My Spiritual Journey

I was born into a Christian family. I was raised as what I term “Bapticostal”. My parents divorced when I was four and I spent one weekend with my father in the Church of God, and the other weekend with my mom’s family in the Baptist church. If you know anything at all about different Christian denominations, you will know what an oxymoron it is to but baptist and pentecostal together. If you are not familiar, rest assured when I say that the two are about as diametrically opposed as you can be between two protetstant Christian denominations. 

 

I grew up with what is known as the protestant work ethic. Work, labor of any kind, was praised, and it was drilled in that if I wanted anything out of life that I would have to work for it. I grew up not expecting handouts and believing that accepting charity was a show of laziness 

 

Above all else, I was raised to believe that Christianity meant believing in the tenets of the church without question. If I had questions I learned not to ask them. It was more important to have faith and believe than it was to understand. Knowing- understanding- was not necessary. All that was necessary was to believe what was taught. 

 

If you know me, then you know that I have always struggled with being a people pleaser. I think part of that stems from my parents’ divorce. It doesn’t really matter what caused it. I have always struggled to live an authentic life because the authentic me doesn’t always lead to approval. I have hid myself and tried to live based on what makes other people happy for so long, and that included blind allegiance to my religion of birth. I had questions, but I never asked them. Asking questions meant that I was “bad” or “didn’t have faith” or “didn’t believe”. For a long time I was fine with this. I pushed aside my doubts and questions. I refused to think for myself and insisted that I believed what I was taught. 

 

In May 2011 my life changed. I came home from work and found that my husband had passed away. I was 31. He was 24. That day changed my life forever. After the initial phases of grief I started to look at my life. I began to have little doubts about my faith. I began to ask myself questions. It wasn’t long after that until I decided that I really wanted to ask these questions. The faith I grew up with was not welcoming of these questions. So I began to look elsewhere. 

 

I had always felt a special connection to Judaism and so that is where I turned to. I began reading everything I could about Judaism and gravitating more and more toward it as a culture and religion. It wasn’t a linear path, but in 2016 I completed my conversion to Judaism when I sat before the beit dein and entered the mikveh. 

 

Part of the process was choosing my Jewish name. A lot of convert women choose names like Devorah or Ruth, but they did not speak to me. I chose my name by looking to my life. One thing that resonated with me was my focus on life. I finally felt that I was living an authentic version of my life. Also, looking at my life after the death of my husband, I was, quite literally, still living. So I chose the name Chaya. But I was torn between life and the moon. I have always loved the moon. It’s feminine energy speaks to me, and the moon has special significance for Jewish women. So I chose to take a second name, Levana. My Jewish name- Chaya Levana- quite literally means Living Moon. 

 

It’s now three years after my conversion. Judaism has been a fitting addition and change to my life. It speaks to me and is where I find the most meaning in my life. I haven’t been static in my spiritual journey, however. Judaism encourages questions, and I still have plenty of those. I love that my faith encourages me to ask questions. While Judaism is my religion, I don’t always practice it in stereotypical Jewish ways. I blend many different religions into my personal practice. I have added many aspects of Buddhism into my walk as well as Celtic spirituality to honor my Scottish heritage. I also infuse a lot of earth based, hoodoo and conjure into my walk as well. I am becoming more and more vocal in my political beliefs, and those are fully fused with my spiritual beliefs as well. Feminism has been a huge recent influence on my spirituality.  

 

Now that I’ve written all of this out I’m pretty amazed. I mean, it’s my life and I know it, but seeing it written out I just feel it all at once. It’s definitely not been a linear path. I haven’t even reached the end of it. That’s what amazes me the most. I have walked an amazing path, and I’m only part way along. I still have more to come. I fully expect that the rest of my spiritual path will be just as amazing as the first part.  

 

Passover and the Omer

Passover, one of the major festivals of Judaism, is a Spring holiday that commemorates the Hebrew slaves’ exodus from Egypt. The festival is a seven or eight day holiday that begins with a ritualized meal known as the Seder (order) and is marked by not eating any foods containing leavening agents.

The Seder is the star of the Passover celebration. This ritual includes the retelling of the exodus story along with ritual foods and items used to help in the retelling. A meal is shared, wine is drank, and everyone comes together to remember. But, while the remembering is of the exodus from Egyptian slavery, we also take the time to remember other forms of slavery and oppression that our people, and others, have experienced throughout history, or are experiencing today. Modern Seders often include newer ritual items, including Miriam’s cup to honor the contributions of women, oranges (for LGBTQ issues), potatoes (immigration), and many others You can read about several modern additions to the Seder plate here

Once the Seder is over, Passover has just begun. We continue to substitute matzah for bread to remember that our ancestors had to flee Egypt in such a hurry that they didn’t have time to wait for their bread to rise. Metaphysically speaking, leavening represents aras in our life that we need to work on. Some people refer to this as our sinful nature, but I think it is best to see it as our Shadow side- not something that must be eradicated, but darker aspects of our personality that need to be incorporated. We don’t abstain from bread and leavened food indefinitely (complete eradication), but for a time in order to better see what our life can and should be. We then incorporate these foods (our shadow) back into our full selves for a better, and more complete picture of who we truly are.

