Litha 2017 Circle

Litha 2017 Circle
Saturday, June 24, 2017 7pm Kiwanis Park Ramada TBD

Burn your Bane;
Cleanse with Rain;
Claim your Reign!

You are invited to AZ Reclaiming’s 2017 Litha ritual! We will be working with the magical arts of trance, transformation, and sacred witnessing as we crown ourselves Queen of the Realm that is our lives.

Gathering time & open drum circle: 7:00pm
Ritual Conspiracy (pre-ritual important talky part): 7:30pm
Kiwanis Park: 5500 S Mill Ave, Tempe, AZ 85283
Ramada #: TBD

This is YOUR Coronation – feel free to bring your “Royal Vestments” (Crowns/Tiaras, scepters/staffs/swords, etc)

***It is going to be H O T!! We are providing plenty of drinking water and ice, however, PLEASE PLEASE bring your own cup/drinking vessel!***

We will be honoring the Arizona Summer with monsoon-styled music; please bring rain-sticks, drums, rattles if possible

Please also bring the following if possible:
*a potluck dish to share (potluck feast immediately following ritual)
*Spritzers/Misters/Fans for keeping cool
*a folding chair
*cash for our donation baskets
*your own potluck blissware – plate/bowl/cup/utensils (we strive for a green potluck aftermath)

Please note: All Reclaiming events are dry; alcohol and drug free. Let us know if you have any questions at all… thank you!

Your Litha Ritual Muses;
Autumn (Jessica), Amanda, Amiée, Andrea, Craig, Kathleen, Jared

Arizona Reclaiming Witches: One Perspective

Submitted by Darrell

This has been a year of years for our group. Some of the community has become strengthened by coming together to overcome struggles, claim our successes, fight our demons, and claim our power. Hearing the many stories throughout the year, the themes that have risen to the surface are oddly aligned, like iron filings with a magnet underneath: “Principles before personalities”, “vulnerability is not weakness”, saying “yes” and saying “no”, “fuckit”, acceptance, and “I see you in me”.
This list of challenges will be with us as the new year carries over and introduces its unknowns. We will adapt, for that is what we do. As we chanted at California WitchCamp this past year: “We Are Witches, and There Is Work for Us To Do”.
Our group has crossed the threshold from fledgling group to established group, now passing through our fourth anniversary year. Our gatherings have varied in size from 3 to 73, celebrating the sabbats, both the established Celtic Wheel of the Year™ and a wheel that, if drawn, would look more like a doodle on the back of someone’s notebook who’s trying to get their pen to write.
There are few initiated Reclaiming and Feri in attendance, but a surprising number of initiates from other traditions who are broadening their perspective. There are covens who join us for the sabbats. There are also Episcopalians, Benedictines, Catholics, AA’s, Chaos Magickians, Druids, Asatruar, Agnostics, husband/wife attaché’s, a whole bunch of “I don’t know’s” and another bunch of label-free folks. There are children and grandparents, teachers, PHD’s MD’s LNP’s RN’s LNP’s and other multi-lettered folks, all varieties of sexual orientations and those who identify at various places along the gender spectrum. There are even those who often change their mind about some of the above on any given day depending upon mood, weather, or astrological influence.
Many our ritual participants, perhaps more than half, come to attend the ritual only and that’s all we’ll see of them till the next ritual. And that’s great. That’s one of the reasons we offer our rituals publicly. Reclaiming magic is potent magic. We believe it should be shared. The more love we give, the more love we have.
We have offered a lite version of Elements of Magic, the Iron Pentacle, have had book studies, independent classes on herbalism, drumming, chanting, energy work, Feri, and just good old fashioned conversational chit chats. We’ve done some volunteering – not much, but some – however individually, there is an overwhelming sensibility of caring and altruism to our group that is unparalleled.
These things are not offered in hopes of proselytizing new Reclaiming Witches. It is of our perspective that if you have stepped forward in one of our circles – in fact if you have stepped into your own power by any means – then you are already priestess or priest of God Herself in your own right. You are your own spiritual authority. If we do our job right, you step away from our gatherings with a stronger sense of empowerment, a community connection, a sense of direction, or at the very least, a few belly laughs.
The path of the Priestess and Priest is not an easy path. It is a two way conversation between Powers that Be and your Self. And it is a two way conversation between your self and everyone and everything around you. And everyone and everything around you has its own conversation with the Powers that Be. Power Within harnesses that inner conversation, between your Self and God Herself. Power With harnesses that outward conversation, between your Self and your fellow Souls. And although words are potent forms of conversation, Service, Gratitude, Empathy, Compassion, and Appreciation when combined with action can move mountains. Prayer is not helping; prayer strengthens your inner connection. Action activates the outer connection. Prayer is praying; only helping is helping. Prayer plus helping is also helping with a little extra. Many paths stop at the thinking, praying, and energy work parts. As we practice, we don’t stop there. We act, we enact, we create, we make it happen.
Many of you have expressed interest in moving past the introductory levels of your practice.
Many of you have expressed interest in moving past a rut in your practice.
Many of you have expressed that you really don’t even know where to start.
We have enough people gathered together in our group to make a lot of things happen. We’ve discussed recurring naming rituals, rites of passage for our many diverse members, the creation of a community liturgical cycle, a book of shadows, bringing the local flora and fauna into our lore along with the Sonoran Desert Wheel of the Year, a musical guild (vocal, instrumental, drum) women’s circle, men’s group, LGBT group, ASU Campus events, bringing teachers in from other groups for weekend retreats, group hiking trips, camping trips, wilderness survival classes, self defense classes, mediation and mantra work, yoga, group fitness goals and coaching, crafting guild, Feri and Reclaiming initiatory paths, lore of the various pantheons, divination classes, continued volunteerism, local governmental participation…
But in community, in groups of three, of five, of ten, we could go far with any of the items in this list. That’s power with.
If you want to help, or contribute to any of these, contact one of the steering comittee members. If you dont know who they are, just say STEERING COMMITTEE MEMBER contact us via the contact us form and one of us will message you.
With risk of sounding grim, I’ll say that we have some very unpredictable and strange times ahead of us. Some of the ground that we have gained towards equality seems like it is at risk. We cannot let this shock us into inaction, into being frozen by fear. Nor can we let it distract us from what lies before us, which is this: “We are witches: and there is work for us to do.”

