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.

Information About the Reclaiming Tradition

by Darrell Sennich

Reclaiming tradition is an eclectic tradition of what I would call American Witchcraft. Although it is a tradition that is celebrated globally, the roots grew in California as a group formed that was heavily inspired by these things:

Feminism. The analysis of power structures including privilege, hierarchy, and a thorough questioning of status quo authority and rule. The continued struggle towards equal rights and responsibilities regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, or other traits. Empowering ourselves and each other is the goal. We seek power within and power with, and we tend to undermine power over. Eco-feminism follows in the vein that the way that we treat our planet is closely linked to the way we treat each other. We do not worship the Goddess in nature as much as we are all aspects of the Goddess in nature. We must be stewards of our planet and our communities.

Anarchy. Insomuch as we are a tradition of many, no one person is in charge. At the same time, we are all responsible for the well-being of the group. Initiation and other titles are not automatically converted to privilege. The structure is loosely formed cells. The principles of unity are the closest thing to a working definition of what Reclaiming is. You can read those on the Reclaiming site. Anything goes is relatively true except in the case that it undermines or compromises the safety, empowerment, integrity, and sovereignty of ourselves, one another and the planet. Political activism is common among our witches as we perceive the political arena, our community well-being, our personal wellness and the well-being of our planet as interconnected. Prayer, picking up trash, voting, chanting, social work, ritual endeavors, and so on are all seen as crucial elements of magical process, with practical tangible results sometimes seen as more effective. We can pray for world peace, but better if we build our lives and actions towards that end. Our decisions are often made by consensus.

The psychology movement. Our rituals and practices are as much ritual magic as they are theatrical expressions and gestalt dynamics. We are unapologetic in our seeking to do this work.

The Feri tradition. Originating through Victor and Cora Anderson, the deep and powerful Current of Feri flows through our ritual spaces. I would say the artful, poetic and charismatic expressions in our practices are reflections of and derivatives of the many inspired witches who studied with the Anderson’s and who continue to explore and perpetuate the ever dynamic spirituality of the Feri tradition.

Our ritual spaces are as safe and as accessible as we can make them. All of our rituals are clean and sober. There is a strong presence of folks in recovery and following 12 step programs. All genders, races, sexual orientations are welcome. It follows that topics of recovery from addiction, trauma, oppression, and disempowered situations may occur. As well the human figure is not perceived in an unclean or shameful way; our rituals may include nudity, or any other aforementioned subjects which may be considered sensitive (or rated R in muggle speak), although these are mostly uncommon. Still, depending on the consensus of the group and the venue, if you are concerned with such things, be advised.

We are, each of us, our own spiritual authority. We are dedicated to the perpetuation of empowering practices, and shun power over, displays of violence, coercion or other means of aggression and control when they are within our abilities to prevent them.

For more information about Reclaiming, please click here.

Why Should I Care About Them? Or Excuse Me, Your Privilege is Showing

By M.W. Whitaker

strike-protest-human-group-collection-many-peopleI am not them, so why should we care about them? Who are they?  See if any of these sound familiar:

“I am not gay, I’m straight.  They follow an immoral lifestyle choice.”

“God I am so sick of hearing about transgender rights.  Can’t they just be  the gender that they’re born?”

“Wah wah, poor refugees have no home. What a shame, but I don’t want any of them in my neighborhood.”

“Women should submit to their husbands. They should not have any life outside of the home.”

“They are in this country illegally. They’re criminals.”

“That’s the way it’s always been. Why should we change things for them?”

“God I hate men, they are such pigs.”

“White people, you gotta love them.”

“You have to respect what they are saying. Everyone has a right to their opinion.”

“Who cares about the whales? They’re animals.”

Whenever we start to judge people that is when people stop being people and become them.  We focus on their differences.  They worship a different god, or worship the same one in a different way.  They are brown, or not quite right.  Whatever the differences someone has, those differences are perceived as a threat.

People are gregarious and often like to congregate with other people that look the same way, think the same way, act the same way. If we’re not careful, we form cliques, exclusive clubs, and worst of all, thought bubbles.  Thought bubbles are safe.  They isolate us from the new and strange and keep us in the familiar and comfortable.  They are ancient, and are one of the things that have divided the world.  When you put anyone into the category of Them, unless they are giant mutant ants from a 50’s B Movie, you are indirectly lumping them into the category of Other.