So, the Seder is the time of remembering and celebrating our liberation from slavery. But, after being enslaved we are living with a slave mentality. That way of thinking colors every aspect of ourselves and doesn’t go away overnight simply by being liberated. Like the Hebrews in the exodus story, we need a period of retraining our brains and embracing a new way of thinking. Enter the Counting of the Omer. Traditionally this was a time to count the forty nine days between the barley and wheat offerings in the Tabernacle/Temple. The omer measure of barley was offered on the second day of Passover and the omer measure of wheat was offered fifty days later on Shavuot (thus the counting of 49 days or seven weeks).

This seven week period offered a time for the Hebrews to prepare themselves for becoming a nation. G-d gave the law to the Hebrews at Mt. Sinai on Shavuot. This is when they became a unified nation. The seven week period in between their liberation (Passover) and becoming nation (Shavuot) was the time that they changed spiritually. They had to see themselves not as slaves, but as a free people in order to become a nation. If they had remained in a slave mentality they would have remained an enslaved people- albeit no longer physically enslaved

Like the Hebrews, we need a time of inner transformation after our liberation. The seven weeks of the Omer offers us a time to examine seven different aspects of our lives. According to Kabbalah there are ten emanations in which the Divine reveals itself. The counting of the Omer takes seven of these emanations and assigns one to each of the seven weeks of the count. During that week we thoroughly examine every meaning of that aspect of Divinity and how to incorporate it into our lives.

By celebrating Passover and Counting the Omer we are able to commemorate our liberation from a literal slavery as well as a spiritual slavery. We then are able to take the time needed for inner transformation and shadow work to prepare in order to be truly free. Passover and the Omer are my favorite time of the year because I am able to remember that I am free from the enslavement of the expectations of others. I am free and able to live my life according to my own spiritual understanding. I am free to to embrace my Jewitchy self. And, I have a time each year in order to incorporate the memories from my past into my current and future self. As a result, I am a more complete and awake spiritual being. May the day come when I am truly a being of light.

 

The Miracle of Being Yourself

Chanukah is a Jewish celebration that commemorates the rededication of the Temple and the miracle of the oil burning 8 days when it was only enough to last one night. For those of you who may not be familiar with the story I will give a brief overview.

Anyone familiar with the Christian Bible knows that there is a span of time between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament. Most people are not familiar with anything that took place during that span of time. There are Bibles that have various books in them that are not part of the current Christian biblical cannon. Two of those books are those of the Maccabees. In the tale of the Maccabees, the Jews were living in part of the Greek empire. The Greeks outlawed Judaism and all forms of Jewish practice and belief were not acceptable. Instead of studying Torah, celebrating Shabbat, worshipping the one God, and anything else to do with being a Jew, they were expected to fully assimilate and focus on the physical aspects of self that were prized by Greek culture. Some Jews did just that. But one family, the Hasmoneans, did not want to assimilate. They did not mind being in Greece so much, but they did mind having to give up Judaism. And, they minded it a lot. One of the sons, Judah, the Maccabee (the hammer) gathered up supporters. Though they were few in number they defeated the Greek army. When they went to rededicate the Temple they found it in ruins. Everything was broken and smashed, and the Greeks had even slaughtered pigs on the altar. They cleansed the temple and when they did they found one small container of oil- just enough to light the menorah for one night. It would take 8 days to get more oil and consecrate it for temple use. But, that did not deter the Hasmoneans et al. They lit the menorah, and they went to get more oil to consecrate it. Miraculously, that one small container of oil, enough for one night, remained burning for all 8 nights until the new oil could be consecrated.

That is the story that is told at Chanukah. Parts of it may not be true, although we don’t really know. The Hellenization of the Jews and the Maccabean Revolt are definitely true. The part about the oil burning for 8 days? We don’t really know. The Temple was rededicated on the 25th of Kislev, and they did celebrate for 8 days, but whether or not the little bit of oil lasted, we don’t really know.  If you want to read more about what really happened during the Maccabean revolt, you can read it here.

The Chanukah story has real life meaning despite the authenticity of some aspects. The Hasmonean family and their supporters fought for what they believed in. They were willing to die to be true to their Jewish identity, and many of them did die.