With Love, Darrell

Celebrating the Divine Mother on Mother’s Day

This morning I woke up feeling the slight pull of depression for no apparent reason. My life is going well, I love my job, my daughters are with me this weekend and it’s been a good one, and I’m feeling good health wise. So why the depression? Then I remembered that tomorrow is Mother’s Day.

If your mother is wonderful and you have great memories to celebrate, Mother’s Day is a fine day to do that. If you have this kind of Mother’s Day, I am happy for you.

If your mother was less than wonderful, or has passed and you miss her greatly, or you are wanting to be a mother but you can’t be, it can be a terribly painful holiday. The greeting cards, advertisements, and hearing about everyone else’s wonderful Mother’s Day plans don’t help.

In the true Reclaiming Tradition, I am going to re-create this holiday to serve my needs. May I present Mother’s (Mother with an extra-big capital “M”) Day. As in the Divine Mother, the Goddess.

And here’s why I need to do this:

When I was nine, my family experienced a tragedy that cost me my both my brother and mother. My brother was dead. My mother was still alive, but I was no longer allowed to see her. I remember that first year, when I was fourth grade. I lost my mother in September. In May, my teacher asked us to write a poem about Mother’s Day and how painful that was. It opened a barely-healed wound.

Because I was the only surviving child of a very busy and somewhat “tough guy” father, I spent a lot of time alone. I often took long walks in my neighborhood’s green belt, or even just sat under the giant ash tree in our back yard. And one day as I was sitting there, I became conscious of the Great Connection. I felt the pull of nature. I saw the Web. I felt held by the Web, and by the Mother. I did not know Her name back then, but I felt Her love, Her holding of me, and my place in Her family. She saved my life. Many times, She saved me. She saves me still.

The final connection came when I had the opportunity to aspect Earth at one of our community rituals about a year and a half ago. When I opened myself up, what filled me was pure love, the Mother’s love. And when people came to me and I held their hands, and that love passed into them, most of them audibly gasped. They could feel it, too. The Mother’s Love is real. And it is within us and all around us.

