Desiring a Sanctified Home

Word is Drew Barrymore is converting to Judaism. Remember last year when Julia Roberts converted to Hinduism? I’m conflicted about people who convert for marriage, but I understand the reasons why.

Last night I was on a podcast run by Lamyka called the Pagan Women’s Podcast. About once a month she ropes various Pagan women into talking about subjects of interest to us. This time the episode was about Hellenic polytheism, and Lamyka and I grilled Cara Schulz on her practice.

The thing that makes Hellenic polytheism (and other traditional forms of polytheism like religio Romana and Asatru) different from Wicca and popular forms of Paganism is its emphasis on household worship and family. Particularly in Hellenic tradition, making your home a sanctuary and temple is the key focus. There are monthly rituals of purification and celebration that don’t involve elaborate rites.

The Deipnon is when you clean your house, pay any outstanding bills, and take stock of your pantry. The Noumenia is when you celebrate the new month with a big family meal and special dessert. These celebrations are small: vacuuming, a meal, a jar in the pantry, the pouring of libations and lighting of incense. They are designed to bring a sense of peace, sanctity, stability, order and purpose to the home.

So I understand why people convert to faiths that emphasize home worship when they consider marriage. Why it is important to want things like Shabbat dinner or small household rituals when you plan to set up a household with someone makes perfect sense to me.

The last time I looked into Hellenic polytheism I was married and thinking about having children. I was trying to set up a Pagan household, but my husband wasn’t interested in creating something that would last. I’m about to join a Pagan household, but I will be in a periphery/roommate position in the household. I’m likely years from creating my own sanctified home. But I think about these things.

Life is rough. It buffets us around and messes up all our plans. It can be harsh. It can be cruel. While converting to another religion just to marry someone can seem shallow, I can see why there is an appeal to create a sanctified home, a haven, a sanctuary, with someone.

Is that a good enough reason to convert?


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About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.

  • MrsBs Confessions

    Personally, I believe the only reason to convert to a different religion is a personal calling to do so.  Perhaps meeting someone, you can fall in love with them and as an extension, the religion that they follow, but converting just to be the “same” or get family approval or whatever does seem shallow.

    I consider myself a “domestic witch”, with a household that I see as a big sacred spot.  My husband is a non-practicing Roman Catholic who respects what I do.  I don’t think a partnered pair have to practice the same religion to make a sanctified home – you just need mutual respect and communication.  =)

  • Banjo Belle

    I had “converted” to Christianity many many years ago when I got married (divorced now  for over 10 years & am permanently a practicing Druidess) and it was a HUGE mistake-marriage broke up anyway & I discovered my then spouse didn’t believe in  Christianity  he just went for the social thing & getting favors from the church (like a heavily discounted wedding) So I think open communication to the spouse that you will continue your Pagan path is very important. A break-up is a lot easier than a divorce.

  • Star Foster

    I agree. I know a lot of mixed-faith couples that work and create sanctified homes. I think I’m
    coming from the idea that someone like Barrymore may not have a
    spiritual grounding in her life, and the home-centric worship of
    Judaism may have a big draw for her.

  • Star Foster

    I agree. I know a lot of mixed-faith couples that work and create sanctified homes. I think I’m
    coming from the idea that someone like Barrymore may not have a
    spiritual grounding in her life, and the home-centric worship of
    Judaism may have a big draw for her.

  • Kathy

    My daughter converted to Judaism before marrying her husband, but she told me she fell in love with the religion and would have converted regardless.  She’s very happy with her chosen religion.  But I can known others who have been coerced into converting by their future in-laws and life has been very difficult because they aren’t happy and feel forced to raise their children in a religion they no longer believe in but can’t escape from.

  • Kauko

    Interestingly, back when I practiced Judaism and went to shul weekly years ago, I would encounter people who converted for marriage reasons, but a large number of the converts at my synagogue were single GLBT people (and quite a few of them were formerly Pagan, as well). Of course, this synagogue had a very active GLBT group that held its own Passover seders, break the fast parties after Yom Kippur ended etc. That group probably had a good deal to do with attracting these converts.

  • WhiteBirch

    I wanted to comment on your new future rooming arrangement yesterday, but I didn’t get a chance during work hours (busy busy). I think it’s a great idea and I hope it works out! We’re in similar situations, it sounds like… I’m 29 and single, and struggling with finances. I gave up my apartment this past summer and moved in with friends. I recently moved out of there and back in with my parents for reasons that were neither dire nor financial, but when I moved in, I really had to weigh the options. Even though it didn’t work out for the long run, I still think moving in with them was the right decision at that time. Living with family is fine, and I’m glad that I have the option to do so and a family that can help me out, but I really enjoyed living with my friends. I got to maintain more independence, I felt like an adult among equals (my parents kind of reduce me to a teen again, though not on purpose), and I got to be part of a family with kids. I found it really rewarding and I’d definitely do it again.

    However, living with my parents I do have to keep my religious practices under wraps a bit more than I’d like. They’re pretty rigid, so we’re in kind of a truce where they know I’m not on the same page as them, but we don’t talk about it because everyone gets upset. Because my home is so divided, the idea of having that sanctified home really appeals to me too. I think about it a lot. I’ll be there someday, but not yet.

  • kenneth

    That may be. It’s always hard to know what really motivates someone to convert. In cases of marriage, it usually seems to be done primarily to smooth things over with the in-laws, but people’s reasons are complex. Sometimes what people think they will find in a different religion or wish they will find could be their own projections more than the reality of it. Judaism does have a lot of home ritual in it, but then so can any religion. It’s an interesting question, what drives people to convert, what they think they will find, and what they really end up finding (or not).  Since most of the modern pagan scene is probably 90%+ converts even now, it’s a question that has particular relevance for us. 

  • Pythia Theocritos

    If that’s the reason someone chooses for conversion than I’d say it is enough. In our modern society that tends to put the “me” before the “us”, joining a communal faith that has solid expectations surrounding the  concepts of a sanctified household can be very important. I know from personal experience (in a Hellenic-Judaic marriage) that similarities in values and moral obligations to the home can help strengthen the bonds between house members. 
    I may be a bit old fashioned in that regard however.

  • blackpagan

    It’s a good a reason as any, IMO.

  • LezlieKinyon

    Oberon G’zell asked this question a while ago (in context of a work-in-progress) concerning the notion of “conversion”.  I will answer as I did then: once you give up the idea of  “conversion” the spirit expands and our heart opens.  Then, the cosmos becomes an experience of expanding possibility. 

  • Anna Korn

    There is no reason to put aside the idea of a sanctified home because you are in a shared household.  Just choose that household carefully, and look for a rewarding setting, not just an economic work-around.