Othering happens when people see only one part of who someone is. Instead of seeing a fellow human being, they only see someone who likes the same gender, or is of a different belief system than they are.  There are three problems that are the greatest threats to society: ignorance, cruelty, and complacency.  They intertwine and choke off all that is good in the world.

Ignorance is dangerous because when it becomes ingrained, it leads to terrible “ism” behaviors such as racism, sexism, nationalism, fascism, the list goes on and on.

Cruelty takes its lead from ignorance. Cruelty is the lack of compassion.  When people are cruel, their ignorance fuels their behavior.  Cruelty can lead us down paths that aren’t just dark , they’re malevolent and evil.  Cruelty leads to destroyed lives, and perpetual cycles of violence.

Complacency is the worst of the three. Just because a state of being has been doesn’t mean that it is what we are supposed to keep doing.  There is only one constant in the Universe: everything does, can, and must change.

So how do we as witches know what is right and what is wrong? We have no central book to refer to.  It’s really simple.  We need to look at ourselves.  We are Othered by society simply for being witches.  Judging and othering are part of being human.  But instead of denying these behaviors and suppressing it, we need to embrace them and use them to our advantage.

Discriminate against people who define and tell others that everyone must conform to a life based on their expectations. Discriminate against bigots and zealots no matter where they’re from.  Some you’ll be able to sway, but there will be some people you won’t be able to reach, and in this lifetime anyway, they will not be united with anyone that believes the same way that they do.  No platitudes about room for everyone at the table.  No touchy feely. If someone is advocating hatred and violence against someone else for whatever reason, step away from them. Never give into violence. You are dancing to their tune. If someone judges you for being who and what you are, don’t try to change their mind with words.  Don’t change. Show who you are.  Do it by the way you live your life and the way you treat others.  If someone tells you that as a man you should know how to fix things, tell them to fix it themselves.  If someone tells you as a woman that your place is in the home and that you should be married and submissive to your man, tell them you’re going out and you have stuff to do that has nothing to do with them.  Someone calls you a freak for not identifying with the gender that you’re born as, don’t re-masculate or re-feminize yourself to please them. Let your “freak” flag fly.  You are who you are, embrace it.  If someone gets in your face for the color of your skin, the way you worship or don’t, supporting people or creatures that are marginalized, look at your accuser coolly and say, “It looks like your privilege is showing.”

Or to quote Michael Jackson from the song “Man in the Mirror“: “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make the change.

Musings of the Fool

tarot1

I’ve started reading Rachel Pollack’s book, Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom, and came across this little gem in the first chapter.

“People often confuse the purposes of spiritual disciplines…Accepting the doctrine that we have fallen from a perfect state to a limited one, the occultist does not believe we must simply wait passively for some future redemption by an outside agent. On the contrary, he/she believes it is our responsibility to bring about that redemption by finding the key to unity.

“The Tarot is not the key. It represents a process, and one of the things it teaches us is that we make a mistake when we assume that unification comes through any simple key or formula. Rather, it comes through growth and increased awareness as we travel step by step through the twenty-one stages of the Major Arcana.

“For example, consider the misunderstood word innocence. It doesn’t mean ‘without guilt’ but rather a freedom and a total openness to life, a complete lack of fear that comes through a total faith in living and in your own instinctive self. Innocence does not mean ‘asexual’ but instead sexuality expressed without fear, without connivance and dishonesty. It is sexuality expressed spontaneously and freely, as the expression of love and the ecstasy of life.

“The Fool bears the number 0 because all things are possible to the person who is always ready to go in any direction. He is not fixed like the other cards. His innocence makes him a person with no past, and therefore an infinite future. Every moment is a new starting point.”

So, having just returned from California Witchcamp, I have yet another personal goal to add to my “to do” list (in addition to learning to drum-what fun!).

I’m going to revisit the Tarot with Reclaiming eyes, starting with the innocent Fool and his infinite possibilities, and the firm belief that anything can happen, regardless of events of the past.

We are the change, and love is the law. The only law that matters.  We can make it so. And So Mote It Be.

 

 

 

 

 

A week at camp – Debrief

This year I attended the SpiralHeart WitchCamp at Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary in Artemas PA.  This was my third WitchCamp; as always, I had an absolutely amazing time.  I want to summarize a little bit about what it was like, what happens at a camp and why it is that I’m drawn to them so strongly.

WitchCamps are a product of the Reclaiming Tradition of Witchcraft. They are a several-day long intensive in the arts and practices of our lifestyle, including empowerment, community building, magic, activism, eco-feminism and ritual.  Of course, there’s so much more involved!

I think probably one of the most stark contrasts to mainstream culture is in the answer to the question at camp: Who’s in charge here?  The answer: We all are.

Our tradition is non-hierarchical and the setup and functioning of the camps reflects that structure.  Committees and focus groups are chosen to represent the needs and wants of the collective.  For example, the RATs (the Ritual Arc Team) spend a year with the story that themes the camp and carefully blend the story arc with the evening rituals which serve the campers.  The OPS team ensures accessibility and facility needs.  The consensus process is often used to iron out the rough spots, to ensure all voices are heard, and to make sure that decisions match the intentions and values of the group.

As I mentioned, there is a story that overarches the entire camp.  This year it was a story about Kuan Yin, the bodhisattva of compassion. It was a tough story, however I believe the Ritual Arc Team did an excellent job of translating it into Reclaiming-style ritual. Several points throughout the story were selected and each of these milestones became focuses for the rituals for each successive night of gatherings.

To highlight a few points of ritual work, there was ritual drama and a spiral dance; some community building; a healing ritual with aspected Kuan Yin in attendance and healers in the center; a bardic circle (a sharing of the arts), excellent music, dancing, a camp-fire — all in-between-the-worlds.

Each morning was dedicated to path-work.  This year’s path offerings were: the Pentacle of Elements, Music as Ritual, Cornerstones of Community, and Aspecting the Modern Myth.  Each of the paths contributed their path-working in major ways  to the evening ritual arc.

For beginners, the Elements path is the recommended starting point.  it orients the basics of Reclaiming ritual structure, and the foundation concepts of our spiritual technologies.  I will be working towards arranging an offering of Elements of Magic for our local community later on this year.

This year I took the path “Aspecting the Modern Myth”, having taken the Elements path in one form or another the previous two years.  I chose it because of my interest in modern myth, and also because of some of the technologies it touched on (aspecting, anchoring, deep witnessing) were areas I had not previously explored (See here for information on what these are).  It was well worth it and I have some really grounded inspirations for how this learning can contribute to our local community, specifically the technologies and the power of modern myth.

I should also mention the grounds and the staff at Four Quarters: What an amazing and caring group.  The meals were perfect for my high-maintenance dietary needs.  The dining hall was even better than last year.  And the stone circle.… WHOOSH! I spent some time down at the Fairy Cairn and even got to play with the Fae! Hooray!

Last but certainly not least, the people. I am confident that we each have the ability to enact “the art of changing consciousness at will” and this week enforced that confidence in me. I can recall little and large miracles, the synchronicity effect, the subtle and not-so subtle changes that occurred within me as I learned, walked towards, around, and through some of my rougher edges and witnessed others doing the same — all powerful things.  I leave camp a different person, a better person, than when i arrived.

These things, in truth, are complimentary to the means itself. The community’s ability to draw itself  together, to share compassion, to turn none away, and to creating the space for these things to happen: in empowerment and strong solidarity, making a space for this to happen in the first place.  This is the true magic. And that is why I come back, every year.

Sonoran Desert Wheel of the Year: Square Peg Round Hole!

Originally Published on WitchVox

IMG_0671One thing that most strongly calls to me from the Earth-based religions is their profound adaptability.  There is such a strong anti-dogmatism present at the heart of the Goddess-based eco-spirituality, which borders on anarchy and bedlam at times.  Many who have migrated from other, less flexible, spiritual paths feel ‘at home’ in the Pagan practices because there is a deep sense of ownership of the spirituality, an opportunity to make it one’s own, a reflection of our mind, body and spirit.

