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

In With The New!

The turning of the Wheel of the Year brings us very soon to Imbolc, which Reform Pagans often refer to as the Vernal Passage because, according to ancient Gaelic traditions and our own Reform Pagan liturgical calendar, this sabbat is the passageway into the season of spring.

Though the exact etymology of “Imbolc” is unknown, sources cited in the Wikipedia article on Imbolc explain that the word is thought to derive perhaps from Old Irish for either “in the belly” (referring to the pregnancy of ewes at this time of year) or “to cleanse oneself” (ritualistically, that is) or perhaps from Proto-Celtic for “budding”. Any of these connotations would be apt for a sabbat that many Reform Pagans associate with, on the one hand, purification from the old and, on the other hand, openness and resolve toward the new.

Imbolc also comes at nearly the same time as the celebration of Candlemas, which involves ritualistic blessing and lighting of candles. Coincidentally or not, many Reform Pagans have incorporated candles (typically white, a color that symbolizes, among other things, the clean and pure snow that may be on the ground at this time of year) as an essential element in our celebration of Imbolc.

At ReformPagan.org, we’re excited to announce—at this very appropriate time of Imbolc, no less!—the launch of the Pagan Renewal Network. The Network is still in gestation, just as lambs are in their mothers’ bellies at Imbolc, but our vision for the Nexus is that it would serve as a forum and resource for our community where we can come together to share the transformational light of information and inspiration.

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

Facing All Things Through Paganism

When the fog of uncertainty gathers around us, when tremors shake the very foundations of our lives, when thunderheads of cataclysm loom on our horizons, that is a time to take refuge—and find strength and courage—in humanity’s once and future faith: Paganism.

At such a time, more than ever, we need to call upon Land, Sea, and Sky, which are the measured and balanced forces of fixed resoluteness, mutable adaptability, and cardinal dynamism; upon the eternal, complementary principles of Yin and Yang, or our mother Goddess and father God, which are fathomless possibility and inexorable actuality; and upon Nature’s innumerable and inexhaustible blessings: power, love, truth, prosperous vitality, and the whisperings of the muses. Such forces, principles, and blessings, which belong to the shared inheritance of each and every person through Paganism, enable us to face all things.

Therefore, when we know not where to turn, let us remember to turn back to Paganism. And let us share this eternal and indestructible refuge, this wellspring of all goodness, which is known and dear to us, with others who have not yet discovered it.

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

Educational Materials Under Development

At ReformPagan.org, we’re always working on exciting new initiatives that fulfill our mission of advancing the Pagan Reformation so that we can transform ourselves, our communities, and the world through Paganism.

Currently, our top priority is to make our dedicant course available online for free in a generalized version that may be useful to Reform Pagans starting out in any particular tradition. We’re also expanding and revising materials that we plan to make available online for free to Reform Pagans who are interested in starting their own traditions or groups but would like support or guidance in doing so.

If you’d be interested in developing, testing, reviewing, or revising such materials, or if you’d like to contribute in another way to Reform Pagan religious education, please check out the new input fields on our “Contact Us” page!

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

The Portal for Seekers is Open

At ReformPagan.org, we believe—especially in these uncertain times—that Paganism has the power to transform the world for the better, and our mission is to make that happen.

We’re therefore very pleased to announce the reboot of OnceAndFutureFaith.org, a virtual portal into Paganism for spiritual seekers.

If Paganism has been good to you, please share it with others!

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

Reimagining Humanity’s Timeless Spirituality