Alcoholism as Religious Practice
Once more I refer you to the Jung letter to Bill W. It is clear in that letter that Jung is telling Bill W. that addiction is a spiritual practice. Most spiritual practices have ceremonial form attached to them and the spiritual practice of addiction is no different.
In order to make the point clear of how alcohol is a ceremony it is important to ask ourselves what or who do we pray to? Over the years I’ve asked this question to many people and they usually give the obvious answer. For example they claim to be some form of Christian or Traditional spiritual practitioner. Then I ask a simple and obvious follow up question: ‘how many times did you attend your church or ceremony?’ Most folks mention that they went to pray in their church or ceremony 3 or 4 times. An obvious question then follows: ‘how many times did you drink or abuse drugs?’ Most people who are addicted give an honest and obvious answer that is usually many times more than the times they went to church, let say over 100 times. It is apparent then that the spiritual practice of someone who is addicted is the practice of alcoholism. There are folks who even leave alcohol offerings to the earth when they start drinking. This act usually symbolizes a ceremony.
In actuality the ceremony of alcoholism is quite elaborate and most people don’t know this. Remember that the spirit of alcohol is cunning and tricky. Anyway, there is a church style ceremony that people engage in that when you see how this occurs you will never go by a bar and see it the same way again.
This is how the ceremony goes:
The bar where people go to drink is a structure much like a church. When you go in there is a congregation and people are engaged in all types of activities that are under the influence of the spirit of alcohol. Some are laughing, some are crying, some are angry and so on. Towards the back wall there is usually a very fine long table that is made out of special wood and is called a bar. This represents the equivalent of an altar in a church.
Behind the altar/bar there is a sorcerer, known as a bartender. This person is there to act as the go between you and the spirit of alcohol. Many people feel they can confess all their sins to the bartender much like they would to a priest in a church.
At this point the individual approaches the altar and leaves an offering on the bar, usually money. In traditional ways we would give the medicine person tobacco or some other traditional form of a token requesting medicine for the illness that we want to deal with.
The language that is used in the ‘bar scene’ is also special language much like language changes when we go to church or ceremony. Things don’t mean the same in this church as they do in our daily lives. For example, if you ask someone at home for a screw driver they will hand you a tool. In the church of the spirit of alcohol if you ask the sorcerer/priest for a screw driver they will proceed to mix you alcohol medicine of a specific type. They pour it into a special container and then they put a lid on it and they shake it high over their heads to the six directions. Then they pour the alcohol spirit medicine in a glass for you. Then you go ahead and drink the spirit of alcohol medicine and it takes over your spirit. It will give you a change of feeling and therefore, it will want something back as I mentioned before. The spirit of alcohol will want a form of payback spirit in return from you. It could take your life or the life of someone else. No matter what, it will take a part of your life in some form. This could take place as in you going to jail, or getting your car destroyed, family loss and all the war stories that you have heard over the years of drinking and being crazy around the spirit of alcohol.
Another interesting form that the spirit of alcohol makes itself known is when someone is in residential treatment. I have observed that around day 20 or so of treatment many people start having dreams and experiences that indicate that there is a spirit working in opposition with the person in treatment. People have told me that they get the feeling that something or someone is sitting on their chest and they can’t wake up or yell or anything. They feel frightened and completely helpless. Talk about realizing step one in a very real way. Some people dream that they are using and when they wake up they feel high or hung over and guilty. Yet, none of them have actually taken the physical form of the spirit of alcohol. This is a time when people realize that they are dealing with a power that is bigger than them and takes them back to the steps. It makes you realize that Bill W. knew what he was talking about when the steps were formed and he understood it from the inside out. Again, asking the simplest question could yield some answers…it’s not exactly rocket science although the cunning nature of the alcohol spirit can make you think it is.
I have seen instances in treatment programs where people in treatment had some profound experiences with the spirit of alcohol and changed their relationship to how they relate to life itself. The changes that come about go very deep once you start relating versus being possessed and fighting against this energy. Some folks become fearful of the spirit of alcohol even though they have lived with it for years. When it comes time to actually attend to it in a spirit to spirit manner, folks get a bit uneasy. It’s interesting that the whole time they were using they did not have a problem of fear since they were already in the clutches of the spirit.
Alcohol tricked them into thinking that all was well as long as they continued to promise their soul to the spirit of alcohol.