Friday, May 19, 2017

Addiction & Mental Illness in the Pagan Community

Réfoulement/Depression/Recalcamento (António Pedro, 1936) from Flickr via Wylio
© 2014 Pedro Ribeiro Simões, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

So many today struggle with demons, addictions, mental illnesses due to stress, food, being overwhelmed, or even genetics. 

Many of those suffering, or living with, however you come to see it, turn to the Pagan community because of our acceptance of all for who they are. It is true, Pagans are an accepting bunch of folk with little expectations except for bettering yourself and accepting responsibility for your own actions. Even though, most Pagans are this accepting, and the Path of the Goddess is filled with enlightenment, there is also that last statement many tend to forget, "accepting responsibility for your own actions".

I've come across many Pagans in my time that are addicts or suffer mental illness, and many of them are not actively seeking medical or professional help. They are looking at their Covens, their Elders, their Priest/ess to "cure them" Sometimes, and I feel this is even worse, people come to the Pagan path because they feel their addictions or mental illness is "allowed" with no judgement. These ways of thinking put leaders of the community in a very uncomfortable bind. 

Elders & Pagan Leaders are only human

Most of us have day jobs that aren't addiction counselors or therapist which in turn makes us unqualified to lead an addict to recovery. The goals of Pagan leaders are to teach you about the ways of the Goddess, the old ways of magick, and to give understanding of the connection between the Earth and ourselves. Relaying on your teachers/leaders to help you get off drugs or to manage your depression, bi polar-ism, or others is completely unfair to not only the ones you turn to, but to you yourself. You have set yourself up for failure. 

Instead, understand that, yes, Leaders, Elders, Priest/ess, Coven members love you, care for you, are a part of you, they are not a replacement for medical help. Meditation, yes, helps to calm the mind, but isn't a replacement for therapy. Reiki, cupping, acupuncture, yoga, and others are not a replacement, but only a tool to use for your recovery. 

No Elder or Pagan Leader should ever promise you that they can "cure" you  

Remember that. Unless your teacher is a certified addiction counselor or MD, no, do not let them convince you that the Path of the Goddess is the cure all. No holistic practitioner worth their salt will ever lead you away from medical help or therapy. Instead, the ones you should trust and turn to, are the ones who help you find the medical help, the therapy, the meetings you need so you can help yourself. 

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