I became a mother myself without my mother being there for me. When the kids were older and repeating the Mother’s Day school crafts (some things never change) and came home with paper flowers and cards for me, I was both moved with joy, and I felt sadness at remembering my childhood self who never got to do this.

When my tiny firstborn daughter was set on top of my now-empty womb for the first time, I looked her over. She is of mixed heritage and has taken on more of her father’s darker features than my light, green-eyed ones. But there! Her toes! She has my toes, the same curves, the same shape. She has my barely-there little toenails. And though it has now been 16 years since that moment, I still sometimes smile at recognizing my own self in part of her when I see her toes.

And my second daughter– she has the hands and feet and body type of her father’s side. But she has the same brain structure as me, in the way she often struggles to learn differently in the exact same way as me, and my mother before me. And she has my heart. Love is her super power. She loves deeply and hurts deeply. She is an empath like me.

I think of the Divine Mother, and what She must see in me, as Her daughter. Not only the flesh and bones that are made of the Earth, or the fire in the energy-houses in every cell in my body, or the air that rushes into and out of the caverns of my lungs, and is dispersed throughout my body as carried by the rivers within, or the electric sparks of nervous synapses. But also my heart. My growth.

And just as I often watch my children experiencing something for the first time—their first time splashing in puddles after a rain, their faces light up at their first live concert, their first time broken-hearted after having a fight with their best friend– I imagine that the Mother watches me. She lives through me. She sees the world through my eyes. My life individual life experiences add to the Whole.

As a mother, I have to know when to rescue, and when to stand back and let life teach my daughters by experience. They are now at that transitional stage, or rather, we are. They are walking ahead of me and I am holding back. It is hard, but it needs to happen for them to grow. They know I am there when they need me, and that gives them the confidence to walk ahead. I love it when my daughters have a moment of joy and they smile and then they turn to me and say, “Mom, look!” and they want to share that with me.

And when I have joy, I am sharing that with the Mother, and I am enhancing the whole Web. I take the time (or try to) to celebrate the gift of being alive. The smell of coffee in the morning. The deep sincere embrace between friends. The pleasure of playing my favorite music in the car while driving to work. The divine act of making love.

And like I do with my own daughters, sometimes She stands back and lets me walk my own path. It often hurts, the process of growing. But in moments of pain, if I remember to allow myself to trust, the Holy Web is there to catch me when I fall. Even in my suffering when I often feel I am alone, I am not. All I have to do is look around me, sit with Nature, start to see the Web.

Motherhood is a sacred thing. The bringing forth of new life. The breast that nourishes us. The soil that holds the roots of growth so that we may spread ourselves upward. We are our Mother. She is Us. Let us celebrate Her on Mother’s Day.

Event: Exploring the Reclaiming and Feri Traditions

Reclaiming Discussion Group: Exploring Reclaiming and Feri Witchcraft

2nd Thursday of the month from May to July
Pyle Recreation Center, 655 E Southern Ave, Tempe, AZ 85282
Thursday 5/11 6:00 – 8:30 pm (discussion begins promtly at 6:30)
Thursday 6/8  6:00 – 8:30 pm (discussion begins promptly at 6:30)
Thursday 7/13 6:00 – 8:30 pm (discussion begins promptly at 6:30)
The Reclaiming Tradition of Witchcraft is an ecstatic tradition which is heavily rooted in eco-feminism and activism.  Although we share the concepts of female and male deity, we also recognize that gender is a continuum.  We honor all races, sexual orientations, and gender identities. In the same way that no two Witches are a like, so too are no two relationships with deity alike.  We believe that the divine power is immanent, permeating everything in every place, not “beyond” or “after” this realm, but within it, all around it.  Our relationship to politics, advocacy and service is rooted in seeking justice for our planet and all who dwell upon and within it.
The Feri Tradition of Witchcraft can be traced to Victor and Cora Anderson and is one of the contributing streams into Reclaiming.  Feri Tradition also is an ecstatic tradition (as opposed to fertility based) with a deeply artistic aesthetic rife with paradox and shamanic teachings.  It is an initiatory tradition, though those who practice as uninitiated are growing in numbers.
These three sessions will be dedicated to exploring these traditions in discussion format with plenty of time for question and answers and a few group-practices to demonstrate some of the perspectives. The sessions are not sequential and not cumulative.  Feel free to come to all or some of them.
Donations accepted for the payment of the room rental (approximately $30 per night), however are not required to attend.  

