Reform Pagan Practice 101: Spiritual Actualization

This post is the fifth of five installments in Baldr Frostflame’s “Reform Pagan Practice 101” series, giving his high-level overview of Reform Pagan practice.

Reform Pagans believe that divinity, which some of us call the flowing spirit of Awen, arises and resides within each person. Some of us say that the source of spirit is the union of matter and energy (potentiality, symbolized by the Goddess) with the forces of order and chaos (actuality, symbolized by the God), culminating in the emergence (symbolized by the divine child of the Goddess and the God) of the psyche from inanimate (meaning “spiritless”) matter, energy, and forces.

The final and crowning element of Reform Pagan practice is, therefore, connecting with our inner divinity, which is also the original source and highest expression of our individuality. As Awen (the Celtic/Druidic analogue to the Greek “muse”) means “flowing spirit”, so this fifth essential element of Reform Pagan practice involves both inflow and outflow of the human spirit, a sort of spiritual “respiration” that actualizes the fullness of our spiritual and divine potential.

Inflow of Awen/Divinity

Before we can breathe out spirit, we must breathe it in. Reform Pagans breathe in the flowing spirit of Awen through certain spiritual activities that often involve altered states of consciousness (normally without the use of entheogens). Foundational activities of this kind include meditation, divination, and contemplation.

Meditation is known not only by practitioners but also by objective researchers to promote and support the health of the entire psyche. Divination is often discredited because many of its traditional claims are not supported by scientific experimentation, but Reform Pagans use divination more as a way to stimulate the flow of spirit than as a way to tap into hidden information. And contemplation involves intense concentration upon a specific idea or set of ideas in an attempt to release a pent-up flow of spiritual insight.

Outflow of Awen/Divinity

Spirit flows as it will, and we cannot force it. By engaging in the above spiritual practices and others, however, we can more reliably tap into the inspiration of Awen. When Awen fills us, we know it because we cannot help but express our true selves, our divine selves. For some, this expression takes the form of artwork or music, others write beautiful poetry, and still others undergo intense spiritual experiences or gain ineffable insights into spirit and reality. Mystical or spiritual experience is an essential element of Reform Pagan practice, but different Reform Pagans may engage in this element of practice in innumerable different ways.

You can read more about spiritual actualization from the point of view of the New Living Tradition (a Reform Pagan path that I founded) in The Enchiridion of Aquarius: A New Living Handbook.

Discuss the Element of Spirit in Reform Pagan practice here on the Pagan Renewal Network.

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