Christianity

“The Jewish History ended in 70 AD”

“The Jewish History ended with the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD, as it regards Palestine, since then, for 1940 years its heritage has been Christian-Muslim”

where would you think you’ll find this sentence, printed on one of a series of colorful posters advocating the declaration of the Al-Aqusa Mosque as World Heritage, by the way. Whatever you thought: think again. I just found it in one of United Nations Organisation Vienna HQ’s conference facilities.

Seriousely, if I wouldn’t quite know what to think about UNO already I’d be severely shocked. Luckily, though, I’ve already had enough of UN and it’s officials so it feels more like “and I had hoped so much there wouldn’t be any of it this time

Hope dies last.

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Children’s Believes

Shalom and Merry Meet everybody,

Back home in Austria – which at the moment is covered in snow just like you’d find it on postcards – for the holidays I’ve had little time for my blog, however found a beautiful poem at A Few Stitches Short which I’d like to post for you:

At Christmas time I believe the things that children do.

I believe with English children that holly placed in windows will protect our homes from evil.

I believe with Swiss children that the touch of edelweiss will charm a person with love.

I believe with Italian children that La Befana is not an ugly doll but a good fairy who will gladden the heart of all.

I believe with Greek children that coins concealed in freshly baked loaves of bread will bring good luck to anyone who finds them.

I believe with German children that the sight of a Christmas tree will lessen hostility among adults.

I believe with French children that lentils soaked and planted in a bowl will rekindle life in people who have lost hope.

I believe with Dutch children that the horse Sleipner will fly through the sky and fill the earth with joy.

I believe with Swedish children that Jultomte will come and deliver gifts to the poor as well as to the rich.

I believe with Finnish children that parties held on St.Stephen’s Day will erase sorrow.

I believe with Danish children that the music of a band playing from a church tower will strengthen humankind.

I believe with Bulgarian children that sparks from a Christmas log will create warmth in human souls.

I believe with American children that the sending of Christmas cards will build friendships.

I believe with all children that there will be peace on earth.

– Daniel Roselle

Here in Austria, by the by, children believe in the Christkind, the “Christ Child”, basically a special child angel of Christmas who rides a sleigh laden with gifts all the way to people’s homes. Before Christmas children would write lists of wishes to the Christkind. In Upper Austria there even is a place called Christkindl where children can send those lists of wishes to. Also people would send their holiday wishes there so they got a post stamp saying “Christkindl” before being relayed to their recipient by the post office. I remember my family used to have small wooden dolls featuring the Christkind as christmas tree adornments, which would feature it on its sleigh as well as on skies and always wearing those cute red-white woolen hats.

Media and advertisement companies have been trying to replace the local custom of the Christkind with the globalized Coca-Cola version of Santa Clause for some years now, but it seems to me that the harder they try to get rid of the Christkind the more stubborn the people of Austria grow holding on to it. There are groups on Facebook, there are stickers … there’s just all you’d need for a decent rally. It’s an important part of our identity and childhood memories, after all. No matter where life or religious perspectives led us – as far as I am concerned.

all christmasy

yours,

Migdalit

The Imbred Antisemitism of Upper Austria

Hello there,

Reading „der Lindwurm“’s blog on an Austrian Nazi-guy in a Klagenfurt hospital I started wondering about how much really is left of Nazi opinion in Austria. As a matter of fact the whole topic never was anyhow important to me until – and this awas mostly good luck – I ended up going to Tel Aviv. The only story of my own I can share here is on Skinheads in the Austrian town of Ried – besides Braunau the one Upper Austrian town to be known for a serious Skinhead problem. When visiting friends in Ried as a teenager I got to know first-hand about a „Skins night out“ – even if only later I learnt the term to go with it. We were just enjoying ourselves when we heard drunken singing comming close. I couldn’t even understand the words but the locals knew very well. And they knew the night was over; we went back home and in the next morning I saw the windows that had been destroyed by multiple flying objects.

Skinheads, true, but I have always had that theory that if you shaved the head of some other drunk, hitting-each-other youthgroup and put them in the midst of a Skinhead gang nobody would recognize – and vice versa. (I would love to try this one day!) I have never perceived Skinheads as a problem of nazi revival, but rather as a problem of empty youth’s heads filled with the first brainless slogan that came their way, paired with violence aired at the first target available. There is no nazi motive behind scaring other teenagers and breaking random windows. All there is as a motive is the orgasm of power in a group.

