My journey on the Path of She began thirty years ago.
At this time, I was in my mid-twenties, totally lost in the mainstream culture, with a business degree and a promising career in a blue chip company, living a material, achievement-driven life that neither fed my soul nor gave me joy.
Then one fateful night, on a Winter Solstice eve, the Goddess came to me in a dream. Though I wouldn’t remember this dream until many years later, my life was set on a new course.
Step One is "We admitted that we were harming ourselves and others and that our lives had become overwhelming."
When I am overwhelmed, my primal brain is in control, and all it cares about is survival. I've been under the control of my primal brain for most of the year so far, even when things were going good. I was aware that something was wrong, but I kept putting off examining myself to find my problem while I helped other people find and work out theirs.
At the time of writing, several friends of mine are engaged in formal initiation proceedings, leading me to consider my own experiences with initiations.It was easy to pinpoint those formal initiations such as being initiated into the National Honor Society, or being initiated into a co-ed social group at my college that I can only explain as being modeled on the Merry Pranksters.But the experience that first came to mind when thinking of initiatory experiences was working the Twelve Steps.
Anyone who has a desire to stop using can become a member of a Twelve Step group.You do not have to work the Twelve Steps.However, the process of working the Twelve Steps is the manner in which one draws closer to the program or becomes truly initiated.It is how we begin to view fellowship as family.Since we work the Twelve Steps with a sponsor, we are forced to reach our hand out and ask for help.No longer are we able to sit in the back of the room, not talking to anyone.We must make connections in order to move forward.As we reveal ourselves to our sponsor, we learn how to become open and more vulnerable.We become open to taking suggestions, and learn about humility.These are essential elements for being part of a society instead of being a party of one.Not only does the process of the Twelve Steps change us into better people, but we also learn how to be with people as we work the steps.
One of the main signifiers of many Pagan traditions are the way in which they seek to reframe the material and specifically the body as holy and sacred. Unlike other religions which might cast the affairs of the flesh as sinful or of a base nature, Pagan traditions seek to break up these associations and honor things like sex, desire, and pleasure. Many traditions today still do their rites naked, as a way of proclaiming their freedom from the slavery of shame modern society places on the body.
I will just put this out there: I struggle with this embrace of the body, and I suspect my history as an addict and an alcoholic play no little part in this. Addicts and Alcoholics historically have problematic relationships with our bodies. Our addictions are embodied obsessions. We experience them as physical cravings that crawl through our nervous system, scrambling our brains ability to think clearly or cogently. The fierce need to experience pleasure becomes a thirst that drowns out all other concerns, a strong steady drumbeat that gets louder and more insistent until you finally feed it. I’ve often experienced my body as a prison, a needy demanding egocentric organism that keeps my spirit-which in my ignorance I think is my TRUE self-- from being truly free.
She’s looking at herself in the bathroom mirror of a motel on Van Buren and 24th. Her friend is staying next door. It’s early and the sun creeps between the ripped curtains and missing blinds. A man is in the bed, another on the sofa. She hid a bottle last night and pulls it out from the pack she carried through various parts of town. Her hands are dry. Her mouth cracks. There is no water and the fan makes annoying sounds. Her head has hurt for two weeks. A few pills line her jean pocket. Lovers speak in muffled sighs and sentences she cannot fully make out. She can no longer look into her eyes, only at her hair, an eyebrow, the curve of her shoulder. The wrinkles are showing up in every inch of skin, a world map of miles she never intended to travel. There’s never enough time, yet all she has is time. Limitless time. Time like a knife killing minutes. She’s stopped wondering what happened. Now all she must do is move. There’s a word from the bed. She knows it’s time to go again.
Step Two- We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
The First Step leaves us in a terrible position. We are utterly beyond human assistance. Our lives are unmanageable no matter what we do. We will never be able to control our drinking. Certainly this is a stance of hopelessness.