M. Macha NightMare Withdraws from Reclaiming Tradition

On Tuesday, August 6th M. Macha NightMare issued the following press release (excerpted below).

M.Macha NightMare

 I, M. Macha NightMare, Priestess & Witch, aka Aline O’Brien, withdraw from the publicly recognized organization known as Reclaiming Tradition Witchcraft and hereby dissociate myself from further involvement with the tradition.  I make this statement formally and publicly because I am a public figure known to be connected to Reclaiming.

I do not make this decision lightly or without forethought and considerations for potential consequences.     [Read the full Press Release]

Pagans, both within the Reclaiming Tradition, and independently, are struggling to understand the significance of this departure by a co-founder.  Some say it is insignificant, people and traditions change and grow. Others want to characterize the withdrawal as an indicator of crisis within a tradition. Neither is accurate. Macha acknowledges in a statement to PNC-MN :

Macha:   …  over the next weeks and months I’ll be exploring and trying to articulate in an understandable but constructive and non-accusatory way the various reasons that led me to this decision.  It’s much more complex than it might seem to someone not part of the community, and to most who even are part of it, especially those who have no knowledge of our history (which is most everyone).

The Reclaiming Tradition just completed approval of revised Principals of Unity (POU) underway in discussions for several years prior, at the biennial Reclaiming Dandelion Gathering immediately before the release of the press statement of withdrawal by Macha. In a statement from Starhawk, an additional co-founder of the tradition, this change is indicated as a possible cause of the withdrawal.  [The 1997 Reclaiming Principles of Unity can be read here.]

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M.Macha NightMare – Interview

M. Macha NightMare

I was able to interview M. Macha NightMare as she waited for a plane to MSP airport, I asked her;

What have you been up to recently?

Well, Cherry Hill Seminary, which I am always working on. I hope will develop into a more stable foundation. It is something that needs more support from the Pagan community. They have wonderful teachers and students.

I have been working on a Pagan elders study. I did a survey on survey monkey, and got over 800 responses and have been analyzing that data. I have been starting to present on that topic. We have never had elders because we are a new religious movement. We are not a tribe in the conventional sense, and we really don’t have any role models. We have to look elsewhere for models. There are two different kinds of elders, one is older people, and another is people who have been in a community for a while and have some perspective and are turned to frequently for counsel or lore and things like that. Those are the ones I am thinking about. It is not defined and very haphazard. I think it behooves us to examine what our assumptions are about elders and try to put some things in place within our various communities.

What do elders actually do?

That is one of the things that I believe we as the Pagan movement have to determine for our communities. Who are the elders accountable or responsible to? What kind of matters do they address, if any? I got a lot of answers, but they are all over the place. Any human community has occasions and individuals that are not healthy for the well-being of the whole group, and may be dysfunctional and that may be unacknowledged. Some people see that behavior and may be frustrated or alienated. They may withdraw from a community instead of fixing it, or they may not know where to turn to get it addressed. I don’t have the answers. What I have is a lot of questions. It is not up to me to determine what the answers are. I can share some of the answers I got in the survey. I have my own ideas, but I don’t have a nice tidy description of what an elder is yet, because of all the input I have been given. It is pretty interesting. I come at this from a selfish perspective in that people have turned to me as an elder, and have not really known what my role is. I want to respond in an honorable way, or refer them if that seems appropriate.

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Well Known Pagans Join in Japan Relief Effort

Several well known Pagans have joined with Peter Dybing in his effort to raise $30,000 to assist victims of the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  Selena Fox, Starhawk, Patrick McCullum, T. Thorn Coyle, Anna Rowe, M Macha Nightmare, Star Foster, Jason Pitzl-Waters, Morgana, Ivo Dominguez Jr, Holli S Emore, and Katrina Messenger have all made statements in support of this charity initiative.

Dybing has set up a fundraising page to gather donations from Pagans to send to Doctors Without Borders. This organization has teams on the ground in Japan and is setting up medical treatment centers.  Dybing chose Doctors Without Borders after seeing the great work they did in Haiti to assist earthquake survivors there.  ” I am recommending them due to their level of accomplishment in Haiti saving lives. Additionally, when this organization raised enough funds for its Haiti response it stopped accepting donations. It is important to recognize that organizations have a logistical limit as to how much they can accomplish. By suspending fundraising this organization demonstrated a commitment to spend funds wisely and not just take the opportunity to raise unlimited cash as other large NGO’s did.”

Not only is giving to a charity such as Doctors Without Borders in line with Pagan ethics, it’s a way for Pagans to donate as Pagans and be recognized as such.  If you would like to make a donation, please click this link.

As of press time, just over $14,000 has been raised in the 72 hours since the effort started.  There have been 212 donations with an average donation of just over $55.00. Donations have come primarily from individuals with about 5% coming from organizations.  Peter Dybing says he would like to “encourage people who may not have a lot of money to participate by giving smaller donations of $1.00 – $10.00” (Disclosure:  I have donated to the Japan Relief Effort and as Chair of International Pagan Coming Out Day I have publicized the effort on our facebook feed)

Below is a Press Release by Peter Dybing along with statements of support from Starhawk, Patrick McCullum, T. Thorn Coyle, Anna Rowe, M Macha Nightmare, Star Foster, Jason Pitzl-Waters, Morgana, Ivo Dominguez Jr, Holli S Emore, and Katrina Messenger

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Pagan Elder Survey

Author M. Macha NightMare is asking for Pagans across the world to participate in a 10 questions survey on eldership in contemporary Paganism. The survey results will be used in a paper Macha is writing. Responses will be collected until January 15, 2011 and she hopes that Pagans will not only fill out the quick survey, but will circulate it through their communities.

You can click here to take the survey.