Part of my adolescence was fighting through patriarchal ideals that I couldn’t fit around me. I grew up in a strict Christian home where Dad held the bible over us. We were taught the 10 Commandments and that our body is a holy temple. Tattoos would send me to hell. Then I got older and he would threaten that if anyone ever gave me drugs he would kill them, and he had PTSD from Viet Nam. I was convinced he would get away with it. The joke was on him because the childhood trauma was unnecessary. I hated being high the couple of times I tried pot.
Growing up, my parents were okay with me going to other churches. Dad grew up Baptist, but I was at a Foursquare (pentecostal Christian) Church on Sunday mornings and at a Thai-Presbyterian Church on Sunday afternoons. I visited Baptist and Catholic Churches with friends. My Dad followed our family tree to find we are Sephardic Jews. It makes sense because my maiden name is a typical Egyptian name. I’ve never read the Torah, but it’s important to my Dad and in his reclamation of a lost heritage, I have a prayer shawl, Chumash, and Mezuzah at my front door. The family recipe he guards is a challah recipe. Before I was born, he was studying Hebrew and there is no “J” sound in Hebrew. To honor what he was learning, he picked my name that typically starts with a “J” and made it start with a “Y” as in Yeshua. He calls me God’s gift. He would be so tickled if I brought home a nice Jewish boy. I would be too. Actually, my ex was part Jewish, but it was a forgotten and discarded heritage for him as well.
For a while, all of my crushes had one thing in common . . . They were all born in 1976. It was a thing and my thing. I liked boys that were a couple of years older than I am. And I went through plenty of them, or rather, let them go through me. I was looking for something more and something greater.
I was 21 when I first learned about Wicca. It was beautiful in female empowerment. There was dancing naked under the moon and it appealed to me. There were colored candles and intoxicating scents that were part Catholic church and part eastern tradition. There was intention and ceremony and traditions that had order and it was centered on being female. I read books and set up an altar and after all of that performed only one spell and it was a spell to love myself.
It was more about learning how beliefs and religions borrow from each other. I had grown up seeing a vesica piscis in trinity form printed in gold leaf on my Dad’s bible. It was circled, and stood for the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. In Wicca, that symbol stood for the Mother, Maiden, and Crone. I started to see that it had meanings in other traditions too. I was all different and borrowed from each other. It was the same for the pentagram. When I was a kid, it meant devil worship, but in Wicca and elsewhere, it is a symbol of protection. I read about the many high holy days of Wicca and saw the Christian overlap. After a few months of trying to clear Chakras I couldn’t see and Astral Project, but ended up falling asleep, I let it go. I figured I had been there and done that, and even got the tattoo.
My tattoo is a garter on my thigh, made up of symbols. I wanted to remember that the trifecta’s meaning is about the intention of the person using it. I wanted to know that the symbols were what I made of it, whether it be my roots in patriarchy or the transformational learning through Wicca. I chose the vesica piscis because I loved that one translation listed it as a symbol for a vagina. It was empowering to me. The band is made of the ing symbol and it wraps around my thigh. It’s a symbol for fertility. I wasn’t planning on ever having kids at that point, and I wanted fertility in thought and creativity. I needed to feel like belief was not control, but a source of empowerment and freedom.
I put my figurative broomstick up after a couple of months. I am open to understanding about other religions and beliefs but my God is real to me, and I understand that it is all a matter of interpretation and faith and it’s not something that could be forced on another with meaning. I realized that faith and religion and beliefs are what you make of it. I believe that my pentecostal roots were born of a kabbalistic Jew and what Jesus would do covers love, healing and kicking a few tables around. The reward reflects what you’ve put into it. I have no problem with other religions because I find people that are accountable to an omniscient being or authority greater than the self are generally more likely to behave in a way that makes them good people. I won’t mock or dismiss what brings meaning to someone else’s life because I would hope my God was serious about loving others.