Andrew Paik, teacher, longtime Reclaiming member and founder of Free Activist Witchcamp, has passed away. The above photo was taken only days before his death. As indicated in a public post written by his wife Karen, the image depicts “how [Andy would] like to be remembered.”
Andy was born and raised in California. He grew up in Mill Valley and attended Marin Catholic High School. After graduating in 1983, he enrolled at the University of California, at Berkeley and graduated in 1988.
In 1994, Andy joined the Reclaiming Tradition, a San Francisco-based collective of Witches that had formed in the early 1980s. Starhawk, one of its original founders, remembered Andy in a blog post, calling him, “a dedicated and courageous activist and a good friend.”
By the late 1990s, Andy, a passionate nature-lover, had joined several environmental activist groups including Earth First! and Cascadia Forest Defenders. He was frequently interviewed in the news media and attended rallies across the country. Andy eventually also joined up with the Pagan Cluster, a national group of loosely connected Pagan activists. He discussed and cataloged some of his work in articles published in Reclaiming Quarterly (RQ).
In 2004, Andy began contemplating the idea of a free Pagan gathering. In an RQ article titled “Money, Power and Free Witchcamp,” he discussed the evolution of his thought process. He wrote:
In our world today, learning magical skills is not a new age, fluffy bunny way to while away a weekend. Magical skills are survival skills … And these skills need to be available to everyone, not just to people who can write a check.
As noted, Andy found support for this idea both at Reclaiming’s 2004 Dandelion Gathering, held in South Texas, and within his local Reclaiming community.
Using the Earth First! national gathering as a model, Andy helped coordinate and host the very first Reclaiming Free Activist Witchcamp. It was held in 2005 at the Twin Lakes region of the Umpqua National Forest in Oregon. By 2009, Andy left as the organizer but the event continued on. It is now called Free Cascadia Witchcamp and will be celebrating its 10th anniversary in Summer 2015.
Throughout the decade, Andy was an active member of ReWeaving, an open circle in the Reclaiming Tradition based in Los Angeles. He was a tireless environmental activist and teacher of the Reclaiming Tradition. In her blog post, Starhawk also noted that Andy was an accomplished stage magician. Other friends have recalled his love of puns, his friendship and his many stories.
In recent years, Andy was living in Hawthorne, California with his wife Karen. This February, he drove to see the Grand Canyon and, in one of his last public Facebook posts, he wrote, “Just out on a road trip to see what we can find…”
According to Starhawk, on Feb. 23, Karen returned home from work to find Andy unconscious in his home. The Paramedics were unable to revive him. Writing from Belize with limited and unreliable internet access, she added, “I am really devastated and sad.”
A memorial will be held at a friend’s home on Mar. 14 at 2 p.m. in Glendale. For those that would like to attend, Karen has posted the details on Andy’s public Facebook page. In addition, she included these words by Rumi:
Beyond ideas of rightness and wrongness there is a field. I will meet you there when the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.
What is remembered, lives.