitality in general and reminded me of the Nine Virtues of Druidry (and I believe the Heathens have something akin to this called the Nine Noble Virtues).  All of them are important in my life: courage, perseverance, piety, wisdom, integrity, vision and wisdom. But the top of my personal list is Hospitality (in 2009, it was at the bottom). Reflecting on what I wrote for the requirement, I went back and re-read what I had written back then and decided it might be time to create an  addendum or two.

“The Dedicant Handbook defines Hospitality as follows: 'Acting as both a gracious host and an appreciative guest, involving benevolence, friendliness, humor, and the honouring of 'a gift for a gift'.'

I can understand why the concept of ghos-ti would have been necessary in our ancient past. It would represent impropriety and ignorance to not reciprocate gifting or kindness. But I don't think we should be demanding it of our Gods, especially in the modern age. I would not expect this type reciprocity from a friend who came to visit, why should I expect it of the Kindred? Nor would I give with the expectation of receiving something in return. When I give to the Gods in a devotional rite, the only motivation I have is establishing a connection with them. It would be nice to be in their light as I live out my days.

Dido and Aeneas by Pierre-Narcisse Guérin

I also see how I use offerings to give thanks to the Kindred, sending praises and incense for their enjoyment. These ancient and almost forgotten Deities should be remembered and given honour. It is good to be in their service for many personal reasons. I find it spiritually uplifting and gratifying to give out of love and compassion. I get a sense of satisfaction in being a gracious hostess; essentially, that is what I believe a priestess is. Since every person has a bit of the Divine in them, I try to see others as always potentially being a sentient being. I think this is an effect of being a good and moral person and should be included as one of the Nine Virtues of Druidry. Being polite and showing some humility I feel are both traits of true excellence in a person.”

I still pretty much feel the same about hospitality, but must make mention of some things I didn't put in this initial insight, for fear of offending my reviewer (I knew her personally AND she already didn't like me either, so I made sure to omit it):

To me, cleanliness is next to Godliness (or Goddess-ness, however you prefer). I have been to some of the grossest homes in the pagan community... not to say they are dirtier than other religious groups, it just seems like there is a general lack of concern for tidiness or just general hygiene. I mean, most have cats but never seem to clean out their boxes or there is a perpetual smell of cat pee in the house covered with Nag Champa or patchouli fuming from virtually every room. I have been to some 'priests' homes where they invited folks over for a ritual or meeting and there was no toilet paper in the bathroom! I mean, who does that? It seems like the most un-hospitable thing you can do to a guest; the predicament involves having a scavenger hunt in the toilet. See, now I wouldn't invite the Gods into my home if it was like this, let alone mortals with bodily functions.

I admit to a bit of pride from being an excellent hostess; I LOVE having company at my home and so does my husband. We love to entertain, pull out the good wine and nosh, provide clean sheets and towels... and never try to 'impress', we just do it for the sheer joy of sharing our home with loved ones and friends. I think this is why so many spirits, deities, and otherworldly Be-ings enjoy coming to my home, and I want them to feel like honored guests just as I would want to be treated.

But what does this mean for Pagans? To be hospitable might mean different things, such as simple toilet tissue availability or hosting a weekend retreat on personal private property. To the Gods and those who serve them, all are on the same level of value if given from the heart. We should emulate our Gods and Ancestors with our deeds and thoughts every day. Cook our meals as if the Buddha were coming to visit, make our beds in case Aphrodite wishes to go for a romp, and clear a space for Odin to sit in the best seat.