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

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.

Trusting the Labyrinth

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.

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

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!

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.

Syrian Sweets Bake Sale March 26

When:  March 26, 2017 10am to 1pm
Where: St. Bernard Catholic Church 10755 N. 124th St, Scottsdale, AZ 85259

Syria is famous throughout the Middle East for its food – particularly its sweets. Arizona is home to more than 300 Syrian families in both the Phoenix and Tucson areas. Bake sales are being held to help generate income for the bakers and introduce our new Syrian families to the wider community.

Please come and show your support and solidarity with the Syrian members of our community! You will enjoy delicious sweets and a wonderful cultural experience.

All proceeds from the bake sales go directly to the families of the bakers to help them pay for rent, utilities, transportation, etc.

How to Pay it Forward

By M.W. Whitaker

So many people view being kind and charitable as being grandiose. A corporation gives a million dollars to a 501c3 and they buy themselves a bunch of good, free press. However, there are ways to be good to others that don’t necessarily involve breaking the bank. For example, every now and then, when you have spare change, drop it in a drink machine or a snack machine, and don’t buy anything with it. Don’t stick around for any gratification, just go about your business. The next person who comes along gets a drink or a snack on you. They might pay it forward themselves, and buy something for the next person, or they might keep the change, either way, you’ve spread some good.Someone you love needs financial help? Help them if you can, and don’t lord it over them when you do it. Here’s the kicker about paying it forward, though. Don’t let anyone take advantage of you.

Help cheerfully, and what you can do, but don’t let it get to the point where you play the martyr. If you let someone take advantage of you, sooner or later, you will resent them. If you resent them, you will come to view them the way a lot of “charitable” Christian people have viewed others in need: as a burden. When you start feeling that way, stop giving. Why? Because then it isn’t altruism, it is pretty much like a job. The reason altruistic behavior is often so hard to keep up is that people’s egos and emotions overwhelm their compassion.

So remember, it is up to you how you can help people. Give to causes that you believe in, whether or not they are tax-deductible or not. If you can’t help someone with money, help them by listening to them. You might be surprised to find that not everyone wants you to solve their problems. They merely want someone to listen to them.

We all have a finite amount of resources in our lives. So use those resources wisely, and whenever possible find ways to save yourself a bit of good karma in the future. Play it close to the vest, and remember, pay it forward.

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.