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 Dictionary.com gave:
- adherenance to moral and ehtical principles; soundness of moral character; honest
- 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.