Witchcamp News from Around the World - by Paul Eaves
Kids at Witchcamp - by Jonathan Furst
Reclaiming In Australia - by Jane Meredith
Free Cascadia Camp - a witchcamp profile
Advanced Work: Community Building - by Portland Reclaiming
ReclaimingQuarterly.org - archives, photo features, back magazine issues, and more!
Reclaiming News from Around the World
Compiled by Paul Eaves - Late Summer 2017
In August of 2017, the VWC community met in the mountains of Vermont for its 23rd time working magic around the tale of “The Queen of the Silver River-Water wisdom, tree magick and the search for sacred community”. Over the last years, VWC has been experimenting with teachers and ritualists from within our community.. Our tale created the perfect container for weaving magic around kindness, heart energy, and in healing trust to ourselves and the world around us. It was adventure in rebuilding and strengthening the foundations of magical practice. The Solar Eclipse ritual on Monday transported us to the shores of Avalon. The campers had a lot of fun as every year at our Magical Faire, the lake and Variety show. The Farm & Wilderness camp provided delicious meals with Mary .We are a family friendly camp from infants, our Pixies, up to our elders.
Our Motto this year was “We are the ones we have been waiting for…” -Ravyn Stanfield, We Are The Rising Sun.
Teen Earth Magic
Teen Earth Magic is a dearly beloved youth camp for witches aged 13 to 20. Following elements of the Reclaiming tradition, we as a camp co-create a container of ritual, activism, and right relationship with the land. TEM has traditionally taken place in mid June at a Northern California site, and this year we hope to be returning to our new as-of-2017 home at the beautiful Mariposa Institute in Ukiah, CA.
Aurora Borealis WitchCamp
Aurora Borealis is currently in the fourth year of a five year commitment to the Elements. 2017 takes us to Water, this October 6-9 we will be gathering on Treaty 7 land near Pincher Creek, Alberta, Canada. Our camp intention:
With reverence to the sacred waters around us and within us,
we heal ourselves, our communities and the waters of this land.
We stand in solidarity with indigenous water protectors and echo
the call, “Water is Life”. We are learning to be allies and accomplices
in this sacred healing work.
Litha Camp in Spain
At Spanish Reclaiming Summercamp this year 31 people met to celebrate Summer Solstice in Gredos Mountains, around 2 hours west from Madrid. The place holds the Camp since 2011 and therefore has quite some history, because we started off in a lost valley living for a weekend in a huge Tipi, until the Celtic Roundhouse was finished. Since 2014 camp is only in Spanish language as it has turned to be a gathering place just once a year, as Morgaine, founder of the Reclaiming Community has moved to Germany. Spirals are still held, now taught by Sainda and Saucco in Spanish. Looking forward to next Camp 1 to 3 of July!
Redwood Magic Family Camp
We had our fifth RMFC in August, immediately following Witchlets - so some of us did back-to-backs in the redwoods - a tough life! We have done a cycle of elemental themes, culminating this year (Center) with Spider.
There were about 50 campers, half adult and half youth. Mainly a younger group of kids, peaking at about 14. Teachers are all volunteers, and we welcome interested teachers to contact us. Cost is minimal - $300 adults and $150 youth to age 25. We have had some Spanish-speaking campers, but not a consistent group yet. We have tried to do some portion of each ritual in Spanish - a song, invocation, etc.
British Columbia Witchcamp
Some say the oldest Witchcamp in the world. We hosted our 30th (or is it 31st?!) year. Camp is a 6-day experience that typically takes place the last week of August. We have an auction to raise funds for scholarship - we give out about 20 $200 scholarships a year. There are work trade spaces. BCWC is adults only. Our demographic is mostly white woman-identified folks. However, in recent years there are more POC and nonbinary gendered folks. There is a significant population of alter-abled folks. Camp is fairly accessible....of course the site could be better.
Camp is held last weekend of June for an entire week. 7 nights. California camp is mostly sold out the last few years, thanks to social media and our presence on it. 2/3 approx returning, that shifts every few years. We have newcomers every single year with no elements, so that class is often packed. Pricing for camp starts at $580 for the early birds and the majority pay $590 then it goes up in increments from there as the year progresses. Our fee covers room, food and tuition. We have a ten person catering team, that are hired each year, that have been working at camp for 14 years, and we feed our campers super healthy vegetarian gourmet food as much organic as possible. We believe in feeding people a wonderful sustainable diet, free of factory farmed animals. We feel that this goes more in line with the Principles of Unity and really honoring that all life is sacred.
Tejas Web WitchCamp
Our 15th WitchCamp! We are working with Hekate in the Samhain season of 2017 . "The voices of this Land call us to the crossroads. Guided by Hekate, we cultivate magical tools and deepen relationships with this Land to discover keys to transforming oppression and injustice". We are still finding that one year of Camp/one year of Dandelion is working for our community. It allows families and children to remain connected and we don't have the numbers to pull off both. 2016 was a successful Dandelion and 2017 is again a Camp year.
We are a camper-led camp, with a very hard-working organizing committee and media cell year-round. The RAT (ritual arc team) focuses on planning the ritual arc and individual rituals for about 6 months, including meetings with the path facilitators intermittently, involving them in some of the planning and participation, including opportunities for campers. We generally recruit two resource facilitators with skills our community wants to build, and who facilitate on separate teams with community members. Both the RAT and path facilitation teams have a mix of more and less experienced leadership for skill building (and magical energy!):
EarthSong Witchcamp, Australia
We have a healthy Scholarship program with funds being raised via camp raffle & auction, personal donation, tithing from community workshops and RTits events. This year we anticipate being able to offer in excess of 10 x $200 scholarships. We are also excited to be offering an Activist Scholarship to someone who hasn't attended a Reclaiming camp before (pre-requisites required). The demographic of our camp is predominantly white female although it is evolving each year with new campers attending and our camp becoming known by wider national and internal communities. Over the past few years the ratio of new campers to returning campers is approximately 1/3.
Winter Witchcamp, Northern Minnesota
As a community, most of us are over 40, many of us have disabilities, most of us are white, many are queer, and we have a wide variety of gender identities and expressions. We have also had a few more people of color and indigenous people come to camp each year, in 2016 and 2017. It seems that our early registration has been helpful in this (7-10 days before general registration is early registration for people of color and indigenous people of the Americas, with a "plus one" person this year). I estimate that this year we have an age range of maybe 20-85 and we may have about 10 people of color and/or indigenous people out of our total of 82 people.
Wild Maine Witchcamp
We are holding our first camp this coming fall, October 8th - 14th, 2017 working with Baba Yaga and Vasilisa. This is our first year so we will see who shows up? Maine is the whitest state in the country, followed by Vermont and New Hampshire. We are working with a "no one turned away for lack of funds" model and also working on physical accessibility so hopefully camp will be accessible in a variety of ways which will lead to more diverse demographics. We are considering reserving half the spots for folks from Maine, in case registration fills quickly with folks from out of state. We are in the process of sorting out our financial model, and anticipate something similar to what WWC did this past year. We've found a very reasonably priced location that's quite amazing, and also have a very strong organic farming community so we are hoping we can organize a lot of food donations and keep our expenses as low as possible. That said we expect to do a lot of fundraising outside of camp.
CloudCatcher, New South Wales, Australia
We have a healthy relationship with the pagan network in Australia. Many of the community continue to seed awareness of the camp in their various communities. We have a website, camp blog, active facebook page with discussions, We are able to publish regular camper stories and advertise in the Pagan Awareness Network – journal – Small Tapestry. We use cards and flyers to spread the word where we can that we are here.The community is generous in donation and fundraising through auction and raffles - this year we were able to offer 19 scholarships to assist campers to attend. We offer 100, 200 and 300 dollar scholarships . We focus on first time campers, those who have not received a scholarship previously and who are traveling, experiencing financial difficulty in whatever form. We also have separate organiser and activist scholarships. We don’t expect work exchange for scholarship.
Kids at Witchcamp?
Witchcamp, Village Camp, and the inclusion of children
by Jonathan Furst
Written in 2005 - Vermont Camp and some other camps, in particular Witchlets and Redwood Magic Family Camps, currently include children.
A baby in our daily path: how wonderful! This summer at Vermont Witchcamp, Martin and Sierra’s request to bring their infant fit perfectly with our Sacred Science path, and enhanced the whole camp experience for many people (though not for all). I highly recommend letting babes-in-arms come to adult Witchcamp.
I also strongly advocate not bringing children older than one year to camp. This is based on several years of magical experience with kids, teens, and adults. I’ve taught at — and helped organize — adult Witchcamp and Witchlets family camps as well as an Elements for Teens class. I think it would be a disservice to bring children to most Witchcamps. Here’s some of my thinking:
Family and Village camps are better choices, designed to include kids in community and ritual. These camps offer institutional support for kids and parents, and free-ranging aunties, uncles, and elders who come specifically to work and play with children. Plus, there’s usually folks who have experience working magic with kids.
Witchcamp is where we do some of our most powerful magic, day and night — not just in path or at ritual. We may deal with sexuality, deep mysteries, brutality, and other issues that could easily bore or disturb children, and which they might interrupt. That’s not to say we can’t do deep magic with kids (indeed, it can be transformative for young and old to tackle these kinds of issues together) but it takes a lot of effort, experience, and willingness — from everyone involved — to make it work well.
Witchcamp is not always safe. We create a strong container to work with powerful energies and issues. Folks get stirred up and sometimes act out. It’s not fair to expose young people to these forces if they’re unprepared or unwilling. Or to censor adults, since we tend to hold back from engaging deeply or fully expressing when we feel we have to shield nearby children.
Adults need their own space, especially parents. Youth liberation demands we work on including young people in our communities (both Reclaiming and the wider world). But not everywhere all the time. Most parents have certain things they do not share with their children, like witnessing them having sex. For some adults, Witchcamp is the only week of the year they feel permission to be without children. This may be a burden to some parents, but it’s freeing for others.
