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.

Paying Pagan Clergy – An Organic Approach

06 41 Temple of Hephaestus

Over on Pagan Square, David Oliver Kling has a long essay advocating for full-time paid Pagan clergy.  Though as I write this the essay itself has no comments, it’s generated quite a bit of discussion on social media.  Most of it falls into two camps:  those who say Pagan priests perform valuable services for which they should be compensated, and those whose sense of egalitarianism is threatened by anything resembling ecclesial hierarchy.  Both camps have valid points, but I think both are … [Read more...]

Exercising Your Will

07 15b dry stacked stone

Rhyd Wildermuth has a long and thought-provoking essay on Saturday’s Wild Hunt titled Manifesting An Other World.  In it, he argues that beliefs should mean something – they should cause us to take action to manifest the kind of world we say we value.  This is particularly true for those of us who worship Gods we believe are real, distinct, individual beings – Gods who are capable both of blessing us immensely and of making our lives as miserable as Prometheus. Many Pagans don’t … [Read more...]

Religious Freedom, Religious Bullying

01 01 Plymouth Rock

From the Pilgrims of 1620 to today, the issue of religious freedom has never been far from the front of American society.  Yet it seems that what is called religious freedom all too often is closer to religious bullying.  The Puritans escaped persecution in England and promptly started hanging Quakers in Massachusetts.  Mormons were run out of Illinois in the 19th century – in the 21st century they helped finance the campaign against marriage equality and just last week made headlines … [Read more...]

Showing Up

The Council of Nicaea – photo via Wikimedia Commons

Decisions are made by those who show up. Every time I compare the running debates on the Pagan internet to the Council of Nicaea I get pushback.  Some of this is understandable.  The Council of Nicaea was one of the most important events in the establishment of Christianity as the dominant religion of Europe and its output has helped define Christian orthodoxy for over 1600 years.  It is no surprise that Pagans – many of whom left Christianity under unpleasant circumstances – have no … [Read more...]

Serving Many Gods

Danu and Cernunnos 06.28.14

When things go well or turn out to be pleasant, we tend to want to do them again.  Sometimes this works well, as when a first date turns into many dates and many dates turn into a lifetime partnership.  Sometimes it doesn’t work so well.  The second piece of cheesecake never tastes quite as good as the first, and a strong desire for cheesecake tends to have a negative affect on your waistline… and on your wallet. And some experiences are the proverbial “lightning in a bottle” – a … [Read more...]

Lessons From a First Ritual

hand bell

Every so often I get an e-mail that says “I’ve been asked to lead the next ritual for my CUUPS group (or coven or grove or other group).  Where do I start???” I usually refer people to this post on A Pagan Ritual Outline and this post on Common Ritual Errors and How to Avoid Them.  But as I mentioned last week, I think it may be helpful to talk about what happened the first time I led a public ritual. After almost ten years of solitary practice, I went to my first Pagan circle at … [Read more...]

A Druid in the Marketplace of Religions

07 30 Cliffs of Mohor

I used to have a boss who’d get upset when I’d qualify my answers.  “Yes, we can have that job finished a week early, if a key supplier gets their parts here early, if the engineer’s design doesn’t require any modifications, and if the assemblers work more overtime than we have a right to require.”  He wanted an enthusiastic “yes!”  I felt I owed him an honest assessment of the situation. I’ve tried to carry that honesty into my religious writing and speaking, partially … [Read more...]

Egyptian Summer Solstice

ESS 2014 03a altar

Over the years I’ve been blogging I’ve written about Denton CUUPS’ Egyptian Summer Solstice on numerous occasions:  our public presentation at White Rock Lake in Dallas in 2009, our prayer for Egypt after the overthrow of Mubarak in 2011, our presentation of the Prophecy of Hermes Trismegistus last year, and last week’s post on how this became our Summer Solstice tradition. While it’s probably clear – from the pictures if not from the descriptions – that this isn’t a generic … [Read more...]


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