Articles/Essays From Pagans
December 1st. 2013 ...
A Pragmatic Look at Neo Paganism
The Tarot as a Tool for Raising Consciousness
Leaving a Pagan Group – Part 1: To Leave or to Stay?
November 24th. 2013 ...
The Pagan and the Papacy
The Groovy Aquarian Christ: Jesus From a Pagan Perspective
November 17th. 2013 ...
For Love of the God
Which Witch? Philosophical and Psychological Roots of Wicca
A Threat to Religious Liberties?
November 10th. 2013 ...
Where did Aleister Crowley’s Influence on Wicca Go?
Thoughts on the Threefold Law/Law of Return
Nine Creeds: A Statement and Explanation of My Beliefs
The Celtic Tree Calendar
November 3rd. 2013 ...
The Mundane/Spiritual Mirror: What Does it Say About Your Life?
October 27th. 2013 ...
Thoughts On a Miley-Cyrus/ Robin-Thicke Society
On Being Wiccan: Some Unsolicited Advice
Pagan Religious Communities in your Area: Connecting With and Creating Them
Banishing, Invocation and the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram
October 20th. 2013 ...
Weather Magick: Who is Responsible for the Weather?
Broom Closet: In or Out?
Bottle Spells and Magick in Hoodoo Tradition
On Coven and Claws
October 13th. 2013 ...
Destroying to Create: A Lesson from the Dead
Consume the Scorpion- Scorpion Energy Revisited
October 6th. 2013 ...
UPG and U: A Breakdown and Building Up of Unverified and Unsubstantiated Personal Gnosis
Answering The Call from Spirit
Coping with the Loss of a Familiar
The Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage, Part 2 (The South)
September 29th. 2013 ...
Six Reasons Why Covens are Here to Stay
Priestessing and Titles: What's the Point?
Truth or Convenience? Questioning Motives for Spiritual Advancement
Speaking Up: The Conflict Between the Spiritualist and Our Human Experience
September 22nd. 2013 ...
Death of a Friendship within the Craft
The Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage, Part 1 (The Center)
September 15th. 2013 ...
Some Pagan Prayers
Lunar Insight Moon Musings: Bramble and Cerridwen
The Holocaust Survivor (Part II)
September 8th. 2013 ...
Introduction to the Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage
The Druidic Concept of Nwyfre
The Holocaust Survivor (Part 1)
Giving and Helping
September 1st. 2013 ...
Use a Flyswatter for a Fly: More on the Dark Arts
How Spells Work
Is It Really 'Energy'?
August 25th. 2013 ...
Mother Nature’s Way: Forging a Distinctly American Path
Healing Moon Ritual
Unconditional Love: The Paradox of Perfect Love
Earth to Soul/Sole
August 18th. 2013 ...
How Not to Fall in the Bunny Trap
Why Are You Like That? Thoughts on Hoodoo and Appropriation
Finding the Right Coven
The Knowledge Found in Silence
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances, Hazelnuts and Magick Wands
August 11th. 2013 ...
“I Survived a Weekend with Galina Krasskova”
The Charges of the Goddess and God with Commentary
August 4th. 2013 ...
Fair Weather Witches
Pagan Studies II: Modern Paganism in the Americas
Pagan Abbeys - A Practical Heritage for Spiritual Lay and Professional Cloistered Communities
July 28th. 2013 ...
Crystals 101: A Helpful Guide For Beginners
The More the Merrier? It’s not Only an Inaccuracy; it’s an All Out Farce!
My Pagan Manifesto
July 21st. 2013 ...
I'm a Witch, Not a Wiccan: A Brief Summary of Broad Pagan Designations
Rethinking Community for Solitaries
13 Keys: The Beauty of Tiphareth
July 14th. 2013 ...
Ramblings of a Pagan Guy: Stupid Clichés We Use (Part II)
Pagan Humanism: A Tradition of Rational Religion
Moon/Planetary Musings: The Holly King and John Barleycorn
July 7th. 2013 ...
Coping With Depression: Learning to Dance with the Sacred Twins
Shamanic Healing of Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Humility and Community Service
H is for Hubris
June 30th. 2013 ...
How To Feel The Energy Around You
Planning A Ritual
Why Pagans Might Benefit from Counseling Techniques
The Weight of Contemplation: When the Silent Self Grows Louder
June 23rd. 2013 ...
