Posts on Reclaiming

Some of the most widely-read posts on this blog are those I have written about Reclaiming. So I have decided to provide a handy index to them all, with a little introductory material. These posts chronicle the evolution of my thinking about Reclaiming, a tradition I have been involved with since 1983. The first five I consider a series; the others came mostly after the series was completed, because it turns out there’s always more to say.

Prior to having a blog, my writing and thinking about Reclaiming was expressed mostly in shorter postings on the “Spider” list, an international Reclaiming email list. This blog has allowed me to focus on and express my views of the bigger picture, something that I was not able to do before. I am grateful for the freedom this position allows, and surprised and heartened by the positive response to my writing.

I have collected these posts in one handy ebook, complete with a new introduction. The Baby and the Bathwater: What I learned about spirituality, magic, community, ecstasy and power from 25 years in Reclaiming is available for sale here.

“Hello Mudda, Hello Fadda”

This first post I wrote in August 2006, as a report-back from a blogging conference. While there, I had the thought that the differences between open source and wiki software paradigms might also be applied to the differing visions of Reclaiming. I realized while writing the post that I was creating the first in a series of essays that would force me to fully express my thoughts and feelings about Reclaiming.

The Baby and the Bathwater

Written the day after my open-source vs. wiki-spirituality post. The response to this post both in public comments and private emails made me realize that this was a subject of interest to far more people than I had previously imagined. It made me take the subject a little more seriously, and was the first glimmer I had of the potential influence of blog conversations.

A Peak Experience

Ten days later, taking a step back from criticism and musing on the important liturgical/poetic contributions Reclaiming has made, which flow beyond the bounds of Pagandom.

Whither Reclaiming?

This post is my attempt at a comprehensive (though brief) analysis of the basic problems in Reclaiming. The ideology of “community,” the tension between policy struggles and charismatic leaders, the ways in which our conflicting ideals cancel each other out, possibly preventing longevity of the tradition as a whole, and finally the question of whether it is truly necessary to have a continuous tradition, when the basic point of what we are doing is to empower our magical instincts in everyday life. There is a lot here, and as usual the comments are well worth reading.


A full nine months after the first four posts, in May 2007, I finally was able to synthesize all my thinking into a sort of manifesto. This was a particularly fun post to write, because time and patience, as well as growing legions of like-minded supporters, had put me in a much better humor about the whole thing.

The “El” Word

In March 2007, I looked at the concept of Elders: who is an elder, how do you become one, and is it a tenured position?

How to Diss an Elder, the Dead, and Everyone Else

This piece was my first foray into outright satire, because let’s face it: sometimes that is simply the best tool for the job. I did get flak for this because apparently I didn’t have all the relevant facts before I wrote it. My position is that sometimes in order to tell the truth it is better not to have all the facts. This story has gone on in different versions for years, so in lacking one kind of accuracy it is better able to reflect a greater one.

Same As It Ever Was

Even though I felt done with the series of essays after writing “Remaining,” there is just no end to the material. Reclaiming is the gift that keeps on giving, from a writer’s point of view—especially a writer fond of satire. So naturally I had to report on my visit to Reclaiming’s third Dandelion Gathering, held in April 2008.

Sex and Revolution

This essay, a guest post for the Wild Hunt Blog, was my attempt to challenge current Pagan thinking about sexuality and ethics. While Reclaiming isn’t mentioned specifically in this post, the central anecdote has Reclaiming written all over it. Tellingly, many of the comments fall right into the rhetorical camps I describe, and very few address my main point. Fortunately, none of them accuse me of precipitating another Burning Times.

A Very Good Thing

Even though I’m not on the “Spider” list anymore, I do hear about some of the conversations. This is my response to a recent controversy: whether the Reclaiming website ought to link to all the blogs of Reclaiming-affiliated people, and if so, how well hidden they should be.

The Ones We Leave Behind

One morning in May, 2010, I was walking on the beach with a friend and saw an amazing white rainbow. I also saw a former teacher of mine, who was in the midst of what seemed to be a psychotic episode. The encounter affected me deeply, and allowed me to reflect on the process by which we choose our spiritual teachers—and how we know when to move on. This essay is a fitting end to this series.

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