I have been conscious of the prevalence of twelve in the traditions of Abraham: the twelve tribes of Israel, the twelve Apostles, the twelve wives of Mohammad, the twenty-four (twelve masculine and twelve feminine) elders in Revelation, the twelve stars in the crown of the Sacred Mother (in Revelation 12, of course).
Sometimes the individuals have names: the Apostle Peter, or the tribe of Reuben, but the repetition suggested to me that there was a through-line, something in common that linked the individuals. As the twelves are sacred, I thought of those links as virtues.
But what are they?
This came to the forefront yesterday as I flew out to Fort Lauderdale. The image that had been developing, over the last week, was to bless the students by creating the shelter described in Revelation 21 and 22: the New Jerusalem whose gates are guarded by the twelve masculine elders and within which the twelve feminine elders distribute the Waters of Life. I wanted to drape that aggregate over the school, allowing the students to focus on healing.
To organize such energies, the mystics needs names. Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, offered such a list. There’s no reason for it to correlate with the masculine virtues, but every time the problem comes up, the list comes to mind. So yesterday, on the plane from Phoenix to Fort Lauderdale, I decided to run with it.
In the invocation that follows, the philosophy behind the word choice is that every virtue is a gift that brings choice – particularly the masculine virtues that generate change. Each pairing below, then, ties the first masculine virtue with the goal that allows the feminine virtues to permeate our lives.
I offered the first version of the invocation last night. The campus is accessible only on two sides, so I wasn’t able to walk the entire perimeter. Passing traffic was a distraction, and my concentration was interrupted by contrary thoughts (“This is meaningless” and “You’re not going to change our culture”). Thoughts need time to focus, though, and I worked over dinner to memorize the list, and refined it last night before falling asleep.
I developed a serious back spasm on the plane yesterday, and went to bed resolving that I would go back to the school when I woke up. That came to pass at 5 AM, and I was back at the school around 5:30. I played some music first, and then walked along the front of the campus, reeling somewhat under the weight of grief. Then I walked back to the entrance and addressed the moon, low over the opposite horizon. The Lady who rests her feet there united her intentions with mine as I spoke these words:
Let those that are Trustworthy,
support Trust, in which Love flourishes.
Let those that are Loyal,
support Unity, from which Love builds strength.
Let those that are Helpful,
support Compassion, whereby Love sustains virtue.
Let those that are Friendly,
support Accommodation, by which Love multiplies opportunities.
Let those that are Courteous,
support Gentleness, whereby Love preserves autonomy.
Let those that are Kind,
support Kindness, with which Love inspires effort.
Let those that are Obedient,
support Commitment, by which Love prepares its reception.
Let those that are Cheerful,
support Harmony, whereby Love announces its presence.
Let those that are Thrifty,
support Conservation, by which Love preserves its works.
Let those that are Courageous,
support Endurance, by which Love overcomes selfishness.
Let those that are Clean,
support Purity, in which Love is magnified.
Let those that are Reverent,
support Grace, in which Love is made manifest.
May the Most High bless these children with Love.