Stepping Through to Recovery

A Pagan approach to the Twelve Step programs

by Anodea Judith

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(Steps 7 through 12)

The beginning of this article may be found at pagan1.htm

Standard steps are listed in italics, adapted steps in bold, and commentaries in regular type.

Step 7: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Learned to ask for help.
Those from dysfunctional situations often have a hard time with this important step in the process of connecting our inner power with the power around us. Outside forces don't do it for us, but there is much help in the form of the divine as well as people, programs, experiences, books, and self-initated activites such as meditation or vision quests. By asking for help we become open to power flowing through us. This implies being receptive to omens, prayers, miracles, coincidences and support around our changes. The Goddess is in everything!

Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and becoming willing to make amends to them all.
Made a list of harm done, and searched for ways to restore balance.
When we are unconscious we hurt ourselves and others. It is important to come to terms with this and make an effort to reconstitute what has been lost, persons as well as other things that may have been harmed such as environment, animals, institutions, creative projects, our own aspirations and other parts of ourselves. It is sometimes equally important, in the process of recovery, to confront those who have harmed us and ask for acknowledgement and compensation. If it cannot be given, as is often the case with parents or old relationships, then we must commit ourselves to finding a way to take the restoration into our own hands.

Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Carried out rectification and balancing wherever possible.
This step could also be stated as: Cleaned up karma.
This is carrying out the willingness from the previous step. It can take a lot of time and be very difficult. It is important as it allows a thorough "grokking" (understanding) of the effects of our patterns and it allows everyone a chance to grow. It may involve hearing anger from children or former friends or lovers; it may even cost you money, but it brings freedom.

Step 10: Continue to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
Made the commitment to continue the process of recovery, knowing that change takes time.
Changing life patterns of behavior takes longer than any of us would like to spend with it, so we must be gentle with ourselves. Even after we understand, we still repeat, we are still blind, and we still need to monitor ourselves. Thinking we've "done it already," is a mistake, as is giving in to the temptation to stop the process once we have gotten a few "big" insights. What we resist persists and admitting our blind spots helps defuse them.
An important added step, contributed by Charlotte Kasl, Ph.D., from her forthcoming book (see Part 4 of this article) can be inserted here: Continued to trust my awareness, and when I knew what was right I promptly acknowledged it, and refused to back down. We need to overcome the tendency towards collusion with oppressive forces that invalidate our truth. In this patriarchal society, this is especially true for women and minorities.

Step 11: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
Pursued the strengthening of our connection with the web of life through appropriate activity and spiritual practice.
Our sense of connection may come through meditation, ritual, dreams, political action, therapy groups, community service, writing in a journal, walking in the wilderness, or standing on our head. We may even search for omens, but in the end it is we who choose our path and employ our will to walk upon it. If we haven't severed our will, we are more able to find the strength to walk that path. The pursuit of wisdom takes conscious effort and is an ongoing process. Deity is immanent and our understanding comes through personal effort and exploration in combination with openness and trust.

Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Having experienced a stabilized change from our awakening, we sought to help others along the path.
Central to the 12 steps is the concept of a spiritual awakening. How we define that awakening is personal and varies in content and intensity, but there is always some fundamental change in our view of self, the world, and the connection between the two.
They say a teacher teaches something until she finally learns it. Helping others completes the karmic cycle that helped us, and can also solidify what we've learned. When we have been through struggles with a particular problem we are in touch with the process and our spark of understanding can sometimes help another on the path.
Some additional steps, also credited to Charlotte Kasl, can be added as follows: (See the concluding portion of this article.)

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To read the rest of this article:

Copyright 1998 by Anodea Judith.
Note: reprinted, with the author's permission, from Green Egg, vol.24, no.92, Ostara, 1991, pages 10 through 12.
Article is divided into four HTML files for convenience.

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Counseling Basics for Wiccan Clergy home page, by Judith Harrow and Gwyneth Cathyl- Harrow.

Also by Anodea Judith: Out of the Frying Pan - Into the Fire: Dysfunctional families and group energy.

Visit Anodea Judith's website, Sacred Centers.

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Last Update: May, 1999 ce

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