However I have a very dear and good Jewish Israeli friend – who has never actually been to Germany and to Austria only later – who wouldn’t get tired of explaining to me that Germans and Austrians were racist, antisemitic nazis in the midst of their heard as if it was bred into both peoples. When I had her over for Christmas / Yule a year later she told me she was afraid. She told me to think twice whom I told she was a Jew. But she trusted me enough to come.

There sure is trouble when you are actively looking for it. My father – to whom I owe the delight in debates and politics – said one sentence she took as a sign for hidden antisemitism and she would be telling me she told me for the rest of her stay. It was the old thing about „The Jews killed Jesus“ she keeps pointing at as the cause of the inbred antisemitism of Europe. And of course he – he’s my dad, remember – said so exactly because I had dropped the phrase would send her ablaze. My father might be Christian, but he is no kind of after-the-book Christian, but one by heard and daily life. Even if „the Jews“ indeed killed Jesus it would be no more for him then – plain – history. Besides before S. got me started on the issue I had never heard a sentence like „The Jews killed Jesus“, nor had I ever been aware of anyone using it to push antisemitism.

What I was pretty aware of during and before those weeks she spent with me in Austria was the out-of-the-book Austrian hospitality that arose as soon as I announced her comming. People all the way from my family to my friends made such an efford! People kept my telephone busy asking questions about kosher cusine. My dad, for instance, who runs a restaurant had invited us over for the staff Christmas dinner. He’s normally doing Austrian cuisine full of pork, creamy sauces and butter as a basic ingredience to every dish imaginable. S. would just offer she’d stick to vegetables but by dad wouldn’t have any of it. I don’t know how many hours I spent on the phone with him figuring out how to change the dinner so S. would have a decent meal. Funny enough that way we created a dish – a kind of a chicken „Schweinsbraten“ – that has made it to his menue as a low-fat alternative afterwards. People at the dinner – as far as their English supported it – were really great too. They were so warm and interested in Israel and kosher kitchen. Not from the conflict-perspecitve and not from the Jew-as-something-odd-perspecitive but simply from the „What do you eat there?“ „What are beautiful places to go?“ „Do you ever get to see snow?“ kind of angle. Exactly this was the naive, genuine reaction of random Austrians to the first ever Israeli and Jew they had met.

My mom made an efford showing off Austria. I know she was absolutely enjoying it. So we drove down to Gmunden – which is were the Alps start – and though it was terribly cold and we had a good laugh about S. being clad like a Yeti it was magic. We took a cable car up one of the mountains driving over the mist that covered the valley. At the snowy top of the mountain we had a breathtaking view at mountain tops rising over the mist. It looked like in a cheesy movie and my mom nearly bust from pride when S. pointed out it could stand besides the view of the Himalaya.

No, as far as (Upper) Austrians go, there definitely is no imbred racism or antisemitism or alike. There wasn’t a single raise of an eyebrow during all the stay that would have let me assume somebody objecting S. as a Jew or Israeli. There weren’t any second thoughts on whom to have her meet or where to take her to. What was there, instead, was an overwhelming hospitality I’ve heard people report on but had, until then, never experienced first-hand. Hospitality and pride showing off a small country I openly declare deserves it.

yours,

Migdalit

A little Story about a Christian and a Pagan

Hello and Shabbat Shalom out there,

in General the relationship between Pagans and Christians is believed to be one dominated by tension. Often enough it indeed is. However lately a story happened to me that prove just the opposite. One of the small, seemingly unimportant stories of life, I want to share with you for, I think, it’s those small stories, not the big ones, that really are life. Just as John Lennon said:

Life is what is going on while you are busy making plans!

There is a email support group I joined some years ago, during a difficult time of my life. After the troubles went over I decided to stay for one reason or another and so I am receiving those email until today. Sometimes I post an update about my life but other then that remain silent. It’s mostly still the same people like back then – perhaps it’s just not really possible to join a more then ten years old support group.

However yesterday morning I read a pretty desperate email by a long-term member whose life was giving her quite a lot of shit at the moment. Knowing that the group in general had been rather silent lately I decided to give it a try and write her an email in answer, so at least she would know somebody was emphasizing and wishing her the best. As it happened in the last paragraph she, who has always been a person finding strength in her believe in god, also mentioned how she was losing her faith after all, feeling left alone by god. Where was he when all that shit happened after all?

