About Charlie

I was actually going to write this post two weeks ago, following the Charlie Hebdo attacks on 7 January that rocked half of Europe – and quite possibly a good part of the remaining world.

I do not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. – Voltaire

As much as I can relate to the epidemic of “Je suis Charlie” postings on Facebook I could not quite go along with it. Is it okay to ridicule someone else’s believes by publishing caricatures violating every inch of religious feeling? No, it most certainly is not. But it is of course even less okay to decide to go out and kill journalists just because you do not agree with what they are publishing. Just as the famous Voltaire quote goes freedom of speech only works when it is granted even to those we disagree with most.

So far for the regular European perspective; the notion of standing up and saying “enough is enough”. But for me, of course, there is more to it than meets the eye. And these things are right at the centre of the themes this blog has always been about: My connection to Israel and her people and my own identity as a European Pagan.

(c) Rafael Mantesso

(c) Rafael Mantesso

As far as the Israeli perspective goes the Charlie Hebdo attacks and the aftermath were a sad wake-up call that radical Islam is a force to be reckoned with even in the very heard of Europe. And to add insult to injury there was, of course, the whole Pallywood circus about how allegedly Mossad directed the attacks in order to blame radical Islam and stall peace talks in Israel. (What peace talks exactly that would be referring to right now and how it could stall them is, of course, a completely different question).

The sad truth is that Jews in Europe still do not feel safe. And sometimes I catch myself thinking that no, maybe they indeed should not. In France, I read the other day 50% of all racist attacks are directed against Jews who make only 1% of the population. At the moment there hardly seems to be a week going by without a Synagogue or other place frequented by Jews burning somewhere in Europe; 70 years after the end of Jewish prosecution in Europe Jews still rightfully feel they need extra security for their venues even though they are a tiny little group of “different” people against which there is little to no public outcry. Am I the only European who feels the people of Europe ought to be rallying behind their Jewish population just like they did behind the Charlie Hebdo victims? Yet when another Synagogue burns down it is hardly worth a front-page article in the local news.


“Do you know why I care so much about a tolerant Europe?”, I asked my mom the other day. It is because I am Pagan and chances are so will be my children. And with the rise of more self-confident second and third generation Paganism I am convinced that sooner or later we will also be more present in public life. A lot is already happening in the US in respect to recognition and protection of Pagan rights. Europe might right now be a calmer – and safer – place for a Pagan to live but eventually European Pagans, too, will become more visible.

Paganism is a completely different beast to all the religions we are struggling to deal with in European society right now. There is a relatively easy way of grasping who and what “the Christians”, “the Muslims”, “the Jews” and even “the Hindus” and “the Buddhists” are. It won’t be so simple with Paganism. We are a way more diverse group; we have no internal organisation worth speaking of; nobody that could speak for all or at least many of us. And of course we have a mindset that is becoming increasingly more different to that of followers of the Abrahamite religions. I see it in myself and also in may others in the Pagan blog sphere; once you have been Pagan for 15 or 20 years you start to feel how you think differently to non-Pagans; how your value system changes. The Wild Hunt for instance just recently posted an article about how Pagan religion afflicts the treatment of mental disorder but it is only a small spotlight on an increasingly different world view.

Coping with Paganism as a part of the intercultural mix that is Europe will be a challenge for our society. It will mean that people have to widen their horizons and look behind shared Abrahamite norms in order to allow Pagans in their midst. How are we going to accomplish that if European society cannot even cope with the variety Judaism and Islam add?

I feel that I need Europe to become more tolerant so I know my children and children’s children can be the self-confident, strong Pagans that I would want them to be. And ultimately, as sad as it is to think this way, I need Europe to become more tolerant so I will never have to fear for their safety and they will never have to hide their Pagan identity out of fear of prosecution.

– Migdalit


“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.

Being a Stranger

Shalom there,

quite a while ago, when DoppelpassSchmetterlingsfrau said farewell to her blog’s readers, and when I read that last article about how even after years she still felt like a stranger in Israel and, ultimately, returned back home to Germany feeling at home at last, I had a deep look into my own feelings in Israel and just couldn’t help but assume  something terrible must have happened to her to make her feel that unwelcome. After all, her conclusion was something like when you lived in a foreign country, for any given time, either you accept that you will never truly belong there, or you face that you eventually have to move back home. Strange enough this seemed to be the typical argumentation anti-immigration, only voiced by a (former) migrant.

