A Witch examines the unique intersections between her Witchcraft spirituality and Twelve Step teachings.
Witchcraft and the Twelve Steps: An Introduction
We live in an over-culture that tries on a daily basis to annihilate the sovereignty of the individual. So many of us are carrying wounds from a childhood and adolescence where we suffered humiliating and confusing experiences in the religion of our birth. No wonder then, that at least initially, many of us were attracted to Witchcraft because it celebrated an independent, rebellious spirit. We found Gods and Goddesses here that did not demand that we act servile or scraping or deny ourselves pleasure. We found deities who invited us to empower ourselves through tools that were brought to our communities through many brilliant teachers. Witchcraft is not a collection of traditions that denigrate humanity and humanness. Rather, by acknowledging the divinity immanent within our own selves, we work with our innate powers to affect great change in ourselves, and through ourselves, in the world.
Witches thus adopt a way of viewing the world that understands humans as being fundamentally powerful beings. So what then, of helplessness? Of powerlessness? What then, of submission and surrender in the face of defeat? What then, of the addict or alcoholic Witch who awakens one morning, hangover piercing their brain, withdrawals fogging their thoughts, who finally understands that life cannot go on this way any longer but who has utterly failed in every attempt to exercise autonomy over themselves and address their addiction problem ? Whether they go to rehab or enroll in an intensive out-patient program, or look for recovery support on their own, they will likely at some point be directed towards Twelve Step recovery where they will learn that the program revolves around the following concepts; Powerlessness, Surrender, Submission, Dependence, Humility, Willingness, Open-mindedness and Honesty.
Without a doubt there are going to be spiritual concepts and practices in recovery that are going to feel uncomfortable and wrong to many Witches. For a witch, who understands empowerment as a sort of sacred act, the act of admitting powerlessness might feel like turning her back on the very concept of an immanent Divine that dwells within. The concept of “Thy will, not mine, be done” might feel like a defeated return to that cringing deference that they cast off as adults. Does this mean that Twelve Step recovery is fundamentally incompatible with Witchcraft traditions? I think the many happily recovering Witches in the rooms today would heartily say “No!” But what is required is open-mindedness and a willingness to look at these concepts passed the initial reaction. Twelve Step recovery is like an animated kids movie; there is the initial level, that is simple and easy on the surface and is exactly what it says. Then, there is the more sophisticated second level. The one that makes the parents in the audience laugh and glance at each other over their kids heads, gaping at the slightly risqué reference. This is where we have to go to find a place where Witches in recovery can enter the literature, the program, and be comfortable.
In these blog posts, I am going to go through the Twelve Steps and come at them from both the perspective of a Witch and the perspective of a recovering person. I will ask, how do these two perspectives complement each other? How do these two perspectives complicate each other? Where are the conflicts? Where are the solutions? We will also take a look at the issue of Christian language in meetings and in the literature, and other topics as suggested and considered.
I hope you will join me on this examination. Mine is but one perspective and I would love to hear yours. I am no more qualified to talk on this topic than any other Witch in recovery. Do you think Twelve Step recovery is compatible with Witchcraft spiritualties? Can someone recover without fellowship? What else would you like me to write about? What about the wider issue of Pagans in recovery? Please just think of me as your meeting secretary! Did anyone remember to make the bad coffee this week?
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