Yet, as paths tend to do, the more they are travelled, the more well worn they become.  Those well worn paths are then paved, and eventually even may become highways.  And sometimes, often at great expense, those highways become the ‘only way’.  It happens!

One such example is the Wheel of the Year.  The traditional Wheel of the Year is derived from a combination of astronomical, agricultural and traditional practices of Western Europe.  An excellent history is described at AmericanPaganism.com (* Links and references follow this article).

One day I was planning my Samhain ritual and was thinking deeply about harvest.  I was clearing out the straggling weeds from my garden getting ready to plant my Winter crops.  (You can see the Planting Calendar for the Sonoran Desert in the links below).  Although I was getting ready to plant, I was still trying to ‘make it fit’ the classic harvest-festival mold by trying to generate some pseudo-harvest activity in my life to celebrate according to the Eurocentric calendar.

I continued puzzling about this and decided to ask the local community how they’ve responded to this topic.

Off I go to a few local Pagan groups and individuals at meet-ups and Pagan pride to pose the question “How have you adapted the Wheel of the Year to meet our desert climates?”  Their answers first surprised me, and then followed a great loss as I realized that many people, in essence haven’t.  It just didn’t make sense.  After all, this is supposed to be an Earth-based religion, right? Isn’t it our responsibility to adapt it to our needs?

I would often get a furled brow and a squinting eye of suspicion to which I would clarify.  “Take the fertility rituals, for example… Beltane really isn’t a time for planting for me.  I planted my tomatoes back in February!  And the Summer Solstice, well my basil and dill made it through the heat but the rest was in the compost pile already! Fall is really less about harvest and ore about getting ready to plant my second crop for a good Winter harvest. The Winter Solstice provided me with some tasty turnips and beautiful beets, but the rest of my garden was positively thriving by then.  I had fresh herbs all Winter, and let’s not forget delicious oranges. And, I stay indoors more in the dry-Summer (they’re pretty hot) and am outside more in the Winter! There’s something in bloom every day of the year!  It just doesn’t match.  What do you do about that?”

Most people responded that the wheel of the year “is what it is.” They indicated they make do with it as it was handed down to them and celebrate the sabbats as they were taught: Beltane is for sowing, Samhain for harvest, and so on. They used words like traditionalist, old fashioned, Celtic, and old school to describe their celebrations.  In other words, most practitioners have little no adaptations.  Many drew strongly from European traditions and felt that they were honoring their ancestors and motherlands by maintaining those traditions.

A few ignored the agricultural ties completely and just focused on the astronomical aspects of the wheel, the solstices and equinoxes, and their esoteric meaning.  This indicates a modest adaptation.

More than a few people ignored the question altogether and told me how to ‘force’ vegetables and herbs to grow against the seasons.  I also got some good tips on how to make tomatoes grow, what types of fertilizer to use, and a lecture or two on composting and ladybugs.  When pressed to answer the original question, they typically deferred to the no adaptation school.  (Don’t even get me started about what I heard when I asked if eating was a spiritual issue.)

In fact, of all the people (several dozen) I’ve asked, only a handful actually drew from local seasonal changes and augmented the wheel of the year in such a way as to make it apply to us.  And fewer still checked out the local native tribal practices to see how they perceived the seasonal year. Dia de los Muertos, came up often, but almost unanimously October harvest did too.

Well, I sat on this for a while. Immutable traditions are so frighteningly close to dogma.

I realized that there was something I could do! Research it and report back on what I’ve found.  And what I’ve found is pretty amazing. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

On the web, I found only one article, authored by Shawn Finn (published in Sage Woman magazine, issue # 76 entitled “Sonoran Seasons”).  I highly recommend to anyone interested in this topic.  In it, she describes the rhythm and flow of nature in the desert and some of her reflections on becoming acclimated to its cycles.