Magick and Play
Tarot Spell for Protection
Moon Musings and Planetary Preponderances: RE-fuse, RE-duce, RE-use, RE-pair and RE-cycle
June 16th. 2013 ...
How To Stay Spiritual Amidst This Chaos?
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Pagans in Recovery: Maybe its Time for our Own Program?
Article ID: 10058
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 2,981
Times Read: 5,272
RSS Views: 66,935
Author: Ari C.
Posted: October 9th. 2005
Times Viewed: 5,272
Pagans in Recovery: Maybe its time for our own program?
(Note: there are many Pagan versions of the 12-steps, the recovery tool originated by the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. Pagan Sanctum Recovery is not the one and only method for Pagans to get clean and sober and/or recover from other disorders. We encourage the Pagan who is still suffering to explore the diverse world of Pagan recovery, and listen for the message that rings true to the soul.)
My spiritual journey began when I was eleven years old. One summer night in 1973 I had a profound, soul-shaking dream. I woke the next morning feeling. . . aware. The forests, the moon, the sky, the flowing streams, and the great forces residing within and beyond, all had a name: Witchcraft. It was like turning the lights on in a dark room.
I felt an overwhelming urge to go to a bookstore; there I found Ann Grammary’s The Witch’s Workbook in the “supernatural” section along with books on ESP and UFOs. I bought it, took it home, and devoured it. Poof: Instant tween solitary! The Witch’s Workbook was a mishmash of spells, numerology, Egyptology and voodoo; it was riding the national “Witchcraft” mania ignited by The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby. Today, Workbook is alien rubbish to me, and bears no resemblance to the Welsh Celtic tradition I practice now. But it was all I had in Tulsa, Oklahoma. And it told me that there were others, somewhere.
Though I didn’t realize it at the time, I was also suffering from major clinical depression. It had begun shortly after I turned eight, when my had father died in a parachuting accident. My soul had a big, gaping hole with jagged edges, and I needed something to fill it. I knew there was an answer, somewhere out there, maybe spiritual, maybe not. I operated on the belief that I would “know it when I saw it.”
At some point I realized that spirituality was taking too damned long. I needed something right now to kill the pain. Alcohol and other drugs worked, and worked well. This seemed to be the answer. Drinking instantly removed the feelings of uselessness, futility and self-loathing. I felt good, I felt happy, uplifted, and nothing else had ever done that for me. I believed that magick would keep me immune from the adverse effects of drink and drugs; my youthful sense of immortality supported this illusion well into my adulthood.
In my denial I thought everything was OK. Truth was, I was drinking and drugging myself to death. It went on for years. My liver swelled. I was in a prison of obsession, loneliness, craving, compulsion, and gut wrenching hangovers. There were some good times, but as time passed they were become less frequent.
By the time I was 27 I finally realized that alcohol was killing me. But I couldn’t stop, and I learned to deny and hide my problem, sortof. I had completely abandoned my Pagan beliefs at this point. What or gods or goddesses would allow this to happen to me?
Then, in 1989, something happened.
It was my usual routine, drinking myself into oblivion at a convention at a hotel. I went into a complete blackout by 9 p.m. and came to in my hotel room at 9 a.m. the next morning. I had no memory of the previous twelve hours. Someone had destroyed the room: mirror broken, furniture overturned. My lover was on the floor, and he wasn’t breathing. For a good minute or so I believed, really believed, that someone had murdered him, and that someone had been me.
But fortunately (and I often think, miraculously) he wasn’t dead, just passed out drunk like I had been. But those horrifying moments changed my life. A light other than sunlight filled the room, and spoke directly to me. It reached through my mental fog and slapped me hard, once, across the face. It told me there was a way out of this agony. It was the Goddess, the God, a guardian angel, perhaps all three. I don’t know. I wasn’t very picky about solutions at the time.
I returned home with a sense urgency and hope, and made a list of things I would do to address this problem, in order of expense. Alcoholics Anonymous was free. Therapy, rehab, etc., were not, so I went to an A.A. meeting first.
I was relieved to learn that I probably had a genetic predisposition to addiction. Recent discoveries in DNA bioscience support this premise. The how and why is interesting, but in the end its not all that important, especially to someone who is still suffering. Some people simply cannot stop using once they start. For me it was like throwing a switch: as soon as the drug gave me a buzz I had to have more, and more and more. Normal drinkers generally slow down or stop when the effects start. This is the primary difference between addicts and non-addicts.
