This is part two of an interview with author and radio Host Deirdre Hebert You can read part one here.
Deirdre “Dee” Hebert hosts the radio show PaganFM! which broadcasts live on WSCA 106.1 Portsmouth, New Hampshire and on-line at portsmouthcommunityradio.org
Thursdays from 10 pm – Midnight Eastern. Her new book is The Pagan in Recovery: The Twelve Steps From a Pagan Perspective.
Dee would like to make the book available to those in need who can not afford a copy at this time. You can request a copy by
emailing her or contact Dee to get information on making donations to help her offset the costs of providing free copies.
I had the pleasure of chatting with Dee on Skype.
IMAGE: Deirdre Hebert seated next to a framed cover image of her book The Pagan in Recovery.
Masery: Could you share one of your experiences of asking someone for forgiveness as part of your recovery process?
Dee: Probably the most profound experience was with my daughter. Around the time of my divorce, I was very angry, and my mental health was suffering. At one point, she stopped talking to me at all. In fact, she stopped talking to me for about four years. When I began working on my recovery, I realized that there was nothing I could say or do to change her, so I needed to change myself. I couldn’t ask her for forgiveness, and I couldn’t promise her anything. So, I did what’s called a “living amends”. I decided that whatever she would ask, I’d try to do. Whatever I promised, I would do. At one point, she was fairly sick, and asked me to come and make Alfredo for her. The way I do it, it’s quite a production, and I expect that this was pretty much a test. But after that, things started changing. When she went to college, she asked me to drive her. In the car, I mentioned that the relationship was getting better, and asked her what changed. She said “You’re not crazy anymore”. It wasn’t so much a direct plea for forgiveness, but things have changed.
Masery: That’s wonderful. This reminds me of humility being a part of the healing process.
Dee: I’ve come to realize a different definition for forgiveness. Forgiveness isn’t about what the other person did to us – it’s about our own reactions to them. Forgiveness is a decision that we aren’t going to let what another person did to us, define us anymore. It’s about letting go of that energy.
Dee: Someone said that a resentment is like drinking a cup of poison and hoping that the other person dies. Forgiveness is letting go of that resentment.
Masery: Exactly. My psychologist helped me understand that by reliving and holding onto the abuse of my past, it was like getting a venomous snake bite each day.
Dee: I can forgive someone who hurt me. That doesn’t mean that I’ll trust them again, or invite them over for dinner – but I can let go of my own anger and resentment.
Masery: We have to realize how much of our time is being taken up with pain and clear it out to make room to be true to ourselves.
Masery: Do any of the rituals in your book address releasing those resentments?
Dee: Not directly. The ritual for step 8 though, helps us to see whom we may have harmed, and how that has influenced those around us. I think that as we see how we have impacted those around us, we can better recognize our need to forgive others. I might add a section for further rituals on the web site for the book though. This would be a good candidate for that.
Masery: I think you mentioned on Facebook that you have ideas for a couple of other books. Please share what you have in mind.
Dee: One is a book of Pagan poetry. I’ve written quite a lot of poetry over the years, so I’d like to compile that into a book. I also want to write a book about gender and spirituality based on my own experiences. I’ve got a third that I’m trying to define right now – it’s about the history of religion, but from a rather different perspective.
Masery: By the way, I really like the format for The Pagan in Recovery. With each step there is a section that explains the step theoretically then the practical application with how the step effects us in day to day life followed by a ritual
Dee: I thought the organization of the book would help people understand each step a bit better. Each of us learns somewhat differently, and so I wanted to emphasize the theoretical, the practical and the experiential. I think I was successful.
Masery: That is how I organized my magic classes. Ideas, daily applications, and hands on practice. Will you be publishing with Asphodel press again?
Dee: I’ve been very impressed with Asphodel Press. While it’s still a self-publishing model, and through Lulu, the support that I got from Asphodel was amazing. They helped with the formatting, with editing, advice and so much more. I can’t say enough about them. They don’t take on every project, but I’ll definitely keep them in mind and would love to work with them again.
Masery: Would you send me a poem to post on the Staff of Asclepius?
Dee: There is one of mine on Witchvox. It’s the first poem I ever wrote as a Pagan.
The yellow flames jump for the sky
feeding contentedly on what once lived.
A symbol of life that is life-consuming.
As the flames get closer,
tonguing hungrily at my flesh,
I begin to wonder,
trying to understand,
These flames that were once thought of as cleansing,
These searing tongues of Golden light that gave warmth,
The same that are now devouring the flesh from my bones.
What have I done?
I loved these people,
I did nothing to harm them.
They who hate me for what I am.
I am dying – burning.
Yet the heat and pain do not bother me.
I am alive,
and will be for long after I die.
and my magic will survive.
Dee: Actually, I wrote this before I even knew I was a Pagan.
Masery: You came home to Paganism. Most of us seem to do that.
Dee: I think I was following my ancestors – and my previous lives.
Masery: Ah, yes.
Dee: All that being Pagan involves – really – is the recognition that religion really tries to give us a static view of deity. It’s like the child who insists that their view of their parents is the only correct view. But we all know that the sickly child, the studious child, the athletic child – will all view their parents differently. No two people will describe a third person exactly the same way. Why should we look at one particular definition of deity as the only correct one? Our relationship with Deity is defined as much by who we are as by who Deity is. Being a Pagan, really, means that I get to understand Deity based on my own relationship with Deity.
Masery: How very true. One of my experiences with communion with Deity was gaining the understanding that I was a human experiencing mortality trying to understand something that was infinite. That Consciousness often appeared in ways we could better understand.
Dee: I think it’s a bit of hubris to suspect that we can define the entirety of any god in a single volume. And to say that what’s right for me, is right for someone else – even more so.
Masery: Agreed. I guess that’s another reason music is part of my faith, too. It can feel limitless and beyond time. It captures many moments and emotions much like how I feel when I commune with the Divine. I emphasize commune because I don’t worship my patroness Gaia, and feel she doesn’t require that of me. We are One. And I understand too that she is an aspect of the Divine, one I choose to connect with.
Dee: It’s funny … the single most intimate moment of my life was when I was playing music in a church, with a group. Being so close, so connected to the other musicians – so in synch, and playing so very much as *ONE* – I’ve never experienced that same sense of intimacy anywhere else.
Masery: That’s one reason I loved choir so much. The way dozens of people could synchronize and harmonize as one.
Masery: I’ve had the pleasure of feeling that in some private group rituals.
Dee: That’s what I like about Paganism – it’s as intimate – as participatory as we wish it to be. I also think that group ritual is terribly important. Being a solitary Pagan isn’t *bad*, but being part of a group takes things to an entirely different level. The drawing down, for example, is one thing that will take on a dramatically different form in a group – it will be something very different than what can be achieved in solitary practice. There is a synergy in a working group that can’t be achieved working as a solitary.
Masery: Thank you so very much for sharing your story and insights. Is there anything you’d like to add to conclude the interview?
Dee: I’d like to add one thing: While I really want the book to do well, I also don’t want anyone who can’t afford it, to be without it. So, if someone is in recovery, and can’t afford The Pagan in Recovery, they can email me, and we can certainly work something out. If they ask, I’ll send them a .pdf copy. I only ask that they contact me directly. They can find me at www.thepaganinrecovery.com. I do ask that they don’t send the book to others – but if anyone needs it, and really can’t afford it, I’ll make sure they get it.
Masery: If you like, I could have people also contact you to make donations to cover free copies.
Dee: That would certainly help. I still haven’t broken even on the project yet, but I don’t want anyone to go without the book if they need it.
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