Today my own copy of The Twelve Wild Swans arrived in the mail; previously I was working out of a public library copy and it’s really the sort of book I need to be able to make notes in, highlight, and keep for all time. I’m part of a group wherein we’ve been working through the chapters as a way of exploring how stories can be a road to spiritual change and initiation. Some people have had issues with the Goddess-focused theme of the book which is, I suppose, fair enough — but it also makes me wonder how many people actually understand what Reclaiming is all about. The subtitle of the book — Rituals, Exercises, and Magical Training in the Reclaiming Tradition — does state explicitly that it’s a Reclaiming-focused book; while reviews may paint it as Wiccan or generically Pagan, the book itself doesn’t say that at all and it’s really not. Reclaiming is a Goddess tradition.
And perhaps I’m just tetchy because I’m tired of people constantly ripping Starhawk apart because they disagree with her — yes, she does cling to the bad history, which I also have problems with, but other than that I find her work inspirational and useful to me and I see no need to fling the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak. Seems if you don’t like Goddess traditions you could simply ignore them.
Anyway, don’t want to make a big thing out of that. I just wanted to get it off my chest.
Then, on a whim (by which I mean divine inspiration) I ordered something I’ve wanted for a long, long time: T. Thorn Coyle’s DVD of the devotional dances she teaches in Evolutionary Witchcraft. I’ve had troubles with the dances every time I’ve tried them; following pictures in a book is not an easy way to learn to dance. I need to watch someone else do it. And I know the dances will be powerful for me; moving meditation has always effected me deeply.
I suddenly realized that Feri and Reclaiming — really studying them, getting deep in the marrow with them — is the route to whatever my Primal Witchcraft will be in the future.
Only once I’ve learned the basics of Feri and Reclaiming will I be able to delve deeper, into the dirt, the bones of Primal Witchcraft.
Winter seems a good time to start. This is when it is cold and deep; when I can go within myself easily.
It’s also when I have some time off school to work through things. When I’m not being all family-happy-person. (It’s weird for me but I have a family beyond my mom now and we spend holidays together. I’m still constantly afraid I’m going to mess it up by being me. So far, I’m still loved by my in-laws. Yay.)
Forthcoming, when I get a chance to breathe and think:
-A post about how Morrigan’s domain of sovereignty works with my being a godslave for Her.
-Finishing that 44 Days of Witchery thing, because I’m a completionist.
-Pointless rambling with no coherency. As always.
1. No offense taken over here.
2. I had never heard of Reclaiming before picking up the book. So, thanks for explaining it.
Glad to hear you’re not offended. 🙂
It seems there’s a lot of misinformation out there about Reclaiming and Starhawk’s work in particular. If I had a dime for every time I heard/read someone say “I picked up The Spiral Dance as an introduction to Wicca and it focuses on the Goddess!” I mean, I’d be rich. It doesn’t help that her books get shelved with “Witchcraft & Wicca” as if they’re the same thing.
Reclaiming came out of Feri and various other influences; Starhawk is widely hailed as the ‘founder’ of it but it came from a collective of Witches in San Francisco called the Compost Coven. It’s an American witchcraft tradition that has some Wiccish elements in it still but is not duotheistic. It’s a Goddess tradition insofar as “Goddess” is the word used for the cycles of the wheel of birth, growth, death, decay, and regeneration that the earth goes through. Goddess is used not because it’s believed the great Divine force is gendered (male, female, or other) so much as because we’ve been using male terms for so long that using Goddess is a shift in perspective. Just as people use “God” to refer to a nameless, faceless, genderless force that binds the universe together for lack of a better term, Reclaiming uses “Goddess”.
Here’s a working definition of Reclaiming, by Starhawk: clicky. I’m sort of feeling I should link to that in the group so it’s understood where the book is coming from. I think if more people understood it as a Reclaiming book from the Reclaiming tradition and exactly what that meant then there would be fewer problems with it. I mean. When you know where something comes from it’s easier to adapt the parts you need to adapt, I think.
I honestly thought that people knew about Reclaiming when they started in the group. So it was a surprise to me when complaints were voiced. I was like, “Would you complain about duotheism if we were studying a Wicca-based book?”
But yeah, I guess most people are just not aware of Reclaiming and what it means.
Another common misconception about Reclaiming is that men aren’t allowed to participate or are discriminated.
Actually when we tried to start an online group on the 12 swans on a German forum and asked around if people wanted to join we were accused of discriminating men just because we wanted to work with this book. And when we said we had no problems with men joining the group the guy accusing us didn’t believe us because we were working with this Reclaiming book…
So, yes, it’s a tradition with roots in feminism, ecologism and goddess spirituality, but that doesn’t mean any person with a slightly different orientation can’t get an inspiration out of it. – It’s not like you have to be a men-hater, go to an ecologist demonstration at least three times a week and never work with male deities… 😉
And of course I’m not offended by your post. 🙂
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