Recovering & Reclaiming

the Ancient Ways of Earth & Spirit

Rev. JoAnna C. Medina, lovingly called  Mama Silverwitch, is 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 Pass the Rattle Sharing Circles;  Women's Studies, Tarot Circles, Moon Circles and Ritual Gatherings.  JoAnna's been RECOVERING and RECLAIMING for over 33 years.


Reclaiming the Feminine Spirit in Recovery

The Sacred Circle invites recovering women everywhere to join the dance of our sisterhood for by coming together to share our experience, strength & hope while celebrating the wisdom of the Divine Feminine we are healing from long-standing effects of Patriarchy, Codependency & obsessions of mind & body while bringing awareness, change and inspiration to others.

Let's Remember:  

My Recovering & Reclaiming Story
How Women's Circles Healed My Life
by JoAnna 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; raising kids; 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 the 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 recovery, for my healing and 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 "voice" 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 what seemed like a suspended moment in time, I had a powerful "vision" which revealed my oneness and sameness with the Earth while a rushing force of cosmic energy swept 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 her ancient memory suddenly rose to the surface of my consciousness from a very deep place within me... 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" we talked about in our recovery programs... that it was the underlying cause of my shame, codependency, neurotic behaviors, compulsive disorders and the 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 had always 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, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, amphetamine, heroin, cocaine or anything else that would numb or distract me from "reality"... why I struggled in poverty or abusive situations... why I sat in jails and institutions with tremendous guilt over my children... and why I couldn't live under the same roof with a man.

As the revelations came... I saw why I resented being a female; why I had problems with my self-image and sexuality; why I sacrificed my own needs and talent 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 unsatisfying; why I sought various escapes from reality to survive; why man-made religions didn't make sense; 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 cycles 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 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... created and birthed by 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 removed all prior religious beliefs and shifted my consciousness in ways that completely altered my perception of reality! I could see that I was a living Spirit... whole and complete in the framework of my design... that there was nothing to add and nothing to take away from my true self EXCEPT the false beliefs and illusions that had kept me in states of self-hatred and bondage for the greater part of my life. I also knew that I would continue my way of life in 12-Step 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 carrying the message of recovery to others... one day at a time.

Now that 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 that day, but I vowed to keep my ancient Mother in my heart and serve her in any way that I could. I knew that I would have to share my extraordinary experience with others 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 my wonderful reality alone. 

I continued my jaunts to the park and to the seaside, basking in her beauty and praying for guidance. I was willing to let time and prudence take its course, and it did. I finally had an opportunity to share about my "reunion with the Goddess" with a like-minded brother in recovery who in turn pointed the way to books about Our Great Cosmic Mother; When God was a Woman; Ancient Religions of the Goddess; Women's Mystery Traditions of Old Europe and many others. Another door had opened and I was elated!

For the next two years I watched films and read everything I could get my hands on about Women's Spirituality; our indigenous past, our ancient ancestors and the ancient religions of the earth.  I also began living by the seasons... by the cycles of the sun and moon... while creating solitary rituals to honor the changing seasons of my life as a woman. I continued remembering and reclaiming who I was and who I had always been and my life changed in ways I never dreamed possible. This process eventually led me to my ordination as a Minister... my work as a Priestess and the overseer of The Sacred Circle. 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 on the Earth and 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 mirrored my natural spiritual authority as a woman.  It was awesome!

After reclaiming a true 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 so 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, with HERSTORY" rather than HISTORY, because 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, our disconnection from the natural world, and the truth about our real indigenous past sat at the root of our insanity... our cultural disorders, our codependency, our numerous addictions, and the endless diseases that plague humanity!

I discovered, that in the wilds of Nature, away from "worldly" distractions, I actually felt the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual oneness and peace that came when aligning myself with the vibrational frequency of Mother Nature. When connecting with the frequency of the Man-made world, with Patriarchy, I became scattered and distracted which caused irritability, restlessness, discontentment, separation, sickness and pain. It occurred to me that this incompatibility between Mother Nature and the Man-Made World... was the underlying cause of our dysfunctions all over the world! This incompatibility, along with our indoctrination into a world of false beliefs and propaganda, actually produced a soul fragmentation, a separation from ourselves and our ground of being, which led in time to diseases of the mind, body and soul. It also became obvious to me,  that others beside myself had been sucked into our world of illusion and the weird form of hypnosis that went with it, even in my recovery program, and that we ALL needed to WAKE UP 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 worked with in recovery to notice a change in my demeanor. Then, they begin 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 the Goddess; about Women's Spirituality, Recovery and Feminism. 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 women ever since.

In the Sisterhood of the Sacred Circle, we recognize that men as well as women need to reclaim the power of the Divine Feminine because she is our maternal connection to life. Not only that. SHE is the living, breathing Earth-Mother of which we are all a part.

Many men suffer from a fragmentation of the soul caused by internalizing the Myths of Monotheist religion and Patriarchy and they don't even know it. Nevertheless, together we have created a world of separation, domination, dysfunction, racism, sexism, abuse, violence, war, internalized oppression, codependency, alcoholism and numerous addictions that keep us all sick and dysfunctional... and we, women and men, must all heal if we want to create a better world.

Reclaiming our oneness with Nature and Spirit is the 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 false 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.... and... 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 all awaken 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 Regional Coordinator in Carson City, Nevada

Go to GATHER THE WOMEN on Facebook for more info.

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