Why Îanoi Matter

The Îanoi (plural) which literally translate to “just, right, correct”, in this case “just, right correct actions” or “virtues” are extremely important to Bessus Nouiogalation. They number twelve. Four for each of the Trirextoues Bessous or the “three laws of custom”. Which they themselves are based off an account by Diogenes Laertius in his Vitæ Philosophorum, introductory verse 5 where he discusses what the Druides taught the people:

I. The Dêuoi must be worshipped.

II. No evil done.

III. Exercise valour.

Source quote: “Druids make their pronouncements by means of riddles and dark sayings, teaching that the gods must be worshipped, and no evil done, and manly behaviour maintained.”

Though it is worth noting that Diogenes means “manly” in the sense that the behaviours encouraged were seen as such in his Mediterranean cultural context. There isn’t any proof the Druides saw it that way, and accounts of the bravery of Senogalatis women suggest that the valour encouraged by the Druides were never just meant for men in the sense that Westerners think of men today, or in the ancient Mediterranean sense (the former heavily influenced by the latter).

Thus in Bessus Nouiogalation the Trirextoues Bessous are:

I.  Dugie Dêuoi – “Honour the Dêuoi”

II. Urege ne drucos – “Do no evil”

III. Biue con drutaî – “Live with valour”

And so we set about finding various traits to aid us in the following of these. For the first of these laws: Deuocariâ (piety), Luxtiâ (duty), Îanolabâ (correct speech), Uissus (wisdom, knowledge). For the second law: Raton (grace, generosity), Gosticariâ (hospitality), Doniocariâ (compassion, love of humanity), Uîridos (truth). For the third law: Galâ (bravery), Decos (honour), Uîroioniâ (justice), Uxelliâ (pride).

What should be perhaps obvious — but if not will be said anyway — is that these aren’t literally the only traits a person should aspire to. But each often house many other traits within them and so are often covered under one or another. We’ve gathered what the Îanoi are, and what they’re at least in part designed to do. But why do they matter?

The first reason is that there wouldn’t be any point in going through all of the effort of participating in a new form of ancient Gaulish (or probably any, but I’ll stay in my own lane) customs if there wasn’t anything to be learned from the ones in the past. The emphasis folks often see is on worship of Dêuoi, but that’s only one piece of that process. In many cases, the easiest. As there are both traditional and nontraditional ways to do that. It’s well and good, and of course it matters. However, it is in my opinion erroneous if it stops there.

We didn’t end up here for no reason. I’m not one who delves into metaphysical explanations very often, and one isn’t necessary here either. The simple truth of it is that the root of looking into something so off the beaten path as Galatibessus is the feeling of not or not quite belonging in the dominant Western cultural paradigm. People who see themselves as comfortable with the status quo don’t come here. Unless they’re looking for aesthetics, rebellion, or to impress others by appearing obscure and mysterious. Everyone has their reasons, and personally, those reasons aren’t any of my business. But whatever community is satisfied with the status quo plus a few Dêuoi thrown in is not my community.

If that, the lack of belonging in an atomising, capitalist driven, dominant Western paradigm is acknowledged, then we have to ask how we build up our alternative. That means we need something to guide us, and we need something to be rooted in. Things like the Îanoi are a good start in that because they help us use that ancestral knowledge to effect change in our communities, environs, and ourselves. Proper utilisation of the Îanoi should do just that: behove us to affect change.

In practice, this often leads to an awareness of economic and social issues (quite often intersectional in and of themselves). If done correctly, leads a Nouiogalatis into participating either directly or indirectly in struggles for betterment. There are certainly better people than us to lead struggles, but we can and should support ones that tend toward the causes of justice and betterment for all. We should then vigorously oppose ones that do not such as rightist “struggles” for the elevation of one group above others, always the people who already are in power or with the most privilege. By necessity, Bessus Nouiogalation has a “Left wing inclination” for this reason.

It isn’t that literally every Left cause or organisation is worthy of unyielding or uncritical support. It’s that generally speaking, it’s going to be Left causes and orgs that do get our support. As anyone who pays attention knows that the current “status quo” is not working for the vast majority of people. While Bessus Nouiogalation doesn’t adopt a specific Left school of thought organisationally it does have individuals in it who do, myself included. Though again, BNG doesn’t endorse political parties or candidates as a collective unit. The point being that our Îanoi demand action, and that action does at times include political action. Our Îanoi in turn demand that we challenge the “status quo” when it violates our precepts.

The second reason is more simple. Our societies often encourage us to “be good people” and some variant of signage with slogans like “Be Kind” can be seen often on shirts, lawn signs, benches, storefront signs, etc. But what does it mean to “be good people”? What does it mean to be “good”? While some similarities cut across cultural, religious, national divides like don’t steal, don’t kill, don’t tell lies, these often do not tell us what to do. Surely abstaining from obvious wrongs isn’t all there is to being “good”? We generally associate goodness to people based on what they do.

Good is subjective. What is good for one has the potential to be bad for another, be it in application to persons or groups. Sometimes this is necessary, no doubt. Such as when justice is meted out to one or a group who has done wrong. We all know people or groups who have done good. Or at least things we see as such. Though again, good is generally subjective and an action can be interpreted many ways. This doesn’t mean good doesn’t exist. Simply that it’s sometimes open for interpretation. Something does not have to be objective to have meaning.

Dagos (good) is seated in action, but then what can we do to encourage good actions? The answer we came up with is to attempt to instill Îanoi, virtues, to cultivate good actions. After all, it is through the cultivation of virtues that inform good actions that lead to people actually doing them. Through the Îanoi, we hope to encourage our fellow Nouiogalatîs to perform good actions. In the hopes to affect both positive change in the world, and in the hopes that being a Nouiogalatis helps us become more virtuous people. Through the presence and discussion of Îanoi, it is our hope to do better.

The third reason is for both collective and self development tied to ancestral wisdom. Having clearly defined Îanoi lead to a sense of both accountability to our fellows and self cultivation to help us navigate our daily lives. Our Îanoi stem from accounts of the Senogalatîs, Ancient Gauls. They aren’t the only twelve positive traits a person can embody, but through lived practice of striving to fulfill the Îanoi, we can can explore rootedness in the paths carved out by the Senogalatîs is a meaningful and beneficial way. Through the exercise of cultivating these virtues, we may find ourselves doing meaningful things in our lives and our world.

Before I go, allow me to list again the twelve Îanoi, these virtues which a Nouiogalatis should strive to uphold:

– Dêuocariâ (piety)

– Luxtiâ (duty)

– Uissus (wisdom)

– Îanolabâ (right speech)

– Raton (grace)

– Doniocariâ (compassion)

– Gosticariâ (hospitality)

– Uîridos (truth)

– Galâ (bravery)

– Decos (honour)

– Uîroioniâ (justice)

– Uxelliâ (pride)

The Îanoi became a fixture in BNG very early on and in the coming months, I plan to revisit each one of them to talk about them more in depth. For my fellow Nouiogalatîs, I hope this explains a bit more about the rationale of the Îanoi and why they’re so important to us. For my friends who are not, I hope it was at least and interesting read. And that in whatever community you’re a part of, is full of folks in îane (or virtuous people).

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