Tag Archives: pagan reform

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