Tag Archives: love

Love: A Reform Pagan Perspective

Love is a discipline the mastery of which makes us more powerful Pagans and humans: Just as our power grows as we acquaint ourselves more deeply with Nature, Truth, the focus of Will, and our True and Higher Selves (or “inner divinity”), so our power grows as we acquaint ourselves more deeply with Love. For Love, like Truth, is a position of strength.

When Reform Pagans speak of “Love” rather than “love”, we are referring most often to something that approximates what the East has called “compassionate lovingkindness and sympathetic joy”. Such Love comes upon us, for example, when we appreciate that every being is equally a child of the Goddess and the God, that we all come from the same origin and go to the same destination in Nature, that we all belong to and remain ever within and part of the same sacred Universe.

A capacity for Love is innate in the human spirit. But that capacity reaches its full potential only through intentional practice. Learning how to deploy Love in all circumstances, toward all beings, means that we possess such psychic fortitude that no contrary or adverse power can ever succeed in assailing us. This is perfect Love.

Neopagans often declare an intention to circle in “perfect love and perfect trust”, but Reform Pagans speak more often of circling in “perfect peace and perfect trust” because, whereas peace and trust depend on mutuality and reciprocity among individuals, as among those gathered to circle, Love can attain fullness in the unilateral disposition of a single person, regardless of whether others reciprocate. We cannot assume the existence of peace and trust among persons until we declare these as a shared intention, yet we can—and do—assume that each of us has chosen a path of personal and spiritual development that requires us to learn to express perfect Love.

For Reform Pagans, then, Love is not an imperative to which we must begrudgingly submit but a virtue that recommends itself to us by promising to make us greater, stronger, more complete persons.

Reform Pagan Practice 101: Community Ministry

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

Many world religions and spiritual systems, many secular philosophies, and even many subfields of modern psychology have recognized that one of the most important aspecks of living “the good life” is giving of oneself to others in love.

Reform Pagans, being among the most willing of Neopagans to learn from non-Pagan sources, often conceptualize this kind of selfless love according to the ancient brahmaviharas of the East: lovingkindness, compassion, vicarious joy, and equanimity. Some Reform Pagans prefer to think of these things in Western terms, such as agape, charity, or simply love.

Exactly how different Reform Pagans conceptualize this idea is less important than is our shared commitment to it, which sets us somewhat apart from many other Neopagans.

Ministerial Roles

Reform Paganism generally recognizes the usefulness of guiding our efforts in community ministry by distinguishing among various distinct ministerial roles, though specifics about the roles tend to vary from tradition to tradition.

Western astrology has served many Neopagans—including many Reform Pagans—as a symbolic lens through which to view distinct qualities and aspects of human personality and human life, so many Reform Pagans use an astrological paradigm (for example, planets, signs, or houses) to define a set of roles for community ministry.

Using the planets, for example, a Reform Pagan might define a set of roles for community ministry as follows:

  • Ministry of Sun: representative, director, and leader
  • Ministry of Moon: caregiver, nurturer, and sustainer
  • Ministry of Mercury: thinker, communicator, and educator
  • Ministry of Venus: encourager, counselor, and facilitator
  • Ministry of Mars: apologist, advocate, and protector
  • Ministry of Eris: innovator, challenger, and reformer
  • Ministry of Vesta: steward, custodian, and provider
  • Ministry of Jupiter: treasurer, cultivator, and builder
  • Ministry of Saturn: secretary, administrator, and manager
  • Ministry of Uranus: performer, creative, and liturgist
  • Ministry of Neptune: ambassador, humanitarian, and missionary
  • Ministry of Pluto: anchor, guide, and friend

The above definitions paint only a broad-strokes picture of what Reform Pagan community ministry can look like, but even these simple examples illustrate how the astrological paradigms of planets, signs, and houses lend themselves to a full and rich understanding of community ministry.

Reasons for Role-Based Ministry

Defining such a set of concrete ministerial roles, rather than thinking of community ministry merely in the abstract, serves two important purposes:

  1. By rotating through various ministerial roles (for each Reform Pagan is generally expected to do so in turn), we each learn about our own individual strengths and weaknesses, and by pushing ourselves to minister in roles in which we are less comfortable, we expand our capacity for lovingkindness, compassion, vicarious joy, and equanimity.
  2. By defining a set of ministerial roles that are interdependent and complementary, we remind ourselves that no person is separate from the rest of the human family and that our ministerial efforts create greater positive transformation in ourselves, in our communities, and in the world when we work together as Reform Pagans.

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