Spiral Steps - Frequently Asked Questions
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These are anonymous meetings, which means that we use first names (or Craft names) only. We do not tell people outside the group who is in our group. We do not tell others what we hear in these meetings. The motto is "What you hear here, let it stay here." These rooms need to be a safe place for all of us (especially as we are sharing about our problems as well as our Pagan practice) so if we ever hear of anyone gossiping about what goes on in these meetings they will be bared from attending future meetings.
Attending your first meeting:
Coming to a meeting does not mean that you have to join the group. Joining the group does not mean that you have to attend every meeting. We do recommend that you try at least 6 meetings in a row before you decide whether or not you wish to stay, but that's entirely your choice. Once you have been accepted as a group member, you are free to come and go as you please.
We ask that you try and come to your first meeting on time so that the we can greet you and introduce you to the others before the meeting starts.
The meetings will always start on
time. We do not go by Pagan Standard time.
We usually gather between 7:15 and 7:30 and the meeting starts at 7:30
and goes until 9 PM. Afterwards, people go out for coffee and tea, if they feel
Children under age 18 are never allowed to attend these meetings, not even with adult supervision, not even with the permission of their parents. These meetings are for adults only. We discuss difficult issues in these rooms and these are not appropriate subjects for children to hear.
However, parents in a particular group may wish to band together to hire a babysitter for their kids. This person can take care of the member’s children in another room or off site, while the meeting takes place.
All Spiral Steps meetings are "non-cross talk" meetings. This means that people are not allowed to comment on your share. Instead we all share about ourselves and use "I" messages.
Here is an example, let’s say someone shares in a meeting that they are unhappy in their marriage and that they might wish to get a divorce. While we cannot comment on their share, we can use our own share to say something like this: “I thought about getting a divorce once and I did such and such and it worked for me”. This keeps the focus on us and allows us to share our experience strength and hope. What we do not do is something like this: “Well, I know just what that’s like and I think that you should do such and such.” Do you see the difference? The one share uses “I messages” and is respectful. The other share uses “You messages” and violates the boundaries we set in the group.
Some things to keep in mind:
1) We are not here to play counselor for other people. For one thing, none of us are qualified to do so.
2) We need to focus on ourselves and on our own needs. This is something many of us have trouble doing.
3) Commenting on someone else’s share would violate their boundaries and be bad for our own.
4) Each person has a right to share without thinking that a group member will pass judgement on what they say.
5) We all need to listen carefully and to be heard with respect – this is an important part of our healing process and something many of us did not get as we were growing up. The “no cross talk” rule supports that need.
If someone shares something that strikes you as important and you wish to comment on it, then wait until the meeting is finished to speak to them. Remember to first ask if they wish to hear your opinion or advice on the matter. (They may not want or need either.) If they are willing to listen to you then let them know what you think in a respectful and tactful way. If you have a question about something they just shared, then that too, can wait until after the meeting.
We explain this non-cross talk concept to all new members before they ever attend a meeting. If someone cross talks during a meeting, we stop the meeting and politely ask them not to do it again. If they violate that rule on a consistent basis, they are asked to leave the group.
All Spiral Steps Groups are self-supporting. Donations help helps us pay for the room and for munchies, coffee and tea. The recommended donation is on a sliding scale of 25 cents to one dollar, per meeting.
We keep the room space simple. Before every meeting, the host will place a candle in each of the 4 directions. Most groups also set up a small, very simple altar space off to one side. Members can then feel free to come in and "center" in front of one of the candles and/or the altar as they choose before the meeting begins. Members are also invited to bring something to put on the altar - it can be a feather, a stone, a stuffed animal, pictures, small statues, ritual objects, whatever they like. They put these items on the group altar when they arrive and take this away when they leave again when they eave. We often use these items to remind us of our healing and to support us throughout our day. These items also remind us that we are not alone in this process and that our group energy is there to support us. Please note: We are invited to perform this ritual action – but no one is obliged to do this.
These groups have to be a safe place to share what is true for us. Therefore, anyone who "acts out" in the group i.e. insults others, violates the "no cross talk" rule, rages out of control, etc. will be asked to leave the group. Anyone who violates the boundaries of the other members, by gossiping, etc., will be asked to leave the group.
Hugs and personal space:
People hug a lot at these sorts of meetings. If you want to get a hug or give one, please feel free. Please ask first before you give a hug - some of our folks are working on physical boundary issues and don't want to be touched without first giving permission. If they choose not to get or give a hug, don't let it bother you - it's not about you. Just smile and move on.
Leading a Meeting:
A different group member will lead the meeting each week. The leader tells their story for 10 - 15 minutes. They focus on those things they have done to bring health and healing into their lives so that their share might help or inspire others. Then they pick a topic for the evening (for example: "dealing with anger") and ask people to share what they feel about that. You don't have to stay on topic, if you don't want to.