Living With Regret

By Archelon

I am human.  I make mistakes.  As my mom used to say: “If people didn’t make mistakes, there wouldn’t be erasers on the ends of pencils.”  Regretting what I’ve done can at best be only a temporary part of my story.  If I face regret and have true remorse, then maybe I can use it as a springboard for myself. I regret some of the things I’ve said and done.  I’ve messed up.  I have a few years ahead of me still, maybe even a decade or so.  I live with my regrets.  They were lessons.  And I choose to learn from them. And I forgive myself.  There is power in self-forgiveness, and sometimes it can be hard to forgive ourselves.   I say it again.  I forgive myself.

I can can live with regret.  And guess what?  You can live with regret. There, it’s been said.  A lot of people bravely say that they want to live life with no regrets.  However, there is a lot that needs to be said regarding regret, and you might want to think about living life without regret. But is having regrets healthy?  And what is regret?

What is the Real Meaning of Regret?

According to Psychology Today:

“Regret is a negative cognitive/emotional state that involves blaming ourselves for a bad outcome, feeling a sense of loss or sorrow at what might have been or wishing we could undo a previous choice that we made.” [VIEW SOURCE]

Is It Possible to Live Without Regret?

There are only a few people who have no regrets, however, the only people that truly have no regrets are sociopaths.  A sociopath will have their own agenda and will leave behind their victims while constantly pursuing that agenda.  Regret involves pausing to consider their course of action, which is not something a sociopath can do comfortably.  So having regrets is fairly normal. The key to them is not to let regrets dominate your thoughts, nor allow them to be used against you.  Instead use them to your advantage.

If you have regrets for something that you’ve done, come to terms with it.  Own it.  Admit that you made a mistake and consciously choose to learn from that mistake.  So many people regret something that they did long ago, and use it to polish the wood on the cross that they carry around.  It’s an easy trap to fall into.  I’ve fallen into it a few times.  I also kept buying that crap about “Live life without regret.” However, without regret, without facing myself and all of my imperfections, I will never able to really learn and grow.   And not facing regret makes your soul and spirit sicken, trust me I know. Why?

Holding onto regrets  is the absolutely worst thing you can do.  Why?  Well for one, regrets are always part of your past.  Whatever you regret could be just a few seconds ago, or years or even decades past, but they are all in your rear view mirror. There are no regrets in the future, nor the present.  And look at it this way.  If someone in your life constantly reminded you of some mistake you made in the past, after a while, you’d sever ties with that person.  It is crucial to forgive yourself; and if you hold onto your regrets you haven’t truly forgiven yourself. And as Jack Kornfield once said: “If your compassion doesn’t include yourself, it is incomplete.”

So maybe that is what they mean by living without regrets.  Maybe, just maybe, it’s all in how you perceive regrets.  Regrets can be weights that you carry with you, constantly weighing you down, and making you doubt who you are.  Or they can be mileposts that you look back at and see how far you’ve come.

Other Resources

Questioning Forgiveness by Djourney April 26, 2017 https://azreclaiming.com/2017/04/26/questioning-forgiveness/

The Psychology of Regret, Melanie Greenberg Ph.D, Pyschology Today May 6 2012. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201205/the-psychology-regret

20 Quotes to Inspire Self-Compassion Habits for Well Being http://www.habitsforwellbeing.com/20-quotes-to-inspire-self-compassion/

How to Love Your Authentic Self By Lori Deschene Tiny Buddha http://tinybuddha.com/blog/how-to-love-your-authentic-self/

Why I Stopped Apologizing for Being Me By Jacky Exton http://tinybuddha.com/blog/why-i-stopped-apologizing-for-being-me/

 

Questioning Forgiveness

I am in my 40’s now, firmly in middle age somewhere between the “mother” and “crone” stages of life. One would think I would be wiser, more practiced at the processing of grief and pain and anger and forgiveness. I am a witch, after all. That implies wisdom. And people who have heard my story often state that I have lived several lifetimes in this one. But I struggle still with forgiveness. Oh, I struggle! I am an expert at holding grudges.

