The Silver Chain and the Crossroads

When I was a little girl, I had trouble determining the flow of power between the haves and have nots. I felt entitled to my wants, to my needs, though it may have well been at the detriment of businesses or relationships. My pocket was lined with things that didn’t belong to me. I felt powerful and empty. In trying to overcome the Us versus Them didactic, I found myself able to determine my values, and completely be, in spite of it all.

A bracelet I have been wearing since a job very early on in my life was completely purchased without coins, but with currency. I sacrificed my morality for one silver chain and carried it around me. I intended to subvert the system of Us versus Them, but instead found myself consumed by it while also being being blind to that fact. I lugged this subconscious reminder around with me. “Not good enough,” it whispered. I listened, but didn’t hear it speak quite yet. A number of other synchronicities would be required to move past the idea that I was good enough while also allowing myself to actually believe the opposite; I had ground myself down with subconscious ruminations.
Balance was rescinded from my existence. Strange things have been happening the entirety of my life, but recently, my bracelets and necklaces have started coming undone. Not at the clasp, or broken, but, in fact, separated from links with no breaks or injury to the jewelry. I begin to remember. Enter stage right, the goddess Hecate. Meeting me at the crossroads of my wants and my values: Who am I?

I would like to say that, when the jewelry started removing itself and breaking itself without breaking, I immediately went back to my values and considered the weight of my actions. This, however, was not the case; it took repeated reminders. Repeated destruction of pieces of jewelry–or becoming unclasped, impossibly, and temporarily lost–to force the memory to the forefront of my experience. I had stolen this. I sold my soul for a single line of silver. Immediately on the understanding of what had transpired, I found myself before Hecate, breaking my chains and forcing me to choose: Burn my brilliance or be burned up. One or the other. The dialectic is choice, not the path of least resistance. My wise mind declared that it was imperative to move in an angle that was aligned with my belief systems instead of aligned with the weight of my pocket.

Today I can say I love myself and all my parts. I am proud to be present and part of this. I will worship what I have and not what I should. I am a part of the infinite. Thank you for witnessing this.

The Priestess and the Pea

 

There is no litmus test to prove I am a good enough witch to be called a witch. There are no number of mattresses, herbs, or visions had or not had that prove my magickal ability. I am a witch because I am. No outside force can determine this for me as it is a conscious choice I make every day. To continue on, to stay married, to live, to follow the path or to walk off it. I get to decide the events of my life.

This and much more make me a witch, but not one of them is exclusively the threshold of this. I grew this in my belly–in my being. I give birth to this feeling. I am the mother and the father, the goddess and her consort, the alpha and omega. The breath that sustains my womb, that fills my bones, gives me the structure to choose this life.

[Listen to the wordless words, the whispers on the winds, the voice within. Hang on to this moment and relish in it There is no time but right now. Being here is one of the steps for me to glimpse a single moment]

Who are we?

Journaling to spin the web that is our bed, to cradle me while I dream.

“No one just does anything.”
Daily practice is not arbitrary; these things we commit to do are not only improving our lives, but, in essence, making the world a better place than we found it just by being here. It is not a requirement to leave the world in a better position than I found it in. I could be flippant, if I desired: Hexing this, not recycling that, failing to make peace in my busy mind. What contribution will I make at that point? None even to myself. Commitment isn’t usually focused on self-indulgent instant gratification. Being in The Work is, at large, an extended sacrifice for the greater good, the understanding that what I do matters, every little bit. In the wise words of Doctor Who “No one just does anything.” And it’s true.

More than anything, commitment to make ourselves better will make the world better. Being a witch is a great responsibility–we choose to make ourselves better so a future we may not see can be better than today.

To Be Continued.

Small Group Drama and Avoiding Group Implosion

by

Archelon

Witchcraft is a cellular religion.  Contrary to propaganda spread during the Witch Craze in Europe, we don’t have an inverse hierarchy going all the way down to the Devil.  What we have are small groups.  This is a blessing in that we are all independent and don’t have to kowtow to any Grand High Witch, for lack of a better term.  However, this can also be a problem in that sometimes, small group dynamics can tear apart a group or cause it to implode on itself.

Covens are run in a variety of way.  The joy of Reclaiming is that it is set up to run as an anarchy, namely with the cooperation of its members.  Duties are assigned based on who volunteers to do particular tasks.  Other covens often run this way as well, however, there are several covens that start out this way and end up being the complete opposite of this.  They end up as authoritarian, cliquish nightmares where only a small cadre of people run them, and while an illusion is promoted of every one having a voice, they really don’t.  This is a real danger, particularly to witches looking for a tribe or a place to belong, or to new witches who don’t know how to recognize troubled groups.  I’ve seen my share of covens implode, so here are some warning signs to watch out for.

