Tuesday, June 21, 2011

You, Me & Religion Blog Interview

י״ט בסיון תשע"א
Alban Heruin 21

A multi-faith blog exploring religion (You, Me & Religion) will be posting an interview they requested of me, scheduled for publication December 24th. I just emailed my answers to the interview questions I was asked to the blog owner, so I'll share the interview here with my friends and readers as well.

My name

Online, I typically am known by the name Liorah Lleucu / Myfanwy.

Introduction and Websites

I am fifty years old, a divorced mother of 3 adult children and grandmother of 6 grandchildren, with my seventh grandchild on the way. Both a registered professional nurse and a biochemist by education, I was born and currently live in the Midwest. I am a Celtic Jewish American with Welsh, British, Irish, Germanic, Jewish and Native American ancestries. My maternal ancestries are Welsh, British and Jewish. My paternal ancestries are British, Irish, German and Native American.

http://walking-on-fire.blogspot.com/
http://www.etsy.com/shop/LiorahLleucu

1) What religion do you practice?

Jewitchery to put it into one word. I am an eclectic witch whose nature-based ritual practice combines elements of Celtic Witchcraft and quasi-traditional Kabbalistic Judaism, with splashes of Germanic Paganism and Native American Shamanism thrown into the mix - the ancient traditions of my Ancestors. My religion is idiosyncratic and doesn’t fit neatly into any category, but Jewitchery is a term that most closely describes my religious practice.

2) Are you a convert/revert or were you raised within this religion? If you converted, what did you need to do to convert? And what did you practice prior to converting?

This is a complicated question for me to answer. I wasn’t raised a Jewitch, but I was indeed born one. Raised Christian, I rejected Christianity as a religious path for me in my late twenties or early thirties, and returned to Torah (the tradition of my Jewish ancestors) in 1996 (formally through a Beit Din and mikveh immersion in 1997 under the auspices of the Reform Judaism movement), from there, progressing my study of Judaic Kabbalah and Jewish Law in Liberal to Hasidic environments. Not raised Jewishly, as a Reform Jew at the time of my return to Torah, I ritually converted. My mother’s mother’s mother’s mother and father were both observant Jews, so halachically (by Jewish religious Law), I am Jewish by birth and according to Orthodox ways, conversion was actually unnecessary to reclaim my Jewish heritage as part of the Jewish people. I reclaimed my Celtic heritage, my place among the Celtic people, and returned to Witchcraft (the tradition of my Celtic ancestors) in 2006 (formally through a self-initiation ritual), combining both ancient Ancestral traditions (Judaism and Witchcraft) into a spiritual path uniquely fit to me, best described by the term Jewitch. At this point in my journey, my concept of the Divine is pantheistic-atheistic (similar to Reconstructionist Judaic conceptions of the Divine, I believe), naturalistic, earth-based and as a woman, focuses on Divine Feminine constructs. My studies and practice currently focus on traditional herbalism, artisan craftwork, meditation, Torah study, study of mythic folklore, and using mystical alphabets to channel creative consciousness. Sacred alphabets I work with are Hebrew, Ogham and Runes.

3) Within your religion are there degrees of observance (ie. Orthodox,conservative, moderate, liberal)? What are the defining differences between the degrees of observance?

Certainly. There are other Jewitches but many, if not most, were raised in Judaism, unlike me. However, like me, in Jewitchery they are reclaiming the pagan and shamanic heritage of our Ancestors - so in that way, we are the same but arriving as Jewitches from different angles.

4) Within your religion what degree of observance are you (ie. Orthodox,conservative, moderate, liberal) ? Why did you choose this degree of observance?

I’m a mutt. In some ways, I am all of these. I’m artistic and very mystically oriented, so I lean toward meticulous metaphysical Orthodox observance. I’m a rationalist, so I tend toward a liberal religious emphasis on ethics and critical thinking. I live in the Bible belt, so I’m a realist and recognize that my observance level is unavoidably subject to my surroundings and circumstances.

5) What is the Afterlife within your religion? For example: what happens when a person dies? Are there places for reward/punishment? (such as a Heaven/Hell concept)

I’m an anomaly. I was born remembering my soul journey into physical existence and the entire story (in a very wholistic sense) of my Being. There is more to what we are as human beings than may be discerned while within a physical body. I do not remember either a heaven or hell as commonly taught – such is not my experience of Being. More than this I will not say.

6) In your opinion, does everyone make it into heaven/paradise? If they do not, why?

I don’t believe in heaven and hell as commonly taught, so no one, in my opinion, makes it to either of them. Based on my experience and remembrances, I do believe that every living creature is an amazingly rare and treasured spark of the Divine who made it into physical existence against highly improbable odds. So, my experience of remembering informs me that the existence of every living creature is a miracle whose full value is totally beyond normative comprehension. Every living creature is an indispensable part of the Whole, and to where we are going, we will all surely arrive.

7) What makes your religion a good fit for you?

Because it allows me to be true to myself, to evolve, and to get to where I am going.

8) What are your holy days and what do you do to celebrate them?

I observe all of the Traditional Jewish and Celtic Pagan holy days. It is my birthright to do so. I observe them in a myriad of ways, sometimes with ritual, sometimes not. Like I wrote earlier, I am a realist. My ritual practice has evolved and shape-shifted many times over the years. Sometimes I feel like a nut, sometimes I don't :)

9) Do you consider people of other faiths to be your friends?

Yes.

10) Would you ever join people of another faith to celebrate one of their holy days? Please explain why?

It would depend on the context and purpose. I value interfaith sharing within a context of mutual respect.

11) What are your thoughts on the burka, and Shariah Law?

I really am not qualified to make a fair comment on either of those things. These two things exist within the context of a culture and religion which is not my own.

12) Are women allowed to hold religious office (priest, minister, rabbi, iman etc) in your religion and how do you feel about it?

Yes.

13) Does your place of worship segregate? If yes, how does this make you feel?

I honor the Divine in private spaces generally.

14) How much does your religion affect your daily life and how much thought do you give it when making a decision? Does it affect in any way your decision on abortion, gay marriage, etc?

The very act of breathing is a religious act for me – there is no separation between my daily life and my religious life.

15) How would you react/feel if your child wished to marry outside your religion?

My adult children do not identify as Jewitches and are raising my grandchildren a Christians. I honor the right of my children to choose their own path toward Divine consciousness. We are all different as human beings, yet even so, we all share a wonderful ultimate human Destiny, so I’m not worried.

17) In your opinion, if someone is not of your faith, will they go to hell?

No. I don’t believe in hell.

18) Who do you think is not a practicing ----- in your religion and why? ie who in the public domain claims to speak for your religion? Do you agree with them or not?

I can’t think of anyone.

19) Have you ever been the target of a hate crime? Please explain.

A hate crime – no. Illegal discrimination – yes. I’d rather not explain. It’s complicated and not useful to any discussion here.

20) Do you ever feel like your religion devalues you?

No.

21) Does your religion give you peace of mind?

Yes, absolutely – peace of mind and more importantly, deep joy.

22) Do you believe in reincarnation? Why or why not?

Yes.

3 comments:

~ Jayne ~ said...

I thought the essence of question #20 to be odd.The interview was insightful & given with conviction.

Myfanwy said...

Thanks :)

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Peter

Dare to be true to yourself.