I Married a Witch
A 'conscientious objector' to religion discovers there's room in his home for Durga, the Virgin Mary, and Shamanic healings.
When my girlfriend first told me she was a witch, I immediately asked the question I think anyone would, that is, anyone who's seen "The Wizard of Oz."
"Are you a good witch, or a bad witch?"
That prompted a lesson on the lexicon of Earth-based religions. When we met she was more of a Witch and was even a member of a coven, but she never practiced Wicca, which is a specific set of religious beliefs and practices grounded in initiation into a specific tradition. Instead, she practices an individual and idiosyncratic path of Paganism, in which her main spiritual practice is shamanism, meeting the Goddesses, Gods and healing spirits in alternate realities and taking her spiritual beliefs directly from the spirits.
It was a trip to Rome when she was seven that made Caroline want to be Pagan. At the temple of the Vestal Virgins in the Forum Romanum, she realized how much she wanted a religion with goddesses, not just one, invisible God. I had a similar experience when I was eleven and visited Stonehenge. At the time, you were able to get right into the circle and even climb the stones. I sat there waiting to be contacted by the spirits.
I didn't end up pursuing a spiritual path, but Caroline began a journey that led her to study and work in many magical traditions. She is a graduate of the Three Year Program in Advanced Shamanism and Shamanic Healing, taught by Michael Harner and his Foundation for Shamanic Studies. As a shamanic healer, her initiations are given by the healing, compassionate spirits she works with, not from a lineage of humans who consciously founded a religion.
The opportunity to worship in more ways than one is something she likes and I respect about Paganism. If she chooses to worship the Virgin Mary and the Hindu pantheon, with a sprinkle of Santeria, well then mazel tov. Me, I prefer The New York Times.
Caroline says when it comes to religion I'm a conscientious objector, and it's true, I'm not a seeker. Although I was brought up as a Conservative Jew, went to Hebrew School three days a week and was even bar mitzvahed, I guess it didn't stick.
I hadn't realized how much of an "assimilated Jew" I was until we were at dinner with some friends from India who asked me to tell them the story of Passover.