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!

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!!

Reclaiming String Theory

What: Reclaiming String Theory
When: Saturday April 1, 2017

Come. Be enchanted. Play with string and your Fetch. Learn a new skill. Weave magic into utilitarian corners of your life. Bring string or not, bring snacks or not (if you feel inclined), bring other magical tools or not (think arts and crafts). We’re Reclaiming String Theory. It’s ours now. So mote it be.

This is a crafting group. We will be doing arts and crafts.

For more information or to attend, information is available on AZ Reclaiming’s Facebook group.

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.

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.

Happy Ostara Everyone!

Even though we had our circle on Saturday night,  Arizona Reclaiming wishes everyone a Happy Ostara.

Our ritual was wonderful, and we would like to thank everyone who made it possible from our Ritual Muses to all of our participants.  Special thanks go out to Andrea and Amanda for working up to the 11th hour gluing feathers for our sparrow, Craig.

The Best Bunny Award goes to Barbie
The Best Sparrow Award goes to Craig

and we couldn’t have done it without our expert storyteller, Sunshine.

Until Beltane everyone!