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

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.  

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

Timbers and Stars

Among the timbers and the stars, I looked upon the lights of the city and wondered what tomorrow would bring. 

I thought of the concrete temples which we’ve built in the image of the gods of civilization and materialism, toiling in caves of perpetual daylight. Information streams in to us at speeds previously unmatched, tomorrow obsoleted. We have conquered nature say our songs. Even Death Itself has taken a step back to watch us live twice as long, and some would say, half as brightly. 
The element fire rules this time, electricity governing all of our lives from rising until setting, controlling the climate in our dwellings, bringing water to the desert, food to the farthest corners, fruit in midwinter, and even footfalls upon the face of Luna. 
Violence increases. Scientific discovery increases. Medical advance increases. Human population increases. The amount of information which we have stored increases. The speeds at which data can travel increases. Mass species extinction increases. Inflation increases. Disease resistance increases. Dissatisfaction increases. Depression increases. The global CO2 level increases. The number of massive storms increases. The effects of global warming increases. The drain on our attention increases.
I continued to feel all of this, even through the quiet of that night. A quiet breeze whispered through the trees. The city lights twinkled softly down below. 
Among the timbers and the stars, I looked upon the lights of the city and wondered what tomorrow would bring.

Up-coming Event: Drum and Chat @ Kiwanis Park

On Thursday September 8th, in lieu of our normal thursday meetup, we will be meeting at Kiwanis park at Ramada 7 to visit, laugh, chat and maybe even drum a little bit.  Bring something to drink, a char or blanket, a drum or other instrument (not amplified music, please) and bug spray.  The area is mostly shaded but sunscreen if you’re sensitive.  We’ll be gathering at 6:00 until about 8:30.  The park closes at 10:00.  This is a drug and alcohol free gathering. Click on the map below to get a view of the park.  Ramada 7 is at the lower left hand edge of the lake.  North is right ->

 

kiwanisparkmap2

Up-Coming Events

  • Thursday Magical Thursdays: Theme Spirit
    Camaraderie and discussion
    August 11th
    @ Private Location.  6 to 8:30.  Circle cast at 6:30.
    Near Brown and the 202 in East Mesa
    Use Contact-Us form to obtain the location
  • Thermistice: semi-ritual and frolic
    The Sonoran Desert version of August 1st Celebration
    Warning: There will be Water and Ice Cream
    Saturday August 6th, 3:00PM to 9:00PM
    Location: near Ray and Mcqueen in Chandler Az
    Use Contact-Us form to obtain the location

AZ Tribe has 10 traveling to witchcamp this year

Guess what?

Each event we hold we have 2 donation baskets.  One is marked “Send a witch to camp” and the other is for general funds.  Now, most of our events are No One Turned Away For Lack Of Funds, but the basket offerings help out in a variety of ways.

The general funds supplement our ritual and social activites (coffee on cold-morning rituals, provided us with Ostara Eggs filled with crystals, candies, fortunes) and so on.  And there’s always the occasional candles and incense, draped fabric, and other things which make the rituals go from good to GREAT.

But its the “Send a witch to camp” basked that we’re most excited about today!!!  The California Witchcamp (http://www.californiawitchcamp.org) has scholarships that help those who may have difficulty in obtaining all of the funds required for the week of super-cool transformation.

In our group’s early days we pondered “Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a scholarship that would help support or local witches in getting to camp?”  The dream seemed so far away.  And then, it happened.  So far we have been able to supplement half of the fees for two witches to go to camp.

What’s more, the total number of AZ Reclaiming Witches to head to camp this year:  TEN.  We will be the AZ Tribe Witch Camp Caravan.  WOO HOO!  California Witchcamp!  Here we come!