Healing from Patriarchy in the Lap of  Mother Nature

Rev. JoAnna C. Medina, a.k.a. Mama Silverwitch, is the founding mother of  THE SACRED CIRCLE... a self-supporting sisterhood of recovering women who are reclaiming the power of the Divine Feminine to heal from the insidious ways of Patriarchy. The Circle provides Women's Studies, Pass the Rattle Recovery Circles, Tarot Circles and Community Gatherings.  JoAnna's been RECOVERING and RECLAIMING for over 33 years.


Reclaiming the Power of the Divine Feminine in Recovery

The Sacred Circle invites recovering women everywhere to join the dance of our sisterhood. By coming together to share our experience, strength & hope while celebrating the wisdom of the ancient feminine we can collectively heal from long-standing effects of Patriarchy and bring awareness, change, inspiration, love & empowerment to others.

Let's Remember:  

A "Recovering & Reclaiming" Story

How Women's Circles Healed my Life -- by J. Silverwitch

The Sisterhood of the Sacred Circle was born in the early years of my recovery as the result of a profound spiritual experience that reunited me with the ancient spirit of the Earth Goddess. This extraordinary epiphany occurred on a Nature walk in the Spring of 1985 and changed my life in ways I never dreamed possible.

At the time I was very active in a 12-Step program of recovery: attending meetings on a daily basis; cleaning up the wreckage of my past; healing from years of dysfunctional living, assisting others in recovery, mending family relationships and working in the Chemical Dependency Field... but in spite of my very busy life, which included weekly jaunts to the seashore, I began developing an insatiable urge to spend more time in Nature.

The urge was overwhelming, not to mention distracting. I felt a sudden need to feel the dirt between my toes, to bask in Nature's beauty and wonder... and with the divine guidance already experienced in my life I knew this urge was important, that it couldn't be denied. I struggled awhile with this urge, however, because my life was full. I had commitments to women in recovery, to my job and to my family and didn't think I could squeeze any more time out of my busy schedule. But, the urge persisted and I knew it well... so I prayed for guidance.

I soon heard about a lovely rural preserve just blocks away from my home so I decided to check it out. This beautiful "park" turned out to be just what I needed. It had thick wooded trees, beautiful ponds and lakes, dirt trails, wildlife and a wide flowing creek that ran for miles year round. It was perfect, and since I worked evenings I started going there in the morning before my noon meetings while my daughters were in school. 

Sometimes I'd spend hours in this beautiful rustic getaway basking in the beauty of the earth and fragrance of wildflowers. I would walk on trails along the creeks edge feeling the warmth of the sun on my face or meditate peacefully in quiet groves listening to the wind but it was always a delight that nurtured my soul.  I would also offer silent prayers as I walked, giving thanks for my sobriety, for my healing and for my peace of mind. This is when the course of my life was changed forever.

One particular morning near the Spring Equinox, on my day off from work, I strolled in my usual lackadaisical fashion along my favorite dirt path near the duck ponds, basking in whimsical enchantment and offering prayers of gratitude to Mother Nature for the beauty surrounding me, when I was abruptly stopped in my tracks by a feminine spirit whispering through my consciousness. She told me I was made in "her image and likeness" because I brought life into the world like she did. Then, in a suspended moment of time, my oneness and sameness with Mother Earth was revealed while a powerful electromagnetic force rushed through me, replacing all my former ideologies with overwhelming feelings of self-love and sacredness never before experienced! My soul and sanity seemed restored in a matter of minutes and I was stunned, but as if waking from a dream I knew exactly who she was because from very deep place within me, her ancient memory suddenly surfaced and I uttered... “Mother, is that you?”

