Thursday, August 10, 2006

"There is no baby with the bathwater"

Anne Hill (of Serpentine Music) blogs on issues about the Reclaiming tradition. But is it Craft or is it just "progressive" politics?

Can it be true that what started as a grand experiment in creating a spirituality that was Goddess-centered, egalitarian, politically and socially radical would have absolutely nothing to show for it 25 years after the fact? Could it be that a community and religious movement which has been at the center of my identity for over two decades consisted all along of nothing but our intense willingness to believe our own promotional language?

Note the commments, too, including this from Macha NightMare, another of the Bay Area senior Witches:

I agree completely about the lack of standards. I’ve often experienced this as leading to sloppy rituals and sloppy magic. That’s the main reason I’ve avoided public rituals for the most part for many, many years.

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Anonymous queenofhalves said...

It seems to me that as with every international group I have experience with, the worthwhileness of Reclaiming varies wildly from local group to local group. I recommend the Midwest camp community to everyone I meet; the teachers are well-trained, the camp is well-organized, there's good gender balance and a lot of room for different political opinions to be held. I think the group also does a good job of recognizing hierarchy while seeking to minimize it.

I understand many other groups are less healthy. I don't know if that's a problem with Reclaiming per se, though. I think it's just something that happens when a group grows as rapidly as Reclaiming has, and I know there are mechanisms forming to try to solidify standards in the scattered communities.

9:55 AM  
Blogger Broomstick Chronicles said...

Chas, I'd really appreciate it if you didn't continue to call the trad "Starhawk's Reclaiming tradition." She doesn't own it. It has been created over the years by lots of creative, talented, wonderful people. Sure, it has warts. And I certainly feel entitled to point them out. But that's because it's *mine* and *ours*, not the personal possession of one single individual.


2:28 AM  
Blogger Chas S. Clifton said...


You make a good point, in that while she is the person most identified with it, she does not "own" it.

I will edit the post as you suggest.

7:39 AM  
Blogger Cat Chapin-Bishop said...

Hey, Chas,
Though the criticism of Reclaiming is there, I'm not sure the quote you give from Anne Hill really captures her ambivalence. While she questions Reclaiming (for reasons I think any outside observer can see and understand) I don't think she actually concludes that Reclaiming has produced nothing of value.

Despite serious reservations, after all, she does say she thinks "there is value in some or most of the core classes, and large group rituals still have the power to encourage major transformation in those for whom that is a necessary next step."

I wonder how many of the most serious and focused of the students of _any_ Craft or Pagan traditions, after 25 years, find themselves confronting disenchantment? There is, after all, the old joke: What do you call a 4th Degree Gardnerian? (A Buddhist.) That's not to dismiss the concerns--as a religious movement, we're facing the difficult challenge of balancing ongoing revelation and personal ecstatic experience with the need for cohesive and stable institutions. Very few religious movements have come close to finding good answers there.

8:22 AM  
Blogger Chas S. Clifton said...


Certainly the only way for a reader to engage Anne's (or anyone's) complete thoughts is to follow the link to her blog--and read its comments--and to read Macha's likewise.

I never heard the "4th-degree Gardnerian" joke before. Cute. For me, though, an interest in Buddhism actually preceded my discovery of the Craft.

11:23 AM  
Blogger Broomstick Chronicles said...

Thanks, Chas. At our "priestesses comparing notes" last night we all noted with dismay this sweeping assumption -- on your part on on the part of many others. I know I speak for more people than just myself when I say I really appreciate that you've made this edit. I tip my pointy black hat to you.

I don't think any of us questioning old-timers considers our experiences worthless. It's just that the time for reflection and naming the elephant in the living room is way overdue.


3:05 PM  

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