So there was I, a Pagan for nearly a decade, trying to comfort a religious Christian woman. I could, for sure, just have skipped the paragraph, leaving it to somebody else to answer. But in a daring moment I decided not to. Instead I decided to write to her about god, for I felt it was important to her.

In the end I wrote a few lines how I, as a Pagan, could emphasize, had known the feeling in my own life. I wasn’t sure how she, as a Christian, would react to my confession of being Pagan, but doing all that talking and writing about coming out of the broom closet lately, I was ready to give it a try. So I wrote to her about how it felt from my Pagan perspective and how I thought believe, any kind of, was a treasure, especially in difficult times and I asked her not to give up on it but instead find a way of believing there was a reason behind it and that, one day, it somehow would be worth it – even if it was hard to trust in it at the moment.

This morning I got an answer to my email. She thanked me like a thousand times for answering and told me how much it had meant to her, afterward commented on some things I had written, some suggestions I had made, and finally came to my paragraph about god and faith. For sure she, too, could have ducked out of the situation ignoring it or commenting about how I, as a Pagan, was unfit to tell her about the Christian god. But she did neither. Instead she wrote how those lines had sent her crying. How much she thanked me for those words and how good they had done to her. I too was on the edge of crying. Not only was I feeling so grateful that I had been able to give support to somebody in need, but also did I have that mighty feeling of a special moment. Two email had, somehow, built a bridge without words across a torrential river that has the potential of whole dividing worlds.

It’s after all those small, magic moments that can make a difference.

Blessed Be

yours,

Migdalit

Freedom of Religionis not not being Burnt

Blessed Be,

I often babble about how Paganism just is a natural part of my life, therefor I don’t had to show it off or do all those rituals others do. However some days I wonder whether this is more then an excuse for not having the balls for doing something that might be considered odd to the world. In fact it’s all about the broom closet again. Being a „kitchen witch“, as I am, with little need of magical supplies and tools whatsoever, hiding me being a Pagan is pretty simple. Like in if I never told my common-law-partner he possibly wouldn’t know by now. And of course the very same makes it pretty easy for my surroundings to accept me being Pagan: They just don’t have to deal with it. They don’t have to face any kind of issues that might be connected to me being Pagan.

But what was to happen if that ever changed? What would happen if I claimed my rights as a human being and as a Pagan. Namely the one of freakin’ acting as a Pagan. The one of not hiding my religion and my believes – even though, like many Pagans, I keep telling myself I am not hiding them but rather just not showing them off unnecessarily. What if I put „Pagan“ on that data sheet handed to me by my company? Writing „none“ for religion’s not quite the truth, isn’t it? Until recently I could still go with writing „roman catholic“, which – go ahead, blame me for it – is the religion I was brought up in after all. But now I am officially no longer roman catholic, no longer Christian, so now I’m in troubles. The registration office at the town hall made it pretty easy for me these days supplying an online featuring a drop-down menu of choices featuring „none/other“ next to mainly Christian confessions (actually Buddhism or Islam would have been „none/other“ too). So no problem there. But what about forms without a drop down list? What am I to put there?

Imagine every Pagan would just put „Pagan“ in any form of that kind handed to him. Total numbers of Pagans might come as a shock – to Pagans before all others. I’ve just recently read an estimate of numbers of Pagans in South Africa which featured about 45’000 – 50’000 individuals out of a 43’000’000 population – of which a majority is black and I assume, as the paper was talking about European paths, those Pagans would mostly be found among the 13’000’000 white South Africans therefor Pagan numbers among the white population might reach up to 0,4%. For the US there are reasonable estimates of up to 500’000 Pagans. As far as Europe goes I wouldn’t know about any estimates in numbers, but I’d guess percentages are considerably higher then in the US or South Africa – adding perhaps another couple of hundreds of thousand Pagans from Europe. Add other Caucasian-inhabited ares, such as Australia, New Zealand, Australia, other African states etc.

So all together – globally – the European traditions Pagan community might easily spread to more then a million individuals. Can you imagine that? A million Pagans? Imagine a million people worldwide would, all of a sudden, handle their Paganism as if they were Christian. Have you ever seen a Christian writing „none“ for a religion on a registration sheet? Even if he happened to live in a country which’s not mainly Christian? Most of the time Christians living in non-Christian surroundings tend to make quite an effort to show off they’re Christian. They’re different to the rest. Which is, by the by, one reason why they’re pretty easy a target to all kind of troubles, as opposed to the virtually invisible Pagan population. Why don’t Pagans do that too? Why don’t we write „Pagan“ in registration sheets and why don’t we wear our pentacles with our heads held high just like Christians wear their crosses? Why don’t we go out there and claim our freakin’ right of religious freedom? As in: Being able to marry the Pagan way. Being able to be buried the Pagan way on a non-Christian, a Pagan cemetery. Being able to celebrate our holidays out in the fields just as we used to, instead of hiding in the basement with a fake may pole. And freakin’ being able to educate our children the Pagan way without fear they might be subject to harassment or worse because they’re „odd“.

Common opinion has it in Europe you’d have all the freedom you need to do either of that and as for people knowing your religion it’s nobody’s business anyway. I’ll just ask the next Christian confronting me with that kind of an argumentation to hide during next Christmas. Preferably in a non-Christian country where there’ll be no Christmas decoration. No Christmas songs in the radio. No Christmas sale craze. No nothing that will remind them it’s Christmas. And, of course, no day off for Christmas.

I happened to live in Germany for last Beltaine. Not too far from Broken, actually, and of course I would have simply loved to seize that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join the Beltaine celebrations there. To actually spend a Pagan holiday together with other Pagan people at a place my ancestors actually went to, instead of in my flat dreaming of what things could be like. What a pity our employer had no clue what I was up to and, just a few days prior to it, decided my partner was to work late shift on Beltaine night, which would have me have him home by about 10 pm. So what were we to do? Lift our heads, go to that boss and tell him I was Pagan and this was our freakin’ Christmas? The most important day of the year? A night like no other and he needed to change shifts just for that one night so we could get there in time for the celebrations? Could anyone out there actually imagine doing that?

Well, we couldn’t. So my partner went off to work and I spent the day at home, writing poetry and pitying myself. I couldn’t even bring myself to decorate the flat with some flowers or so. Do anything Beltainy. By the time he came home I was crying. And this was pretty much just how I spent most of my Beltaine night. My partner, of course, was the great guy he always is offering me to drive to the Broken in the middle of the night so I could get at least some hours of the celebrations but what use would there be arriving at a party that had already peaked? I rather stayed at home and cried some more. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I won’t be in Germany for next Beltaine anymore. In fact I likely won’t be on the Northern Hemisphere anymore, so given that my next Beltaine ‘s going to be a Samain, I’ve quite some time until the next Great Holiday to be spoilt.

„So what?“, you’ll likely say now, „has happened to anyone of us. Sure it’s sad, but that’s the way things go.“ Now imagine my little story would have been about Christmas. How many readers do you think would have shaken their heads in disbelief? How many would have been outraged? How could you possibly deny a young family the night of Christmas? How can you reason for a young woman crying at Christmas night? How many Pagans would have emphasized the same way with the unfortunate Christian woman caught alone at Christmas? In the end most of us are still first generation Pagans and have grown up in Christian families remembering Christmas celebrations very well. Could you imagine working late shift on Christmas without people even noticing it? Staying at home alone without as much as a family member dropping by making sure you’re all right?

But then, my little story’s about a Pagan woman, not a Christian one. And it’s about Beltaine, not Christmas. So most likely nobody’s ever to give a crap about it. People seriously still believe freedom of religion is when you’re not burnt for what you believe in.

Brave new world. Really.

So long

yours,

Migdalit

That makes a Heathen’s Day

Merry Meet everybody,

remember back when I started my blog in April 2008 when I desperately tried to put together a blogroll that would include some really great Pagan sites and failed? It’s been a while since – hard to believe that I’ve already had this blog for a year now and, despite occasional lazy- and uncreativeness haven’t abandoned it yet 😉

However it seems like I am finally finding the odd one out who’s writing about more then spells and recipes and that “more” isn’t limited to Christian bashing (though I can understand that it can be funny from time to time – and actually some Christians just deserve any other). Check out “A Heathen’s Day“, written by a mid-50ies cosmopolitan academic Asatrú currently living in the US. You’re absolutely gonna love him as much as I do.