This powerful awakening was so sudden and unexpected that it prompted me to seek immediate refuge under my favorite willow tree by the creek. I sat down on the cool moss and began weeping, blubbering apologies to my ancient Mother for somehow forgetting her in a maze of hypnosis that seemed to be just wearing off. I realized I that I had always been one with her, like her, separated only by false beliefs and illusions of the mind! I felt like Sleeping Beauty waking from a spell of slumbering exile, somewhat embarrassed that I had fallen prey to such a thing! But this re-connection with the Goddess assuaged any lingering guilt, for as her symphonic sounds and haunting laughter echoed magically through my natural surroundings... I was deeply reassured that the joke was on me! 

My weeping continued all afternoon, but the cleansing brought healing, relief and release from years of self-bondage. As I listened by the flowing creek a tremendous sense of clarity came over me. I knew at that moment why I had become so dysfunctional and why I was REALLY in recovery. It was clear that I had become the victim of a male-dominated world since birth, captive in its oppressive grip along with millions of others. It was also clear that under this powerful, cultural influence, I unconsciously gave my power away to the dysfunctional systems around me — to people, places and things outside myself — and by doing so developed a soul sickness which severed me from my authentic nature; from my divinity as a living spirit; from my oneness with the Earth and from my sacredness as a woman! 

It suddenly dawned on me that this soul-fragmentation was the "spiritual malady" they talked about in our recovery programs... that it was the underlying cause of the shame, codependency, neurotic behaviors, compulsive disorders and life-shattering addictions that had made my life so unmanageable! "How could I have been so blind?"  I cried. "How could I have done this to myself?" 

As I sat there by the flowing creek my life flashed in front of me. The roots of my oppression were clear along with the contempt and rage I felt for the world, but now I was beginning to understand why I had such extreme emotional reactions to life; why I viewed the world with disgust; why I was so defensive, rebellious, defiant and mistrusting; why I was continually fighting everyone and everything around me; why I left the Church in my teens; why I felt like a stranger in a strange land; why I altered my consciousness and buffered the pain of my existence with food, sex, nicotine, alcohol, drugs or anything else that would numb or distract me from my "reality."

As the revelations came... I saw why I resented being female; why I had problems with my self-image and sexuality; why I sacrificed my own needs to gain love, attention and approval; why I suffered for years with sadness, grief and depression; why I felt odd and "different" no matter how hard I tried to fit in. It was also clear why ventures pursued in sincerity became exercises in futility even with my best efforts to conform to the patriarchal world around me; why I looked for love in all the wrong places; why I hated the roles I was expected to play in marriage; why sex was boring or unsatisfying; why I sought various escapes from reality to survive; why man-made religions made me sick; why I didn't fit in; why I felt there was something terribly wrong with me and why I still had a huge void inside I couldn't fill.

Yes, it now made perfect sense! My years of shame, suffering, deterioration and disease were the result of a disconnection from my Deepest Self, from Spirit, from Nature, from the natural flow of life. I had been duped! I had unconsciously surrendered my feminine power, wisdom, beauty and uniqueness to the misogynist, life-sucking systems of Patriarchy along with the hypnotized multitudes around me! I became a victim of cultural forces and the illusions of the mind that went with it. The indoctrination, conditioning, false concepts and belief systems that sprang from its male-dominated religions and social systems had captured ME as it had so many other pathetic people and I had internalized every bit of it! ... I was appalled!

That day... sitting beside the flowing creek... my blindfold was removed and my inner sight restored. I knew with absolute certainty that I was a visible Spirit, a divine Soul... born of a woman and fashioned with the elements of Mother Nature, in her image, in her likeness, and one with it all! Yes, the joke really was on me!

The revelations of that day shifted my consciousness in ways that completely altered my perception of reality. I could see that I was born whole and complete in the framework of my design... that I was a living spirit...that there was nothing to add and nothing to take away from myself EXCEPT false beliefs and illusions of the mind that kept me in states of self-hatred and bondage, and they weren't even real! I also knew that I would stay in recovery, that I would continue uncovering, discovering, discarding and amending all that prevented me from walking in the sunlight of the spirit and that I would continue giving to others what had been so freely given to me, one day at a time. 