I think back to all the times I was hurt. Intentionally, unintentionally, selfishly. And all the times I’ve had to rebuild my life and move on. The last incident, the one that has prompted this deep exploration into the idea of forgiveness, is still too fresh to elaborate upon. Let’s just say it shattered me to my core. Again. And I know it won’t be the last time I will be hurt or wronged.

I need to find a better path of recovery for next time. Because there’s always a next time.

But let’s start at the beginning.

The first time I was severely hurt was when a man who was a friend of the family murdered my six year old handicapped brother. I was nine. The world as I knew it, the proverbial rug I was standing on so securely, was in one motion ripped out from under me. Child Protective Services was involved. I never again saw my friends, my home, my neighborhood, and even lost my beloved little dog. Not to mention my only sibling at the time. In addition, I was removed from the closed religious community of my mother and placed into the secular world of my father. Culture shock in every way possible.

How does one survive this and go on? Being a child, I had no choice but to go on. I was enrolled in a new school. I was given new clothes to wear (pants for the first time!). I grew into a woman without my mother around. My father was harsh and militaristic. Although he had the best of intentions and I know he loved me, he had a funny way of showing it.

Later, after I was a mother myself, my dad made amends with me. He truly apologized and meant it. We healed and had a close relationship until he died suddenly at the age of 59. I am so glad we were in a good place when he died. If there’s an example in my life of true forgiveness, it was between me and my dad.

My mom and I have both tried to repair our relationship as adults. She is not the person she used to be. I had to set boundaries, including a ten-year period where we did not speak at all. Although I love her, I still keep her at arm’s length. Is this true forgiveness? Not really. It is tolerance for the sake of love and doing the right thing.

Next was a twenty-year marriage that ended in divorce. The marriage started well enough, with love and hope and promises of a good life together. And then I became a stay at home mom of two kids (one with medical challenges). I don’t think he could adjust well to this. He coped by going back to how he was raised. He became rigid, controlling, and emotional abusive. I found myself a woman in my early 40’s with two kids, starting over. Again.

And then there is this most recent thing that happened. I entered into a situation with pure love, great trust, hope, and the best of intentions. Then a problem emerged that took on a life of its own. I thought love would be enough to overcome it, but it was not. This one hit me hard. I was caught off guard, emotionally open to all the love and pain. I loved fully. I grieved fully.

Just when I would think I was over it, it would hit me again and I’d spend more time being heartbroken and angry. I wondered when the pain would end.I would be angry at myself, that I “should” be over this by now. That I “should” forgive.

As I was having another depressive episode triggered by this situation, I remembered years ago when a friend pointed her finger at me and commanded, “Witch, heal thyself!” Indeed, I am not helpless in this situation. I don’t have to carry the victim’s burden and pain forever. I walk the Witches Path. It is a path of shadow work, finding truths, and then casting those truths into the bright sun. Step by step, I make a new path.

Step 1: Examine the meaning of “forgiveness”

As a child, I was taught that in order to be a good person, I was required to forgive, even embrace and love, my enemies. I was taught: Colossians 3:13: “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” And Matthew 6:15 “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Merriam-Webster says forgiveness is “the act of forgiving.” It’s something that is done actively. It’s a conscious effort. It’s hard work (damned hard work!). To forgive is to “to cease to feel resentment.”

The main problem I have with “forgiveness” in the definitions above is that it requires the victim and perpetrator both be involved in the process of healing, even if only in the mind of the victim. The victim must forgive (let go of resentment towards) the one who caused so much pain. Maybe they just want to focus on healing their wounds instead of thinking of the one who caused them.

There is guilt factor here, too.If the victim continues to have occasional thoughts of resentment, it makes the victim feel they have failed in the act of forgiving. It also denies them permission and room to be angry.

Step 2: Allow anger to happen.