Spiral Steps groups are for people who are working on issues such as chemical and process addictions, codependency, dysfunctional family issues, etc. They are also act as support groups for those of us trying to be healthy people in an unhealthy culture. The emphasis is on recovery, health, balance and taking our power back.
Spiral Step groups typically meet from 7:30 - 9 PM one night a week.
This group is for anyone who respects Earth Based Spirituality. As such, it is non-denominational (i.e. it is not specifically Gardenarian, Wiccan, Druid, Shamanistic or dedicated to any one Path). We support inter-faith work and tolerance; therefore, Pagan-friendly Christians (such as Unitarians), as well as Buddhists and members of other religious traditions are also welcome to join us. The only requirements for membership are a desire for health and healing and a respect for the ethics of Earth Based Spirituality. However, individual groups have the right to decide if they wish to be women-only, men-only or mixed. We also support those who wish to form groups with a gay focus, for example, or those who wish to have groups for Pagan parents, etc.
These groups are like a closed Ritual Circles in that it is by invitation only. We set this boundary to protect our host’s personal space and to protect the privacy and safety of the other members of our group. If you have a friend or a partner who wants to attend a meeting, they will need to contact your group’s organizer first for an invitation. *Do not* give out the Host’s address to others once you have it, as that would violate the privacy boundary for your group. Your understanding and cooperation in this regard is very much appreciated.
Receiving an Invitation to Join:
When new members wish to attend a group meeting, they must first apply to that group’s organizer(s). Some meetings ask a set of questions of each new member. To keep things fair, they ask each member the same set of questions.
The group I organize asks these questions of everyone prior to offering an invitation.
1) What City do you live in?
2) What is your current spiritual practice?
3) What experience do you have in recovery and/or support groups?
4) Can you give us a Pagan or Pagan-friendly reference, please? - Someone in the community who knows you and whom we can contact?
We do this to protect the privacy of the other people in the group and to keep any “Hostiles” from finding and disturbing our meetings.
We have the same rights as any other private group to refuse an invitation to attend. Here below are some of the reasons why a Spiral Steps group might refuse someone membership:
1. If the person applying is well known for causing serious trouble or if they have blatantly abused the trust of others in our community, we advise them to stop the abuse, get professional help and then return when they have their lives in better order.
2. If one member of a group has a bad history with a person applying for membership, we might refuse to offer an invitation. We do not care about the “rights or wrongs” of such a quarrel, we only care that the members already in that group feel that they are able to share in safety. For example, bitter ex-lovers cannot be expected to share well within the same group. In such a case, we might then help the person applying find or start another Spiral Steps group in the area where they live.
3. We do not accept members who have a history of stalking, beating or sexually assaulting others in our community. Spiral Steps groups cannot be all things to all people, and we will not put our group members in danger. There are special rehab centers and other groups (run by professionals) for people with these sorts of problems and it is better that they go to these, at least until they get these problems under control.
While these can be tough calls to make, each group must make them, for the good of all.
These are support groups not Pagan ritual circles and we do not do rituals here. If you wish to find a Pagan ritual group, we suggest that you go to this website: http://www.witchvox.com. Look on their contact page for your area.
We ask that you treat the entire room as sacred space. When you enter the room, please take the time center yourself before the meeting begins. You do not have to cut yourself in or out of the Circle as you might if you were at a ritual - feel free to go to the bathroom, get a cup of coffee or tea and move around as you need. If you need to leave early or if you arrive late to a meeting, that's OK, just move around quietly so that you don't disturb the meeting.
Sharing at a meeting:
We try and give everyone who wants to, a chance to share. When there are a lot of people in the room, we use a gentle reminder such as a bell (after 6 – 8 minutes are up) to let you know that you have about a minute left to sum up. This is useful for three reasons:
1) It gives everyone a chance to share
2) It helps us to go to the heart of the matter of what's concerns us and
3) It keeps us off the "He said, she said" type of
storytelling that a long talk
can get into. Such storytelling tends to keep us in our heads and apart from our feelings and that can interfere with our recovery.
If other folks have all had their turn or if no one else wants to speak, then you can always ask to share a second time.
If you want
to share raise your hand. The last
person to share picks the next person to share and so one.
Sitting in Circle:
During the meeting, we sit in a Circle, an arrangement that fosters community and equality. Members can sit in chairs, on couches or on the floor; they do what feels most comfortable. That week's Leader will begin by sharing and then we will take turns sharing as we feel the need. We share from where we sit in the Circle - there is no podium and we don’t have to stand to share. Members do not have to share and no one is ever called on to share. If members just want to come, sit quietly and listen, that's just fine.