All posts by Pagan Renewal

A Faith Ever New

Reform Pagans celebrate Mid Spring (also called “Ostara”), a sabbat of regeneration, breakthroughs, and new beginnings, around the time of the vernal equinox, when hours of light and darkness in a day are most nearly equal. This time of year also sees new life emerging everywhere from winter’s dormant Earth.

According to ancient wisdom traditions, the part (microcosm) and the whole (macrocosm) resemble each other. This principle holds true of the relationship between, on the one hand, each of the eight sabbats of the Wheel of the Year and, on the other hand, the entire Pagan Renewal. On the occasion of Mid Spring, as the equality of light and darkness in the heavens at the vernal equinox coincides with the emergence of new life on the Earth, so Reform Paganism’s insistence on achieving union amidst diversity, of bringing together the antipodes of ostensible contradiction, creates something greater, something more comprehensive and coherent, something new.

This is the very meaning of Pagan Reformism: unceasing rebirth and renewal of humanity’s once and future faith. In order to make rebirth and renewal a reality, we commit to each other not despite our differences but because of them—we must find others whose beliefs and practices differ from our own so that we can learn from each other and grow together in Nature.

Reform Paganism is necessarily a faith of continual question and answer but, perhaps, less of answers than of questions. Our questions arise as not a symptom of idle, passing curiosity but an earnest and purposeful expression of our inexhaustible fascination and incurable infatuation with Life, Truth, Love, Power, and Divinity. Reform Paganism refuses orthodoxy not only in the contents of belief but also in the very mode of attaining understanding. For sometimes addressing an old question through a changed perspective leads us to a new answer.

Reform Paganism entails embracing change and ambiguity, even the kind of cognitive dissonance that is like holding light and darkness together in balanced, equal portions in a single day at the precarious point in the year when the ratio of light to darkness is changing most rapidly, the moment of balance most fleeting. Reform Paganism demands unshakeable open-mindedness to that which “blows one’s mind” and willingness to destroy and rebuild one’s assumed paradigm day by day. After all, as we see around us at Mid Spring, that which has died gives life to that which now lives.

Reform Paganism involves, we might say, a process theology of the Divinity not only without but also within. So we say, in the spirit of regeneration, breakthrough, and new beginnings that Mid Spring embodies: ours is a religion not of being but of becoming.

With much love and many bright blessings always,
And particularly on this occasion of Mid Spring,
Your kindred spirits at ReformPagan.org and PaganRenewal.org

The Perpetual Flame

Reform Paganism’s sabbat of Spring Eve, coming halfway between Mid Winter and Mid Spring, draws some of its inspiration from the ancient Gaelic festival of Imbolc, a celebration of the goddess Brigid around the traditional beginning of the season of spring.

Spring Eve calls us to focus our Will upon openness, purification, and resolve. We contemplate the Imbolc tradition in which a representative of the goddess Brigid knocks three times on the closed door of a home, asking to be let in, whereupon the door is opened so the goddess may enter with blessings. We participate in the Imbolc custom of spring cleaning and other forms of purification. In some Reform Pagan traditions, we encourage novices at Imbolc to resolve themselves formally to following their chosen spiritual paths by undergoing rites of dedication and initiation.

The goddess Brigid has also come to be honored through the tending of a perpetual flame, an image that befits the time of year when the flames of candles and hearths are ritually kindled, rising upward to meet the growing warmth and light of the sun. For some Reform Pagans, this drawing together of flame below and flame above—two manifestations of the same elemental substance—evokes Nature’s eternal aspiration: the divinity of the Universe itself reaching inward to touch the divinity within the human spirit, even as the divinity within the human spirit reaches outward to touch the divinity that pervades the entire Universe.

As participation in this bidirectional dance of divinity is the beating heart of Reform Paganism, our religion could be called one of an Imbolc without end: Reform Pagans continually open, purify, and resolve our spirits to the possibility and promise of Pagan Renewal, which is Nature itself aspiring, as much like the rising and falling flames of Imbolc as like each new blade of grass breaking through the melting snow of early spring.

