Humans possess an innate spiritual capacity rooted in Nature, and Paganism is the natural expression of our common spirituality, arising from Nature and calling us ever back to Nature. This is my conviction.
In every place and time, before prophets gave humankind “revealed” religion, Paganism was our original faith, fulfilling our indelible spiritual needs with wisdom gleaned from our lived experience in Nature. And I hope—for the very life of our Earth and the flourishing of human persons within it—that Paganism may be not merely the ancient faith of ages past but rather our once and future faith. This hope is also my vision, and I founded the Pagan Renewal with a mission to help manifest this vision.
I’m thankful to PaganSquare* for having reached out to us at PaganRenewal.org to see whether we would be interested in adding our voice to the chorus here on PaganSquare, and I look forward to writing more deeply about the Pagan Renewal here in the months and years to come. In this first post, however, I’d like to begin just by providing some background on myself and my path.
Finding My Paganism
I became Pagan back in 2010, after having grown up a mainline Protestant Christian who attended an Evangelical secondary school before, in college, becoming first Fundamentalist, then Eastern Orthodox, and then atheist. For me, leaving Christianity was something like waking up from a dream: I realized I just didn’t believe it anymore.
Religion has always interested me deeply, and I’ve always pursued my faith with passion. Since awakening to Paganism, I’ve felt more passionate about my faith than ever before and more so day by day. When I first discovered Paganism, I devoured every book and podcast I could find, and I connected with a variety of groups in different “mainline” Pagan traditions. At the same time, my Paganism couldn’t but draw on my studies in Western and Eastern philosophy and human, social, and natural sciences. Consequently, my approach to Paganism has been a syncretic one, drawing on both ancient wisdom and modern learning to create a consilient worldview informing a comprehensive lifeway that works for me in today’s society.
A New Branch
The name that finally stuck with me for the spiritual path I have been forging is Reform Paganism, by which I mean Nature-centered spirituality that draws inspiration from both ancient wisdom and modern learning while constantly reimagining itself for the present and the future. I view Reform Paganism as a new branch of what I think of as the Great Tree of Paganism: Reform Paganism isn’t Pagan Traditionalism (whether Reconstructionist or Eclectic); at the same time, it isn’t Pagan Scientism. If these coequal branches each hold to a particular orthodoxy (whether that which is received from the ancients or that which is experimentally falsifiable but currently support by evidence), Reform Paganism emphasizes the spiritual journey as pilgrimage and quest, affording each person freedom not only to grow in specifics of belief and practice but also to discover whole new outlooks on the world and its infinite Mystery.
I understand that the name “Reform Paganism” might be misinterpreted as implying a challenge to existing Pagan traditions that have already blossomed on the Great Tree of Paganism. But that’s not my intention. I view Reform Paganism as entirely new growth with the potential to enlarge, diversify, and strengthen the Pagan community. I hope that Reform Paganism may make Paganism accessible and compelling to a broader audience. For as humankind must grapple with the disenchantment of all things that we have imposed upon ourselves in modernity, now more than ever we need a means of reawakening our innate spiritual capacity in Nature.
Reform Paganism is what I needed when I became Pagan because, while my own approach to metaphysical questions has changed dramatically over time, I’ve remained the same person with the same seeker spirit. I wanted to create a community that kindred spirits could call home whether they are, at any given step on our shared spiritual pilgrimage and quest, following a Wiccan path or a Druidic one or another one altogether, whether believing in many gods or one Goddess and God or a divine Universe or none of these, however those beliefs play out in practices. Reform Pagan theology is not about being one thing or another but about becoming.
I believe that the freedom and adaptability that Reform Paganism offers equips it to help restore Paganism to a place of prominence and positive (not to mention much-needed!) influence in society amidst the rapid and accelerating change of the present and the future. And I refer to this Paganism ever reimagining itself for the present and future, together with the envisioned restoration of our once and future faith, as the Pagan Renewal.
I hope this blog will bless you on your own spiritual journey and quest, wherever it takes you.
Also published on Medium.