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.