Anger can be a good thing. It validates feelings and allows me to express them. I am still learning to be comfortable with anger. A good fire has a purpose. It should be allowed to blast up to the heavens, and then burn down to glowing coals. I think those coals are those of resentment, and it’s okay to let them glow a bit. They are living reminders of the lessons learned, the wisdom earned.

It is hard for me to let anger die down once its ignited. Sometimes compassion towards the wrong-doer tempers resentment: they had good intentions that went poorly, they were not being mindful of my feelings, they were immersed in their own problems. But big infernos are directed towards the person who hurts me with intent: who knowingly manipulates me, lies to me, abuses me! This burns my heart! Especially if this person is someone who supposedly loved me, who hurt me when my heart was open to them. This shatters me.

Step 3: Seek the support of friends and community to witness the pain

In the rebuilding of my life, I embraced– and was embraced back by– a beautiful community of friends and spiritual companions. And I did a difficult thing. I reached out to them as I felt myself retreating into the darkness of grief. I suffer from depression, always trying to put it in its place on my good days. On my bad days, it takes over and pulls me down into a dark spiral.

This time I started to reach out to my community in my desire to heal and be pulled out of the spiral. Sometimes I told them I was having a dark day. Other times I just started a chat with them about neutral topics, or checked in with them on their problems.

At one point when I was in the deepest throes of my anger and pain, I reached out to my inner circle for help. I needed to be heard. Many were shocked by the intensity. I even shocked myself! I allowed my tears to flow freely. My friends, my tribe, they lovingly witnessed those tears. They held me, and protected me, and offered healings. They helped me bank the fire.

What was left after the healing was a strange kind of indifferent nothingness. This created space for wisdom and joy to return. It created space for me to breathe.

Step 4: Let go of the expectation of an apology.

This one is so hard for me. Probably the most difficult step of all. I was raised that people who hurt others should apologize and make amends. That’s what good, decent people do.

In childhood the teacher would make the perpetrator say “I’m sorry” and then the victim would have to say “It’s okay” when neither of them really meant it. The best part of this for me as the childhood victim was knowing that my perpetrator was caught and people saw what they did. In real life the perpetrator often gets away with it and even continues to hurt others with no regrets.

I realize now I would rather have no apology than an insincere one. And that expecting one stops me in my path of healing, and makes me dependent on the actions of the person who hurt me. I need to stop giving them power over me.

There is power in letting go, walking forward.

Step 5: “Walk forward, always forward”

What came out of the most recent heart-breaking situation was the ability to truly express my full anger for the first time in my life, and being truly held by my community and friends.

In exploring this topic of forgiveness and healing, I asked several people in my life what worked for them, and what it meant to them. One friend’s words became my mantra when I started to look back and feel pain again: “Walk forward, always forward.”

I know my journey is not done. The answers I have found are not wrapped up nicely with a bow. They are messy answers, uncertain, not fully or satisfactorily defined, imperfect. As is life.

As a Witch who walks the Path with all its shadows and light, I accept this truth. And I keep walking.

Beltane Circle April 29 2017

Submitted by Thalia

*****Pulsate with Fey,
*****Sate your Dragon,
*****Ignite your Phoenix!

A ritual of FIRE awaits your magical spark. Join us Saturday April, 29th, for Arizona Reclaiming’s 2017 Beltane ritual.

You may see fairies… you may feed dragons… you may rise through the flames of desire to transformation…

Please wear clothing that is FIREY with colors of red, yellow, orange and passion. We need drummers! Please bring your drums and your willingness to make any type of rhythm in support of community magick. We need firewood! Please bring a bundle of wood if possible, we are feeding multiple Beltane FIRES and they’re hungry this time of year.

Gathering time, open drum circle & labyrinth walk: 7:00pm
Ritual Conspiracy (pre-ritual important talky part): 7:30pm

Please bring the following if possible (all optional):
*drums, rattles, and other music makers, bring extras to share!
*a non-dessert potluck dish to share- (see Dawn’s potluck post)
*a folding chair
*cash for our Az Reclaiming donation baskets
*firewood (lots)
*your own potluck blissware – plate/bowl/cup/utensils (we strive for a green potluck aftermath)

The specific address will be sent in a separate message–we’re off of Crismon and Southern in Mesa.

