Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Cooling Down

I feel much better tonight after checking out some facts. I'm not leaving this community. I can't be gotten rid of that easily. If that were the case, I'd have been gone long ago. It's not just stubbornness either. I've put a lot of myself into Reclaiming over the years. I haven't been at the center of things all of that time, by choice. But I've been involved. I've contributed and collaborated, consensed and created. I've done grunt work and visible work. I've also griped about what I think we're doing wrong and praised and bragged about what I think we've done right.

When I've done the former, I've managed to upset people who don't want to hear what I have to say, but I can honestly say that I've tried very hard to offer my critiques in as constructive a manner as possible, avoiding ad hominem/feminem attacks. I have my late friend and colleague Judy Foster* to thank for insisting that I hone that skill.

At the same time, every single time I've spoken to something that others might think is an unpopular sentiment, at least one person, and usually three or four, will breathe a sigh of relief and say, "Oh, I'm so glad you said that! I was thinking that and I didn't want to say it. Thank you." Let this be a word of advice for whenever you feel shy or reluctant to express what you think may be an unwelcome cautionary: Say it! If you are working in a trusting consensual manner, you will be heard, and your concerns will be addressed. I have never known this to have any other outcome.

So maybe that's what we're doing now -- reflecting and seeing the patterns that have developed over the last 25 years. Then trying to articulate them in a loving, contructive way.

I don't see Reclaiming, or any other kind of Craft, as simply a launching pad. My friend Cat Chapin-Bishop reminds me of the riddle: "What do you call a 4th degree Witch?" Answer: "A Buddhist." Meaning, of course, that a lot of Pagans leave the path for other spiritual traditions where they can get more training, or go deeper (in their way of thinking). Or find another teacher or guru. I suppose it could be considered a launching pad for people whose true personal path leads elsewhere. But if you make use of what you've learned, Witchcraft becomes a way of life and a lifetime pursuit.

To me, learning Craft gives us the sacred technology(ies) and thealogical framework to then proceed to work it and work it and work it, season after season, Wheel after Wheel. And with each working, we can go deeper, gain clearer understandings, have more profound experiences of the numinous. We can gain insights into the workings of the Worlds and the workings of our own hearts. We can grow in compassion and understanding of our sisters and brothers of our species. We can build a greater awareness of our interdependence on the Web of Life. We can feel our interconnectedness with all of life. We can learn wisdom. We can finder inner peace and the strength to work for positive change in our own lives and in the wider world.

I'm reminded of the words of my dear friend Steven Posch of Paganistan (one of the two best Pagan ritualists in all of North America, IMO):
"Witches' work is turning the wheel,
And round the wheel doth turn."
* This rememberance of Judy's life neglects to mention that she is one of the founders of NROOGD (New Reformed Orthodox Order of the Golden Dawn) Witchcraft as well as having been a much-loved member of Reclaiming Collective. I consider her to be among our Mighty Dead.


Sybile said...

It would have been a shame if you had left :)

I have just arrived in this community and I need mentors like yourself to show me the way.


Reya Mellicker said...

Fantastic to see a pic of Judy. She's long gone, but I still think about her and miss her. Thanks.

steward said...

"I haven't been at the center of things all of that time, by choice. "

I think that was a wise move on your part, especially if you were determined to stay involved overall with Reclaiming. There is a quote, variously attributed to Otto von Bismarck or to a member of the 1878 Illinois State Legislature, to the effect that "the making of laws is like the making of sausages--the less you know about the process the more
you respect the result."

"I don't see Reclaiming, or any other kind of Craft, as simply a launching pad." One of my first teachers in Reclaiming said that she sees Reclaiming as a gateway to Feri (not that one can't become Feri without first participating in Reclaiming, but Reclaiming's a little better known). I have always disagreed with her on this; Reclaiming seems to me to be a totally different tradition, even though much of its basics came from Feri. In a way, to me, if one considers Reclaiming to be solely a gateway to Feri, then one could equally consider Feri to be solely a gateway to Huna.

But the problem remains: what is Reclaiming? Feri and Huna seem to be much better defined, even if there's about as many ways to teach Feri as there are to teach Reclaiming. :-)

Anonymous said...

Macha, Brava!

This is a gorgeous post and makes me think of why I still consider myself to be a Reclaiming Priestess even though I am more Feri oriented these days. And actually, why both trads - plus my Gurdjieff work and Sufi work, and ceremonial/esoteric studies - inform my own spin on Craft practice much more than they define what I do.

They help me to grow as a person and a priestess. Warts and all. (the trads and me!)

That is worthy work. I think if we can look at the struggles and ask "Is this helping us/me to grow?" or better yet "How can this help us/me to grow?" we'll be better off.

Inanna said...

Living in a community with lots of Buddhists, and seeking to live with the pain of a very painful situation, I sought out Buddhism before I became a Witch (or during, depending on how I calculate when I became a witch). I still love being among the Buddhists, but it was Buddhism that brought me to Witchcraft, because I realized I needed a spiritual practice that made the body integral and female divinity integral.

deborahoak said...

Macha, so many blessings on you for adding that simple word "reflect" into the intent of BIRCH. It's changing everything. You are a mighty priestess, and I am so grateful for your contribution to the mix of Reclaiming....thanks.