In 1993 I got sober. Prior to that event, my spiritual life was vague, to say the least. I left the Methodist Church in my mid-teens, not in anger but rather in frustration at what I would now characterize as a growing secularization within the Church. While there was much attention paid to worthy causes within the local, national and world communities, I personally felt that there was little attention paid to the Mysteries that I had always, intuitively, felt were central to a religious life.
By my late teens and early twenties, I had developed a personal spiritual concept that included, at least tacitly, the Goddess. My thinking at the time was: “If God is omni-everything, then He can be She if He/She wants to.” I remember seeing the feminist bumper-sticker in the late ’70s that read “God is coming, and boy is She pissed!” and thinking how logical that was—why should the Supreme Spirit be limited by gender?
Unfortunately, my spiritual search soon ran aground on the shoals of alcoholism, and would remain marooned there until May, 1993, when I got sober. I wasn’t an avowed Pagan at that time, but I know my spirit was crying out to my unknown Higher Power for help.
Even being nominally non-Christian, I immediately took to the waters of AA. While recognizing the indisputably Christian origins of the program, I seized upon the strong foundation of spiritual tolerance that keeps the fellowship standing. When I was presented with the words “God, as we understand Him, ” I knew in my heart that Him could be Her, and that I had found a spiritual path roomy enough to allow my long-stifled spiritual life to blossom.
And blossom it did. I was soon involved in shamanic practices, and from there slowly entered the online Craft community, and eventually became an initiated Witch.
But it wasn’t a completely seamless and pain-free process. I had my moments of doubt and trial, and what I have written above sets the stage for the two stories I am about to relate.
One Friday night, in my third year of sobriety, just before a late AA meeting I arrived early at the community center, and sat for a while, by myself, under the full moon. I was having grave doubts about whether or not I should actively pursue the Pagan path, and as I sat there in the moonlight, my heart was aching with equal parts longing and uncertainty. So I looked up at the moon, and said something to the effect of: “My Lady, I know you don’t do requests, but right now I really need some reassurance. If this is the right path for me, please send me a sign.”
And I waited. And, of course, nothing happened. No shooting stars, no earthquakes, no visitations. So I sighed heavily, and went on into the meeting.
To my complete and utter shock, the second person to share that night was a young woman who said: “I just got sober, but I’m having a hard time relating to all this ‘God’ stuff because I’m Pagan.”
All the hair on my body—and that is quite a bit—stood on end, and I knew in that instant that I had just gotten my sign. I didn’t have long to bask in the afterglow, however, because as soon as the young woman shared, she was set upon by a couple of fundies who ridiculed her spirituality, and insisted that she could never really get sober until she “found Jesus.” I had about 10 seconds to decide if I was going to sit and say nothing, or stand up and be counted. Considering the fact that, against all rationality, I had just had a prayer answered in specific detail, I felt I had no choice. I took the floor, and informed the fundies that AA does not, in fact, require that anyone “find Jesus” in order to get sober, that we are a spiritual fellowship, not a religious one, and that if they insisted on berating people in meetings for their spiritual beliefs, we could all “discuss the matter” in the parking lot.
Oddly enough, no one took me up on my offer.
Please don’t misunderstand me—my reaction was probably no more appropriate than that of the fundies, and I make no claim to being “right.” But in that moment I was infuriated at the naked prejudice that was being displayed in a fellowship whose very lifeblood is tolerance. I don’t know which part of me was more offended—the AA member or the Pagan.
Sadly, I never saw that young woman again. Even though things calmed down a bit, she left the meeting early. I followed her to the parking lot, and tried to assure her that what she had just been subjected to was not AA. She promised to be at the same meeting the next Friday, but I haven’t seen her since. I hope she has found her way and her peace.
Whether she did or not, she made a tremendous difference in my life that night. Perhaps she never was there, except as an avatar of the Goddess…
Years later, after serving as Priest at a public ritual, I was suddenly and unaccountably overcome by the desire to drink. I sank down on a nearby bench, because the desire was so strong I knew that I would never make it home without stopping somewhere for that fatal first drink.
And then the Priestess with whom I had served during the ritual came up to me and said “I wanted to give you this, in thanks for all you have done today.”
She put something in my hand, and walked away. When I looked, I was holding a medallion that consisted of a pentacle—the symbol of my faith—within a circle and triangle—the symbol of recovery. Once again, all the hair on my body stood at attention, and I felt the undeniable and immediate presence of the Goddess. I can’t say that it was easy, but with that medallion around my neck, I somehow found the strength to make it home without drinking.
There is a tenet in AA that says “In this world, nothing happens by accident.” Still, I could look at the two instances above, and easily write them off to coincidence. But to me, that would be stretching the definition of ‘coincidence’ a bit too far. I still have my times of doubt and trial—I’m going through a very hellish one right now. But in the deep dark hours of the night, when I look back on these particular occurrences, I cannot deny that I have been brushed by the wings of the Goddess more than once in my life.
In Their Service,