With much love and many bright blessings always,
And particularly on this occasion of Spring Eve,
Your kindred spirits at ReformPagan.org and PaganRenewal.org

Mid Winter Blessings

Amidst the busyness that comes upon us every year around this time, we at PaganRenewal.org wanted to take a moment not merely to wish you season’s blessings of peace and love but rather to affirm that these are now, as always, our reality, if only we will open our hearts.

For Reform Pagans, the sabbat of Mid Winter, coincident with the winter solstice, is a sacred occasion for coming together as friends and family to celebrate the unbreakable relationships that bind all of humankind together in Nature. Our sabbat draws inspiration from numerous traditional festivals, perhaps the most widely familiar of which is Yule, while looking forward to an ever more peaceful and loving future that begins within each of us in the eternal present.

Whatever you call this sabbat and however you celebrate it, we invite you to join us in opening our hearts anew to peace and love, and we offer you our collaborative hands in continuing to build a world richer in these blessings.

Sending you our very best on this occasion of Mid Winter,
Your kindred spirits at PaganRenewal.org

In Memoriam & Ad Infinitum

As we come again to Winter Eve, the end of the harvest season, the time when the Veil between the mundane and spiritual worlds thins, we have an opportunity to turn inward, celebrating our heritage, remembering our beloved dead, and recognizing our own mortality as the cold and dark close in around us.

Here at PaganRenewal.org, we are taking this opportunity to recognize our Pagan forebears and the many blessings of inestimable value we have received from them. To the first humans who looked upon the world with wonder and awe, to the philosophers and mystics of ancient and classical times who imparted timeless wisdom that we need today more than ever, to the occultists, magicians, and new scientists of the Middle Ages and early modern era who maintained and nurtured the Eternal Stele of the Great Tree of Paganism under various forms and guises, and to the visionaries of more-recent times who have reintroduced Paganism as a world religion and the original, natural expression of human spirituality, we owe an eternal debt of gratitude. May their spirits live on forever within the Paganism of today and tomorrow!

In Nature, death is also the source of new life, and many Neopagans celebrate this time as the start of a new turn of the Wheel of the Year; accordingly, this season is one not only of death, finality, and endings but also of new life and new beginnings. Even as we remember and honor our forebears and beloved dead, therefore, Reform Pagans regard Winter Eve as an occasion for looking forward to the future. And we believe that, however dark and cold the world around us, the future of the Paganism that we have inherited—humanity’s once and future faith—is very bright indeed.

With much love and many blessings always,
And particularly in the coming season of winter,
Your kindred spirits at ReformPagan.org and PaganRenewal.org

On the Harvest: Sacrifice & Love

One of the greatest contributions that Reform Paganism and the Pagan Renewal offer the broader Pagan and human communities is our emphasis on love—sometimes called “compassionate lovingkindness and sympathetic joy”—as an essential practice and virtue.

Reform Pagans appreciate that, no less than Nature orients the body to prosperity and vitality, the mind to truth, and the will to power, Nature orients the soul to love. A complete spirituality, which addresses itself to the entire human person, cannot but include sacrifice and love. Accordingly, one of the Five Elements of practice in Reform Pagan spirituality is ministry, love in action.

During the season of the harvest, we have an opportunity to meditate and reflect on sacrifice and love in our lives: Nature offers us its fruits in love, and we offer our harvest sacrifices back to Nature in love. In Nature, attractive love begets life through generative union, then sacrificial love makes possible the continuation of life, as the life of next year’s crops originates in the fruits of this year’s harvest returned to the earth.

Nature, from which we have come, to which we return, and in which we live and have our very being, offers itself freely to all its children, modeling the virtues of sacrifice and love, particularly during the season of the harvest. Nature has decreed not necessarily that love and sacrifice be moral imperatives—after all, Reform Paganism prescribes no particular ethical code—but rather that their intentional development benefit and bless each individual human person, the entire human family, and all of Nature.