After my long lost connection with the Sacred Feminine was restored, I knew she would not fade from my memory again. I left the park at sunset, but I vowed to keep her in my heart and serve her in any way that I could. I knew I'd have to carry the message of this extraordinary experience to other women in recovery at some point, but I didn't know exactly how or when. I had never heard anyone in our recovery program speak of HER... so I decided to remain silent about it for awhile and bask in this wonderful reality alone. 

I continued sitting by the ocean, walking in the park, basking in her beauty and praying for guidance and direction. I was willing to let time and prudence take its course, and it did. I finally had an opportunity to share my "experience" with a like-minded brother in recovery who in turn pointed the way to books he felt I should read: Our Great Cosmic Mother; When God was a Woman, The Chalice and the Blade, the Gods and Goddesses of Old Europe, the Holy Book of Women's Mysteries, The Spiral Dance, the Women's Spirituality Book and many others. I watched films and read everything I could get my hands on about the Earth, our indigenous past and our ancient ancestors. I began living by the cycles of the sun and moon while creating solitary rituals to honor the changing seasons of my life as well as the earth... and I began remembering who I was... who I had always been... and this eventually led me to ordination in the ministry and my work as a Priestess. Another door had opened. My real education had begun... and I was delightfully pleased!

During this time my life was filled with new meaning. I now recognized my sacredness without the brainwashing and self-hatred that had held me captive all my life. The Goddess filled a need in my soul that I didn't know I had. She was the missing link that I was unconsciously searching for all my life!  My long wait was over! My happiness brimming. My eyes glowing. In all my years of spiritual questing I never experienced a feeling of satisfaction quite like this one. I was extremely grateful. I now felt genuine hope and inspiration. For the first time in my entire life I was happy to be an Earthling... happy to be a woman... because along with my commitment to recovery I was now reclaiming a spiritual path that honored the Divine Feminine and it was awesome!

After reclaiming a spiritual path for women, patriarchal images of Deity didn't work for me any longer. They actually repulsed me for a time because they were false and misleading. My new awareness, particularly in 12-Step Recovery Meetings, made it obvious that we as individuals and as a culture, had forgotten our true source of life: MOTHER. I was deeply saddened by this. I knew if I had been taken to women's circles as a child, or given real images of the Divine Feminine, HER-STORY rather than HISTORY, it could have saved me years of confusion and heartache, particularly in the way I viewed and treated myself as a woman. I began recognizing that our deep soul-severance and disconnection from the Natural World sat at the root of our cultural disorders, our codependency, our numerous addictions and the endless diseases that plagued humanity!

In the wilds of Nature, away from "worldly" distractions, I actually felt the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual peace that came when aligning myself with the electromagnetic energy of Mother Nature! When I tried connecting with the frequency and vibrations of the Man-made world, with Patriarchy, I became scattered and distracted which caused irritability, restlessness, discontentment, sickness and pain. It occurred to me that this incompatibility, between Mother Nature and the Man-Made World, was the underlying core of spiritual problems all over the world! This incompatibility, along with our indoctrination into a world of false beliefs, illusion and greed actually produced a soul fragmentation, a separation from our ground of being, the earth, and each other which led in time to diseases of the mind, body and soul. It was obvious that others beside myself suffered with this weird sort of insanity and that I and practically everyone around me needed a restoration to wholeness in order to be happy, joyous and free! 

I spent the next two years studying and weaving Women's Spirituality into my recovery program and it didn't take long for women I sponsored in recovery to notice a change in my demeanor. Then, they began asking questions about my spiritual path. This is when I became aware that many women, like myself, had difficulty with the patriarchal god in 12-Step programs but didn't know what to do about it. Although we were repeatedly told in meetings that we could choose a higher power of our own understanding, it was NOT our experience. God as you understand HIM was continually being crammed down our throats, along with religious prayers that didn't resonate with our experience.  So, we decided to make a change, one that would give us a deeper understanding of ourselves as women and help us heal at the deepest levels in recovery.

