In April, Dr Jon Cleland Host and I met up in Detroit and after a short discussion, combined with him meeting my group leader, Baldr, earlier at ConVocation in February, we agreed that writing an article unrelated to science news (at least directly) about the pagan group I belong to here, in Seattle, might be a fun opportunity to represent an inclusive group that embraces Naturalistic Pagans and everything they represent! So….
I first discovered my group online, of course, about a year ago. Maybe it’s because I needed a change, or maybe it’s because I’m in my 30’s, but after being my own pagan for more than half my life, I decided I needed something more interactive. I wanted a community that extended beyond the subtle glow of my monitor. Friends. Family. A coven, or spiritual group that I could meet with for the solstices and equinoxes, maybe hold some kind of ritual with, and become close to by sharing and experiencing our lives together. So, I powered up my laptop and started searching. Finding a spiritual group is exactly like dating and is probably why I’m still single! It is absolutely tedious; trying to find that one group that at least loosely resonates with your beliefs, your politics, your motives, and your purpose without being filtered out by all their restrictions. This group is Wiccan only, Dianic only, men only, skyclad only, gender-bender only, Druid only, eclectic (but not really eclectic) only, or eclectic-Wiccan/Dianic coven for gender-bending Druidic skyclad men only. The lists go on.
Then suddenly, I stumbled upon something listed on [ye olde] Witchvox that wasn’t there the week before. Reform Paganism, it called itself. Intrigued, I checked out their website: “We appreciate that people are social animals who come together whenever they want to accomplish something bigger than themselves. …we believe that our shared labor toward positive transformation should include everyone, without requiring adherence to any specific metaphysical beliefs or spiritual practices. …We affirm our conviction that all persons possess an innate spiritual capacity rooted in Nature”. Bingo. Science, non-judgmental inclusion, and a collective mission to make a difference in the world. So, I met with the leader at a coffeeshop to get a feel for the group, as well as going over the exact practices and beliefs. For example, Reform Pagans abide by their Fifteen Theses (or what I call the “15 isms”!) to ensure they work together with a common set of Pagan values and ethics, regardless of each other’s spiritual diversity.
And Reform Pagans practice by the five elements of:
- Earth – Improving the condition of our planet, the condition of our bodies, and attuning to the natural world.
- Air – Encouragement of education, fields of study, self-awareness with open-mindedness, and the advancement of science.
- Fire – Cyclical rituals of solar and lunar months, solar periods of a day, and rites of passage.
- Water – Ministry and compassion in the fellowship of humankind, and the sharing of togetherness.
- Spirit – Connection with self-divinity and inner muses, meditative discovery and life-changing experiences, spirituality found in Nature.
Given that Reform Paganism is inclusive (I prefer this word over “eclectic”, because for us, it’s not just a mish-mash; it’s a mission of a learning experience from constant exposure based on mutual respect and bestowal), we tend to attract those from all walks of life. Many times -and this continuously surprises me, we often attract those that do not know anything about Paganism, but probably identify as Animists or Humanistic Pagans had they known these terms. Not only does this new branch of Paganism strive to better themselves as a group and as individuals, but we also strive to better the planet and restore a once-and-future-faith by reforming what Paganism means to us.
For me, these ideals and purposes differed from all the groups, covens, circles, groves, what-have-yous that I was exploring and interviewing with in my area. No groups could I find practiced by physical exertion in Nature, or volunteering at not-for-profit advocate organizations, or promoting the advancement of technology and scientific development. A group that lived only for today and tomorrow and not for 2,000 years ago. This one did. And it works really well for me. Even if it’s not your thing, I definitely encourage you to look into it just to learn more of what’s out there, because we don’t plan on just being in Seattle and you may someday meet a Reform Pagan somewhere and strike up a conversation!
Kansas Stanton is a Neo-Pagan who resides in Seattle, Washington. He belongs to, and practices with, a local group of Reform Pagans and blogs at https://leavesontheroad.wordpress.com/. He also volunteers every year at the Esoteric Book Conference in Seattle and regularly attends various Pagan festivals and events.
He is a full-time student, earning his degree in Environmental Science and a Certificate in Sustainability, after which time he will move on to grad school (climate science). When Kansas is not in class or working his job in the art industry, he also attends heavy metal concerts both locally and internationally. He is also a vegan outdoorsman who frequents the trails and whitewater rivers of the pacific northwest and loves to spend his time with friends over a cold, dark beer.
Were such a group existing in my area (Cincinnati, Ohio), I would seriously consider it. As it is most in this area are what one would refer to as (when it is convenient for them). So what I do is solo and am more at peace with myself. I am past with the wanna bes or socalled be’s. Here today and tomorrow if it works okay and if it doesn’t oh well..As much as they claim they are Pagan, it is to get a rise out of others. I am soon to be 73 and dealing with these is not where I want to be. .
I wish to know more about the conception of self-divinity within the framework of Reform Paganism.
Hi, Aleph. Thanks for asking. Reform Paganism doesn’t have one particular and exclusive conception of divinity, but connecting with “the divine” is one of our elements of practice. For some, this means connecting with their superego, higher self, or creative muses; for others, it means devotion to their deities of choice (so this wouldn’t probably be a Humanistic or Naturalistic approach); for others, it means experiencing the ecstasy of bathing in awe of Nature. By opening our spirits to each others’ diverse conceptions of divinity, we find inspiration and enrichment. Blessings. —BF
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