Working my way down the ADF virtues again: Hospitality is actually one of the virtues that originally got me interested in paganism; I’ve always been fascinated by hospitality rules. Fairytale rules about what to eat and what not to drink turned into the myths of the terrible things that happened to unworthy hosts in Greek stories, and eventually I ended up at wandering Woden.
My life, it is circular.
In high school, I participated in an exchange program. I lived with a number of host families during the course of the year, and I learned a lot about hospitality – some of it the hard way. I did my best to live up to my ideal of the good guest, but I was sixteen and a long way from home and not always successful. It was jarring, the day I realized that the room I was staying in wasn’t a guest room – the girl whose room it was had moved into her sister’s room and slept on a chair for weeks to make room for me. That left an impression about how hosting is meant to be done.
Since then, I’ve done my best to be a good guest or a good host, as the situation presents itself. I can’t say I’ve always been the host I should have been – I should have known things wouldn’t work out with my ex when I realized that the way she hosted guests was not the way I expected to host them. But we’re human, and we can only do our best.
Being a good host has its religious aspect – Odin certainly calls on his followers to host and be hosted with honor – but it’s almost it’s own law of nature to me, like a distant relative of karma. You play the good host because that’s how the world works, and because in return doors will hopefully open for you. That’s the idea, anyway.