From that time on, when a woman voiced her discomfort with the patriarchal god of the program, I would share about the Goddess, about Mother Nature, about Women's Spirituality and our unique mysteries as women. I also shared why I needed images of the Divine Feminine to recover from the internalized belief systems of Patriarchy: from the pain, shame, soul fragmentation and internalized oppression that led to codependency and the numerous addictions that made my life so unmanageable... and they listened with enthusiasm!  

Before I knew it, a small group of women began pouring into my home on a regular basis to talk about Women's Spirituality and Recovery. This is how THE SACRED CIRCLE was born and grew into a collective of many powerful women... each special... each unique... each a goddess in her own right.. and it has continued serving me along with hundreds of other women ever since.

The Sacred Circle recognizes that men as well as women need to reclaim the power of the Divine Feminine because she is our maternal connection to life, the living, breathing Earth Mother of which we are all a part. Not only that. Men and women suffer from a deep spiritual malady, fragmentation of the soul caused by living in a dysfunctional world and internalizing the insidious belief systems of Patriarchy which leads to separation, domination, dysfunction, racism, sexism, abuse, violence, war, internalized oppression, codependency and numerous addictions that keep people sick and dysfunctional all over the world.

Reclaiming our oneness with Earth & Spirit is a vital key to complete recovery and a restoration to wholeness. This awareness is being shared by thousands in our world today but is still a vital element missing in our recovery programs. If we desire freedom from bondage and long-term recovery, it is essential that we break through our insidious denial, relinquish old ideas and belief systems that keep us separated; act our way into right thinking and reclaim ourselves on a deeper level of consciousness, one that is rooted in a very old and ancient truth: that we are living Spirits... one with ALL things in the great web of life.... that WE ARE the "SAVIORS" we've been waiting for!

For 33 years I have shared my experience, strength and hope in Rooms of Recovery and The Sacred Circle. Now, after many requests, our Circle booklets, reading materials, and books about the Recovering & Reclaiming Path will soon be published and available to the public.

I offer this wisdom to you, not as the only way, but as one that may create a deeper awareness of our recovery from Patriarchy, from Codependency, and from the numerous addictions we develop while coping with the stress and pain of our existence in the dysfunctional world.

My prayer is that we will awaken in time from our hypnotic stupor as children of the Earth: One with Nature, One in Spirit, One with all things in the great Web of Life, so balance can be restored to our lives here and now. Maybe then, and only then, will the inner light of our Soul shine brightly enough on the Earth to unify every living creature who depends on her sustenance!

 Let's remember... 
When We Heal, the World Heals!

      ~ Mama Silverwitch ~



An excellent book for everyone in recovery who
honors the ancient ways of Nature & Spirit.

A useful tool for Earth lovers who are healing from Western Civilization & the Diseases of More!

An excellent book for men and women who are reclaiming the Divine Feminine in their personal life.

An inspirational Gift for our Loved Ones, Family, Friends and Relatives in or out of recovery!

 A helpful study guide for Pass the Rattle Circles; Healing Circles; Earth-based Recovery Circles

Dear Friends... I had to take some needed time away from my writings after the death of my beloved spouse, Thomas. I have now resumed my work and hope to have our books published and ready for purchase sometime soon. I apologize for the delay.

If you'd like to purchase the book... please keep checking back.

You can also contact me anytime at...

Blessed Be

 Learn More about JoAnna & The Sacred Circle
along with upcoming gatherings, retreats & circles at:

JoAnna is also Regional Coordinator for Carson City, Nv.

Go to GTW - Nevada here & on Facebook for more info about "Gather the Women" and our upcoming events & circles

Upcoming Books & Booklets


Recovering & Reclaiming
The Sacred Circle 

The 13 Step Path


The Sacred Circle
of Maidens, Mothers & Crones 

13 x 13


The Recovering Goddess 

Healing from Patriarchy in the Lap of the Great Mother


Sacred Wheel Dancing

Reflections of Time in Poetic Rhyme 


Recovering & Reclaiming
in The
 Sacred Circle



Books published by The Sacred Circle