Integration – A Review

Pagan Pride Day – White Rock Lake, Dallas

Several years ago I stopped making New Year’s resolutions.  I found I rarely kept them, mostly because the goals I set weren’t in alignment with my true will.  I resolved to accomplish things I thought I was supposed to want, and I set goals with little regard to my desire (and in some cases, my ability) to actually do the things that would be required to achieve them.

Instead, each year I select a theme – a high-level goal I want to keep in the front of my mind all year.  My theme is a destination I want to make progress towards, not detailed travel instructions on how to get there.

My theme for 2013 was integration.  Last December I wrote about how I learned to compartmentalize my life at an early age:

I think I was still in kindergarten when I realized – at some level, anyway – that if I wanted to avoid ridicule or worse, I had to be careful how much of myself I revealed. I developed one filter for school, one for church, and another for home. Over the years the filters and the boxes were expanded and refined – this one for work, that one for one group of friends, another for another group.

While compartmentalization has its benefits, as I’ve moved deeper into my religious and spiritual studies and practices it’s become more and more of a hindrance.

If I’m going to be a Druid I have to bring my Druidry into all my life. If I’m going to be a priest I have to incorporate my priesthood into all my life. Not with the kind of silly braggadocio that gives some Pagans a bad name (and some Christians and atheists too), but by breaking down the compartment walls and letting all parts of my being serve my True Will.

Integration must replace compartmentalization.

While my complete review of 2013 will be a private process, since I made this goal public I think it’s worthwhile to blog about how I did.

Last year’s post on integration was published on my old Blogger site, but by then I knew I was moving to Patheos.  This move has been a very good thing – and it’s supported my goal of integration.  It’s hard to hide in a box when your name and face are occasionally on the front page of the largest multifaith religious website in the world.

I link to all my posts on social media.  Though Facebook is becoming more and more troublesome for bloggers and users alike, I still get more traffic there than from any other single source, and all but one of my most popular posts got their volume from Facebook shares.  This means what I believe, what I think, and what I do is out there for all my friends and family to see.

I’ve had a few questions from people who were surprised to discover I’m a Pagan and a Druid, but they’ve all been respectful.  If anyone has unfriended me because of my religion I haven’t noticed.

I think that says more about the quality of my friends and family than it does about me, but in any case, it’s gone well and I’m thankful for it.

Integrating my Druidry with my paying work has been more difficult.  The corporate culture where I work is decidedly secular.  That’s really a good thing – as much as I’d like to have water cooler discussions about how everyone’s weekend worship went, I’m not sure this particular group of people is ready to compare and contrast Pagan, Evangelical, Catholic, Jewish, Hindu and Muslim services in a non-judgmental, non-proselytizing way.

“Guard the Mysteries!  Constantly reveal them!” – Lew Welch

A better question is how well I’m conducting myself as a Druid in the work environment.  In terms of competence and integrity, I think I’m doing as good as always – you don’t stay in the same company for 16 years and the same location for 12 without them.  However, much of this year was stressful and I struggled to be an unanxious presence far more than I would have preferred.  My desire for integration – and to retain my composure and sanity – led me to focus on returning to center, which in turn led me to formulate the Willow Pentagram.

That’s not the destination, but it’s progress toward the destination.

At the suggestion of one of my mentors, last month I performed a Ritual of Choosing and Commitment.  I affirmed my experiences of the Gods and my call to Their service.  I repeated the Oath of a Priest from my dedication.  I took a literal step forward, reaffirmed my choices and pledged to do the work necessary to support those choices.  Then I sat in meditation and listened for Them.  And They came.

The rest of that mediation is private… and not particularly dramatic.  But it represents another step along this path – the path of a Druid and a priest.

Integration will remain my theme for 2014.  I want to do a better job of revealing the Mysteries while guarding them.  I want to bring other parts of my life in alignment with my true will.  I want to get to the point where my spiritual practice is as much a part of who and what I am as eating and sleeping.

2013 has not been an easy year for me, but it has been a year of learning and growth, and a year of integration.  I’ll call that a success.

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About John Beckett

I’m a Druid in the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. I’m an ordained priest in the Universal Gnostic Fellowship. I’m the Coordinating Officer of the Denton, Texas Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans. This year I’m also serving as a member of the Board of Trustees of CUUPS National. I’m a member of the Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

I write as a spiritual practice. It helps me organize my thoughts and work through ideas and concepts. It helps me evaluate my beliefs and practices against my core values and against what I know (or at least, what I think I know) to be true. It helps me interpret my experiences (religious and otherwise) in ways that are both meaningful and honest.

  • Patricia Clarkin

    John, this blog makes me think of my own recent musings regarding what it means to be a Druid. In my early spiritual training, it was stressed that we “live our faith.” I’ve been applying this notion to my own druidical self analysis, and I would say that this is my personal intention for the upcoming year.


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