This craving becomes an overpowering force, and there is no stopping it. Most folks drink reasonably and safely on a regular basis. I see it all the time at festivals and other gatherings in and out of the Pagan community. But for those with this progressive disease, there is no medical cure. Class, upbringing, intelligence, will power, strength, are all irrelevant. This is not a “moral weakness.” It is a disease of the mind, body and spirit.
Two drunks, Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, established the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935. Through bitter trial and error they learned that two alcoholics, helping each other and providing support, had a better chance of achieving sobriety than if they did it on their own. They developed a program of 12 steps to recovery based on the program of the Oxford Group, a Christian fellowship popular at the time. Both Bill and Bob were Oxford members, but soon left because the evangelical practices were too aggressive and dogmatic. But from this group came the ideas of self-examination, restitution for harm done, and defects of character. (On the Pagan Sanctum Recovery website, the page “Pagan Precedents” lists these same ideas Pagan sources, predating Christianity) .
Even in 1935, drunks usually shunned mainstream religion. The A.A. founders saw the wisdom in changing “God” to “Higher Power.” Throughout the text of Alcoholics Anonymous “God” is referred to repeatedly, but in their day, this was their generic version of Deity. Pagan religions as a current event was unheard of in the general public of the 1930’s. Yet, the program included the disclaimer that “God” could be anything.
I was very fortunate to find the gay/lesbian group that I did. Judeo-Christianity had already failed them, having condemned them to Hell for their sexual orientation, so talk of a monotheistic, male deity was minimal. However, there are some groups (which are all self governing) who put their own spin on “Higher Power” to mean the Judeo-Christian God.
This is where Pagans run into trouble. Finding the right meeting, as I did, is a crap shoot. Just like the Bible before it, fallible human beings (also in recovery) read their own Christian beliefs into the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. For good reasons, Pagans visiting these groups get up and walk out by the droves.
I make a clear distinction between the 12-Step program with its membership. Even though no one person speaks for the program, this tradition often gets lost in lively group discussions. There are no A.A. “cops” to remind everybody this is a spiritual program, not a religious one. On occasion, aggressive Christians preach their beliefs to the group with the enthusiasm of evangelical ministers. Sometimes the meeting chair or other group leaders smile at these outbursts and gently steer the group discussion back to the topic. Or sometimes not; the meeting chair may also be an evangelical, and pretend to forget the traditions long enough for their comrade to finish their sermon.
I have come to accept this unpleasant fact, and have stayed with meetings that pay attention to the founders’ original intent.
In the last few years I hit another barrier, which became a major turning point in my journey. I had become complacent, and wasn’t paying attention to my spiritual maintenance. Keeping my Pagan beliefs a secret from the group had distanced me from them, and in my isolation I forgot I was an alcoholic. After eight years of being clean and sober, I relapsed.
I wanted out of the broom closet. I needed to discuss my recovery with language I was comfortable with. . . but wouldn’t it be nice to do so with a group who knew what I was talking about?
I soon discovered that many recovering Pagans were in the same spiritual predicament. At a festival in Texas ( http://www.magickal-arts.org/ ) I facilitated noon recovery meetings using a version of the 12-steps by Selena Fox ( http://cirlcesanctuary.org/ ) . The meetings were well attended. With this experience in hand, I went searching the local recovery community for other Pagans in recovery, some times “flushing out” a solitary or two by wearing my robe and cingulum (blades of course are not allowed in a rehab center!) to the Big Speaker Meetings.
Over the last two years our group has produced a set of steps that embrace nearly all Pagan paths by defining “higher power” as both an inner and outer divinity. So far this concept has merged seamlessly with the traditions we’ve encountered (including Asatru, Native American, British traditional, Seax Wicca, Gardnerian Wicca, Welsh Celtic, and solitary eclectic, to name a few) . We ended up with 13 steps, which is quite appropriate for a group of recovering Witches!
We realized that our spiritual, physical and mental disorders have totally defeated us, and that it is time to reclaim our lives.
We acknowledged that our combined disorders have been sustaining our illusions of control, and that through meditation, honest introspection and help from others we can overcome this barrier and rediscover our Inner Divine Power.
We recognized that our disorders have severed the bond between our Inner and Outer Divine Powers, as we define them, impairing our ability to function, heal and live in peace and serenity.
We abandoned our will to the reunion of our Divine Powers.
