Recently, I was given the honor of an invitation to the Etsy Witches' Cottage team, where I've taken on the role of recruiter (ahem, I mean "hearth keeper") and have been meeting a lot of really nice people. Now, those who know me in real life are probably saying, "Whaaa? But you're Catholic! I remember when you used to sing in church choir!" So what gives?
It's a funny thing about spirituality. I have found throughout my life that the more I learned about my own religion, the more I became obsessed with learning about other religions and practices. In college and law school, it was Islam. I took some classes at Yale, and then in law school, met my best friend in the world, who is half Muslim. Studies in Islamic law led to further studies in Judaic law, and then a general interest in learning everything that I possibly could about Judaism (and I have to admit that living in New York City definitely helped with that.)
Over the past few years, I've become interested in the pagan traditions and in divination, which is something I hadn't considered since high school. It was the 90's, tarot cards were the "in" thing (thank you, My So-Called Life), and in my very Protestant high school, reading tarot was a way to stand out from the crowd. Now, however, I look at these things through the eyes of an adult, and wonder what it is about paganism that fascinates me so much.
And I think I know. There's something about the idea of an intent-based religion that is very appealing. I'm sure that it's why so many young women, in particular, are drawn to Wicca. Having been raised in a religion that was based entirely on faith and prayer (or as it sometimes feels, begging for God's intervention), the idea that you can control your fate through the power of focus and intent is the most liberating idea. Spellwork, though very similar to praying, in fact, has the added elements of making you feel in control of your destiny, getting you to focus on making changes in your life to achieve your goals, and allowing you to ask the universe for change without feeling guilty for wanting it. Though a certain amount of faith is required, that little element of control is, for me, the difference between praying and casting a spell.
These are all intriguing ideas that I've had yet to put down in the written word. But, having learned all about Islam and Judaism, why not learn about Paganism as well? I've met so many wonderful witches and pagans in my travels as an Etsy seller and in my knitting circles on Ravelry. So this year, I plan to take advantage of their knowledge to learn about something that is relatively new to me. I've joined the Pagan Reading Challenge, to which I plan to take a rather interdiscplinary approach, and have pledged to learn as much as possible about reading runes and learning about their history, which is something that I've wanted to do for my entire life, but which I've always found to be incredibly daunting. Most of all, I want to learn about pagan history... having been a history major in college, I find myself fascinated with the wheel of the year and the pagan sabbats' correspondence to the Catholic holidays with which I grew up. Even my new job at the law library has allowed me to order books on law and magic, spiritualism, and witch trials throughout history. What a rich field of knowledge to read about and learn!
To honor my teammates in the Witches' Cottage, I've put together a treasury entitled "Witches Sing the Blues." Check out these lovely, healing, calming items and the wonderful and interesting people who make them.
Nota bene: This post constitutes no more than my own rambling musings on my religion and my fascination with those that differ from mine. I'm certainly no expert on religion, and certainly not on any of the pagan religions! These are just my thoughts and speculations as I embark on a new intellectual journey.