Why Aren’t You Pagan Anymore?

My mom asked me that the other day. Why aren’t you pagan anymore?

And I just kinda made a noncommittal grunt in response, mostly because I have a hard time discussing my spiritual beliefs with my parents in general but also because my mom is pretty against organized religion (which includes Judaism) so although she has attempted to be supportive, she’s made her opinions on the matter pretty clear. That makes it hard to share my journey with her. However, the bigger issue in that moment was that I didn’t really know how to answer her because the answer is kind of confusing and if you’re a black and white thinker it’s actually not possible.

I’m not NOT pagan. I think my pagan/hippie/liberal leanings can coexist in harmony with my Jewish ones. But I don’t know how to explain that to anyone, really. I know most people won’t be okay with it, many people will not agree that it’s possible to be both. But here I am, being both. The biggest barrier for most people about the combination of pagan and Jewish is that Judaism makes it pretty clear that there is ONE God, capital G, who you should worship “above all others”, and people take that to mean that there’s only one god that exists and that’s the omnipotent Man Upstairs guy who is full of both wrath and mercy. And for many people who are not really acquainted with paganism(s) believe that all pagans worship and believe in many gods all equally.

The problem is, those are two misinformed assumptions about Judaism and Paganism. The more your research, the more you realize how overly-simplified and wrong those two statements are. As the saying goes, ask two Jews what Judaism is about and you’ll get three answers. Ask two pagans what paganism is about and you’ll get probably 50 answers. There are not only different movements within Judaism which have institutionalized differences in “how to be a good Jew” but within those movements you have many individuals with personal connections to their religion that differ from one another. Yes, there are plenty of Jews out there that believe in the One God, the only one out there, masculine father. But there are also Jews out there who make space for multiple faces of God, including the feminine. And others (a much smaller group, I’m sure) who worship God “above all others”, but believe in those others and have relationships with them while still following the letter of the law. And of course there are those who make a case for themselves around being both an observant Jew AND an atheist or agnostic.

Just google paganism and you get tons of sites talking about different pagan paths that vary widely not only in how they worship but WHO they worship. Paganism does not equal Wicca, with one god and one goddess, although Wicca is included under the umbrella term of paganism. Not only do they worship different gods and goddesses depending on their own path, their idea about how gods and goddesses exist also varies. Some believe in the idea that “all gods are one god”, that the many different gods we’ve come to know through research and personal experience are just different facets/personalities/manifestations of the same deity, one grand supreme being. Others, called hard polytheists, believe every deity is it’s own and that the gods and goddesses are independent of one another, and cannot be called upon interchangeably.

All this to say, religion in general isn’t black and white. And my own understanding of my spiritual path is complex, but I truly think that my beliefs taken from my pagan practice and my Jewish practice sit in harmony with one another within me. So while my rituals may have changed, and although my focus as of late has been on strengthening the rituals around Shabbat and Jewish prayer, I would not necessarily say I’m not pagan. I’m still partial to the term Jewitch, personally. That being said, there is still a lot of fear around using that term out in the real world. Being so new to Judaism, and wanting to find an accepting spiritual home, I am wary of stepping on toes or rocking the spiritual boat. I don’t want people to think I’m weird, and I certainly don’t want people to feel like I’m being blasphemous. I know in my heart I have to do this my way, regardless of what others think, but I also know that many people will want to force encourage me to do it the Right Way– the way it has always been done (whatever that means). I’m all for tradition (that’s why I love ritual so much), but I don’t want to live in a box. I want to worship how I see fit, because at the end of the day my relationship with Divinity is my own, and if I don’t worship in a way that is best for me then I’m doing myself a huge disservice, and weakening that relationship.

So…. that’s how I feel about that.

No More Pants

I’m done with pants.

I think I’ve said this before on my old blog, but I’m beginning to really get tired of pants and their tyranny. I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few years wearing pants almost exclusively because I have been so insecure about how I look in dresses and skirts, but I really hated it, sometimes taking off my pants the minute I got home. They’re itchy, they’re sometimes really constricting, and so fickle! You have to be just the right size to fit them– gain a few pounds and they suddenly try to cut off your circulation, lose a few pounds and they no longer want to stay on and you’re constantly pulling them up so you don’t show the world your undies. Dresses and skirts are a lot more forgiving and flexible (for the most part). Got a big booty? It’s okay, your a-line dress has got you covered (literally). Gained a few pounds around your middle? THE DRESS STILL FITS. Lost a few pounds? NO PROBLEM. Even if the dress is a little loose, you can just slap on a cardigan and go on with the rest of you day like a boss.

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Maybe I’m turning into Jessica Day (but WAY lazier). 

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Rules That Make Sense to Me

New rules I’ve made for myself because I’m weird:

  • When listening to music while walking, I can’t check my steps until the song is over
  • When walking  at the end of an hour, I cannot stop walking until I reach the next hour (so if it’s 2:57pm I have to walk until 3:00pm, no exceptions).
  • I have to walk at least 250 steps an hour from 9am to 7pm.
  • If I don’t make my step goal before it gets dark out, I have to pace around my apartment until I reach/surpass it (I don’t like walking outside in the dark because I fear a raccoon will attack me).
  • I cannot eat breakfast until after 10am, and I cannot eat lunch until at least 4 hours after I finish breakfast.
  • I have to take at least 30 minutes to finish a meal.
  • I have to take no more than 1 bite of food per minute when eating until I reach 30 minutes.
  • I cannot drink Smooth Move tea during the week, only on weekends (for obvious reasons).
  • I try not to eat anything after 8pm (this is the hardest habit to establish for me at the moment).

I’m sure that my coworkers and clients think I’m a little nutty because you can find walking every hour to make my step goals, back and forth from one end of the hall to the other, sometimes reading a book and sometimes just walking with determination, counting steps under my breath to make sure I reach the goal.

I Won’t.

“You’re shrinking!”

I know.

“What’s your secret? Tell me, what are you doing?”

Well I had surgery. It was a tough decision, but I knew it was time to do something. I had the surgery two months ago.

“Oh. Well good for you. Look at you, you’re shrinking!”

Yeah…

“Just don’t disappear, okay?”

I won’t.

It’s Not All Angst and Hard Times Here

I’ve been really focusing on a lot of the really difficult aspects of having weight loss surgery and just losing weight in general as a person who has an eating disorder history. This process is really hard and very triggering, and I’m not going to sugarcoat that. However, I had this surgery for a reason, and that was to improve my health, both so I can be healthy now and in the future. Although a lot of this process has been really hard on my body and mind, there are some things that have improved and I want to highlight them, both for my own sake and for the sake of those who are reading this, thinking about maybe having surgery and wondering what it’s like post-op.  Continue reading

Making Lists and Other Coping Skills

I know. I said I would write about Pesach and Beltane like two weeks ago. I truly was committed to that, I promise. However, life has been…. hard. I had a really great time at the Passover Seder I attended and I did really want to blog about it because it was so fun and made me that much more committed to converting to Judaism. It made me want to learn more, to DO more. But every time I logged onto wordpress to write, I just couldn’t muster the brain power to put my thoughts into words.

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I found the afikomen again this year, so I feel pretty good about the whole thing.

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