Virtue: Integrity

(Following is my essay on the virtue of integrity, one of the Nine Virtues honored by ADF and one of the most important to me).

Integrity has at least two common definitions.  The first is the quality of being morally upright, honest, honorable, and having strong moral principles.  The second is the quality of being whole and undivided.  For my definition and understanding of integrity as a virtue I find that the second definition will be more helpful.

What do honoring oaths, honesty, and maintaining strength in your own identity and convictions hold in common?  They are all qualities of a person who is whole.  To lie to others by speaking untruths and to lie to yourself by violating your own principles renders you less than whole.  As thinking beings, much of the world and how we interact with it is created by our thoughts, both shared and private.  Rendering those thoughts false in the face of reality devalues them, and makes us less than whole.  Violating the trust that another holds either by not properly representing the truth or by breaking a promise to them devalues the bonds that you hold with that person – and those bonds of trust are as real as anything that we construct and that influences our lives.  Devaluing those bonds erodes both the identity of both the violator and the violated.

Maintaining integrity is a matter of making sure that your words and thoughts match your actions and reality.  It is  is a necessary quality to cultivate to have a healthy and wholesome relationship with yourself and others, and thus is one of the most important aspects of the foundation of community.

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The Ár nDraíocht Féin Dedicant’s Path

So in this post I’m going to talk a little about the ADF Dedicant’s Path, because at least one thing that I will be doing regularly on this blog is adding postings relevant to it.

Ár nDraíocht Féin is a pagan church and organization.  It emphasizes lore and scholarship and embraces all pantheons and cultures that are results of the Proto-Indo Europeans, from the Vedic cultures of the Indus Valley to the Celtic and Norse cultures of Europe.  The founders wanted a rigorous program of study for the clergy, one that other organizations would admire and seek to pursue as well.

The Dedicant’s Path is a course of study and practice that opens the way to the rest of the organization; once you’ve completed it you can move on to the Clergy or Initiates’ programs, or join a Guild or Order.  You don’t need to complete the Dedicant’s work to be a lay member, but you do if you plan on advancing in the organization and finding further training.

It was a boon to me to find a course of self-regulated, structured study; I haven’t had anything like that since my time in college.  I was encouraged to join by my (non-Indo European) Matron Goddess, Isis, at a time when I was feeling a lack of community and path.  This certainly fulfilled my need, as now I’m a Grove Organizer and have more community nationally and worldwide than I can handle sometimes.

Anyway, some of the requirements of the Dedicant’s Path include essays on the organization’s virtues, holy days, required reading, and other pertinent subjects.  I will be sharing some of them here, under the Dedicant’s Path tag and other appropriate tags.  I hope that you find as much value in reading them as I did in writing them.

Introductions

“Hail to the Day and the Day’s bright boy!

Hail to the Night and her daughter’s joy!

With eyes that bless us may you see,

and grant to those here victory!

The Gods and Goddesses we call

And holy Earth who gives to all,

give us here wise words and weal,

and in this life, hands that heal.” – Sigridfumal (as translated by Diana Paxson)

Hail and welcome!  This being the first post of my blog, I would like to introduce myself.  I’m Laine, and I’m pleased that you’re reading this!  I’ve had other blogs in the past (and still use a couple of them; those will be linked at a different time).  I want to let you know a few things about me and this blog so that there are less questions and surprises later on.

The title of this blog comes from a joke that I made to my fiance.  I had just been confirmed as the Grove Organizer for Shining Valley Protogrove, ADF (a druidic congregation) and was fishing a copy of A Book Of Pagan Prayer out of my purse.  A realization sank in.

“Love?”  I called out.  “You do realize that you’re marrying the Pagan church lady, don’t you?”

“I have no problem with this.” he replied from the other room.

The name rattled around in my head for a few days, and as part of my effort to embrace some new things in my life, I decided to enshrine it with its own blog.

So, I’m Pagan.  I am eclectic and unconcerned with the negative opinions of others vis-a-vis eclecticism.  My path has taken me through British Traditional Withcraft to Heatherny to modern Isism to what is generously labeled the “Druidic” practice of Ár nDraíocht Féin.  As such, I’ve got quite a history and quite a wide variety of practices that I’ve devoted myself to.  I believe that each person’s spiritual path is unique, and while following a tradition strictly can be of benefit, most people who try to tend to outgrow it and seek other things with time.  This is natural, no one path but the one we walk leads us to where we need to be.

I’m Radical.  I think that there are a whole lot of messes in the world that require serious work to change.  A lot of these messes are based on deeply entrenched social and cultural mores.  To improve things, some very deep roots will need to be dragged out of the ground and the rifts they cause given time to heal and lay fallow.  I comfortably use the term “radical feminist” to describe my views of kyriarchy, which causes some confusion to some people because I’m also:

Transgender. For most of my life people tried to tell me that I was male, and I very simply knew they were wrong.  It’s been a long journey, but some thirty-odd years in I found a combination of support of Deities, family, friends, and community that helped me to have the strength to stop lying to the world and to let the world know that they were wrong about me.  I’m a community organizer and activist; I have the strength and the skill with words to speak out when other people are silenced and I consider it my responsibility to do so.

I’m an unabashed Theist.  Yes, I believe in Gods and Spirits and the Ancestors and other things that there are less well-known names for.  My personal experiences as well as some shared ones make it seem pretty clear to me that the Gods and the rest exist outside of us, though there are places for them to dwell within us.

I’m  a Devotional Polytheist.  I’m both a hard polytheist and a panentheist: I think that all the Gods are part of the same thing, but then, I think the same thing of people, so to avoid confusion I call them (both Gods and people) by different names and treat them as separate entities.  That’s a demand of the level of existence we are on.  I make offerings and work to establish relationships with them, because it’s helpful and frankly fascinating and amazing.

I’m also a Witch.  I do magick.  I am magick.  I practice magick because it is helpful and likewise amazing.  I geek out on it the way some people geek out over Dr. Who.  My views are far from mainstream and my practices may make some people lift their noses in the air and sniff but they work for me.  They might work for you, too, which is part of the reason that I share them.

I think I’m out of terms to put in bold and discuss at the time.  Suffice to say that these will be qualities that you’ll see rise again and again in my writing.  They are things that I like talking about and exploring with other people, so feel free to comment as long as you’re civil and well-mannered.

Welcome, and be blessed!