The Pagan in Recovery: The Twelve Steps From a Pagan Perspective

About The Pagan in Recovery

The Pagan In Recovery

What is The Pagan in Recovery?

The Pagan in Recovery: The Twelve Steps from a Pagan Perspective is an examination of the Twelve Steps, originally written by Bill W. and Dr. Bob, as part of the book Alcoholics Anonymous. These steps comprise the heart of all Twelve Step programs today.

The problem, from those of us who practice a Pagan or Heathen religion, is that these steps were written from a Christian perspective. Indeed, these steps can be traced back to the Oxford Group, The Oxford group was very popular in the early part of the 20th century, and was a Christian organization led by Frank Buchman. It reached out to the elite and the wealthy and focused on personal sinfulness rather than on social ills. The organization became known as Moral Re-Armament, or MRA around the time of World War II, and then in 2001, changed its name to Initiatives of Change International.
Frank Bachman was a deeply spiritual Lutheran, and consequently, his program reflected those views.

As Pagans, we have an ability to respect principles, but to separate them from the religion. The fact that the Twelve Steps work cannot be denied. There are transformative principles at the heart of the program. But we recognize too, that principles that work will work without regard to any particular deity or faith system. The Pagan in Recovery acknowledges and accepts the principles of the Twelve Steps, it recognizes the deep spiritual components, but reframes that program within a uniquely Pagan context.

A rich legacy

Alcoholics Anonymous leaves a very rich legacy in its wake. The success of the program enticed a great many people to use the same steps on a number of related problems - from substance abuse to mental illness. One of the first programs though, was Al-Anon. Al-Anon was founded in 1951 by Lois Wilson - the wive of Bill W. and is, therefore, a direct descendent of Alcoholics Anonymous. Recognizing that the family of an alcoholic has also been affected by alcohol, and that to help the alcoholic, the family also needs help and healing, Al-Anon was founded to offer healing to the family of the alcoholic.

Today, there are countless programs of recovery, and even programs within programs as individuals seek to improve upon what works. One such "movement within a movement" is Big Book Step Study, which began on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. As more and more people poured into Alcoholics Anonymous, some found that the legendary efficacy seemed to be waning. So, in the mid 1980's, in Hyannis, MA, a group was started to, more or less, get back to the basics of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Other very popular groups have included Narcotics Anonymous, Nicotine Anonymous, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous and many others.

The Twelve Steps for Pagans

Pagans in need of recoery have been faced wtih a unique problem. While in need of recovery, in need of that which can be provided by the Twelve Steps, these steps were based upon the precepts of a religion that has historically been not only at odds with, but hostile to Pagan faiths. There have been a few attempts to utilize the principles of the Twelve Steps. One of these was The Recovery Spiral by Cynthia Jane Collins. A number of groups have been created which utilize this text as a resource. Over the years, many have been thankful for this text, however some who try to use it find it less than ideal. While it speaks of the steps, and outlines principles for recovery, it relies heavily on the Tarot, which not all Pagans are comfortable with. It is definitely worth reading, and belongs in the library of any Pagan seeking recovery.

There is also a website and group called Pagans in Recovery that has a group utilizing The Recovery Spiral.

It's wasn't my intent to replace The Recovery Spiral, but merely to write a book that focussed exclusively on the Twelve Steps as a path to recovery. It views these steps from the perspective of a practicing Pagan, and offers, for each step, an analysis of that step, some practical implications of that step, and a ritual in which the user can experience that step on an intuitive and spiritual level.

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