Witches Virtues: Beauty
By Pax / Geoffrey Stewart
“Therefore let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, and mirth and reverence within you.”
From The Charge of the Goddess by Doreen Valiente
Today I am writing about, working out the idea and my understanding of, the First Virtue; Beauty.
When I started to examine the text of Valiente’s Charge of the Goddess for a deeper understanding of the Witches faith, this passage stood out. This short, simple, passage lists 8 Virtues, or Values, that the Goddess wants us Witches to embody and exemplify. In exploring these virtues I started by reading the dictionary definitions of each, since I believe that words have ~and are~ power, and listing those that seemed most appropriate in my BoS; I also collected quotes about each of them that seemed particularly apropos.
At the time I thought some about all of this, but really didn’t write down or codify my thoughts on the virtues. In retrospect this is in part because I was shying away from some difficult and deep level personal work. Beauty is a goodly part of that.
For many years I looked at myself and considered myself to be the exact opposite of beautiful. I thought of myself as ugly. Just changing that idea was a part of my life journey of my 20’s. It was not a conscious part of my work or journey. Somehow though I went from someone who wore extra layer’s of clothes because I was afraid people would notice me, someone who habitually walked with his eyes down avoiding eye contact, someone who spent as little time looking into a mirror as I had to; to someone who posed for an art photography shoot in the nude, to someone who could walk with pride and didn’t mind being noticed, to someone who did a strip-tease for the talent portion of his competition in the Alaska Bear Cub 2000 competition… and won!
Apparently though, I still have trouble approaching the topic of Beauty, so enough rambling!
First let’s take a look at the actual meaning of the word…
1. A delightful quality associated with such things as harmony of form or color, truthfulness, or originality. 2. One that is beautiful. 3. A quality or feature that is most effective, gratifying, or telling. 4. An outstanding or conspicuous example.
~from the American Heritage College Dictionary, 3rd ed.
(I thank the Lord and Lady for answering my silent prayer of guidance the day I chose this as my hardcopy dictionary, based in large part on the fact that their definition of “Witch” featured the word “Wicca”. The above definition functioned as a seed bed for a lot of personal growth on my part as I learned to embrace my own beauty.)
Let’s take a moment to look at a few other definitions of “Beauty”.
In the information about Beauty, that I hope surfed too, I was particularly amused by the observations about physical beauty in Wikipedia and the studies that show that physical attractiveness is embodied in averageness… where the photos of different faces were super-imposed and the more you averaged features together the more attractive the resultive face was rated. Then too, the idea that attractiveness in women, as measuered in ‘ideal’ measurements, relates to likelyhood of fertility. Some interesting food for thought in ones relationship to Beauty when you start doing this research.
What about social power of beauty, how the students judged physically attractive get better grades than the ‘average’ looking students, who in turn get better grades than those judged unattractive? Beauty is power in our society, but is this power only innate or is it a power we can tap into as we learn to look at ourselves honestly?
I know in my own journey I didn’t find my own attractiveness until I was able to look at myself clearly. It took me a while to stop feeling bad about the stronger chin I wanted or the thinner face, or the many other features I felt I was lacking in, to let go of my self-hatred, and self-loathing for what I wasn’t. But I got there, for the most part, I still have the occassional relapse, but I can shake them off, now. Once I was able to see myself clearly, I was able to accept and love me, for me. It was then that I was able to start making the most of what I DID look like. To walk with confidence, to embrace and invoke Beauty’s power in my own life.
When I started to examine the Virtue of Beauty, I also looked at quotes about Beauty. Here are a some that I particularly like, and that sang to me in my searching.
“Character contributes to beauty. It fortifies a woman as her youth fades. A mode of conduct, a standard of courage, discipline, fortitude, and integrity can do a great deal to make a woman beautiful.”
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”
“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”
“Beauty… is the shadow of God on the universe.”
~Gabriela Mistral, Desolacíon
“There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.”
~Sir Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626), “Of Beauty”
“People often say that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder,’ and I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder. This empowers us to find beauty in places where others have not dared to look, including inside ourselves.”
I believe that the quotes that I was attracted to in my seeking tell me a lot about both myself, and, more importantly, truths about the Virtue of Beauty.
The Virtue of Beauty is wrapped up in our actions. Beauty is a verb, something one does, not just something one happens to have. Beauty, as a Virtue, is about being effective and truthful and original. Beauty reaches into, reflects, and nourishes our souls. Beauty, being in the eye of the beholder is not only a reflection of ourselves, it is a reflection of the Gods, as indeed all things are touched by the Divine. Beauty and the perception of it are something that is personal, as deep, as intimate, as important, as our relationship with the Gods.
To be beautiful is to contemplate a life lived in harmony, and not only of form or color…
“To be an outstanding example…”
I think that this might be the key to why Beauty is the First of the Virtues, because in living the other 7 of the Witches Virtues, we cannot help but be Beautiful!
Yours in seeking Beauty,
Pax / Geoffrey
A couple of intriguing links…
A set of Philosophy related links on beauty!
The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty