Reclaiming is a community of people working to unify spirit and politics. Our vision is rooted in the religion and magic of the Goddess, the Immanent Life Force. We see our work as teaching and making magic: the art of empowering ourselves and each other. In our classes, workshops, and public rituals, we train our voices, bodies, energy, intuition, and minds. We use the skills we learn to deepen our strength, both as individuals and as community, to voice our concerns about the world in which we live, and bring to birth a vision of a new culture.
In 1980 two women in the Neopagan community, Starhawk and Diane Baker, joined together to offer a class on Witchcraft in the Bay Area. This class drew upon the training each of these women had previously experienced, which included training in the Feri Witchcraft tradition with Victor and Cora Anderson and feminist goddess spirituality. This class proved to be popular enough that more classes were planned and offered, and resulted in the students forming covens to continue the work. This core group named itself the Reclaiming Collective in 1980. During this same period, many Collective members and people from the larger community were active in anti-nuclear civil disobedience at Lawrence Livermore Lab and Diablo Canyon. Those actions and the experiences Collective members had there were essential towards involving Reclaiming in politically oriented magic.
Today, Reclaiming can be found all over the globe, with groups practicing in Australia, all throughout Europe, Canada and in many communities in the United States.
We often use the acronym EIEIO to describe the way we work. These letters stand for Ecstatic, Improvisational, Ensemble, Inspired, and Organic.
Ecstatic: In our rituals we are interested in deepening our connection to the energy that is present and arising, whether that is deep and trancelike, or high and excited, or somewhere in-between or outside of that.
Improvisational: We value spontaneity within the overall structure of the ritual. Though we have a general framework, we do not read from scripts, instead responding to the energy present in the moment.
Ensemble: In our large group rituals we share power by having many priestesses involved in the ritual by holding roles and performing different functions. This allows people to develop skills and support each other.
Inspired: We understand that we are a modern people inspired by the past, not bound by it. We reach into the past and, respectfully, see what these myths and stories have to tell us about the world today.
Organic: We strive for a smooth, coherent flow of energy in a ritual that has a life of its own to be honored. Our rituals are linked to the rhythms of cyclical time and organic life.
Rose May Dance, a Reclaiming elder, has said of our tradition's rituals...“[Reclaiming’s] circles are participatory, usually without a high priestess or priest. The wand [of power or leadership] passes around the circle quite a bit. In many rituals, spontaneous invocations and prayers are the norm. Some liturgy has been developed for high holidays but is not always used, and more is forever being created.Empowerment is a byword of Reclaiming tradition. Some folks call us the evangelicals of the Goddess Religion, because there is much room for ecstatic and cathartic experience in our circles. We try to bring movement and emotions into our rituals.”
Reclaiming Community & Consensus Process
Reclaiming was born within a fascinating intersection of feminism, activism, and goddess spirituality in the late 1970's in the California Bay Area (read more about that at this link; a wonderful Reclaiming Quarterly focused on Reclaiming history.) One of the results of that parentage was a commitment to non-hierarchal structure and consensus process. This means that unlike many other Craft traditions, Reclaiming does not have a High Priest or High Priestess. Rather, local and regional groups are run by cells that come to decisions using consensus process. Consensus process is a type of group decision making that allows for every voice to be heard. Here is a great primer by Starhawk on understanding consensus.