And Nature has given us what we need to procure these benefits and blessings: Sacrifice and love are inborn capacities of each human person. In the measure that we remove ourselves from Nature, however, we lose touch with the love within us, suffering a calculating, transactional, and egotistic mindset to overgrow and stifle love. The quintessentially Pagan project of returning to Nature is intertwined with returning through sacrifice to love.

In this season of the harvest, let us consider: As the human person is incomplete without vitality, truth, and power, so it is incomplete without sacrifice and love. Let us meditate and reflect on the inestimable blessings and benefits that sacrifice and love bring to our lives, and let us focus on developing these virtues through our spiritual practices and ministries.

With much love and many bright blessings always,
And particularly in this season of the harvest,
Your kindred spirits at ReformPagan.org and PaganRenewal.org

Our Source of Joy, Vitality, and Power

Reform Pagans often speak of Paganism through the metaphor and image of the “Great Tree of Paganism”, whose roots draw from the unremembered past and whose branches grow into the unimagined future. As we approach the Estival Solstice (Litha), a sabbat often associated with joy, vitality, and power, we have a special opportunity to contemplate the eternal stele that provides and ensures each of these blessings within the Great Tree of Paganism.

For Reform Pagans, of great importance among these blessings’ many sources that together constitute the living vascular tissue and animating life force of the Great Tree of Paganism are an ostensibly paradoxical pair: on the one hand, our connection with past, present, and future of locus, soma, and psyche; on the other hand, our enchantment with the “hear and now”.

Reform Pagans purposefully develop a sense of connection with ancestors, siblings, and descendants of place, blood, and spirit because because we appreciate that human life is a spiritual journey—preferably not just a wandering but rather a quest—within the broader spiritual evolution of all humanity and involution of an unfolding Universe. Each individual person is inextricably part of the whole human family and all of Nature.

Yet even while embracing this greater perspective, we appreciate that the “here and now” is all each of us has and all each of us can ever have. So we purposefully cultivate enchantment with each present place and time—not enchantment of (as if we could imbue the Universe with any supernatural magic) but perspectival enchantment with.

The precise mechanism by which connection and enchantment together produce joy, vitality, and power cannot be expressed in words, but the fact that the ostensibly paradoxical pair gives rise to these and many other blessings can be proved through experience, particularly on the occasion of the coming sabbat.

May we ever—especially on the occasion of the Estival Solstice—find joy, vitality, and power in the eternal stele of the Great Tree of Paganism.

With much love and many bright blessings always,
And particularly on the occasion of the Estival Solstice,
Your team of kindred spirits at ReformPagan.org

One Branch, Many Blossoms

Reform Pagans often illustrate our place within Paganism through the metaphor of the “Great Tree of Paganism”: We speak of the Paleopagan roots, Mesopagan trunk, and Neopagan branches, and we distinguish our Neopagan branch of Reformism from the coequal branches of Traditionalism (generally including all forms of Pagan Reconstructionism, together with many varieties of Pagan Eclecticism) and Scientism (emphasizing a scientific Pagan worldview, particularly in opposition to a traditional Pagan worldview).

Unique among the branches of Neopaganism, Reformism is defined not by the contents of our specific traditions of belief and practice but by our commitment to manifesting our vision of positive transformation. Accordingly, Reform Paganism includes but transcends many Pagan traditions, which we cherish as blossoms on our branch of the Great Tree.

We labor in love to manifest our vision by fostering reconnection with “natural” and Nature-centered human spirituality in promotion of universal spiritual development, which comprises the whole person (soma and psyche), the whole human community, and all of Nature. For we understand that everything is eternally intertwined in the long arc of the Autopoiesis of the Universe and that spirituality is an emergent property of Nature in us.

Reform Paganism offers—and, indeed, must offer—a place for all persons, whether polytheist or duotheist or atheist, whether novice or adept, whether old or young, of whatever background or circumstance, provided only that each of us remain committed to our shared vision and mission in perfect peace and perfect trust. Within the Reform Pagan community, we rather value and promote a promiscuous cross-pollination of ideas and experiences, the fruit of which exachange nourishes the Pagan Renewal.