If it’s difficult for parents in your community to come to camp, consider supporting them with childcare, fundraising, etc. And if your family’s needs aren’t being met, maybe it’s time to organize a Village or Family camp in your area. Or to invent a new model.
That said, I’ve been to two wonderful camps (California and Vermont) that shifted to let parents come with their young babies. It’s great to support parents and welcome new life in our communities, plus infants have the twin advantages of slumber and portability. If you’re thinking of bringing your babe to Witchcamp, here’s some tips from what I’ve experienced:
No babies in trance. A crying baby will instantly snap many people out of trance. Always find out what’s planned for path and ritual, and ask if it will work with your child. Sleeping babies might be welcome at the edge of a ritual (for easy whisking away) and some walking trances are even enhanced by including active, burbling little ones.
Get support before you come. Talk with the organizing team and find out if babies are welcome. If not, activism may be appropriate. Or not, especially depending on the camp’s theme. The birth of the Sun Goddess? Great. Ragnarok? Probably not a good environment. When you come to camp, bring family, friends, and/or partners. If that’s not possible, contact your camp community early to connect with people who would be overjoyed help out.
Talk with your path. Check in with the teachers to find out which paths (if any) would be open babies. It’s also good to enroll your path partners in having your child attend. Be prepared for a strong response: you may need to consider switching paths or doing a one-day trial.
Laundry. Access to a laundry machine and dryer — or hot water and a sunny clothesline — can be a critical factor.
Be flexible. Not just with when and where camp works for your baby, but also with yourself. Witchcamp is intense, and you may find bringing your precious one to be unexpectedly challenging. Or delightful.
Jonathan is a teacher, student, organizer, and ally, currently practicing magical Judaism in the wilds of Northern California.
Free Cascadia Camp: A Witchcamp Profile
by Jeanette and Briar
Greetings! We are Briar and Jeanette, members of the Free Cascadia Witchcamp organizing body. Jeanette is of Irish Catholic heritage and is an able-bodied hetero-woman of middle class upbringing living on NuuChahNulth territory working on climate change adaptation plans with the Municipality of Tofino. Briar is a Norwegian-European American queer, male socialized person of the mid-lower classes living on Awaswas Ohlone territory. Our camp is at a crossroads and we are writing to share our questions, lessons and dreams.
Our camp self identifies as living on the outer edge of Reclaiming, while working with its spirit at the heart. Our camp is emergent - we open to big questions, respond to feedback, and try to hold our learnings while striving towards our dreams. To understand our crossroads we must share how we got here.
Around 2004 some long time members of Reclaiming recognized a need within earth activist communities for magic and spiritual connection in the work they were doing. A small Witchcamp was created over a weekend to bring healing and protection to the site of a tree sit in the Southern Cascades. The activists who were present, as well as the witches, recognized the potency of this work. From this grew a desire for a Witchcamp that blended the magic of these worlds.
Free Cascadia Witchcamp, originally Free Activist Witchcamp, is organized collectively by a volunteer team through a modified consensus model. Our budget is guided by radical trust. Our camp is sliding scale with no one turned away for lack of funds, payment is made at camp and our average donation is $105 for the week. We organize with between 20-30 members, serving 100 campers, our wait list is often upwards of 200 people. Organizers and campers largely live on the West Coast of the colonized land of the US and Canada, though they have also lived in the Midwest and the East Coast.
Our camp struggles with the reality that the United States and Canada are illegal occupations of Turtle Island, perpetuated by ongoing physical and cultural genocide. As people who live on these lands, and a camp that works with spirits of the land, we feel that it is essential we examine our on going role in colonization, and develop relationships with the peoples whose land we live and work upon. We do not have a home site and we are questioning the integrity of doing magic on lands that are not ours, and where we do not have relationships or kinship ties to the peoples whose land it rightfully is.
While we do not have one home, the Wolf Creek Radical Faerie Sanctuary on the lands of the Takelma people, in what many call Southern Oregon, has hosted us many times. The cross pollination has brought powerful Faerie magic and sacred clowning into our circle. Our attempts to build rightful relationships with the peoples of this land has manifested as a tithe to Grandma Agnes Baker-Pilgim, a Takelma elder.
In 2009 we ritually deathed Free Activist Witchcamp and birthed Free Cascadia Witchcamp. This ritual and naming grew from a desire to heal conflict and harm within our camp, respond to camper and organizer feedback and meet a need for transformation and renewal.
This willingness to change and incorporate feedback is among the greatest strengths of Freecamp. Being responsive and open to the Stars of Possibility, Freecamp again and again experiments with the edges of what has been done.
Our camp has ever shifting edges and no clear model to follow. We have become a queer of center camp, we are open to people of all ages, and we are financially accessible. We are working on our physical, neurological and emotional accessibility, and we working to center BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) folk and to decenter whiteness. There are some bipoc folk in the organizing group, also engaged in this anti-racism work. The group is still mostly white-appearing, and this is a work in progress. We mess up frequently and we keep trying.
Reclaiming In Australia
Reclaiming in Australia - local magic with a southern twist - by Jane Meredith.
Advanced Work: Community Building
Portland Reclaiming offers a collection of articles and exercises on building community.