Many of us as metaphysical practitioners, witches, mystics, whatever you want to call yourself, face judgement and persecution from family and other loved ones. Many of us hide our beliefs and stay in the broom closet so to speak. Many of us tried to change ourselves for so long.

When I was growing up, all the way into my mid thirties, I tried to change who I was. I remember as child I was very empathetic. I could feel the pain of other people. When I saw someone who was experiencing emotional pain it would cause me to hurt in my heart. I was laughed at for that and after awhile I began to shut off that empathy. In my teens I began exploring these mystical beliefs but was chastised because good Christian girls don’t get involved in new age witchcraft. So, after awhile I pushed down my interest in these things. I was also very interested in Judaism in my teens and what little bit of empathy I did still have was felt for the Jewish people. I was told that was all well and good but that it couldn’t mean anything other than I felt bad for all the persecution Jews have faced though the millennia of history. I learned to deny myself and change who I was. I became a very dedicated Christian, moving from the Baptist side of things to extremely Pentecostal. But, while I was a “good Christian”, I was miserable.

In 2011 my then husband died. When that happened I began truly questioning who I was and what I believed. I wasn’t ready to leave Christianity, but I started embracing Judaism more and more. I began studying Judaism and attending a Messianic congregation that blended aspects of Christianity with aspects of Judaism. There are many different types of Messianic beliefs that range from Christianity with a flavoring of Judaism all the way up to full on Judaism but believe that Jesus is Messiah. The congregation I attended for 3 and half years was somewhere in the middle. Then, I started attending a Reform Jewish temple and I felt at home for the first time in my life. I pursued formal conversion and became a Jew in 2016. One thing I love about Judaism is the ability to question. I was never encouraged to question religion or faith until I became a Jew. Since that time I have embraced my mystical leanings to the point that I now refer to myself as Jewitch. You can read about that here.

Becoming my authentic and true self has been a miracle. It has transformed me. Not overnight, mind you. And I still have more growth to come. We all do. But I am a very different person than I was in the past. I am more loving and more accepting of others. I know that there is a light inside of me- a Divine spark- that lights up the world. And every day, as I say yes to being me and not someone else’s idea of me, that spark grows. It sheds even more light into the dark world we live in.

At Chanukah we light the menorah. We start on the first night by lighting one candle. We add a candle each night until on the last night, all eight candles are lit. Every day the light grows a little brighter and sheds more light on the darkness around it. The same is true for me as I become myself. And the same is true for you. If you have been hiding who you are I encourage you to take an honest evaluation of yourself. If it’s not safe to be your authentic self then do what you can. Only you know what you can and can’t do in that regard. I can’t tell you what is safe for you. But, I can tell you, that as you take steps toward becoming your authentic self you will be a more free and kind person. Your light will shine brighter around you. And that is a miracle .

When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned

Babies. They get me every time. I always wanted babies- even when I said I didn’t I secretly did. I don’t have any children. I see my friends having babies and I’m genuinely happy for them. But, I have to admit that I’m just a wee bit envious as well.

When we are children we all have a vision of what we want our adult lives to be like. Here is how my vision went: I would be thin and beautiful. I would have tons of friends and be in a sorority in college. I would graduate college and become a teacher. I would meet the love of my life and get married. We would have two children: a boy and a girl in that order. We would have a dog and a cat and live in the suburbs in a house with a white picket fence. Our children would be well behaved and loving children. We would continue to have tons of friends and socialize all the time. We would grow old together and have at least 50 years of wedded bliss before my husband passed away with me soon following from a broken lonely heart. Seriously. That was my life plan when I was ten.

So, at 38 years old, how much of that has actually come to pass? Let’s see. I’m not thin, but I am beautiful. I struggle with that sometimes, but ultimately I do think I’m beautiful. I’m not a social person by nature. Well, let me rephrase that. I am a very social person but I’m also extremely shy. I don’t make friends easily, and as a result I have very few friends. I have tons of acquaintances, but very few friends. I was in a sorority in college, and am a firm believer that sisterhood is for life. I was a teacher, but not straight out of college. It took 12 years after college before I became a teacher. And guess what. I HATED it. Literally, couldn’t stand it and left the profession after three miserable years. I am married, but this is my third marriage, and I seriously doubt we will be growing old together. He happens to be 24 years older than me, so he likely will die before I do. I just hope I don’t follow soon after. Sorry ten year old self. You will thank me for that one. My second husband passed away. He was six years younger than me, and passed away. That’s life and it happens. We die. But back to my rehash of how my childhood life plan turned out. Like I said, I don’t have those 2 children. I do have a dog, but no cat. So, out of a life plan that consisted of 15-20 points only 2.5 of those came to pass.

