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Lamrot Hakol (Despite Everything)

Musings and kvetchings and Torah thoughts from an unconventional Orthodox Jew.

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"I blog, therefore I am". Clearly not true, or I wouldn't exist except every now and then.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Wicca (really)

So why Wicca? Well, part of the reason that I stopped being observant during 1997 was that I met someone in 1996. She wasn't Jewish, but I figured it wasn't as big a deal as it would be for someone straight. It's an interesting phenomenon. I know a lot of people who would never get involved with a non-Jew of the opposite sex, but don't have any qualms about it with a member of the same sex. I suspect that if they ever legalize gay marriage, that may change.

Anyway, she was beautiful and smart and we shared interests and it was one of the most painful learning experiences I've ever gone through in my life. But that came later.

She'd been raised Catholic, but was now Wiccan. So when we moved out to California (a few months after I moved out of frumkeit), I started asking questions. Actually, I got more useful answers from a mutual friend of ours. Hmm... let's call my girlfriend R and this friend S. S was also a Wiccan. She's about 20 years older than R and I (R is only a few weeks older than me), and I started asking her about magic. I asked her if she'd ever experienced magic, and she said she had. I asked her why she thought it was real. How could she know if it was just in her mind or not. She answered: "Why would it matter?"

It was an interesting answer. She honestly wasn't concerned about whether magic was objectively real. It was the internal reality that mattered. I think the reason this made such an impact on me was that it made Wicca seem less like a religion to me. Not something competing with Judaism, if you see what I mean. Oh, it had religious trappings, and there were things in it that would have been outright avodah zarah had I ever done them (I didn't), but it's really only a story. And stories aren't dangerous.

I don't remember if it was R or S who recommended the book The Spiral Dance to me. But it was a great intro. The one quote I remember best from it was:
Wicca is a religion of poetry, rather than a religion of theology.
How about that? And the book went into how in Wicca, you get different parts of yourself to communicate with one another. And all I could think was, "If this ever took over, therapists would be out of business." I can't help but think that it's a very healthy thing to learn how to get the various parts of your psyche to recognize and deal with the other parts. Hell, just recognizing the various parts that we all have in us is a big step.

Also, even when Wiccans do get into the issue of deity, a commonly held view is "All the gods are one god, all the goddesses one goddess, and the god and goddess are one." I don't know how much clearer it can be that this view is not truly polytheistic. Someone who really holds this way is only dealing with aspects of One Creator, rather than multiple deities. Sure, interacting with them on an individual level is a no-no for Jews (though I'm not sure that it's all that different from meditating on a single sefirah), but it seems perfectly acceptable for non-Jews.

And I figured that the frum community was never going to accept me, so why not go with this? I never -- and I need to emphasize this, as strange as it may seem -- never changed my convictions about Judaism. I was no longer an Orthoprax Jew, but I was still Orthodox in the sense that my Torah convictions were still alive and kicking. Kicking me, mostly. There was no way on earth that I was going to join one of the heterodox Jewish movements. I see them and Christianity and Islam all as religions which are just mistaken breakaways from real Judaism. Wicca wasn't. It was completely separate.

And while the reality of magic may not have been important to S, I can say from personal experience that it is real. Or rather, that it can be. I'm still convinced that 99% of all so-called magic is a hoax.

So why'd I leave Wicca? Oh, that's the easy part. My 4.5 months in California in 1997 were trippy. I drove off a 300' cliff and turned the first car I ever owned into tinfoil. I was in such pain that I can hardly think about it. Among other things, S, who R and I used to call Aunt S, and who was the one person I could talk to about issues between me and R... well, suffice it to say that it's coming up on their eighth anniversary.

And I'd been planning on moving back to Israel anyway, before I met R. And I'd been corresponding with a friend online during the whole mess who was living in Israel at the time, and she picked up the pieces of my broken heart (damn, if that isn't poetic), and I moved back to Israel and moved in with her, and we've been together now for 7.5 years, and our daughter is 5 years old.

See... I could never be frei in Israel. Maybe it's the thing the Ramban said about the Torah having been given for Eretz Yisrael, and that keeping the mitzvot outside of Israel was almost a kind of zecher of the real thing. A way to keep in practice until we got back to the real world. Maybe it's because I know how precarious things are in Israel, and didn't want to tip the scales. Whatever it was, I just could not even conceive of continuing my rebellion if I was back in Israel.

So I didn't.


Blogger pacatrue said...

Superconfragulations on getting your story published. First, I am a total stranger who clicked on the interest in my profile "understanding the world" and you came up, so I'm mostly saying 'hi'. Also, your blog so far is pretty interesting to me because 1) I know little about wicca, and 2) I know little about orthodox judaism, and so, to me, that means you are someone I want to read. Cause if I already knew it, what would be the point? Also congrats on, 7 years was it, with your partner. And umm yeah, please keep the blog going, because it is a good read. I mean you have tackled sexuality, love, and religion all in a few days - most people are still talking about the crappy thing their boss said today or some such. Anyway, hi. My blog is over at pacatrue.blogspot.com. Hmmm, now let's see who else I can meet through this blog profile linking....

6:02 PM  
Blogger enleaver said...

hey there, do write more about wicca and judaism cos i'm quite interested to know more about those two. i am raised a protestant christian. wonder if you've heard about the grace message that has been going around for some years now. it's really good, have been blessed and liberated from it. u can try searching for tapes at new creation church's (singaporean church) websites. they sell dvds as well, recorded sermons. anyways, i have a blog too at http://valerene.blogspot.com. do read if you are free and comment! i love reading comments! see ya around and good luck!

11:36 AM  
Blogger Dumb Insolence said...

Oh! Looks like you've already had 2 comments from 'strangers'. I was just browsing strangers' blogs and yours grabbed me. You talk about the deep stuff I intended on writing about when I first started my blog, but instead I just talk about the random events that effect me every day. Yours was a very fascinating read. Keep updating! It was very enlightening.

12:12 PM  

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