Nicotine And The Pagan Addict
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Article ID: 9939
Age Group: Adult
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Posted: July 31st. 2005
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By the end of the year, I intend to be completely free of cigarettes, and I intend to cut down gradually in the meantime. But whenever I tell anybody this, they almost invariably insist that, "The only way you'll ever quit is just throw 'em down, quit cold turkey." At which point I want to grab them by the shoulders, look them dead in the eye, and yell at the top of my lungs:
"Why do you want me to fail?”
Because in my case, that would certainly be the result. Sure, I've known people, three in fact, who have quit "cold turkey, " and have not regressed. So far. But I have a very simple, understandable reason for not wanting to go this route. Which is to say, I have no intention whatsoever of spending the rest of my life fighting this addiction, this incessant craving for tobacco. I became a better than two-pack-a-day smoker gradually. It only seems natural to end the addiction in the same manner. Naturally.
Before I go into details how, it will help to remember one important maxim: You have to want to quit smoking more than you want to continue. This is very important. But before I go into an explanation as to just how important this seemingly simple concept is, I have a little story I'd like to share. It involves a little divination ritual I performed just a couple of months or so ago.
Without going into the mechanics of the ritual, suffice it to say I was interested in attuning, as it were, with the "goddess of tobacco, " as I called it. I was determined to find some valid ritual use for this natural plant, and so I started out envisioning this "goddess" as a dark, sultry, seductive goddess, with both dark and light aspects to her persona. Perhaps a daughter of Dionysius and Persephone.
When I received a dream vision of my "goddess" however, I was all but horrified. Instead of a sexy, mischievous entity with charm and allure, I was greeted with the sight of an entity that seemed more eager to hide from me, and for good reason. What I saw, in effect, was not unlike Shrek: an ogre, a troll, in fact, a great big, dark green, hideously ugly troll, with dark oily skin. It was mean, vicious, ugly, and to be sure, stupid, stupid, stupid.
Which is fitting, in that the spirit of tobacco, having attached its addictive nature to a host body, will take as much control as possible, until it ravages the host body, thus destroying it, or at least aiding, abetting, and hastening its destruction. Certainly, more like a virus than a deity.
I think all this made me more than determined that, rather than continue self-servingly trying to find something positive in something that was so obviously destructive, I was going to free myself from this insidious grip. And I thus developed this way, involving the power of the Sabbats.
Bear in mind, at my worst, I was a two and a half pack-a-day smoker. I am down now to a pack and a half, due in part to this principle. Only time will tell if I am ultimately successful in kicking the habit entirely. But I believe that I will, and you can too. And here is as good a way as any to do it, and I believe it is better than most.
Starting at Yule, you should not consciously try to cut down on your smoking; instead, you should concentrate on increasing those activities at which you will be less inclined to reach for a cigarette. You might also try to wait a bit before reaching for a cigarette at those times when ordinarily you are most inclined to do so automatically. Such as eating, for example. But for the most part, become more active, in healthy ways. This, in fact, was how I decreased from two and one half packs to a pack and a half. It didn't help that for the longest time I worked at a job at which we were more or less allowed to smoke as much as we wanted. Of course, this too is an excuse, as if you keep busy at your job, or otherwise, you are not going to be as inclined to light that cigarette.
Work on making these adjustments in your activity level, beginning at Yule, and going on through Imbolc, Ostara, and Beltane. You might want to consider taking up a new hobby, or involving yourself in some new creative venture.
The next and perhaps most critical phase of the quitting process happens after Litha. This is the period when the sun’s power is at its greatest, and afterwards will start to wane. This is the time then to coordinate your reduction in smoking to coincide with the sun's waning.
In my case, I have reduced my smoking from a pack and a half to sixteen cigarettes a day. Although at times I allow myself to cheat to up to eighteen a day, but only if I'm up for a longer period of time. But it's the next phase that will really tell the tale. Because beginning at Lughnasadh, August 2nd, I intend fully to reduce to twelve cigarettes a day. At Mabon, I intend to reduce to probably eight cigarettes a day. Finally, at Samhain, I will reduce to four a day. Or this might be the period when I stop all together.
I think more than likely though, I will continue smoking four cigarettes a day, from Samhain until roughly the period when the sun comes into conjunction with the planet Pluto in the sign of Sagittarius.
So why go to all this turmoil? Like I said earlier, you have to want to quit smoking, more than you want to smoke. That is why stopping cold turkey is just too untenable a prospect for most people, and certainly for me. Think about it this way: You start out with the best intentions, wanting to quit, for a variety of reasons. So you go for a period of time, and you resist that craving, reminding yourself of all the reasons why you should not give in to it. The health reasons, the expense. In the case of a Pagan, and particularly in the matter of magical workings, an addiction is something that weakens a person, and thus has a deleterious effect on that person’s spiritual and magical growth.
Then, there are others to consider. Your family, your children, your pets, who might be deleteriously affected by your second-hand smoke. And so you heroically continue to resist the urge, even though the more time goes by, the more you want to light that cigarette. You are so determined; you threw away that last partial carton you had left over. But you can always stop and get another. But you won' do it, you tell yourself. You are determined to quit. You want to quit. You sure would like to have a cigarette though. You bet it would feel so good to smoke just one cigarette. Just one. Maybe two or three would be all right. But you won't do it. Because you know it would be over with then. You would be right back where you started from. So you don't give in. You really want to though.
By now, I guess it's obvious where I'm going with this. The more you go without, the more you will want it. And, as is the case with most addicted smokers, you will soon want to smoke more than you want to quit. And you will smoke.
Or, like I said, you will spend the rest of your life craving tobacco, and resisting it. And maybe still one day finally give in. That is why I have decided on the route I have chosen. I might fail. But I figure, hey, if I do give in, better to go back to smoking a half pack a day or less, than back to a pack and a half. With the help of the deities, however, and my own self-determination, I will not give in. I will finally kick this habit.
For now, though, I'm going to have to cut this essay short. I really need to kick back and have a smoke. After all, I've gone well past my allotted time, for this phase of the discipline. One of the worst things a person can do, when inaugurating a program such as this, is to fool yourself into thinking you can cut back too much too quickly. It's almost like that ugly, vicious tobacco troll tricking you into causing your system to go into withdrawal, so you'll lose control, and go right back to the level you started out from. And that is something I just can't allow to happen this time.
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