There is no litmus test to prove I am a good enough witch to be called a witch. There are no number of mattresses, herbs, or visions had or not had that prove my magickal ability. I am a witch because I am. No outside force can determine this for me as it is a conscious choice I make every day. To continue on, to stay married, to live, to follow the path or to walk off it. I get to decide the events of my life.
This and much more make me a witch, but not one of them is exclusively the threshold of this. I grew this in my belly–in my being. I give birth to this feeling. I am the mother and the father, the goddess and her consort, the alpha and omega. The breath that sustains my womb, that fills my bones, gives me the structure to choose this life.
[Listen to the wordless words, the whispers on the winds, the voice within. Hang on to this moment and relish in it There is no time but right now. Being here is one of the steps for me to glimpse a single moment]
Who are we?
Journaling to spin the web that is our bed, to cradle me while I dream.
More than anything, commitment to make ourselves better will make the world better. Being a witch is a great responsibility–we choose to make ourselves better so a future we may not see can be better than today.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
While we are not having a circle because of the hot and/or inclement weather, have a safe and happy Lammas everyone!
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
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.
This is the year of the Labyrinth. It is the theme of this year’s upcoming California Witchcamp. When one goes to Witchcamp, one must be prepared to dive in. I already feel it pulling me in.
We are born into the Labyrinth, into its twists and turns. Most people, naturally, seek a solid place to stand, building a life that is secure, unchanging, and safe. We allow ourselves to settle into our chairs, enjoy the view. And then along comes something outside of our control that changes everything. We fight it, we beat at it, we resist it, we grieve it. And eventually we realize that in order to survive, we have no choice but to turn the next corner. The Labyrinth insists on it.
This is not to say we are helpless. Anything but! We can make good decisions and unwise ones. As Witches, we know that we are interconnected in endless ways, that we can gather energy like a fisherman’s net and cast it out again into the world. We can, to some extent, change the course of the Labyrinth. But still we must walk it. We build houses that sometimes crumble. We fall in love with someone who proves false to us. We grieve the deaths of loved ones. We feel anger. We find it hard to forgive. We are human. And, Blessed Be, some of us are Witches.
What sets us apart as Witches? Before I was as a Witch I prayed to God to make my path smooth, without further pain, without illness, and though loss was inevitable, I prayed for as little of it as possible. And then those prayers failed me, and for a time I lost faith in that Divine Being that I once called God.
And then I became bitter, as many do. I lashed out at God. I lashed out at the fact that no matter how hard I tried, the Labyrinth kept twisting and turning and making my homes crumble. I fought. I became rigid and resisting of change. The Labyrinth fought back. It bent me. Eventually it broke me.
And then I stopped fighting. Defeated. Afraid of feeling anything. Some people are stuck here. No longer growing. Afraid to. Growing hurts. It’s uncertain. It’s scary, and there are no guarantees that the growth will lead to greater security. Some people stay here, paralyzed, their whole lives. But I became restless.
I decided to stand up, dust myself off, and walk forward into the unknown. This is the moment I became a Witch.
I am learning to accept the twists and turns. I’m learning to accept the dark shadows, the sharp corners. It is my choice to keep walking. There is power in being able to choose. I have found bravery to look deep into the shadows, for there is wisdom to be found.
This is not to say I am not afraid. On my worst days I am pulled down by my depression, a constant companion who waits to surge forward when I’m not on guard. Even on my best days I know I’m taking a Holy Risk to walk into the unknown. Or known. Sometimes the shadows are my own. I look at the unflattering reflections of myself. I look fully at myself, and I seek to change myself, to grow. This is a brave thing.
Since embracing my path as a Witch, I see connections. I see “coincidences” that remind me I’m in the place I need to be at this moment. Even in painful moments, for we must walk through pain even as we walk through joy.
And there is joy to be found there too! The joy of growth, leaving burdens behind, curiosity as to what is around the next bend. Looking forward. Finding my tribe, my people, my Loves.
Where once I lost my faith because God did not hold my hand and ensure a smooth journey for me, I have now regained my faith. I have faith in the process of the Labyrinth. I have faith that each step, each turn, each time I think I am close to the center and then am turned away again, it is where I am meant to be at that moment. I am held by the walls of the Labyrinth.
And what happens when the Labyrinth travelers reach its center? What happens when they reach the place where they can go no further, and they sit for awhile. Then what? Some people believe that’s the final end of the journey. Life stops. They go away. Some people believe it is a gateway to a holy paradise, where all their loved ones gone before are waiting. Where they finally get to see the Divine face to face. And that’s all fine and good for them.
But I am a Witch. I believe that I am the Divine in briefly human form. She sees through my eyes what it is like to be human. She feels what it is like for me to walk on gravel with bare feet. To have my heart torn out with deep grief. And to fall in love. To wrap my body around another in pure passion. To hold a newborn baby in my arms. To help someone stand up after they have fallen down. To give. And to feel helpless, so that I must learn to receive. That was the hardest lesson of all for me. To receive. To trust.
And at the center of the Labyrinth, when I finally reach the center, I sit for awhile and reflect on my journey. Then I let go this life with my final breath, and I dive back into the mystery of the Labyrinth. I become that newborn baby held in someone else’s arms. And when I learn to walk again, I will walk the Labyrinth. For to walk the Labyrinth, to leap and dance in the Labyrinth, to stumble and limp and sometimes crawl in the Labyrinth is to live life fully. I trust in the Labyrinth. I trust in the Witch’s Path.
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.
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
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!