If you judge the success of your life based on how things line up with a childhood plan then my life is a miserable failure. And I will admit that I sometimes struggle and think that. When I stumble across old childhood friends on Facebook and see how their lives turned out it sometimes makes me sad to think I wanted that life but didn’t get it. But I try really hard not to dwell on that. I remind myself of the beautiful life that I do have.

The life I envisioned for myself was a childish fantasy. That’s not to say that people who are living that life are childish. Not by a long shot. But see, that life was not for me. My guides have a higher calling for me than to live that life. I haven’t figured it all out yet, but there is something in store for me that is so beyond that life that I can’t even imagine it. If I had gotten my fantasy adult life there is something out there that I would miss out on. You see, my life is magical. You heard it. Magical. I’m 38 and on my third marriage. My husband is a disabled senior citizen. I work full time, but it’s in a field I love. While it’s not an easy job I love it. And, I’m also cultivating this magical corner of the universe.

My childhood life plan was not the life of my authentic self. And that’s the key to remember. That fantasy was based on the me that I thought I needed to be, the me I tried so hard and so long to be. I tried to be popular and was not. I tried to be a Christian, and I’m not. I lived so many years of my life trying to fit the mold that I was raised to be. And i have nothing but love for my family, but that life is not me. I have finally embraced the authentic me. And I am happy. I am happy because I can be who I am here to be and I can accomplish whatever it is that I am here to accomplish. I have a loving husband who supports me. He doesn’t understand my path completely, but he supports me on that path. And for all of this I have to say that I am beyond happy. I am content.

So, no. Sometimes we don’t get the life we always wanted. But we get the life we need. We get the life we are meant to live. Those of us who are living what others consider to be a failed life can remember that we have not failed. Our lives are full of destiny and a lot of magic.

 

 

The Alchemy of Life

I believe in alchemy. Not the literal turning lead into gold kind of alchemy, but the kind that is more esoteric. When I was younger I did believe in literally turning lead into gold. I didn’t tell anyone because I knew that they would think I’m crazy and I couldn’t have that. But, since then, I’ve grown up. In that time, my views on many subjects, including alchemy, has changed.
Alchemy_symbols Blog Ready
Public Domain, symbol key from an alchemical text – Kenelm Digby A Choice Collection of Rare Secrets (1682)
I believe that many of the things we are taught throughout our lives- spiritually speaking at least- are metaphorical. And I believe that turning lead into gold is metaphorical. So what do the lead and gold represent? Us. Our selves. Lead is our base nature and gold is our higher conscious selves. Our lives are supposed to be about transmuting our base nature into an awakened, higher state of consciousness. And that transmutation is alchemy.
The practical daily aspects of how to achieve the alchemical change of our natures takes a different path for different people. It can come in the form of health and wellness, spirituality, religion, whatever. It’s different for each person because each person is different. But that isn’t to say that everyone following these various paths are pursuing the kind of higher self evolution that constitutes alchemy. There are plenty of health buffs who could not care less about their spiritual consciousness. And we all know that if religion in and of itself were the answer then millions of people would have achieved enlightenment. The path isn’t the answer although it is important. The path is the process, but only if you want it to be.
Flamel Blog Ready
Public Domain, The mysterious alchemical figures which Nicholas Flamel caused to be carved on his tomb. Reproduced in “Witchcraft, Magic, and Alchemy” by Grillot de Givry from an old engraving.
The entire purpose for Living Moon Meditation is the pursuit of alchemy. I am pursuing my higher conscious self. Everything here is about alchemy. I welcome you to join me in my adventure.
My name is Chaya Levana, and I’m an alchemist. You can call me crazy if you want to.

The Path Less Taken

Last year in 2017- about this time of year- I made a decision to study esoteric and metaphysical philosophies. It began as a personal journey for my own self and as a way to find answers to questions that I had. I grew up Christian. In 2016 I converted to Judaism. Conversion didn’t put an end to my questions. I guess I’m one of those people that will always question and be on a spiritual path.

One thing about Judaism is that it encourages questions. There is no believe this for belief’s sake. That ability to question has lead me down many rabbit holes. In this past year I’ve found an even deeper home in Judaism as I explore and adopt portions of other faiths and beliefs and embed them with my Judaism. You see, I was brought up as a deeply religious person, but that is not me. I am a spiritual person, but not a religious person.

Anyway, this isn’t about religion. This is about learning and sharing information. In this past year I have learned so much. And one thing I have learned is that while I may have started this journey for myself, I can’t leave it there. I have to share this information. And that is why I’m here. To reach you. My purpose is learning is to teach you. So, that is what I’m doing.

I’m becoming a spiritual teacher. A guide. A mentor. Will you join me on this path?