Signs Your Coven Is Going the Wrong Way

  1. Lack of notification or insufficient notice about planning meetings.  If a planning meeting is to occur, there should be total transparency about when it is and where it is.  While sometimes, coordinating people’s schedules can be challenging, there is usually enough of a consensus to arrange it so that it coincides with other people’s schedule.  This is the age of social media, and everyone has a smart phone.  There is no excuse for anyone who wishes to attend a planning meeting to be denied the opportunity.  Well, no excuse except for a coven’s slide into authoritarianism and denying other voices.
  2. There is a feeling of cliquishness or exclusion.  This one is sometimes harder to spot.  It usually takes a few circles.  Ask yourself some questions.  Do you feel welcome there, or do you feel you’re merely tolerated?  Do people congregate in the same small groups and don’t include others?  To be fair, sometimes people have friendships that transcend circle boundaries, but when people try to join the smaller group, and within a couple of minutes of sitting down, the other participants make excuses to leave, it can indicate a larger problem of exclusion.   Another way to tell that this atmosphere is present is more subtle. While group membership can change over time, it is telling when you see regulars who used to come all the time stop coming.  A coven leader who doesn’t ask why the coven is fading is probably either unaware of the problem, or more troubling, is aware of the problem and doesn’t care.
  3. Unresolved interpersonal conflicts.  In an ideal world, people will get along perfectly.  There would be no fights, no arguments, and no drama.  That’s not the world we live in.  If a coven does not have channels of communication to resolve conflicts, or addresses interpersonal conflicts, then conflicts will stack up and will always be seething under the surface.
  4. Taking the coven in a vastly different direction than it’s original form, without group consensus. For example, I was affiliated with a coven a few years ago that started out being completely inclusive but then two or three people wanted to make it Dianic.  Me and three other people were expunged and why?  Because we were men.  Interestingly enough, the sons of one of the people who decided on the change were allowed to stay because they supposedly had “the touch of the Goddess on them.”  Sorry, but to me it smacked of nepotism.
  5. Lies and deceit.  A funny thing about lies.  They have a tendency to grow out of control.  While Reclaiming has evolved from it’s Wiccan roots, there should always be something that should be ever present.  You should always think that you can trust your coven mates and enter into sacred space with perfect love and perfect trust.  Where lies spread, trust dies.  And regardless of the motivation behind it, a lie kills the perfection of love. Deceitful practices such as trying to stop someone from coming to an event or a meeting without a straightforward reason why is a sure sign of a toxic atmosphere.
  6. Arbitrary decisions and deferring to authority.  If someone makes a decision for the group whatever it is, and the group doesn’t want to “cause trouble” or make waves with that person then it is no longer a cooperative effort.  It is a budding power struggle and a coven nearing implosion.
  7. Valuing some members far over other members.  While contributions should always be recognized and praised, sometimes, some members make contributions that are roundly ignored, whether that be a suggestion, providing a safe space, or offering logistical services.  This is most decidedly not right.  People are funny.  If they give and give and the group takes and takes and doesn’t offer anything in return, unless that person is a doormat or a masochist, after awhile, they’ll clam up and stop contributing, or even worse stop coming.

So if you are new, and seeking a coven, or if you are someone who’s been around a while, be aware of your environment.  A ritual event should make you feel good, and have positive energy that touches every part of your life.  A coven should make you feel welcome and valued.  If you find the opposite is true, then it might be time to pack up your cauldron and fly to a better place, or if you can’t find one create it yourself.  But know how to spot a group going bad and don’t get caught in the blast radius of a drama bomb.

What’s My Motivation Part Two: The Revenge!

In the previous part of this article, we covered how motivation needs to always be a factor in both ritual and in daily life and practice, and that’s important because sometimes, our motivations can be coming from a darker place.  Let’s look at darker emotions and how they can have a dangerous effect on our health as well as our practice.

Revenge Is Not That Sweet

Seeking vengeance on someone for a real or perceived slight is an unfortunate part of being human.  Someone wrongs us, we seek retribution.  Look at conflicts all over the world.  A religious or ethnic group commits an atrocity or transgression and it is remembered and passed on for generations.  On a more personal level, look at our daily lives.

Someone cuts us off in traffic.  So we lay on the horn.  Maybe get into some road rage, and yell something about their parentage and learning how to drive.  And why?  Because they cut us off of course.
However, getting angry and seeking revenge have a toxic effect on our emotional well being as well as physical health.  According to Vanessa Van Edwards on her site The Science of People:

“A group of Swiss researchers wanted to know what happens in the brain when someone reaps revenge.

