Wyrd Vibrations: Future Sounds of Paganism - Reclaiming's latest!
Anti-Racism Curriculum from Reclaiming's DARC Group
Dancing the Spiral: A Companion to the Writings of Starhawk for Circles & Solitaries
Reclaiming Cauldron - new journal - print or free download!
Reflections on Disability & Paganism: My Year in AIRA - by Alex Spurlock
Witchcamp News from Around the World - by Paul Eaves
Kids at Witchcamp - by Jonathan Furst
Reclaiming In Australia - by Jane Meredith
Advanced Work: Community Building - by Portland Reclaiming
ReclaimingQuarterly.org - archives, photo features, back magazine issues, and more!
Kids at Witchcamp?
Witchcamp, Village Camp, and the inclusion of children
by Jonathan Furst
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.