The traditional wheel of the year goes like this: Yule (Winter Solstice, 20-23 December), Imbolc (2 Feb), Ostara (Spring Equinox, 19-22 March), Beltane (1 May), MidSummer (Summer Solstice, 19-23 Jun), Lughnasadh (1 Aug), Mabon (Fall Equinox, 21-24 September), Samhain (All-Hallows Eve, 31 October; All-Hallows, 1 November).  The Equinoxes and Solstices  (also called the Quarters) mark the 4 traditional seasons.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum lists five seasons for our climate: Winter (December through early February), Spring (Late February through April), ForeSummer Drought (or Dry-Summer, May-June),  Summer Monsoon (July to Early September),  and Fall (September to November).

There still is a bit of a lineup as you may notice. However, there’s a few other things to consider.   There’s really no ‘dark’ and ‘light’ half of the year.  It’s sunny 85% of the time.

A great majority of my vegetables grow in the traditional ‘dark half of the year’.  Because the Fall, Winter and Spring are so seasonable here, it’s also when the parks and mountain trails fill up with people hiking, camping and enjoying outdoors life.

And during the traditional ‘light half of the year’, the Sun has a few months when it is most Brutal, it’s way over 100 and a lot of people just try to keep cool, although you’ll see early-morning joggers, and late-evening promenades, and families still enjoying a good park visit. If I were to call a season of hibernation – it’d probably be the dry Summer. I tend to put on a few pounds, just about the same way I used to in Winter when I lived in the Midwest.  And Summer is certainly not about lush anything: the desert seems to pull back its life and go into a deep slumber throughout the unforgiving dry Summer.

The Tohono O’odham Nation has 12 seasons, each corresponding with the moons:  January, No More Fat Moon; February, Gray Moon; March, Green Moon; April, Yellow Moon; May, Painful Moon; June, Saguaro Moon; July, Rainy Moon; August, Short Planting Moon; September, Dry Grass Moon; October, Small Rains Moon; November, Pleasant Cold Moon; December, Big Cold Moon.

So, there’s stuff out there. There are several tribes native to this area that we can access for insight while avoiding cultural appropriation.

I want to be clear that I’m in no way suggesting that we abandon the wheel of the year.  It’s symbolism has become one of the binding elements of Pagan practice.  However, I do believe that the Goddess manifests herself to us in a very uniquely South West Desert way.  People in the Southern Hemisphere have a calendar opposite that of the Northern Hemisphere. (Their Beltane is in October; Samhain is in May).  Why not us?

Although I still recognize the thinning of the veil at Samhain, that time to me is a time of sowing, not harvest.  With the spirits of those who have come before me at my side I begin planting the seeds, which will nourish me in the months to come. Winter, once a time of quiet reflection is now the time of action and harvest.  First frost is really when the hiking is best.  And Beltane in some ways is the last hurrah before the long and hot slumber of the desert, when things grow quiet at midday, not because of the lack of light, but because of the overabundance of it.  And Summer the rest in between, when I get caught up on all my reading.  Monsoon is a great cleansing time, to wash and be washed. And the wheel turns, once again.

Useful links and references

American Paganism.com is a very detailed website with plenty of references  http://americanPaganism.com (website is offline) and the history of the wheel of the year is at http://www.americanPaganism.com/historyofthewheel.htm (website is offline)

Arizonensis http://www.arizonensis.org  lists the 12 names of the Tohono O’odham months at http://www.arizonensis.org/news/sonorandesertedition/almanac.html

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum http://www.desertmuseum.org/ has a Sonoran Desert Natural Events Calendar here: http://www.desertmuseum.org/books/nhsd_Winter.php

National Ocanic and Atmospheric Administration http://NOAA.gov has Comparative Climate  data at http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/ccd-data/pctpos11.txt

Sage Woman Magazine http://www.sagewoman.com/ Issue # 76, p 12. Shawn Finn writes an article called “Sonoran Seasons”

Tohono O’odham Nation website is at http://www.tonation-nsn.gov/

The Urban farm http://www.urbanfarm.org/ has an amazing planting calendar for the Sonoran Desert.  http://www.urbanfarm.org/Planting_Calendar.pdf

The Reclaiming website on the Wheel of the Year: http://reclaiming.org/about/witchfaq/wheelofyear.html

Reclaiming Principles of Unity

“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.


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

 
From the reclaiming webpage http://reclaiming.org/about/directions/unity.html