They scanned the brains of people who had just been wronged during a game in the lab.
The researchers then gave the wronged participant a chance to punish the other person, and for a full minute as the victim’s contemplated revenge, the activity in their brain was recorded.
Immediately, researchers noticed a rush of neural activity in the caudate nucleus. This is the part of the brain known to process rewards.
Big Idea: This study found that revenge, in the moment, is quite rewarding.

However, they wanted to know one more thing: Does revenge keep rewarding?

The Long-Term Effects of Revenge:
We often believe that exacting revenge is a form of emotional release and that getting retribution will help us feel better. Movies often portray the act of revenge as a way of gaining closure after a wrong. But in fact, revenge has the opposite effect.

Even though the first few moments feel rewarding in the brain, psychological scientists have found that instead of quenching hostility, revenge prolongs the unpleasantness of the original offense.

Instead of delivering justice, revenge often creates only a cycle of retaliation.

“A man that studieth revenge, keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal.” –Francis Bacon”  [VIEW SOURCE]

But what does that have to do with magick and ritual?

Revenge is a Dangerous Thing to Bring Into Ritual

There are many different entry rituals that say that you should enter into a circle with perfect love and perfect trust.  Nowhere is revenge mentioned.

What’s your motivation for doing a love spell?  Are you trying to get that person to be with you, or are you trying to avenge yourself because they turned you down?  A friend of my late partner Mike, we’ll call him Idjit for convenience, was seeing a guy who abruptly broke it off.  Idjit wasn’t very good at magick, so he asked Mike for a spell to help him win back the heart of his estranged boyfriend.  Mike helped out of concern for his friend, so he cast a spell to draw them back together.     What he didn’t know is that Idjit had ulterior motives.

The guy he was interested in couldn’t figure out why he kept coming back.  Idjit treated this guy horribly, keeping him around to constantly remind him of how he had hurt him.  Reconciliation was never part of the agenda it was all about revenge.  Both Mike and I had to intervene.  We undid the spell together, and the estranged boyfriend went his way and found someone better.  As for Idjit, Mike and him parted ways.

Someone breaks your heart.  After you go through the ice cream and talk ad nauseum about it to your friends, family, and anyone who listen, the best thing you can do is rebuild your life and go on.  However, a lot of us don’t do that.  Some people want to make their former love suffer as they have.  Look at some popular music for inspiration.

I Wanna Be Around
Tony Bennett

“I want to be around to pick up the pieces
When somebody breaks your heart
Some somebody twice as smart as I
A somebody who will swear to be true
As you used to do with me
Who’ll leave you to learn
That misery loves company, wait and see”

Cry Me A River
Diana Krall, Julie London, others

“Now you say you’re lonely
You cry the whole night through
Well, you can cry me a river, cry me a river
I cried a river over you
Now you say you’re sorry
For being so untrue
Well, you can cry me a river, cry me a river
I cried a river over you.”

Revenge and retaliation aren’t just confined to romantic endeavors.  They’re part of office politics, international affairs, and even among groups of people who you think would be above such things, revenge often rears it’s ugly head.  Should you seek revenge?  Absolutely, but here is how you do it.

You get up every day, and get out of your rut as soon and as often as you can.
You assess your life and consider ways to make it happier, healthier, and at the same time, you strive to improve yourself.

You give yourself the best life you can.  Don’t give your detractor or attacker any more power.  Soon a miraculous thing will happen.  Not only will retaliation be the furthest thing from your mind, and they will be irrelevant.  That’s the best revenge you can take.  Try to be happy. That’s the best revenge to take.

But what about justice?  What if you need to sue someone for damages to your home or property?  You have a right to seek damages when justified.  But this is the trick with justice.  You have to know when to stop.  Because somewhere in the middle of your quest for justice you could find yourself on a path to revenge.

So as we said before, look at your situation with the perspective of the ultimate observer.  Ask why you’re doing something.  That way you will know what it is that motivates you: seeking justice or invoking your right to vengeance.  What’s your motivation?

“The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury.”
-Marcus Aurelius

MORE READING

http://www.scienceofpeople.com/2015/06/the-psychology-of-revenge/

What’s My Motivation? Or Avoiding Bad Method Acting in Ritual and Daily Life

What’s my motivation?  That is the plaintive question of every method actor.  A method actor can figure out a role based on that question, but if they don’t empathize well with the character they’re portraying,  then it leads to what is called the “ham factor.”  Don’t know what a ham actor is?  Watch Charlton Heston in the 10 Commandments, Planet of the Apes, or well, just about anything that he’s in really.