We surrendered completely our body, mind and spirit to our Divine Union, seeking a new directing force for our lives.
We examined our character thoroughly and made a list of our attributes, both positive and negative.
We shared our examination with another person, accepting full responsibility for our actions, blaming none.
With humility and respect we invited our Divine Union to remove our destructive traits.
We made a list of all persons we have harmed, and accepted the need to make amends to them all.
We made direct amends to these persons when possible, unless this would cause harm or make a difficult situation worse.
We maintained our spiritual balance through daily character examination, and continued to make amends for our wrongs whenever necessary.
We reinforced the bond between our Inner and Outer Divine Powers through meditation, magick and ritual, and allowed this renewed connection to guide us in our daily living.
As the direct result of our spiritual rebirth, we practiced these concepts on a daily basis. We continue the circle of healing by helping others in recovery, regardless of their spiritual beliefs. We keep it only by giving it away.
Of course, there are other Pagan steps and programs besides PSR. Just do a Google on “Pagans in Recovery” and you will find many different Pagan versions. What is important, if you are in need now, is to find a program that works for you. We still encourage our membership to go to other 12-Step programs (I still go to A.A. and N.A. ) for the wealth of experience, strength and hope to be found. We also share our gift of sobriety with others, regardless of their religious background.
The “Tulsa Original Group” of Pagan Sanctum Recovery has been meeting at 12 and 12, Inc. ( http://www.12and12.org/ ) since November 1, 2003. We share space with several other meetings and groups from A.A., N.A., S.O.S., D.R.A, Al-Anon. Our Pagan presence has been very educational at this facility. When others in recovery see that Pagans are not different, that our problems are the same, that our pain is the same, the evil image of the Witch painted by their respective faiths crumbles to dust. There are of course some pushy Christians who still squawk from time to time about the “devil worshippers down the hall, " but their protests don’t amount to much. The 12 and 12 values our presence, and`supports us fully. We offer an alternative, which apparently in short supply in the recovery community
As of this writing we have one other chartered group, “13 Step Lunar Recovery, ” in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We hope there will be more, but in my recovery program I try to avoid expectations. I do what I can today to find peace, and to help someone else do the same.
It took me fourteen years to understand that fellowship is half of the recovery process. Feeling and living with compassion for others in recovery is has resulted in the most positive and gratifying transformation of my adulthood (I’m now 43) . I finally understand what “self-actualization” means, and I no longer wonder what I’m going to do when I grow up. Our 13 Steps and other elements of the Pagan Sanctum Recovery program are the other half. . . important, but incomplete without the companionship, and support, of others.
In the past, hiding my Pagan beliefs separated me from others in recovery. Now I share these beliefs with others as an integral tool of my healing, and that of my new companions, the children of the Gods and Goddesses . . . and of course the suffering addict, no matter what their beliefs are.
Alcoholics Anonymous, Big Book 4th Edition, 2001
Copyright: A different version of this article appeared in the Summer 2001 issue of the Accord, Journal of the Council of the Magickal Arts. Copyright reverted back to the author on publication.
Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Author's Profile: To learn more about Ari C. - Click HERE
Bio: Ari C. is a pagan in recovery.
Other Articles: Ari C. has posted 1 additional articles- View them?
Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE
Email Ari C.... (Yes! I have opted to receive invites to Pagan events, groups, and commercial sales)
Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2013 The Witches' Voice Inc. All rights reserved
Note: Authors & Artists retain the copyright for their work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.
Website structure, evolution and php coding by Fritz Jung on a Macintosh G5.
Any and all personal political opinions expressed in the public listing sections (including, but not restricted to, personals, events, groups, shops, Wrenâ€™s Nest, etc.) are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of The Witchesâ€™ Voice, Inc. TWV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.
Sponsorship: Visit the Witches' Voice Sponsor Page for info on how you
can help support this Community Resource. Donations ARE Tax Deductible.
The Witches' Voice carries a 501(c)(3) certificate and a Federal Tax ID.
Mail Us: The Witches' Voice Inc., P.O. Box 341018, Tampa, Florida 33694-1018 U.S.A.
of The World
NOTE: The essay on this page contains the writings and opinions of the listed author(s) and is not necessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
The Witches' Voice does not verify or attest to the historical accuracy contained in the content of this essay.
All WitchVox essays contain a valid email address, feel free to send your comments, thoughts or concerns directly to the listed author(s).