Can I Be a Jewitch? Judaism’s Compatibility with Witchcraft and Wicca

Short answer: yes. Long answer: I wrestled with this question as I realized that I was interested in Wicca as a religious practice, not just in the secular aspect of witchcraft. I knew that I could not give up the Jewish faith I had nurtured all my life, but as I contemplated their similarities and flexibility, I concluded the two belief systems actually meshed quite well. Who said I had to choose?

This post gets quite personal, as I outline my spiritual musings towards my current system of beliefs. I share it with you so you can see my process and perhaps relate it to your own journey to define your spirituality, not to try to win you over to any specific concepts. My thoughts and opinions do not represent those of all Jews or all Wiccans.

Witchcraft as a practice, Wicca as a religion

First off, it is important to note that witchcraft as a practice is not tied to any specific religion. You can be a Wiccan witch, a witch following some other neopagan path, a Christian witch, a Buddhist witch, an atheist witch. Witchcraft is merely the attempt to use spells and rituals to make your intention a reality. Judaism has long had its own branch of magic and mysticism, which I touch on in my kabbalah post. Not to mention that prayer and magic have a lot in common, with their ritual props, words, and movements and their shared goal of altering reality. I tend to use the words Wicca and witchcraft fairly interchangeably because Wicca centers around witchcraft as a means of worship, but witchcraft can be quite separate from Wicca.

Concepts of deity

This is the big one. Isn’t Wicca polytheistic? you ask. And doesn’t Judaism prohibit the worship of other gods and the use of idols? Wicca is known for its worship of two deities—one masculine, one feminine—referred to as the Great God and Goddess or the Lord and Lady, but the conceptualizing of these deities can range from duotheistic, to pantheistic, to monotheistic.

It helped me to think of the God and Goddess as metaphors. I believe in a single divine force that makes the universe the way it is. That force can be called God, but is very difficult to wrap one’s head around, which aligns with my Jewish practice of never calling God by a name, as that is too limiting. The Great God is a metaphor for all the “masculine” elements of this overarching force, while the Great Goddess represents the “feminine” (though I do recognize that this way of thinking depends on and enforces the gender binary, in which all things are sorted into one or the other, even universal abstract concepts like “nurturing” or “strength”). Specific pagan gods and goddesses can then be sub-metaphors for specific aspects of the Great God and Goddess, such as Isis as a goddess of healing and Odin as a god of knowledge. Most of the time when I pray, it is to a single entity that I envision as female simply because I am female and find that easier to relate to.

Many Wiccans do keep images of their preferred gods or goddesses on their altars, but in line with my Jewish heritage, I keep no humanoid depictions. The most I would do is a colored candle or geometric/abstract images.

What happens when you die?

Wicca’s answer is reincarnation. Unlike many religions, Judaism does not have have a clear and decisive view on the afterlife. Some Jews believe in reincarnation. Some believe in heaven and hell (though to rather different effect than the Christian versions). Some believe in ghosts and some believe in nothing at all. Perhaps the best consensus we can come up with is that death will always be a mystery until we get there and so we should focus on life instead.

Yet although there was no contradiction in this area given Judaism’s ambiguity, this was the question that gave me the most trouble. The idea of reincarnation did not resonate with me and I tend to be in the “when you die, you die” camp. But could I really consider myself Wiccan if I did not believe in this core tenet? Metaphorical thinking came to the rescue yet again. Just as your physical body decomposes, breaking down into unrecognizable elements and mixing into the earth with the potential to give rise to new life, so could the soul break down to its tiny constituent parts, reintegrate with the divine force of the universe, and work its way back into the cycle of life.

Do I have any other Jewiccan or Jewitch readers out there? Readers who have combined witchcraft with other religions? Would you be interested in hearing more about this topic? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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