Q ~ What about anonymity and privacy?
A ~ The first principle stated in BASIC PRINCIPLES AND GUIDELINES is that of confidentiality, which states that everything that happens in a meeting is to be kept private, including the identity of those at the meeting. There is still enough social stigma attached to addiction, compulsive behaviors, and Paganism, that no one should have to worry about being "outed" (having their anonymity broken) by another member of a meeting. There is no prohibition against an individual letting others know of their own membership, but we ask that no one push or proselytize for the organization beyond letting people know of the fact of its existence.
A ~ Thatís not really a question, but I agree. To "rip off" Isaac Newton, I think of it as "standing on the shoulders of giants." Takes nerve and a good sense of balance.
A ~ *Pagan: There are many definitions of this word, none of which will satisfy everybody. Once it meant "country-person", and later was used as a putdown of people who still worshipped the old Gods in the old ways, writing them off as rustic, outdated country bumpkins. In modern everyday usage, the term Pagan (capitalized, as is Christian or Hindu or Sikh or Jew, etc.) usually means neo-Pagan, but many consider this term an oxymoron, while others enjoy the paradoxical implication of "modern-old fashioned". For the purpose of the organization NINE STEP PAGANS, the noun "Pagan" refers to a person whose faith and worship includes a deep, abiding respect and love for the Creation of which humans are a part, and a desire to live in well-balanced relationship with self and the rest of the natural world. Although not exclusively, people who identify themselves as Pagan tend to honor the "Old Ways" of some of our pre-Christian ancestors, or the religious teachings of modern day "indigenous" peoples whose lives and mores are interpreted to emphasize the need for a mutually beneficial integration with the world of nature. Pagans are extremely varied in the details of their beliefs, and may be polytheistic, duo-theistic, monotheistic, or other; lifestyles may range from emulation of the Middle Ages to 21st century cutting edge technocracy, at times superimposed upon each other.
A ~ Because I want NSP to actually help members regain and maintain health and freedom, and successful recovery programs incorporate a lot of structure. In many instances, people who struggle with addictions or compulsions have trouble with limits and boundaries, and may run roughshod over the feelings and healing process of others without meaning to. The 3 Principles and guidelines, and policy structures derived from them, are not intended to undermine individual rights or expression, but to provide a safe place for individuals to take the risk of being fully honest about themselves, without being judged, shamed, shut up, or disregarded. It is hoped that the structure will support individual freedom by supporting mutual respect between individuals.
A ~ For a number of reasons: One of the goals is to encourage freedom, what works for some may not work for others, and we are a support group rather than a treatment center. Nine Step Pagans aims to provide enough structure to support each member discovering the solutions which work for them. If we knew a protocol which would work for everyone, we could open up a treatment center and get rich.
A ~ Not wheely. Iím attempting to re-configure what seems best and most valuable of the old, putting it into a form and language that will speak to a much more diverse group of people than Bill W. and Dr. Bob, the co-founders of AA, had to deal with 60-odd years ago. They made a sincere and successful effort to phrase the powerful spiritual component of AA in terms which were inclusive of a variety of belief systems in the context of their culture, which was mostly Judaeo-Christian. Talk of a (singular) "Higher Power" gave way to talk of God, and by member preference, many meetings end with the Lordís Prayer (said to have been taught by Jesus Christ), or part of a prayer by St. Francis of Assisi. Thus language which was very inclusive in the context of an earlier culture unintentionally excludes (by implication) those of different persuasions today.
A ~ Many people do, and my hope is that Pagan-friendly agnostics or atheists will be able to find supportive community in Nine Step Pagan meetings. Still, spirituality has proven to be an extremely positive force of transformation for many, in healing and freeing. Spirituality and religion are not the same thing, anymore than the sun is the same thing as a greenhouse. Regardless, and despite its historically proven power to destroy and divide, religion also has proven to provide the structures in which many people can experience and benefit from the energy of spirit. Making Nine Step meetings strictly non-religious or anti-religious would be wasteful and counter-productive; better to encourage folk to make the best possible use of whatever belief system they already have.
A ~ Why not? Many Pagans may disagree with me, but there as at least as many types of Christians as there are Pagans, and some Christians are decidedly Pagan-friendly, sharing many Pagan values and beliefs. I believe Pagans should show the same type of acceptance and tolerance which they would like to receive. On the other hand, an anti-Pagan, Christian or otherwise, wouldnít have much use for Nine Step Pagans, nor us them. No one of any faith should proselytize for their faith in a Nine Step Pagan setting.
A ~ Perhaps. The goal of being explicitly welcoming to the Pagan community, which (generally speaking) has not widely or directly addressed the issue of addictions and compulsions among Pagans, took priority over widening the appeal. The program is open to Pagan-friendly non-Pagans. Anti-Pagan or irreversibly Pagan-phobic people will probably not be interested in learning more about NSP.
A ~ That is a real risk. Time will tell. The intent is to provide enough unifying structure, combined with enough flexibility, to allow Nine Step Pagans to grow as needed for the benefit of membership.
Wry Welwood (a.k.a. Roy, a.k.a. Jones) is a man in his late forties, a husband and father, Bardic student of Ar nDraoicht Fein (Our Druid Fellowship), Unitarian Universalist, and a former slave of addictions and compulsive behaviors who won a large degree of freedom with the help of friends, professional healers both conventional and alternative, recovery groups, and Powers greater than himself. He has worked as a mental health professional for about twenty years. Having become uncomfortable with some aspects of 12-Step groups, over a period of years coinciding with his growing conviction that he was a Pagan, he recognized in himself a need for the kind of support those groups once provided. It did not seem likely that he was the only Pagan with such a need, so he developed the concept of Nine Step Pagans in hope that it could help meet his need and that of others, for a Pagan-friendly support group addressing issues of addiction and compulsivity.
A ~ You might find an answer in "Related Links". Or, please feel free to e-mail the question to me: