Occasionally I am asked about my theology as a Witch – especially what about the goal of living, of death and the afterlife? I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately as other folks’ beliefs are being used to wage a culture war on the rest of humanity. Seeing what other people claim they believe and then do because of those claims is always a good time to stop and think about your own.
I went to Catholic school from kindergarten through 9th grade, with the catechism to match. Not because I believed it, but because I was driven to excel in all of my studies. Seriously, the only “C” I ever got on a report card was my final semester of college, when I was out of fucks to give about liberal arts credits.
I was very much an over-achiever, so of course when there was a competition for art or scholarship, I was usually on board. No less true for the annual poster competition that my school held – in correlation with the Pro-Life march. I never went on a march, but I made some incredible posters from 6-8th grade, winning the competition every year. The one I remember most had the words “Life is a Gift” and featured a baby in an open gift box with tissue paper (it was 3D) – and I achieved super-realism through Pantone markers.
But it wasn’t about the cause. It was about the art. I had the same fervency for the “Reuse, Renew, Recycle” poster and anything else you tossed my way. I wasn’t into babies or children – I preferred my bunnies, bears, and unicorns. My little cottage in the backyard wasn’t so that I could “play house” as a parent to dolls, but as a self-sufficient adult out in the wilderness. When I heard of the deaths of young people – kids and teenagers, I was sad of course, but more on the part of frustration on their behalf. That they had to go through THIS all over again. THIS being childhood. Childhood was a kind of purgatory to me – very early on I was keenly aware that in order to get shit done, I’d have to be a lot older. The idea of dying just as you were getting to that point was the ultimate tragedy to me. Innately, I had a dreaded sense of having to go through a reboot if that happened.
Also, by 3rd grade, I learned that there wasn’t a hell. At least not to my parents – though that has never stopped any one in my family from instructing other people to GO there post haste. One of my teachers had said that anyone who wasn’t Christian would immediately go to hell upon death. Knowing my father was Jewish, I was understandably distraught. My mom unpacked it for me that we didn’t believe in hell, not like that. Of course, if you take one thing out of the equation, it causes one to wonder about the other half – heaven. Which in turn makes you wonder about the point of religion in politics, especially those that have become largely based on a reward/punishment system.It’s essentially about control and money – totally anachronistic to the actual doctrines of most religion. Those doctrines are about the essence of love, about providing a good life for all, taking care of each other, cherishing our resources and protecting them. There is a little talk about reward (because let’s face it, some folks do need that kind of structure to actually be and do good), but it plays second or third fiddle in the orchestra of living life fully and respectfully.
So that hard focus on “Pro Life” means absolutely nothing if you’re not going to also give support for the actual life of the child, regardless of its creed, color, or background. It means you’re more intent on breeding people and making them miserable for your own needs. Why would anyone do that? Money, power, and control. Why deny other kinds of marriage when you don’t hold your own as sacred? Fear-mongering, not love. Why destroy the environment and strip the planet of its resources? Maybe it’s because you only believe in one life, and think he who dies with the most money wins? It sure isn’t about cherishing life. It definitely isn’t about God or heaven. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the rise of the heaven/hell concept really took on a new role in Christianity during the darkest ages of man – as a means to make money and control people.
Which brings me back to the wording on that “Pro-Life” poster I made in grade school. I don’t believe in the doctrine or system behind the creation of the poster, but I do believe that life IS a gift, once we have fully entered this world. And we have a duty to live it.
My theology as a Witch is that I’m focused on the sacredness of now, the inter-connectivity of life. I believe all expressions of love, and I find such incredible beauty in them. I believe in giving people the opportunity and freedom to live life beautifully. I believe we do travel in cycles and circles, and therefore need to not think in terms of heaven and hell, but rather of the interwoven pattern of past, present, and future. I’m not hung up on the idea of reincarnation or heaven, but I do believe we exist as energy that can return to a source. And then like fresh wool, are spun out again into threads across the universe’s loom. If we revel in the now and take responsibility for our actions as we weave through the loom, then we preserve the future and build the fabric of life.
Maybe it’s the point of others to seek to destroy that fabric. I don’t know. But I do know it’s my job to keep on practicing, and weaving it the best way I know how as a Witch.