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


Circus Maximus

Ahlan everybody,

this morning my long-standing friend Aracuron dragged out one of my old posts from 2010. In this context I also may want to link to my latest article from my active (Pagan themed) blog on freedom of speech that Aracuron too was referring to in his post. Really I probably could have posted it here instead of over there content wise. At times it feels almost schizophrenic to be dealing with two different blogs – which is probably why for simplicity’s sake I leave even the more political content over at Migdalit Or these days.

In the aftermath the usual conversation just had to start: why aren’t you blogging in that other blog any more? It has been almost a year after all and that’s your normal blogging interval in that one after all he teased me.

So why don’t I?

It’s not that Israel, my time there and the people I had to leave behind aren’t dear to me any more. Certainly not. I still visit there any chance I get (which is way too rarely for my taste) and though I may not count Quassamim and Katjushas any more I still do keep an eye out on the news. I also still have much of the same discussions with people around me as I have been having for the last half decade; I am still hearing much of the same old song about evil, occupying and human rights violating Jews that really ought to have learnt from their own history but didn’t. While I am sick and tired of these conversations it turns out the rest of the world isn’t. “The Conflict” (TM) still is the same kind of global circus maximus it used to be five and even fifty years ago.

Luckily as of today buses still haven’t gone back to blowing up on Sheinkin road on a daily basis. Whether that is because nobody tries any more or because security now has a more tight lock on it I will leave to the experts – and self-declared experts – to decide. For the time being it means that, besides from the regular rocket scares that seem to happen on an almost predetermined interval much like the holidays come and go, people in Tel Aviv and the rest of Israel have their lifes mostly back. The novelty of going to the beach and gathering in crowds larger than three has now worn off and in many ways Tel Aviv is becoming a lot more like other Mediterranean metropoles with much of the same kind of problems. I sometimes wonder whether, if I went there today rather than 2007 it would change me as much as it did; I still thoroughly enjoy Tel Aviv as a place that seems to bring out the best in me but it is not quite the same any more.

So really I gather I don’t write more than I do on this blog because not much is changed since 2007. Truth be told I could probably dig up some of my posts from five years ago and just change a few names before re-posting and most readers would never be the wiser. I may as well just leave the blog as is as an archive for anyone interested to look up the same old information, help yourself to the search field if you are looking for something in specific.

What I have done today, though, is found a new theme. I really couldn’t bear the old one any more so I hope you don’t mind. I am also going to go through the blog roll and weed inactive links. I know it frustrates the crap out of myself if other pages have more dead than active links.

To celebrate the occasion I have gone through my other blog and found you links to some of the somewhat Israel-relating articles. Bear in mind, though, that the other blog mostly is a Pagan one so these are somewhat of a different style.
If Aracuron keeps being his usual pain in the neck I may even think of cross-posting anything relevant in the future 😉

explaining to the uninitiated why I keep babbling about Israel sometimes

Now, After
about PTSD albeit mostly in the American context. Includes a very good video.

on Warrior Paganism
some of this is inspired by my time in Israel and the time immediately after, also some Israel anecdotes mentioned

mostly general definitions but, again, some Israel anecdotes mixed in

Yana, a Syrian Pagan that got caught up in the civil war in March 2013 caused quite a stir in the Pagan community. It sometimes are single people getting caught up in a picture too big to understand that make us appreciate the human dimension.

honouring the wonderful lady I lived with in Tel Aviv. She has passed away in the meantime but I will never forget her.

So, yep, that’s it for this year, I guess. I have a story from my last visit in the back of my head that I may or may not come back to tell some of these days.

Otherwise … enjoy the blog archives.


“… we lose the best and hail the rest …”

This song is one of a CD I used to listen to on my way to work when I lived in Israel. I really like the whole album and a lot of the songs remember me of Israel and somehow blend into my experience, but this one is special.

The weather is dark and rainy
And I have lost my path.
There is no light, no hope, no time
In that cruelness of the dark.
Oh God why I can’t find you?
Why can’t you here my words?
Can you see me fighting in this fields,
for causes I don’t know?

Oh my gallant love where have you gone?
I miss your gentle touch.
Our children grow fine and strong
They’re missing you so much
If the harvest rain falls on our home ,
the days grow fairly long.
But the horizon stays without you
from dusk until dawn

Oh dear, last night I lost a friend
He went into the fire
perhaps he’ll reaches a better place,
Perhaps we’ll meet again.
I wonder how the children are
I miss their softly smiles.
Sometimes I dream of the harvest rain
But the battle still goes on.

Yesterday I saw a picture
of the minister of war
in his lily white shirt and tie he asked
for more young blood by law.
And they got our oldest son
and he went your way
and the minister in the news did say
for freedom there’s a price to pay


And the autumn has come
and the wind is waving the corn
as she got a machine letter
“For our freedom they did fall”
And she asks herself “What freedom takes a mother’s son?’
So we lose the best and hail the rest and the harvest rain does fall

I’ll probably just leave it to the music and the lyrics to explain why …

What’s curious about it is that Dies Natalis, the band, is a German Neofolk band that, like probably every Neofolk band, is considered on the far right side of the political scale. At least that’s what people in Germany say. As a matter of fact it hasn’t happened only once that Dies Natalis were made to cancel concerts because of fear of their “Nazi” audience.

