This is the first pagan virtue for which I felt the need to look up the word in the dictionary. Not because I’d never heard the word ‘integrity’ before, but because I wasn’t sure how to begin. How is integrity different from the many cases where I’ve referred to doing the ‘right thing’? I wasn’t sure.

Here are the definitions that gave:

  1. adherenance to moral and ehtical principles; soundness of moral character; honest
  2. the state of being whole, entire or undiminished

When I read that second definition, I somehow could image Captain Picard talking about the ‘integrity of the Enterprise’s hull.’ But then I realized, that it fit my idea of integrity as a pagan value much more than the first one did: the state of being whole or undiminished.

Of course, it seems easy (and a bit vague) to say that ‘integrity’ means refraining from actions which diminish you, but I think that’s what it is. In the more standard sense of ‘honesty,’ it reflects that to lie is to pretend to be less than you are, to know less than you do, or to be something you aren’t. It diminishes you, it violates your wholeness.

Integrity, then, is basically “be true to yourself.” Or, I’m sure a Crowley fan would say “Do what thou wilt.”

Unfortunately, this is probably the hardest of the virtues to live. It means applying wisdom and vision, and will require incorporating courage and perseverence which are well seasoned by self-knowledge. In fact, many virtues which I might have thought should be on the list: curiosity, knowedge, meditation are all encapsulated in the pursuit of integrity.

In writing about courage, I mentioned doing the ‘right thing.’ Knowledge of what the right thing is, I believe, will come from integrity and a willingness to be true to oneself.

The above is basically my understanding of integrity as a virtue, before I begin considering it in a pagan context. This will, of course, eventually inform what I write in my eventual Dedicant’s Path submission.


One thought on “Integrity as a virtue

  1. Very profound thoughts indeed. Thank you kindly for these inspiring reflections. I personally would have picked up on the second part of that definition too. Often those first and second parts come into conflict with one another, because measuring up to a set of ethical moral virtues may mean being less than true to yourself. Not everyone stops to consider that ethical and moral principals, as altruistic as they frequently are, are subject to dominant cultural values which in some sense may be used by certain power interests as a tool to strip you of self-integrity. Power manipulations in society are very often enforced under the guise of humanitarian or social duties. Drawing the line between your own integrity and that of maintaining social values takes a great deal of courage indeed, but from the sounds of it you are more than well-equipped for that journey. Good luck with that. I’m looking forward to hearing more on this subject from you. Warmest regards!


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