Babies, Bathwater, and the Reclaiming Community
Of all American Witchcraft traditions, Reclaiming seems to be the most prone to self-criticism. Perhaps that is because, as Anne Hill writes in her brief blog-memoir, The Baby and the Bathwater, there was always much conflict over different visions for Reclaiming.
What started with one foot in the Faery/Faerie/Feri Witchcraft tradition of Victor and Cora Anderson also co-existed with a social vision of growing organic vegetables in a solar-powered paradise fueled by consensus decision-making, pushing the boundaries of gender-theory and overcoming enemies with the power of love and passion.
Hill, one of the original group’s long-term members, writes things that only an insider could say. The Baby and the Bathwater combines blog posts that she wrote from 2006 to 2010, including the comments that readers left on her Blog O’Gnosis.
We’ve seen good people come and go over the years, and have noticed that mostly the good people go after they realize that Reclaiming is a victim of its own idealism and there’s nowhere to “advance” once you have experience and skills. I said that I have been struggling to clarify my present-day involvement with Reclaiming, particularly trying to discern what is baby and what is bathwater and not throwing away that which is of lasting value.
My friend responded instantly: “But there is no baby in the bathwater,
and there never has been.” I was stunned at that, and have been thinking about it ever since. Can it be true that what started as a grand experiment in creating a spirituality that was Goddess-centered, egalitarian, politically and socially radical would have absolutely nothing to show for itself 25 years after the fact? Could it be that a community and religious movement which has been at the center of my identity for over two decades consisted all along of nothing but our intense willingness to believe our own promotional language?