Welcome New Readers!

I’d like to take a moment to say “hail and welcome!” to all the new readers of Under the Ancient Oaks. Daily page views had been growing steadily but slowly over the first three years of this blog – so far this year they’ve more than tripled. Getting a link on the front page of The Wild Hunt has helped (thanks, Jason!), as have some shares by influential readers on Facebook and Google+. So has the strange alchemy that moved a few of my posts pretty high in Google search results.

Regardless of how you got here, I’m glad you are here.

My name is John Beckett and I wear many religious hats. I’m a Druid in the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. I’m the Coordinating Officer of the Denton Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans and a member of the Board of Trustees of CUUPS Continental. I’m a member of the Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, where I serve on the Worship Committee and am a once or twice a year lay speaker. I write the occasional column for No Unsacred Place. I teach and speak when I get the opportunity and when I have something to say… and as the numbers in the blog archive on the left of the screen will attest, I usually have something to say.

I’m still learning. I read books and blogs and news – my favorite blogs are at the top of the left side of the screen. I like to explore big ideas. I’m studying for formal ordination under AODA Grand Archdruid John Michael Greer. Mainly I practice.

I pray and meditate and walk and I pay particular attention to the daily movements of the Sun and the Moon. I believe the sacred is all around us – even in the suburbs.

I earn my living as an Industrial Engineer in a corporate headquarters setting. The job got really stressful from mid-2009 through the end of 2010 – you can see that in many of the blog posts from that time. It got better early last year, a combination of a change in department management and finally seeing the results from a lot of process changes.

That experience confirms one of my favorite sayings: half the secret of life is just showing up. The other half is sticking with something long enough for it to bear fruit.

I’ve been married to Cathy for 24 years. I don’t write about her much – she’s still trying to land a full-time teaching job and she doesn’t need to turn up on a Pagan-oriented blog. Plus this isn’t her path. One of the reasons our marriage is successful is that we love and support each other for who we are.

As the subtitle states, this blog is part of my spiritual journey. Sometimes I write about what’s going on in my life. Sometimes I write about what’s in the news or what’s abuzz on the Pagan internet. There are some recurring themes: the nature of the Universe, the origins of religion, developing relationships with the spirits of nature, with our ancestors, and with our gods and goddesses. Spiritual growth. Magic. Building vibrant religious communities. And perhaps most importantly, how to combine all that into a spiritual practice that builds a better world here and now.

I write because it provides structure and discipline as I work through the issues I face in my religious and spiritual life. Writing helps me figure out what I believe, how to interpret my religious experiences, and how to put what I learn into action.

I welcome your feedback: in the comments, on social networking sites, and in private communication. I almost always respond to questions; whether I respond to comments depends on whether or not I have anything useful to add. I hope you’ll challenge me if you think I’ve missed something important or if you think I’m completely off target. But I won’t tolerate personal attacks (against me or against others) and I am the sole arbiter of what is or isn’t appropriate – go sell your stuff on your own blog.

Whatever brought you here, I’m glad you are here. Have some wine while you look around. Come back soon – I post two or three times a week, depending on the flow of the Awen.

Hail and welcome!

Except for obvious things like book covers and publicity photos, unattributed pictures are mine.  Unless I’m in them, then they’re probably Cathy’s.
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