He did write one on Pagans and Jews by the by, however they aren’t quite good off there:

[…] You know what’s sickening about all this bs? I will tell you. The rampant anti-Gentilism (anti-Paganism, if you will). The Philistines were Mycenaeans, as archaeologists have proven. The Jews hated them. […]

[…] So we see in the Hebrew Bible the tide of ethnic cleansing. We see it again in the Hasmonean era, when the Jewish kings tried to restore the Israel of mythology and killed, drove out of their homes, and forcibly converted Gentiles, burning their cities when they resisted.[…]

source

It’s interesting to finally read something on the Israel – Palestine – Gaza issue that has become so important for me, written by another Pagan. One, who has possibly never been to Israel, knows it from news, his study, and – most of all – for its part in the development of Christianity. Another perspective, less preoccupied by personal experience, perhaps more free-minded then mine. I mean: I’ve never made a secret of me being not quite objective especially when it comes to Israel. Actually I just don’t believe in blogs being an objective media (well I don’t believe in objective media at all but this is going too far off here).

I always reported that being a Pagan in Israel I felt fine – way better then being one in Austria or Germany. There indeed was one occasion where “Pagan” was been related to the Romans who enslaved Jews, ergo “evil“, but that was a one-time-thing soon to be solved as my (Jewish) friend said: “But her people were genocided by the Romans too! That’s other Pagans!” The old the enemy-of-my-enemy-issue again. However does Hrafnkell’s article make me reconsider? I read it a couple of times but all I end up with is: It’s just true. It is true that the Israelis/Jews never belonged to Gaza (however nor did today’s “Palestinians” who are on no proven way related to the Philistine population of the strip as far as I am concerned). And it’s true that before the Jewish people (which according to the Hebrew Bible descend from some place in today’s Iraq) there have been other peoples living in erez ysrael. In fact there have likely even been other people in Europe before what would later evolve into “Celts” and “Norse people” –  my ancestors – came there. It seems like there might have been a major culture clash (as for not to call it a “genocide”) when neolithic people arrived from the east (though it’s not yet clear whether this was “culture transfer” or actual migration or what of both to which extend). It’s kinda hard to draw the line and decide who “belongs” where … Well anyway: I did point your nose at the article.

There’s another one I particularly liked. It’s an piece as written in April on the sacred in Paganism. And just while writing this Hrafnkell accidentally gives the one of the best definitions of Paganism I have found as far as what we believe in is considered (I can’t count anymore how often I’ve been asked what makes a Pagan a Pagan and what we believe in … and I can’t count anymore how often I’ve stood speechless not knowing what to reply; how to word the million of things I feel about being Pagan):

Tacitus wrote of the Germans in 98 CE, “This is what they consider the strongest of bonds, the sacredness of the home, the gods of wedded life.”

So in the broadest possible sense, what is sacred to the Heathen mind is the community. The community, the Inangarðr, is the home of luck. In it, people dwell ”in luck, in frith, in honour.” while the wilds, the utangarð “is waste, the home of evil and unluck.” (Grönbech, 111). The wild is a joyless place, lacking not only the comforts of home, but the necessities of life.

source

It just lately at Beltaine struck me how useless being a Pagan is in a way if there’s no (Pagan) community to share with. You just cannot possibly celebrate any of our fests alone … you need other people; a circle, a family, a coven – just something. Being Pagan just means being part of a community; without that it’s just not the real thing …

However the rest of the article is really worthwhile too. It goes on about Christianity and how it tends to break apart the community first when coming to “rescue” some “savages” and then about how the principles of 1000 CE Vikings just can’t be applied to 2009 CE Asatrú although, in the end, they are worshipping the same gods, trying to follow the same part. I do absolutely agree with that one too. Just have a look at other religions (I’ve just had the religions-debate with Avarra, however I still consider Paganism a religion for the reason that my personal definition of the word is another then hers.): They do evolve and they do mirror the changes of society. Just look how much Christianity has changed over the last fifty years. Certainly there are a lot of old-fashioned Christians sticking to the whole idea of no-sex-before-marriage and crap like that but then there are a lot of modern, liberal Christians too who are deeply religious people in the midst of their heard but still live modern lifes for they just adapted their religion. And of course the same is true for modern Muslims, Jews and other religions. So why for the god’s sake is Paganism supposed to be just the same then 1000 years ago? Isn’t that kinda ridiculous?

Well I see I’ve given you plenty of things to think of today. Certainly enough to get you over the weekend. If not check out The Pagan Blogger’s Network which I just joined. This is where I stumbled over A Heathen’s Day and there’s certainly more where that comes from.

so far a wonderful weekend and shabbat shalom to all of you

yours

Migdalit