At Summer Eve, Reform Pagans circle to celebrate passion, union, and creativity on or about the occasion of Beltane, an ancient “fire festival” dedicated, in many ways, to love.
At Summer Eve, like always, Reform Paganism challenges us to love our selves, our friends and families, our communities, the entirety of humankind, and all of Nature not because we are obliged to do so but because growing in Love for the Soul is a good and desirable end in itself, as well as a means to the ends of growing in Power for the Will, Truth for the Mind, Life for the Body, and Divinity for the Spirit. To these Five Aspirations Reform Paganism’s Five Elements of practice raise us. And as we grow in each of these dimensions, we grow in the fullness of our humanity in Nature while accomplishing our mission of Pagan Renewal: positive transform of the world through Paganism.
Like growing in any of our other Aspirations, growing in Love is a virtuous challenge. Rising to this challenge requires us to practice the discipline of shifting our worldview and lifeway to contextualize ourselves within a Universe of concentric and overlapping circles—of self, family and friends, communities that encompass the entirety of humankind, and all of Nature—and to open and expand our understanding of these circles through our intentional efforts. This discipline, like any other, we undertake purposefully to promote growth; growth demands that we stretch and endure some discomfort. If growing in Love causes us no discomfort, then we have not yet stretched enough. And to be sure: whatever the discipline, if we shy from its attendant discomfort, we cheat ourselves of the attendant growth.
In Reform Paganism, the discipline that bends our worldview and lifeway toward Love we call “ministry”. Reform Pagans undertake the discipline of ministry to ourselves, to our families and friends, to our religious and spiritual communities, to the entirety of humankind, and to all of Nature. For these form the concentric and overlapping circles in which we humans live inextricably. Reform Paganism is a Paganism not only for oneself, solitary and alone, but also for the great tribe and family of human persons—who are naturally and essentially social and interdependent—and for all of Nature.
When Reform Pagans circle at Summer Eve, like at any other time, we choose and declare that we circle “in perfect peace and perfect trust, setting aside all that may be contrary or adverse,” because such is the spirit of the Love to which we aspire. Reform Pagans welcome into our circles all who join us in this spirit. And we extend our peace and trust to the world in a gesture of goodwill, asking for the same in reciprocity. Thus we establish our sacred boundary, but it is permeable, “open but unbroken”.
Whenever we circle, therefore, we take up the challenge ourselves to grow in Love. And as we challenge ourselves, so we challenge others. May our embrace of this challenge transform the world for the better through Paganism. So mote it be!
Also published on Medium.