ISO: An Apology

I was thinking today about how angry I still am over how the Reclaiming Witchcamp Spokes Council handled my proposal concerning teacher guilds all those years ago. This is interesting considering that what I proposed has now become the reality somewhat, with independent teacher guilds forming and demanding representation on the council.

Camps still select teacher representatives to the council, which rankles me more than I care to admit. But at least teachers can now legitimately get representation separate from camps. So in many ways I was successful. But I do not feel successful.

I feel bruised and used, and I mostly feel disrespected. And today I finally tapped into how sad and hurt I still feel about it all.

The Spokes Council did send me a nice consensus based thank you letter for my effort, after trashing my proposal for reasons as unethical as “it’s too long.” (The actual proposal was maybe three or four short paragraphs of from two to three sentences apiece.) And it did not help that the discussion on the international Reclaiming spider list was at times catty and petty.

It literally broke my heart.

It is the same thing with SpiralHeart, a Reclaiming witchcamp held in the Mid Atlantic region. SpiralHeart has reached out to me in many respectful ways in the last few years. But I am still angry with them too.

I put up with insults and unreasonable expectations for years, and I kept coming back till at some point I asked myself why. Why do I keep trying so hard when it is clear to me, that all I ever get for my trouble is whole lot of stress and aggravation? So I stopped. I stopped reading the lists, I stopped providing feedback, and I stopped caring about how the camp was organized.

But still within me lives a latent rage. I am still angry about what happened all those years ago.

So today, I dug deeper and what I realized is missing for me is a straightforward apology.

It is the same thing on a larger scale when I contemplate the legacy of slavery, the continuing stealing of First Nation lands and the epidemic devaluation of women.

This all came up because I was watching a special on Comedy Central starring Christopher Titus. He is a very funny guy. I loved his show on Fox many years ago. But Titus did a bit that touched my heart and made me laugh very, very hard. He apologized for slavery. Not only did he apologize to black folks, he also apologized to Native Americans and Mexican Americans. He apologized on behalf of white folks everywhere; he even got the white folks in the audience to apologize. It was incredibly moving and really, really funny.

But in a very real sense, it touched my heart. It was the same feeling I got when President Clinton went to Africa and apologized for slavery. Now, of course, Clinton should have apologized here in the states first, but that fact that he did it at all touched a wound deep within the American psyche.

I remember a service we did at the Sojourner Truth Congregation after the Simi Valley verdict for the officers involved in the Rodney King beating. Our minister Alma Faith Crawford talked about how quickly many white Americans wanted to move toward healing. She pointed out that healing is not possible until the wound is cleaned out. We as a country want to put more band-aids over wounds that go down to the bone. And then we wonder why it keeps getting worse. We want peace without justice.

And that is what is happening for me with Reclaiming. We have a tenuous peace. I am not posting polemics onto the SpiralHeart list. I am no longer pounding the table for teacher rights within the spokes council. But my wound has not healed.

So today, I excised a great deal of toxic remnants from my broken heart. I let the bitter tears fall and I let the rage boil up and out. I guess it hurt so much because I truly did care about these communities. In many ways I still care, just from a distance. I learned a painful lesson about caring too much. I thought I could make a difference and I did. But now I need to let go of the shards of my broken ideals. Because although my heart was broken in service to what I thought was a greater good, it was my own illusions that did the most damage.

And so unlike slavery, stolen land and centuries of oppression, I can heal this wound on my own.

So in gratitude to Christopher Titus, I hereby apologize to myself on behalf of humans everywhere who I loved maybe a little too much. And starting today, I will try and look past my pain and wish Mid Atlantic Reclaiming and the Reclaiming Spokes Council all the best. Because as of today, I am no longer waiting for an apology that will never come.

©2007 Katrina Messenger

Posted in

Macha (not verified) | Thu, 06/28/2007 - 4:17am

Katrina, I'm sorry for your hurt. I'm sure you have some idea of how much it resonates with me -- the Reclaiming part, not the slavery part.

I had no idea about your proposals to the Spokes Council. As you know, I've had nothing to do with WitchCamps, ever. But I do know about being unappreciated. I didn't know your ideas about independent teachers' guilds, and now find myself part of one. I never considered it an alternative to whatever the WC folks do, although it did come out of WC teacher dissatisfaction and disillusionment. The guild was called Independent Camp Teachers (ICT) until I joined, at which time we agreed to change it to Independent Craft Teachers, or GHG for Good Hair Guild.

In recent years, as you also know, I've experienced a lot of healing around my love-hate relationship with Reclaiming. It doesn't really matter whether I'm ever credited with literally inventing some things (roles, processes, etc.), either alone or in collaboration with others in the former Collective. What matters is that they continue to prove useful.

That said, however, some of them have morphed to the point of unrecognizability.

I've grown into a Witch at Large rather than one associated with a specific trad (two trads in my case, with training in a third). That way I get to avoid the politics of individual groups and enjoy the best of what they do. And they get to partake of the best of me without having to put up with my ravings of discontent.

I respect you as a wonderful, talented, principled Witch woman.

Much love,


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