Two Important Notes:

    1. All Reclaiming events are dry- alcohol and drug free.

 

  1. Possible nakedness warning– while nudity is not planned specifically in this ritual, we are committed to unraveling the overculture’s shame and degradation of our bodies and reclaim our godselves as beautiful, sexual creatures. The Ritual Muses strive to create magical space where expressions of liberation and freedom are possible, accepted and honored. For some of us, that may involve less clothing than others. If you would like to process what this means, have any questions, would like to ask for special support around this trigger area or are considering bringing children, please message me (Thalia, aka Deborah) or Dawn Spiraling Leaf (aka Victoria)

We look forward to seeing everyone!!!

Addendum
Submitted by
Dawn Spiraling Leaf

Attention Beltane ritual goers: As potluck priestess I would like to announce… Dessert for the ritual will be covered. Fresh fruit salad, cheese cake, and 2 kinds of wedding cake. Mike and I are recreating our reception deserts from our handfasting in honor of our 10 year anniversary.
Please plan on bringing main dishes and side dishes or munchie foods….and please no desserts.
Also don’t forget your blissware!

Your Beltane Ritual Muses Are:

Journey, Rhys, Fyn, Jane, Calypso, Wendy, Brian, Elizabeth, Dawn, Mike, Amanda, Andrea, Amy, Thalia

Trusting the Labyrinth

This is the year of the Labyrinth. It is the theme of this year’s upcoming California Witchcamp. When one goes to Witchcamp, one must be prepared to dive in. I already feel it pulling me in.

We are born into the Labyrinth, into its twists and turns. Most people, naturally, seek a solid place to stand, building a life that is secure, unchanging, and safe. We allow ourselves to settle into our chairs, enjoy the view. And then along comes something outside of our control that changes everything. We fight it, we beat at it, we resist it, we grieve it. And eventually we realize that in order to survive, we have no choice but to turn the next corner. The Labyrinth insists on it.

This is not to say we are helpless. Anything but! We can make good decisions and unwise ones. As Witches, we know that we are interconnected in endless ways, that we can gather energy like a fisherman’s net and cast it out again into the world. We can, to some extent, change the course of the Labyrinth. But still we must walk it. We build houses that sometimes crumble. We fall in love with someone who proves false to us. We grieve the deaths of loved ones. We feel anger. We find it hard to forgive. We are human. And, Blessed Be, some of us are Witches.

What sets us apart as Witches? Before I was as a Witch I prayed to God to make my path smooth, without further pain, without illness, and though loss was inevitable, I prayed for as little of it as possible. And then those prayers failed me, and for a time I lost faith in that Divine Being that I once called God.

And then I became bitter, as many do. I lashed out at God. I lashed out at the fact that no matter how hard I tried, the Labyrinth kept twisting and turning and making my homes crumble. I fought. I became rigid and resisting of change. The Labyrinth fought back. It bent me. Eventually it broke me.

And then I stopped fighting. Defeated. Afraid of feeling anything. Some people are stuck here. No longer growing. Afraid to. Growing hurts. It’s uncertain. It’s scary, and there are no guarantees that the growth will lead to greater security. Some people stay here, paralyzed, their whole lives. But I became restless.

I decided to stand up, dust myself off, and walk forward into the unknown. This is the moment I became a Witch.

I am learning to accept the twists and turns. I’m learning to accept the dark shadows, the sharp corners. It is my choice to keep walking. There is power in being able to choose. I have found bravery to look deep into the shadows, for there is wisdom to be found.

This is not to say I am not afraid. On my worst days I am pulled down by my depression, a constant companion who waits to surge forward when I’m not on guard. Even on my best days I know I’m taking a Holy Risk to walk into the unknown. Or known. Sometimes the shadows are my own. I look at the unflattering reflections of myself. I look fully at myself, and I seek to change myself, to grow.  This is a brave thing.

Since embracing my path as a Witch, I see connections. I see “coincidences” that remind me I’m in the place I need to be at this moment. Even in painful moments, for we must walk through pain even as we walk through joy.

