by Woden’s Folk Kindred
The Heilvegr is a Nine-Step Recovery program for Heathens who suffer from Addiction, Depression, or PTSD. This program differs drastically from Twelve Step Programs in a key and fundamental way: as Heathens, we accept responsibility for our actions. For too long, those of our faith who have these issues have had to look outside of our faith for help, chiefly to programs that tell us that we are powerless, and to submit ourselves to a thinly veiled foreign higher power. No longer must we do this in order to put ourselves back on the path to health and holiness, the Heilvegr. The principles outlined in this book draw on the work of Carl Jung and Germanic mythology in order to create a path to healing that can help not only addicts but those with depression and PTSD as well.
1. Accept that I have chosen addiction and that I am responsible for my choices.
We are the sum of choices. Some of those choices were made for us, but mostly each day we make a series of choices that define our lives.
Truth is the first of the Nine Noble Virtues that relate to the Heilvegr.
2. Embrace the strength within me to overcome my addiction.
My addiction is the sum of past choices, and as such, it represents layer upon layer of poison within the well of my Wyrd.
Self-reliance is the virtue essential to the second step. Victory over addiction begins with my total commitment to the fight and my absolute confidence that I can win.
3. Align myself with the Wyrd of my Gods and folk.
Addiction is, at its core, an extreme form of selfishness.
Fidelity is the key virtue of this step. Fidelity means being loyal or faithful to one’s duty.
4. Peer into the Well of Wyrd with Courage and Honesty.
I did not get to the bottom without making mistakes. Focusing on the power of choice shines a very unflattering light on my past and all of the terrible things I have done.
Courage is the essential virtue to get through this step. It takes nerve to not look away from our mistakes or gloss over the past, but the only way that we are going to get better is to own our choices,
even when it hurts.
5. Speak the truth before Gods and men.
Coming this far has not been easy: Accepting responsibility in my heart, struggling to overcome addiction’s grip, taking stock of not just my deeds but what motivations lie behind them, deciding to end my selfishness and commit to Gods and folk.
Hospitality is the virtue for this step, though some may find this surprising. This virtue is usually associated with the gracious and generous host, but in this sense, it is about learning to give what we have to our folk.
6. Grapple with Grendel’s Mother, and defeat her power.
Owning my choices is important to understanding my Wyrd moving forward, but what about peering into the Wyrd of the choices themselves? In other words, now that I have accepted responsibility for what I have done, it is time to understand why I did it.
Perseverance is the virtue that will carry us through this step and beyond. The search will be long and arduous, and we cannot allow our effort to devolve into self-righteous blame games or a quest for excuses.
7. Give self-judgment to those I have wronged, and pay weregild.
For most of us, the long litany of misdeeds counted up in step four is an embarrassing list. We have hurt our children, spouses, parents, and countless others. The consequences of these deeds do not disappear just because we have decided to be better.
Industriousness is the virtue we will need for this step. Getting better, mending fences, and earning the trust of those we love takes work, just as it takes work and dedication to not return to the mistakes of our past.
8. Examine my choices every day.
If the first seven steps were about pulling out of the death spiral of addiction and trying to restore some sense of peace and purpose to our lives, this step begins the realization that we are moving into a new phase of life.
Discipline is essential to this step. It is critical that we stay focused, stick to the program, keep our guard up, and understand that there is no “just this once.” The wolf must remain bound, and we must
guard him well or risk the loss of all that we love.
9. Carry our way forward.
I have learned much upon this path, but what I have learned about life and myself only has value if I use it to help the folk.
Honor is the final virtue of the Heilvegr. Honor is often called the sum of all virtues, but it is more. To live with honor is to take up our duty, fulfill our obligations, and show ourselves as true heirs of the Ansuz of our Gods. Honor is a reflection of a person’s dedication to themselves, their family, and their folk. Honor is fueled by an inner strength that drives us towards loyalty and duty. Honorable people tell the truth, are faithful to their friends and family, and fulfill their obligations to their people. Honorable people are treasured by those around them, and the Heilvegr is at its core an honorable path.
Appalachian Pagan Ministry facilitates the practice of the Heilvegr in facilities across the nation. If you are interested in learning more about the Heilvegr, or participating in the various online fellowship meetings, you can join the Heilvegr Fellowship group on Facebook here. (Any questions regarding the issue with the Blood Prayer, please see APM statement here. )