“The words which express our faith and piety are not definite;
yet they are significant and fragrant like frankincense to superior natures.”
– Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
During my teenage years, I was more an atheist than anything else, even if I had a strong believing in the possibility of an afterlife. Nonetheless, the ‘God’ described in the Holy Bible was not a deity I could associate myself with. I later found a renewal of my spiritual faith when I’ve read books about Paganism. Then, even if I believed in these deities, I became less pious in my young adult life because of my busy life, until last year, where I finally rediscovered the need to practice Paganism rituals and ceremonies in order to bring back what was missing in my life. I think faith is never static and change through our life. At some point, we become more pious than other moments, always based on the events happening in our lives.
Faith and piety are two separate concepts. Faith, is the act of believing in one or many supreme beings and piety is a devotion to religious observances and the reverence made to deities. Indistinctly, someone can be a believer without being pious.
The ADF Dedicant Manual defines ‘piety’ as follows:
PIETY: Correct observance of ritual and social traditions, the maintenance of the agreements (both personal and societal) we humans have with the Gods and Spirits. Keeping the Old Ways, through ceremony and duty.
To me, that definition seems to be very good. For the fun of doing a comparison, here is the definition from the Oxford Dictionary:
PIETY noun. – The quality of being religious or reverent: acts of piety and charity.
This one sounds also right, but it is rather too short to my taste. Like I did for the wisdom virtue, I created my own explanation, taking ideas from both definitions:
PIETY: The action of being reverent by doing religious observances, by practicing ceremonies and by participating to social traditions based on our own spiritual faith and our agreements with the deities.
I added the word ‘action’ to reinforce the idea that being pious is to be involved actively, and not only being the witness or observer of what others are doing during a group ritual, by example. I added the word ‘religious’ which was not in the ADF definition, because I think that piety deals exclusively with a religious concept. Piety is very important for people having faith in deities. Believing into supreme beings is spiritually good, but being actively pious is even better as it helps building and keeping a strong connections with the deities.
Word Count: 365 words (excluding the introductory, the Oxford and the ADF quotes)
- Corrigan, Ian. Our Own Druidry. Tucson: ADF Publishing, 2009.
- Oxford Dictionary – “Piety“