Substance Use and Harm Reduction Policy
Some History / or Why Do We Need This?
The Reclaiming tradition was founded around the idea of changing consciousness at will via energy, and energy alone. This language is intentional, in order to separate other spaces in which changing consciousness includes utilizing intoxicating substances. Wider pagan culture and its large gatherings have historically come with heavy recreational alcohol (among other things). This can be incredibly alienating for folks in recovery, or those struggling with alcohol dependency. In some spaces, this dynamic has even facilitated youth who grow up in these communities to develop alcohol dependency. It has also led to the formation of community spaces in which clear consent was not an essential foundation of interpersonal interactions. This is an issue that pervades many Pagan gatherings across the continent.
Reclaiming sought, & still seeks, to foster a different kind of space. In the past, words like ‘sober’ and ‘sobriety’ have been used to describe Reclaiming spaces. Wider Reclaiming policies have evolved over time, as our language has grown and shifted around discussions of substance use, intoxication, and what is considered medicinal vs. recreational drug use.
The WitchCamp Council’s (WCC) most recent policy is the guideline that Reclaiming camps like ours follow:
“Out of respect for the intensity of the spiritual and healing work we do at camps, we expect participants within the circle of camp to engage in the transformational work of changing consciousness at will without the use of external intoxicating substances. We are committed to fostering accessible self-responsible communities, supporting people who are in recovery and/or working with the challenges of addiction.”
As a Reclaiming camp, we follow the guidelines put forth by the WCC; however, we want to build on it, too, fleshing out what it means to support folks working with the challenges of addiction. We want to infuse a harm reduction approach to the strong base that WCC has established for Reclaiming spaces.
Our intention, as organizers of Wild Maine Witch Camp, is to create a space that is safe and welcoming for people who may have varying relationships (current and past) with substances (medicinal or otherwise). This includes people who are in recovery, and for whom being exposed to certain intoxicating substances might harm them. This also includes people who have a dependent, non-recreational relationship to substances that require regular use for survival.
We as an organizing group represent a variety of histories of substance use, and want to honor all of the stories that we each bring to this camp. These words come from our hearts, not from any high horse.
That being said, even with a policy in place, some people who come may not respect our community agreements. At our camp specifically, last year recreational alcohol was offered by one participant to other camp participants, some of whom are sober and in recovery. This type of harmful interaction is one example of situations that we want to avoid going forward.
Additionally, children and minors are welcomed at this camp. We want to create a space that is an open place for them to explore and build community, and hope to avoid exposing youth to potential harm as much as possible.
Give all of background, our current policy towards intoxicant & substance use is as follows:
Substance Use & Harm Reduction Policy
First and foremost: as with all things, please consider the impact that your relationship to intoxicants & other substances might have on others around you in WMWC community.
If you engage in recreational use of alcohol, marijuana, or other substances, we request that you abstain for the duration of camp. Please do not bring any recreational substances into common, sleeping, and ritual spaces. If you have unintentionally brought any recreational substances with you, please leave them in your car. This is crucial to the integrity of camp.
If you are currently in a dependent relationship with a specific substance, we ask that you consider how you may engage with that substance while minimizing potential harm to others at camp. Can you meet your own needs for survival and health without triggering others, and can you engage safely, while being part of a community container this is centered on changing consciousness energetically? This includes being mindful of lingering scents, for example. If this seems doable to you and your needs, we would love to have you at camp. If there are things that we can do as organizers to support you, please let us know and we can discuss what is within our capacity.
We do not want to contribute to the dominant culture of shame or stigma around addiction and/or substance dependency. We do however want people in recovery or in various stages of sobriety to not be exposed to things that may harm their stability. It is a lot to balance, and we are still working on finding the words for the container we are striving to create.
We welcome feedback on this policy in its current iteration, and will continually strive to adapt it as needed to help facilitate a camp space that is as safe and welcoming as possible, for as many people as possible.