With much love and many bright blessings always,
Your team of kindred spirits at ReformPagan.org

On Beltane and a Birthday

Happy (early) fifth birthday, ReformPagan.org!

May 5 is the anniversary of the launch date of ReformPagan.org on May 5, 2012; as the calendar midpoint between the Vernal Equinox (Ostara) and the Estival Solstice (Litha) for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, May 5 is also the date on which many Reform Pagans observe the Estival Passage (Beltane).

This sabbat celebrates union, passion, and creativity, values inspired by, among other things, the symbolic marriage of the May Queen and May King. Meanwhile, the occasion fittingly bears witness to an Earth bursting forth in new life, a creation of the union and passion of lovers all around us in Nature.

Now is therefore a perfect time for us to remember that, like the new flora and fauna of May, Reform Paganism is continually reborn from union, passion, and creativity. Reform Paganism emphasizes the need for human persons to unite to build spiritual communities that serve the needs and aspirations of each member, of the broader human family, and of all Nature. Reform Paganism expresses and manifests a passion for the positive transformation of the world through exuberant growth of “natural” and Nature-centered spirituality. And Reform Paganism encourages us to reimagine and recreate our Paganism without ceasing, for Reform Pagans appreciate that Paganism is and may ever be humanity’s once and future faith.

With much love and many bright blessings always,
And particularly on this occasion of the Estival Passage,
Your team of kindred spirits at ReformPagan.org

Building Our Community

At ReformPagan.org, we’re very pleased to announce the launch of our much-requested dedicant course, which is available for free online at PaganRenewal.net.

Those interested in joining the dedicant course officially and interacting with other students will need to register for a free account at PaganRenewal.net, but the course itself is open and can also be followed without registering for an account.

Besides being able to join the dedicant course officially and interact with other students, members of PaganRenewal.net can create and join online groups, participate in discussion forums, “friend” each other, post status updates, send and receive public and private messages, and even connect with other members located nearby who choose to share their location.

Our hope is that the resources and community we’re building at PaganRenewal.net would continue to advance the Pagan Reformation and the Restoration of Paganism to a place of respected prominence and positive influence in society.

With much love and many bright blessings always,
Your team of kindred spirits at ReformPagan.org

Reform Paganism is New Growth

Occasionally when Pagans from other traditions first encounter Reform Paganism, the questions they pose hint at a basic misunderstanding: What’s wrong with my Paganism, and why are you trying to change it? Let us be clear: Nothing is wrong with anyone’s Paganism, and no one is trying to change it.

Reform Pagans are not iconoclasts but visionaries. We see Paganism not as a relic from a bygone era—one that might need fixing or replacing—but as a great tree with many branches in the midst of unprecedented growth. One of these branches is Eclecticism, and another is Reconstructionism; one branch might be described as “polytheist fundamentalism”, another as “radical religious scientism”, and another as “New Age experimentalism”. Amidst these many branches grows a new one, Reform Paganism, which is distinct from all the others. In other words: Reform Paganism is new growth.

Pagans come to Reform Paganism most often when the other branches of the great tree of Paganism haven’t afforded those individual seekers quite the right perch on which to build a spiritual life. And that’s a wholly personal conclusion and decision, to be drawn and made in honesty to oneself without judgment of others. Similarly, non-Pagans come to Reform Paganism when this particular spiritual path attracts them more than do others, and the entire human family—indeed, all of Nature—benefits when even one spirit finds a suitable path for itself.

Reform Pagans are always eager to share our traditions with other Pagans because we appreciate that cross-pollination of the branches of the great tree of our religion produces beautiful blossoms and nourishing fruit. And our hope is that Reform Paganism, as new growth, would expand the great tree of Paganism so that more spirits might find shelter under its branches.

With much love and many bright blessings always,
Your team of kindred spirits at ReformPagan.org