Today is the anniversary of my initiation into the Reclaiming Tradition of Witchcraft. My Reclaiming initiation took place just two days shy of my twenty year anniversary of stepping into witchcraft. Every year on my initiation anniversary I take some time to reflect on what has transpired since my ‘big day’. My initiation date is my second birthday, it is the day that I was born into the depths of witchcraft differently than I had been before. It holds a lot of power.
My relationship to the Reclaiming Tradition started in 1995, when I attended my first public ritual. I had already been practicing witchcraft for awhile at that point, but all of my study had been from books. You see the internet wasn’t really a thing yet. We had to go out into the world and find books! In that first public ritual there were sixty people present, which felt like a million to me at the time.
Although painfully shy, I sang, I danced, we raised a cone of power, and I left that ritual thinking, “Wow, I’ve been doing my rituals all wrong, this was so much more powerful!” Out went the books with the rote and pre-written rituals. Instead, I started crafting my own ecstatic processes, dances, full moon rituals, potions, spells, and the like. That’s how it was for many years; one or two amazing powerful public rituals a year and then my own little private spirituality the rest of the time. All of this supported by a small close-knit community of eclectic witches. The thought of engaging more deeply in the Reclaiming community was terrifying (remember, painfully shy).
Down the Road
Fast forward to 2009. Due to lots of different circumstances, I was craving more local community. I took Elements of Magic, the intro to Reclaiming style magic course. That class served as confirmation that Reclaiming was in fact a good match for me. Over the next few years I dove in and took all of the “core” classes, went to Witchcamp, started student teaching, was consensed as a “full” Reclaiming teacher, starting teaching at Witchcamps, and so on. It was during my time student teaching that I started to consider initiation.
By that point I was self initiated. I was initiated into a small eclectic coven, and I was initiated into a Druid group. Another initiation was not something I was looking for. However, the Reclaiming initiation is not like any other. It is a solitary process with mentorship that takes you on a journey of self discovery. Through the process you are encouraged to dive deeply into the unknown of yourself and explore your dark shadows, bright shadows, gifts, and growing edges.
Reclaiming Tradition InitiationReclaiming initiation requires you to seek out your initiators. No one is going to ask if you’re ready, or tap you on the shoulder. There is no way to know who has been initiated. We don’t wear a charm, have a special tattoo, or don a cap of initiation. You have to put yourself out there and ask. It’s scary and heart wrenching because you have to be prepared for them to say no, and maybe not tell you why.
The Reclaiming initiation doesn’t work on a fixed timeline. My initiation was about three years from start to finish. My initiators served as my guides, mentors, and challengers. One of my most challenging experience in life to date came from one of my initiators. It changed the makeup of my core and truly transformed me. Each of my initiators saw me in a different way, or maybe saw through me in a different way. Because of the unique relationship I had with each of them I was offered different challenges to encourage me to shift, change, grow, expand, and shed old outmoded patterns. Hard fucking work.
The years of my initiation culminated in a ritual designed specifically for me. I won’t go into the details of that ritual. We don’t keep much secret in Reclaiming, but this is an area where I feel it’s important to not overshare. What I will say is for my ritual I experienced a challenging physical ordeal. I pushed myself beyond what I thought I could handle. I almost gave up and at one point I thought that I had failed and would be denied initiation.
In the years that have followed I can look back and see what I’ve accomplished. Now I look back and see the patterns of my life that were rewoven. I look back and I see the power that was imbued into me from those dearest folks I entrusted my life to. There is a connection I’ll always have to my initiators who stepped forward to hold my hand at the gates of life and death. They were mentors who believed I could do it and will continue to be a part of my life.
For me, Reclaiming initiation was about accepting that the Reclaiming Tradition is my home. I might wander (and that’s okay). There will be times I move around and become a seeker in other traditions. I might even initiate into other traditions, but I’ll always remember my roots, my initiators, and my home.