I stepped into Paganism at the age of 11. I had a Religious Education substitute teacher who introduced me, and I’ve never looked back. The realisation that it was fourteen years ago is beyond me. It feels like it was just five minutes ago.
With my advancement into Paganism came my adventure into spirituality as a whole. Whether it was believing in Gods and Deities or Spirits, with that being said, I think I was around fourteen when I was given my first set of runes from Hofgothi (a Pagan Priest). As someone who’d identified with Judaism, wholely, up until that point – I think they took me under their wing simply because of it. Not because they wanted to convert me, but because they knew how difficult it was to transition or to merge.
And by merge, I don’t mean to create a new religion but to live within both.
At this point in my life, I no longer observe most Judaism practices and celebrations. For two reasons:
- It’s not accessible to me.
- It’s not safe for me.
Technically those reasons can be seen as the same, but they’re not, let me explain.
Due to chronic illness and being the only Jewish person in my family – it’s not viable for me to partake.
My parents are Christian/Agnostics, even though most of my mother’s family were Jewish. The remainder of the family seemingly converted to Orthodox Christianity around 1930 – 1950… I wonder why [/s].
Due to my general identity as an LGBTQ+ person, a spiritualist or witch, and generally being weird (yes, weird) – I’m not welcome at the closest synagogue to me. And that’s besides the fact I cannot physically attend anymore due to illness and carers.
Due to my allergies and intolerances, food rules in Judaism would make food impossible for me. I’m allergic to most Kosher foods – bread being the most significant example; trying to get a Kosher Gluten Free bread in my area is a nightmare.
So, as you can imagine, while I still partake in the community aspect of being Jewish – or at least having Jewish ancestry – I have very much withdrawn from the religion. But it’s not just a religion, and I’m sure any Jew would tell you this – it’s a faith, an ancestry, and a community. So, while I cannot participate in one – the other two are not leaving my existence any time soon.
Then there is Paganism. In the same way that Judaism is often referred to as one of the most agnostic religions, Paganism can be much the same in that aspect.
You can access source materials, interpret them in a way that makes sense to you, and go from there. I can guarantee there is a faction that will have the same ideology, rituals, and worship as you do.
I was talking with a Pagan friend from South America at the beginning of the week.
They asked whether I’d finally decided on a deity for my altar – unbeknown to them that I’ve had an altar and deity set up for almost a year now [I’d had altars in the past, but due to hostile environments, I was unable to maintain them while staying safe and keeping the items safe]. My current altar is entirely dedicated to Mother Earth, and due to the concept that all Gods of the same speciality are the same God with different regional names – I say I worship Danu (Celtic), Gaia (Greek), or Terra (Roman). However, for short, I stick to Mother Earth.
My friend laughed at me when I explained my deity because I effectively worship nature. The human race has a habit of personifying things, after all.
I had to giggle because they were right, and to make it better – they let me know that their deity is Santa Muerte (Our Lady of Holy Death).
Many of their town worship her, but not all of them are Pagan. A large number of them are, in fact, Catholic.
However, not all of them worship Death herself, but the idea that Death isn’t evil. In the words of the great Charlotte Perkins Gilman:
Death is the essential condition of life.Charlotte Perkins Gilman
So, how do I honour my Jewish roots and spiritual life? With great difficulty.
I was installed with Jewish superstitions that have never really gone away: putting salt in the corners of rooms for warding; closing open books; trying not to sneeze [this is something I’m trying to allow myself to do to prevent my head exploding, which is ironically the reason we don’t like sneezing, I think]; wearing a travel pin (a metal pin); and of course, knocking on wood.
And while I don’t observe holidays anymore, I still know the dates and times, so I can do something – anything – even if it is just reading the Torah.
I do much more for my Spirituality now, reading book upon book; learning about herbs and crystals; and ancient runes. I’ve accumulated so much knowledge from my elders, and I keep passing it on – as it should be.
I celebrate every Pagan holiday as it should be, read my tarot every morning as part of my daily routine, and keep wards up.
Am I overly faithful? I don’t think so. I believe in a spirit realm, but I only look for evidence occasionally. What’s the point in proof when there’s faith? Isn’t that what most religious ministers say when you ask about evidence of a God?
As you can imagine, it’s a little tricky to explain my religious standings when people ask casually after looking at any of my content or profiles that all state Jewish and Pagan/Spiritualist Witch.
While I entirely doubt that any of this made sense since I’m also known for rambling, here’s a short version:
I’m Jewish by Ancestry and Pagan by Faith.
Anyway – back to the main topic [AuDHD tangents – oops].
I got my first tarot deck in 2017; I don’t know where from or who gave it to me. It appeared. It’s a Smith-Rider-Waite deck, but it was printed in 1993. So, I don’t know where or what happened to it between then and it appearing in my hands.
After that, my partner, who is Native American and Mexican, bought me the Santa Muerte deck, which is honestly a beauty and has become my favourite.
Santa Muerte, as a deity, is all about safe delivery to the afterlife, the connection to it, as well as healing and protection. As a personification of Death, she represents the fact that Death is inescapable and something that should be welcomed, not feared – embraced in a way to enjoy life rather than constantly thinking about your demise.
Last year turned a new leaf for me; I was gifted a Crystal Tarot deck and an Astrology Oracle deck. Both of which I am still bonding with.
I recently got a new pendulum – green aventurine, to bring inner calm harmony – and I love it (shout out to Spence’s Senses). So with that, I got back into Pendulum readings. I’d not done them in a few years after a friend went missing and sadly was found drowned.
A spiritualist had done a reading and found his location; I performed my own reading, without knowing the results of the first reading, and found the same spot.
And the location was correct.
It should’ve been an enhancing or supporting moment for me, but I was fifteen, and I don’t think I was ready.
I’ve been making spell jars and bags for the past five years, and scent pots – because smudging is a closed practice and my parents don’t like smoke around the house [other than in my altar room, of course].
I recently decided to open up my practices to others again. For the past three years, I’ve not performed divination for anyone other than friends and family, mainly due to COVID almost killing me.
But I’m back, and I’m not going to stop talking about it – sorry!
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