Wiccan by Spirit - Adding Layers of Religion
Article ID: 12441
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Artemisia Shira of Handfastings Magazine
Posted: March 16th. 2008
Times Viewed: 2,867
How does one come to be Wiccan? One’s spiritual path is guided by a number of things in life: ideas, experiences, needs, and passions. For each person, they are different. Finding one’s path is very personal and no two journeys are alike. The following is a brief account of my own personal exploration into Wicca and the awakening I experienced.
I was born into a Jewish family and raised by my parents in the Conservative Jewish movement. While I diligently did my Hebrew schoolwork and went to synagogue on a regular basis, I was always "different." I always felt like I was not part of the crowd. It was my perception that I was not getting something out of Jewish ritual what others seemed to be receiving.
But that is not the full reason of why I became Wiccan much later in life.
Even as a child, I loved Nature. I saw the magic of butterflies flitting about, heard the daffodils sing in the breeze in springtime, and noticed all the little details of each blade of grass and each Earthly plant. I understood the synergy between the honeybees as they gathered nectar from the flowers.
I heard the birds and squirrels whisper to me in their little chipper voices, alerting me to changes in the environment and weather. I saw colors as manifestations of life, each shade bringing me new information on what the colors were defining. These were the things that were important to me in life then, as they are now. These are Nature’s instruments, which would eventually bring me closer to the Goddess.
As I grew older, I discovered Paganism. I began reading a number of Women’s spirituality magazines. And then when I came across Margot Adler’s Drawing Down the Moon, I realized that there was actually a movement, or at least a group of people, who saw Divinity in Nature. Finally, I thought, people who think like me! I am Pagan!
I immersed myself into the world of Wicca and Paganism and read every book I could get my hands on. I eventually began differentiating the books – from those which were the real deal and were well-researched, to those that were well-meaning but lacked depth, to those that were disguised as books about the Craft but were written by someone who was actually trying the steer the reader clear of Wicca (for the author’s own variety of ignorant reasons).
Through my research, meditation, and eventually through meeting other like-minded and supportive individuals in person, I was able to unearth my Wiccan path. In Paganism and Wicca, there is no such thing as “conversion.” One can be initiated into a tradition, or one can dedicate herself to a Goddess, but conversion does not play a role in nurturing one’s spiritual path.
My evolution towards Wicca wasn't a conversion at all, but more of an awakening. It's something that I always have been, but never knew how to express it until I was about 24 (I’m 36 now). Even later on in life, I found that Wicca answered many of my needs in terms of using ritual to connect with the world.
In Judaism, there is a lot of ritual involved - yet as a child I never connected with any of it. But with Wicca, I am able to use ritual to express my passion of my love of Nature, and the Goddess in Nature.
Wicca supports my need for divine balance between male and female, or yin and yang. It supports my need for multiple sets of pantheons and it allows me diversity in invocation. As a woman, Wicca enables me to feel empowered by having a Goddess to worship instead of having only one divine male figure. And now ritual makes sense and has meaning for me.
I never looked at my spiritual progression as a conversion. Things are not so cut and dry like that. It’s more of an addition to the layers that make up my spirituality. It adds depth to my heritage. Humans cannot put personal religion in black and white; when they try to do that, fundamentalism happens, which can lead to intolerance, hatred, fear, war, and death.
Yet while I have grown into Wicca, I cannot deny my ancestors. Nor do I want to. I am very proud of coming from a Jewish family. It is my background, birthright, and my family history. I cannot deny my ancestry any more than can an African American deny hers. Ancestors are a very important part of Wiccan and Pagan culture, and a very important part of my life. I cannot divide myself into sections.
In Wicca, I have the freedom to call on my ancestors in a very tangible way by using the techniques and guidance handed down to me by my High Priestess, in addition to my own innate talents and intuition. I feel that I was never given any understandable divinatory tools in Hebrew school, even though a Rabbi might disagree. But nevertheless, it’s what I personally connect with that’s important. And the way that I connect with the Divine, with the Gods and Goddesses, and my ancestors, is by casting a circle and entering sacred space, even if it is only in my mind. For me, it is simple and practical.
This is the Wiccan way. And no one but myself can deny me the right to practice my religion as I see fit.
A Christian woman that I knew once told me, “We are all on different busses going to the same destination.” Ironically, she had been turned down as a nun by a convent because they felt she was just not educated enough. In their eyes, she didn’t fit the bill.
Just because I use the rituals of a Witch instead of Judaism, doesn’t mean I am any more or any less worthy of convening with the Divine.
While I am Jewish by ancestry and Wiccan by spirit, it is impossible to separate the two; I wish to remain whole. Sometimes I joke around and say I’m “Jew-Witch, ” which suits me just fine.
Artemisia Shira of Handfastings Magazine
Location: Stamford, Connecticut
Author's Profile: To learn more about Artemisia Shira of Handfastings Magazine - Click HERE
Bio: Shira, whose magical name is Artemisia Cybele, is a Witch in the Minoan Tradition, which is derivative of the Gardnerian path. While she has been Pagan all her life, she has been a "practicing" Wiccan for more than a decade, and has immersed herself in Minoan studies since 2002. In Beltane of 2004, Shira founded of Handfastings.org, a website that links people in the Pagan and Wiccan communities with ordained officiants. She is currently a member of Circle of the Crescent Moon (Initiation and Dedication) in New York.
Shira is currently affiliated with the Church of Spiritual Humanism for the purposes of ordination and is legally registered to perform handfastings in New York City. She is pursuing a Masters in Divinity at the Woolston-Steen Theological Seminary.
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