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.  

 

Embarking on a New Path

We have all heard the saying that when one door closes another one opens. Not only have we heard it, but for the most part, we know from personal experience that it is true. But, knowing something and living it out can be two different things. We can know that better things are coming, but it can still be extremely difficult to give up the old way of doing things. Familiarity breeds comfort. This is something I have been learning this week. (I didn’t start out this blog to talk about what I’m specifically learning, but that’s what it has turned in to the past few weeks!) For the past year and a half I have been working with one of my spiritual teachers. This week I have felt a huge call to stop my classes. This isn’t because I am not learning from her- I am learning so much! Actually, this feeling has been off and on for the past two months and I have continuously talked myself into continuing the program I am taking. 

The past few days have been filled with me seriously having the feeling that I need to move onto a new path. But, there is one aspect of the program that I will really miss. Even my husband, who is not into all the woo that I am has said he doesn’t want me to stop taking my classes. (So sweet of him to support me in this way). I have debated all weekend over whether or not I need to continue. The program I am enrolled in is shamanic in nature and has a strong focus on astrology. Both of these topics are ones that I have wanted to explore more in depth. When I was talking to my husband I told him that I could continue with the astrology on my on through personal study of books (I’m a librarian so I have access to pretty much anything!) But, the shamanism is something that I have really been struggling with because it’s not something I can really learn on my own. I need to learn it from someone else. 

Well, today I was in a class when I learned that beginning this fall, another one of my teachers is going to be offering a two year shamanism program. This program will be one hundred percent focused on shamanism (which is the path I know I’m supposed to be on) and I won’t have to be in a program with information that I don’t need. This isn’t to say I’m not learning from everything in my current program, I just don’t think that it is all what I need right now. And the part that is I can get elsewhere. 

Another positive of the upcoming program is that I can take this program in person. Now, don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with online classes. I take online classes and I teach online classes. But, some programs of study are better transmitted in an in person setting where you have physical access between the teacher and the student. Shamanism is one of those things. 

So, I do think that I have my answer and that I need to bow out of my current program. I am going to miss it, but I think that in the meantime between now and when this new program begins I am going to more than have my hands full with this business. I have several new programs that I’m going to be launching over the next few months, and I think that I will be able to use my time to focus on offering ways to help each of you heal and grow as I have been. My program has already been paid through March so I have one last month, but after that, I will be embarking on preparing myself for a new path. 

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?