Thursday, December 28, 2006

Recognition, Syncretism & Jewish Diversity

For the record, for all practical purposes, I feel I have been put into cherem ever since I returned to Judaism. Even though I haven't been under a ban (to my knowledge), I am basically a pariah left to survive at the mercy of the world. This is likely due to a confluence of many reasons, of which I am left to merely speculate as to what they might be.

My teshuvah experience has not at all been pleasant, and sometimes I wonder how I have survived at all. It has not been via any help from the Jewish community. In my early thirties my life fell apart, and still today, at nearly forty-six, I have not been allowed nor enabled to recover in those areas beyond my control. I am surviving basically.

I imagine my difficult path back to Torah (which has evolved into being a Jewitch) has had the side benefit of augmenting the tendency of my natural INTJ personality not to allow myself to be "told what to do" by Rabbis who would like me to "get with the program" (now, although for many years, Rabbis would have preferred that I "just die" or something). Clearly, they have found, I am not one to get with any program just to fit in or "just die". I am not going away no matter to what remote corner of the universe they may fling me.

I am what I am and that includes being of Jewish, Celtic and Native American American ancestry. There is no one on the face of this planet or in heaven above with the power to take away my Jewish soul just because I won't "get with the program". Nor will I cut off the Celtic or Native American aspects of my neshamah just because some Rabbis want me to and their automata parrot the call. I will be Jewish my way, in a manner which respects the integrity of my neshamah, and that includes being a shamanic Jewitch. I so wish I'd have realized I was a witch much earlier in my life.

Nevertheless, now that I have recovered this part of me, I fully embrace it. There is no way I legitimately couldn't embrace it anyway. I am a witch. I am a Jewish witch. The world, Jewish and non-Jewish, can accept me or not, but what I am is not (nor ever was) determined by that acceptance or lack thereof.

Further, for the record, most of my kabbalistic learning is chassidut-based. If I had to point to a primary teacher, that would be Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh of The Inner Dimension. Many of my kabbalistic ideas have a foundation in the Hebrew letters as he has taught about them. I have little knowledge of the Kabbalah Center although I have visited and linked to various pages on its website on occasion as a reference to support various ideas. I am not averse to doing this despite the nearly universal disparagement of it among the orthodox. Likewise, I don't recognize the ban against Sabbatean kabbalah (or any similar ones against Jewitches) and have incorporated some of those kabbalistic teachings when they resonate with my experience and religious or spiritual ideas.

If I learn something from someone, the fact that the orthodox world does not accept him or her, matters not. I am going to link to the source for that learning or reference. So, I'm not sure exactly where I fall on the spectrum of Jewish belief. I have some Reconstructionist leanings as well. My secular education is rather scientific-focused, and I find intellectual Reconstructionism a welcome balance to kabbalistic Chassidut.

Yes, I am syncretic, but only in ways particular to my own "portion" of Torah. I don't blend into my practice another tradition just for the sake of doing it. The syncretism must be born of my own netivot (personal soulpaths), otherwise it would be disrespectful to the integrity of both the path I was seeking to incorporate illegitimately and to the purpose in creation for my own unique soul.

At this point in my journey, the flavors of Torah in my soul are the Jewish tradition, Celtic witchcraft and Native American shamanism. Consequently, my "syncretic" focus exists there. Clearly, no one else is like me. We are all unique and I have no doubt that there exist Jews who should embrace the Arabic ancestries which they may have. I think Sephardic Jews do this to some degree. I love Sephardic meditation music BTW, it's beautifully congruent with the shamanic aspects in my soul (so maybe there is a hidden Sephardi ancestry or soul connection in me as well).

As I've posted before, I practice a unique form of Abulafian kabbalah and I know Abulafia held Sufism in very high regard, incorporating some of its teachings into his teachings just as I incorporate some of the teachings of Celtic witchcraft and Native American shamanism into mine. Clearly then, focused syncretism is not without precedent among the sages and has a place among the netivot of Klal Yisrael.

Many may or may not like my ideas or me and that's every person's right to decide. But one thing is surely certain - no one can tell me who or what I am or am not.

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