Perhaps my own experience of very quickly feeling somehow Israeli-ish doesn’t count, for it was just too short, but then there are people like Lila or Beer7 who have been living in Israel long enough to raise their family there and, no matter how hard I try, I could never read a single line suggesting that they were anything but happy with their decision. So the topic kept me thinking. And of course this is the direct track to Middle Europe‘s – existing or constructed – migration problem. Migration, of course, in both directions, as in Europeans emigrating from their countries of origin, as well als people immigrating into Middle Europe. Where, according to Schmetterlingsfrau’s conclusions, integration of migrants could never be achieved.

I do belong to those people who feel Middle Europe is too small for them for one reason of another. Just recently I had a discussion with A., a friend in Vienna who, very like Schmetterlingsfrau, suggested I’d eventually return to Middle Europe because of being too blue-eyed and exclusively belonging here anyway so I better stayed in the first place. Of course I heavily disagreed. But the remark got me thinking even more heavily.

The longer I considered Schmetterlingsfrau’s words, the more sense they did make to me, in the end. There is another part in her article, besides “go back home!“. There’s that part telling you “you’ll never become 100% Israeli / whatever”. Perhaps this is the key! Not dismissing one’s identity of origin even if living in another country for years and decades. Becoming something like 50% Austrian and 50% Israeli. After all one’s cultural identity of origin does heavily shape a person. Why deny it? With my work in Israel, acting as a bridge between Austria and Israel, this came to me very naturally and never appeared to be special. Just like Lila’s and Beer7’s way of keeping contact with Germany by means of their blogs. But if I take a look around I see I was wrong. How many people have been migrating and thinking they leave it all behind? And how many of them have eventually despaired and returned to their country of origin’s identity altogether?

If you have a look around in Austria’s migrant’s families pre ~1990 this can be pretty clearly seen. Austria, as the one country in the very heard of Europe, does have a very long tradition of immigration. Just have a look at the names of people. Vranitzky isn’t exactly German-sounding after all. However Austrian migrant families have managed to integrate into Austrian society, whilst what today’s so-called migration politic is all about is not about integration but about assimilation, even though they might call it integration. About becoming 100% Austrian / German / whatever, which just won’t ever possibly work. You can’t leave behind the best part of your life, just because of taking on another citizenship. But you can become a part of both societies and cultures. You can be Austrian and Israeli or German and Turkish at one time.

And if you’d ask me there’s nothing more fun for a kid then roaming a schoolmate’s Turkish-Austrian birthday party with his mother cooking all those delicious Turkish stuff with random Austrian mainstream music in the background in a house that is … well, just 50/50.




Still, salam and Islam have a common root.

Shabbat Shalom,

So often I have been confronted with the ugly side of Islam. In fact I studied Islam – and Arabic, though I never mastered it beyond the very basics – during my first Germany stay and in many ways I was fascinated by its ideas. But then, since I went to Israel, it has sometimes been hard to keep track of this beauty and poetry my younger self had found beyond Islam and its believers. However I kept telling myself that it’s always the radicals you get to see. It’s the same with Paganism, anyhow. I kept telling myself that behind all these know-it-all-converts and hardly-having-anything-in-common-with-Islam terrorists, behind “muslims” hiding their weapons in schools and mosques, behind all these people who seem to choose death over life there still is the beauty I’d come across earlier. Those people had just, like many moderate pagans, taken cover from the over proportional influence of hardliners.

And then, of course, I have that flirt with hijabs – they fascinate me utterly. I know they’re not supposed to be, but I think they’re unbelievably beautiful. And even more beautiful are those women underneath them that had the unimaginable strength to choose hijab in a society as focused on the surface as ours. I have to admit I’m one of those women that could be caught staring at hijabs in the street and I hope the women affected don’t feel all too bad for it – I just can’t help it. Sometimes I’d love to just walk over and ask them how they heck they made that miracle on their heads happen. I’ve stood in front of the mirror once with a decent piece of a scarf and a hand full of pins. But no matter what I did it all fell down again once I’d shaken my head.

However this goes off topic here. What I was going on about is how difficult it sometimes is to keep believing there is the “real thing” behind the ugly face of Islam. Today I found this and between the words and lines there was that beauty again. It is alive:

What i say in my weblog, that’s all i learnt from islam and other religions. I researched so much in religions and i believe all religions have ONE spirit. If i love Islam, bcs i found it more complete than others, and if some akhounds are too severe or extremist, it is their ego that rules them.
You know human can be very selfish. when he learns something, he thinks he is little God and can make his edicts. That’s why he falls people in hate. Anyway i just can hope for better world, and i know there are better days in the future..



Yeah*nodnod*all of religions have the some spirits,it’s just humans that make them look different with each other :/…


There’s just nothing to add …




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.[…]


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.


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