And there is joy to be found there too! The joy of growth, leaving burdens behind, curiosity as to what is around the next bend. Looking forward. Finding my tribe, my people, my Loves.

Where once I lost my faith because God did not hold my hand and ensure a smooth journey for me, I have now regained my faith. I have faith in the process of the Labyrinth. I have faith that each step, each turn, each time I think I am close to the center and then am turned away again, it is where I am meant to be at that moment. I am held by the walls of the Labyrinth.

And what happens when the Labyrinth travelers reach its center? What happens when they reach the place where they can go no further, and they sit for awhile. Then what? Some people believe that’s the final end of the journey. Life stops. They go away. Some people believe it is a gateway to a holy paradise, where all their loved ones gone before are waiting. Where they finally get to see the Divine face to face. And that’s all fine and good for them.

But I am a Witch. I believe that I am the Divine in briefly human form. She sees through my eyes what it is like to be human. She feels what it is like for me to walk on gravel with bare feet. To have my heart torn out with deep grief. And to fall in love. To wrap my body around another in pure passion. To hold a newborn baby in my arms. To help someone stand up after they have fallen down. To give. And to feel helpless, so that I must learn to receive. That was the hardest lesson of all for me. To receive. To trust.

And at the center of the Labyrinth, when I finally reach the center, I sit for awhile and reflect on my journey. Then I let go this life with my final breath, and I dive back into the mystery of the Labyrinth. I become that newborn baby held in someone else’s arms. And when I learn to walk again, I will walk the Labyrinth. For to walk the Labyrinth, to leap and dance in the Labyrinth, to stumble and limp and sometimes crawl in the Labyrinth is to live life fully. I trust in the Labyrinth. I trust in the Witch’s Path.

The Reclaiming Principles of Unity

Submitted by Darrell

“My law is love unto all beings…”
– from The Charge of the Goddess by Doreen Valiente

The values of the Reclaiming tradition stem from our understanding that the earth is alive and all of life is sacred and interconnected. We see the Goddess as immanent in the earth’s cycles of birth, growth, death, decay and regeneration. Our practice arises from a deep, spiritual commitment to the earth, to healing and to the linking of magic with political action.

Each of us embodies the divine. Our ultimate spiritual authority is within, and we need no other person to interpret the sacred to us. We foster the questioning attitude, and honor intellectual, spiritual and creative freedom.

We are an evolving, dynamic tradition and proudly call ourselves Witches. Our diverse practices and experiences of the divine weave a tapestry of many different threads. We include those who honor Mysterious Ones, Goddesses, and Gods of myriad expressions, genders, and states of being, remembering that mystery goes beyond form. Our community rituals are participatory and ecstatic, celebrating the cycles of the seasons and our lives, and raising energy for personal, collective and earth healing.

We know that everyone can do the life-changing, world-renewing work of magic, the art of changing consciousness at will. We strive to teach and practice in ways that foster personal and collective empowerment, to model shared power and to open leadership roles to all. We make decisions by consensus, and balance individual autonomy with social responsibility.

Our tradition honors the wild, and calls for service to the earth and the community. We value peace and practice non-violence, in keeping with the Rede, “Harm none, and do what you will.” We work for all forms of justice: environmental, social, political, racial, gender and economic. Our feminism includes a radical analysis of power, seeing all systems of oppression as interrelated, rooted in structures of domination and control.

We welcome all genders, all gender histories, all races, all ages and sexual orientations and all those differences of life situation, background, and ability that increase our diversity. We strive to make our public rituals and events accessible and safe. We try to balance the need to be justly compensated for our labor with our commitment to make our work available to people of all economic levels.

All living beings are worthy of respect. All are supported by the sacred elements of air, fire, water and earth. We work to create and sustain communities and cultures that embody our values, that can help to heal the wounds of the earth and her peoples, and that can sustain us and nurture future generations.

SOURCES

Reclaiming Principles of Unity – consensed by the Reclaiming Collective in 1997. Updated at the BIRCH council meeting of Dandelion Gathering 5 in 2012.

Obtained from http://www.reclaiming.org/about/directions/unity.html