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

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/

 

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

Global Ho’oponopono for Earth Day

Global Ho'oponopono for Earth Day
Global Ho’oponopono for Earth Day

Join us from wherever you are on April 21 at 12pm PDT for Global Ho’oponopono! Register here: http://www.malamapono.life

Share your stories on social media using the #MALAMAPONO hashtag (which means “to care for one’s self” in Hawaiian)

Ho’oponopono is a Hawaiian healing ceremony that invites practitioners to clear blocked energy, trauma, and wounds converting negative energy into positive energy, love and deepened connection. The problems we face on Mother Earth are the result of humans being out of balance with themselves, each other, and our natural environment. To bring healing to the earth we must first look within and bring resolution to the history which brought us to the present moment. Hawaiians, living on islands with finite land resources, have a powerful cultural practice that is valuable to all of humanity at this time. Mālama Pono means “to take care of one’s self”. Since the health of our planet and the individual is intertwined we are inviting all to join us for Earth Day by starting within using this simple and profound healing practice. Please visit http://www.malamapono.life for more info!

Beltane Ritual Planning

Saturday April 8, 2017 6:30PM

Beautiful Creatures, you’re invited to be a Ritual Muse! Ritual Planning (for realsies) is happening this Saturday April 8th at 6:30 pm at my house in Mesa (Thalia’s house). We’ll be co-imagining our upcoming Beltane ritual and would love your unique magic in the mix! Everyone is welcome to these planning meetings– even if you’re just curious– its a connecting, collaborative experience and a wonderful way to meet witches! Message Thalia on the AZ Reclaiming Witches Facebook page if you need the address. Blessed Be!

Fetch Day! (Magical Thursday)

When: Thursday April 13, 2017, 6pm
Where: Kiwanis Park, Tempe

We will be having a departure from our normal Starbucks routine this upcoming Magical Thursday for Fetch Day! Come and suspend ordinary conciousness and connect with Fetch/Sticky One/Younger Self. We will run and laugh and play pretend. Feel free to bring your favorite “childish” toys, games, or activities. It’s going to be a beautiful day, come out with us and let’s play!!