Ninth Mount Haemus Lecture: How Beautiful Are They – Some thoughts on Ethics in Celtic and European Mythology

Dr Brendan Myers explores the way in which In Druidry, both ancient and modern, ethical ideas are presented not in the form of rules and laws, nor in the form of a utilitarian calculus of benefits and harms, but rather in the form of character-values. This way of thinking about ethics is known in contemporary philosophy as 'Areteology', or 'Virtue'. Furthermore, many of the most important Druidic virtues, such as honour, integrity, inspiration, strength, courage, and so on, are not only categories of ethics. They are also categories of aesthetics. We value them not just because they are right and good; we also value them because they are beautiful. I shall therefore also explore this overlap between the aesthetic and the ethical, and show how Celtic spirituality is particularly well positioned to embody a meeting place between the ethical and the aesthetic, the beautiful and the good.

by Dr. Brendan Myers


Acknowledgement & Introduction

Good afternoon everyone,
Thank you, very sincerely, for inviting me to come and speak to you today. I think the Mount Haemus Prize is very prestigious, and I feel deeply honoured to have been chosen for it. When Philip Carr-Gomm first offered me this opportunity, I was delighted, and I began researching and writing on the topic of ancient Celtic and European virtue immediately. That was three years ago. A short essay became a long one; a long essay became a book; and that book was published.  Therefore, six months before this paper was due, I suddenly realised I had written an entire book full of stuff that I could not use for today’s presentation! This paper, therefore, may be seen as a continuation of the research I began three years ago, although it will not be necessary to have read that book in order to follow the argument I shall present to you today. My title comes from an old Scottish folk song in praise of the faeries. Its relevance to my talk may not seem obvious until I’m nearly done, but don’t worry. It all fits together, at least in my own mind. I hope that you find my presentation worthy of the honour of the Mount Haemus prize.

Read the Lecture

Also available in The Mount Haemus Lectures – Volume Two through our bookshop and as a downloadable pdf below.

About the Author

Brendan Myers, Ph.D, is the author of six philosophical books, including the award-winning treatment of Pagan ethics, “The Other Side of Virtue”, as well as a novel, and a Pagan-themed political strategy game. He is a co-founder of the Order of the White Oak, and a long time participant in the Druidic community in Ontario, Canada. In a career spanning more than twenty years he has worked with Public Safety Canada, the Pacific Business and Law Institute, and the Canadian Union of Public Employees, and he has published with the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency. Brendan has taught philosophy at four universities on two continents, and experienced pagan culture in eight Canadian provinces and four European countries. Presently he serves as professor of philosophy and humanities at Cégep Heritage College, in Gatineau, Quebec.

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