I wonder why neither German authorities nor those certain parts of their audience ever take the time to really listen to the lyrics …



A Fresh Start

I have been awake for quite a while this morning. Because of some pretty exciting news on he one hand but, on the other hand, probably as well because of things running wild in my mind.

When I started this blog in the beginning of 2008 I did so because I had found once the reverse cultural shock after coming back from Israel had diminished to the point of me actually being able to talk about Israel and what I had seen and experienced there, nobody was there to listen anymore. However what I was still finding out about the place had to get out; that’s probably what has driven people to write ever since.

This blog has given me a lot although, frankly, it has never quite attracted a crowd. Sad enough it were times of war that people found this blog and after the “show” was over most of them never returned. There are still many stories to tell, new and old ones. Stories that have to be told in the hope that one day it will be there to be read for somebody who’s interested. Just like the stories of other great bloggers where there to be read by me when I needed the information or the opinion or just the story so I didn’t feel that alone after I left a place that had made me feel at home.

Fact is, however, that during the two years of this blog my life has changed. I started this blog as an ambitious single student who had left Israel only in order to return. Today I am a grad school graduate, who has been transplanted to Germany for love and what had, at that time, looked like a Great New Life. I have, over the years, hurtfully learned to let go of Israel keeping the treasurous memories in my very heart and soul knowing that the time there has changed me forever. Had I an honest opportunity to return I’d probably leave here for good any minute but I have had to learn that this is not what life had planned for me – at least not for the time being.

Germany has changed me as well. As much warmth and welcoming I had found in Israel as much coldness and fear have I found in Germany. In the one and a half years I’ve been living here now I’ve made it all the way from confusion via depression to feeling sorry and grateful that I know life can be different. In a way, I feel, Germany has taught me that it is worth fighting for my Israel-self. This is how life always has a lesson to teach, even when you really aren’t looking for yet another lesson.

No, I’m not done with Israel. I’ve been collecting information on so many topics all the time – I just never got to publish it. Life has kept me busy with other things and Germany and what I have seen here has kept my mind busy with other topics as well. Topics I’ve always felt don’t fit this blog. However I don’t believe in exclusive decisions. I will keep up this blog, but I also found I have to move on and I need a space to do this.

I don’t yet know where “a Pagan Israelophile goes Australia” will take me and what it will be all about. It is my story, our story, after all. It is a journey I have been looking forward to for a while and, in many respects, have been scared of as well. However I have made it my Beltaine resolution that I will be working towards regaining my trust in the gods and the path they are leading me down.

My two blogs will be interconnected by RSS feeds, so if you’re interested in the other blog it will be easy to keep an eye on it without having to surf yet another blog.

with a crying and a laughing eye, as well as warm thanks to everybody who contributed to this blog in the last two years



The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Chocolate Rabbit

Hey there,

I know a lot of people out there think Pagans, Witches and all of that folks are somewhat crazy people. People think what we do for our holidays, rituals and stuff, was incredibly ridiculous. I can really see that.

Especially after I read US American Wiccan Patti Wigington‘s suggestion for the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Chocolate Rabbit and ended up laughing tears.

still holding her belly



P.S.: And yes, a lot of us really do such things. We don’t even need kids as an excuse. I mean … have have a look out there in the world. Does that really look like there was a bunch of deities without any sense of humor in charge!?

this single piece


It seems like I’m slowly developing a thing for art. I was at a local art museum today, where they featured a rather small exhibition on contemporary art and there was one piece that really caught me:

Sleep 9 by Gottfried Helnwein

Sleep 9 by Gottfried Helnwein

its title is “Sleep 9” and it is a painting of a photograph both by Gottfried Helnwein, an Austrian artist. Of all the pieces in the gallery she wouldn’t let go of me quite so easily. Not only that she seemed to look directly at me with those weird eyes, no matter from where I tried to take a look on her. Not only that she doesn’t seem to be fully human, somehow, but something else, something more disturbing. Or is it only me?

Perhaps, after all this is the fascination of art: The way it reflects less the artist’s intention, but your own mind. I wonder if somebody else looking at the same portrait of a child would see the same emotions in her eyes. I wonder if that person would feel as disturbed as I do trying to take on her look. Everybody has to carry a shadow of his own, after all …
When I was a child my dad would take me to a lot of exhibitions. Sometimes I found them nothing but boring, but my dad would always know the story that goes with the picture, or at least he would know where to point my eyes at and make every painting a small wonderland to explore. I would never develop a true interest into art back then, but he did shape my eyes, he did teach me to look behind the obvious and don’t believe a title or description, but look for myself. It’s funny how after all these years I can still hear him talk to me when I look at an interesting piece; how he explains things to me. But still it was nothing but a picture, a strange adult-thing, to me back then.

Today, sometimes, the canvas and the colors are more. They open doors to magic realms of myself or the world. Perhaps art is a kind of magic, after all, a tool that teaches you about your self and your own perception. And just like magic you need to be ready for it. Not for art in general, probably, but for this single picture, this single piece of magic.

philosophically yours,