My religion

If somebody asked, I would loosely say Norse Pagan, or maybe even Asatru. It would depend on my mood.  If anyone asked,  are you a witch, I’d say yes to that too. 

Lately I’ve felt that being a witch, or one who practices the craft can look a lot of different ways.  

Many years ago, I was in Lebanon visiting in laws.   I was still young, but had been married for six years and still childless.  My ex husband’s family assumed I had fertility problems.  Of course that wasn’t so, I had put off having children because of the volatile nature of our relationship.  

A great aunt in the family, a brave pillar of strength, took me aside before I left to come home, and grasping my face in her gnarled hands she smiled and spoke words to me in Arabic I only half understood.  I nodded along. Then she opened her Quran and began to read a myriad of verses to me.   I knew most of them, being standard fare one would use for daily prayer. She produced from her pocket a piece of narrow white cloth. After each verse she would pause and smile, and tie a knot in the length of cloth and gently blow onto it.  She repeated this until a myriad of small knots adorned the tattered length.  Then she finished by grasping my face into her hands, giving me instructions about the now made cord, and asking me again and again, do you understand? I nodded that I understood and maybe on some level I did, because I felt such a sweet energy pass between us, a feeling of pure goodness, of an old woman who was humbly offering her services to aid me.  I carried the cord length with me for many months after that.  I did become pregnant later that year as well.  Partly because I stopped my birth control pills, but I also like to think that the old hajji had taken some of the fear of motherhood out of me that special day. 

Looking back now, I see her actions for what they were, Muslim white magic.  Funny enough, that specific form of magic is expressly forbidden in the Quran, indeed in one of the very verses that she read over me. 4: وَمِن شَرِّ ٱلنَّفَّٰثَٰتِ فِى ٱلْعُقَدِ /Wa min sharrin-naffaa-saati fil ‘uqad/From the mischief of those who practise secret arts.   I might be wrong, but I’ve seen different translations that read from those who blow on knots…..

At the end of the day men and women who practice magic, from the simple to the ceremonially complex are essentially the same.  We have been around since the dawn of time, we donned the animal skins in the caves at the beginning, we married people, we raised children, we sent them off to the land of shadows, and we helped those who felt that they had no help left.  

We adapted our message to different times and spaces, whether pagan, Christian, Muslim or otherwise.  Practices that had been with us since the beginning were made over with bible or Quran verses, prayers to saints instead of to the old gods. . But we persisted and remained.  

That is my religion. 

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