Religion and spirituality have always been very important to me, and never in a typical fashion. I was raised Jewish, by my mother, and a witch, also by my mother. My late mother had Jewish background and a strong Celtic background, and was a hippie. Faeries were real in my childhood. As real as God, as real as “Jesus” was to my friends as I grew up in Louisiana. Spirits were not something to fear. Hell wasn’t to be feared, for we were Jews and didn’t believe in Hell, and we were pre-Christian, and didn’t believe in Hell. The place the Christians taunted me with in school for not being Baptist simply did not exist. I prayed to the God most people do, but I used the world he gave me, and embraced the swamps. We weren’t Wiccan, we were something closer to Druid, and I wasn’t raised to take Wicca very seriously at all. “Harm none? Why the fuck not?”
By age 11 I was casting circles and working on my first Book of Shadows. I was a strong monotheist, an adamant Jew, but strongly involved with Spiritism, familiars, and became acquainted with someone only close friends know as my dead friend Tommy. I became familiar with my connection to the amphibian, the rabbit, the deer, and the wolf. I raised tadpoles in my room, I spent many days on the boat in the river and bayous with my father, fishing, and that’s where I felt the most tranquil. I felt that God was there, who I called Hashem (The Name, in Hebrew) and that God loved me, but never did I feel that God was singularly masculine nor feminine or necessarily all-loving. I still believe this.
My monotheism led me to embrace Judaism more fully than either parent expected. My mother was supportive, but warned that some things in the Torah would not sit well with my inner rainbow-flag waving moral compass. She died when I was 16 I ran away to NYC at age 19 to become Orthodox and gave up witchery (but it didn’t give me up – it’s ingrained in my mind and body and behavior. I didn’t know how much it was so at the time.) After about a year. I returned to Louisiana full of anger at the religion I stood for, and was bullied for, every day at school. I prayed every day. I prayed to God – yes, that God, the Abrahamic God that my fellow witches don’t believe in and cringe at for being “hateful” and “full of vengeance” despite the fact that fellow witches know very little about what Judaism teaches of God because all they know is corrupted Christianity. God isn’t a fluffy bunny. That’s why our ancestors sacrificed people to the Sun for crops. That’s why so many modern pagans favor the feminine aspects of the Divine. In Judaism this is the Shekhinah and we honored her every Sabbath. Pagans of the old days were not all sweet, sexual-equality peaceful societies. My fellow witches forget this. The religion betrayed me and I searched on, aimless, agnostic. But a permanent seeker. Tuatha De.
I follow a lot of witches pages and many talk about honoring the dark in ourselves and the light but they won’t for one moment entertain the thought that the God that is in the Bible, lost in translation, needs of the time for one group of people, is the same masculine aspect of the divine that they acknowledge by another name. Likewise, other witches follow me and are probably deeply confused by the fact that I will cast curses and hexes, practice shadow-and-water based witchcraft, and study the bible and attend a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, meanwhile giving off the very logic-oriented vibe of an agnostic or atheist. I could pray in a Mosque, a church, a forest, a Buddhist Temple, a synagogue, or naked dancing in a circle. I care not where I am. I am a piece of the world I'm in.
I take to the strict monotheism of the Jehovah's Witnesses and their open, kind nature that has allowed me and my daughter to be included in socially based worship of Jehovah. It is unlikely I would ever be Baptized as one because I cannot give up what is in my blood to do, what I believe Jehovah created me for, which involves a great deal of what is perceived as Pagan practice. I believe the bible offers historical accounts of interactions with the divine and offers words from the masculine presence of the great conscience of the universe, words uttered long ago, and that the gospels have been used to create a new kind of man-worship, and that the Witnesses have seen through that deception. I believe Jehovah takes happiness in my use of the gifts I was given and of the freedom I find in my own way of worship.
To make it simple, I believe in constant seeking. I believe in getting happy, getting even, keeping quiet, screaming your truth, the power of the Earth and Space that Jehovah created. I believe that not all dead sleep in wait of Paradise, but some attach to place, to people, to a place I can only call The Parallel. Hell is not real, but a scare tactic used to convert people to Christianity. I believe the liars and vow-breakers will and should be punished, that animals are holy as we are, and that logic and science and balance are virtues. I believe in integrity, in power, in love and hate. We are tested in many ways, and one of my biggest tests has been to seek, find, learn from it, and seek further.. It will never end. I will likely be shunned as I am from every group I find and that's okay because I'm not alone without a congregation. I'm alone with hypocritical witches, I'm alone with liars and distortion, I'm alone with closed minds. I'm not, however, alone with my daughter, my cats, Tommy, and the world around me. And just as he was there on my painful rides to my wretched middle school and on the boat in the bayous, God keeps me.