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/