Knowing what motivates you to do something is a good thing, with that said, however, sometimes, it’s not such a bad thing to question our true motivations, and to not let method acting seep into our lives.  Here’s an example:

“I hate going to work.”
“Then why go?”
“Because I have to.”

So you’ve answered the question “what’s my motivation?”  But perhaps the answer isn’t as simple as you might think.  You do not have to go to work.  You choose to go to work.  If you don’t work, it’s unlikely that you will be able to:

  • Pay your rent or your house payment
  • Pay your car payment and insurance
  • Buy food
  • Pay the electric bill
  • Pay the water bill
  • Pay all of your other expenses

You Always Have a Choice, Don’t Surrender Your Power Over Yourself

You can stop working at any time, but you want to be able to do all the things above, plus have a little money for yourself and those you love.  It’s important to remember that you are choosing to work and say that aloud.   “I choose to work, so that I can pay my expenses and have money to live.”  When we choose something we feel better about it then when we think we have to do something.  That’s the difference between empowerment and being a victim.  But why is victimhood so prevalent? First off, it’s encouraged by our society.  Take a look at consumerism.

Advertisers target an illusory need, and aim for our subconscious.  Don’t have the latest IPhone or Samsung Galaxy?  You need it! Go! Go now! Supplies are running out!  So you go to the mall, and sit down in line, maybe even camp out, so you can get the latest IPhone from the Apple store.   You’ll shell out a lot of money and buy the phone, and for a while it is great.  It’s way better than your last phone.  It’s faster, more stylish, and you think you’re the envy of all your friends and family.  And that’s why you really did it isn’t it?  What’s my motivation?  Why to impress others with how awesome you are.   If you don’t have the latest gadget, then why you’re nothing.  You’ll always have one friend who will smugly show off the fact that their phone does one thing that yours can’t, because it’s an IPhone, or a high level Android.

To add to your awesomeness, you spend time feeding the homeless down at a shelter, not because you want to truly help.  You’re doing it for a bit of esteem currency.  Later on you’ll get a lot of status by dropping an offhand remark, “I helped feed the homeless the other day.”  You’ll get the oohs and ahhs you crave and hunger for.    You can feel better about yourself.  See, you’re not selfish at all.  Yes, you spent a lot of money on yourself buying a new phone, but you fed the homeless.  The problem with this sort of thinking is that after awhile your spiritual balance starts to crumble.

The Four Primary Goals

Sun-Tzu wrote that everyone is guided by four primary goals that all other goals spring from, these are:

  • Power
  • Pleasure
  • Avoidance of Responsibility
  • Love (Respect)

You get into a fight with your significant other.  If your goal is power, then you don’t care about resolving the dispute.  You just want to win the fight.  This is purely a power goal.  To someone motivated by pleasure, they will pursue their pleasure at whatever cost.  Avoidance of responsibility is pure undiluted victimhood.  “It’s not my fault because of ______.”  However, going for a goal of love and respect starts with yourself.  Think about your actions.  Are you doing it for self-love?  Are you doing it because you love someone else, or out of respect for them?

Understanding why you do something always carries over into our ritual practice as well.  You cast a spell for money with a motivation of greed.  You might get what you want only to find that no matter what you never have enough money.   Or you could cast a money spell to get enough money to get out of debt as well as take care of your daily expenses.

You want to find the love of your life.  Again, what’s your motivation?  Do you want this someone to be nothing more than an accessory?  A bit of eye candy or arm candy to show off?  Or do you want to find someone because you are lonely and want a live a happier more fulfilling life?

 

You have to plan a ritual.  Why do you?  Are you doing it because you want to observe the passage of time in your own way, and give yourself a memory to carry forever, or are you doing it because you feel obligated to do it?

Sometimes, our motivations are based not on our open desires, but on habits.  That’s one reason why people sometimes get threatened by change.  Change disrupts our habits, and the patterns we build around them.

Don’t second guess yourself, however.  Sometimes your motivation is fairly simple, other times, you have to think about it.  When in doubt, a good way to examine your motivation  is to keep asking why you are doing something.  When you come up with an answer that you can’t argue, then you will know why you should take action, or choose another option.  If the answer to your question is “I don’t know,” then it is a good time to pause and think things over.

When you examine your motives and motivation,  and realize that you always have a choice,  it is then that you start to grow spiritually.  And, you’ll often stand amazed at how free you feel.

“So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains
And we never even know we have the key.”

Already Gone-The Eagles, Written by Jack Tempchin, Robb Strandlund

EXTERNAL LINKS:

http://www.puppetpress.com/classics/ArtofWarbySunTzu.pdf

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.