Cross and Pentacle: Two religions at the crossroads

I was a Jesus Freak, a passionate theologian, and a Southern Baptist minister. I worked hard to convert pagans. The pagans won.

Discovering magic as a witch with an intimate knowledge of western christianity I explore the juxtaposition of these two faiths. Christianity and paganism alike are undergoing dramatic changes with parallel trends, conflicting challenges, and a growing concern for interfaith dialogue.

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On eating a pear - a harvest prayer

It is harvest season and my Mabon altar features the bounty of my farmbox. Piles of fruit and vegetables arranged carefully around ritual tools with a sunflower bouquet in the center. I sit back to admire how beautifully balanced the altar looks - for about 10 minutes. That’s when my cats discover the changed altar and promptly invent a game of apple soccer, sweet potato rugby, and squash - played with real squash. The apple is round enough to roll gently, the scratches on the sweet potato don’t bother me, and the squash has thick skin so I let them have at it. But when my precious pomegranate gets unceremoniously dumped off the altar, bruising and bleeding red on my bedsheet, I draw the line and stage a rescue mission amidst sharp teeth and claws.


I investigate my damaged pomegranate and I am relieved to see that it will do just fine in a salad; it will not be wasted. I am reminded of an infographic showing that up to 40% of food grown and produced in the U.S. is wasted. In the midst of our severe drought here in California I remember that this waste also accounts for 1/4 of all fresh water consumption. About 60% of this wastage comes from consumers throwing out food. I wonder how I can help conserve food and water, in addition to rescuing my pomegranate. Too often, I realize, I consume food not for the sake of nourishing my body but primarily for suppressing emotions or stifling boredom.


I want to change that. I feel that it is necessary to once again reset my relationship to food and I decide to do a one day water fast. So I stock up on pure spring water, collected from a canyon not far from where I live. I bike to work on an empty stomach and a surge of excitement. It is quiet in the office and I get a lot of work done, despite the grumbling in my tummy. But by noon I can smell other people’s cooking and I seriously consider abandoning the plan telling myself that a half day fast should be plenty sufficient. In the end I prevail and take a “lunch” break with a book I have enjoying. I don’t tell anyone I am doing this, and in the evening I quietly watch my housemates eat their meals, continuously grounding into my purpose for fasting. My stomach rumbles as I lie in bed and I have trouble falling asleep.


In the morning I am elated. I made it through the day and while tired, I feel terrific. My farmbox has arrived and I eagerly pick through it: shisato peppers, mushrooms, carrots, tomatoes, bok choy, bell peppers, a bunch of pears, and the season’s first pumpkin! I read the sheet that comes with the box; every week it tells stories from the farm, allowing me to know the cycles of planting, tending, and harvesting that produced the bounty on my kitchen counter.


I ponder how I should break my fast. Each piece of fruit, each vegetable looks delicious to me. I chop up some vegetables, make a colorful salad and pack it into my bag. Then I grab two pears, weigh them in each hand, squeeze them to feel their firmness. I decide to save them for later, to enjoy my bikeride through the overcast and cool streets of Berkeley before biting into my pears. At work I sit down and once again look at the fruits. I think of hunger, the privilege I enjoy for never experiencing it except by choice, the thirsty land all around me, and the many layers of work that brought this pear to me.


I feel the need to make a ritual of eating it. I want to invoke the death and rebirth of the seasons, the endless turning of the wheel, our work and Her grace, for even though we abuse Her and waste Her gifts, the Earth keeps on giving. And I want to invoke justice as I take this food into my body, so I write a harvest prayer


Of season’s blood and wheel of time

By sacred work and grace divine

Let justice reign upon the fields

And bless the food our harvest yields


And I taste sweetness and hardness and life as I bite into my sacred pear.

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Born and raised an evangelical Christian in Germany, I joined the Jesus Freak movement as a teenager and became a passionate evangelist and worship leader. No one was surprised when I went to the US at age 19 and came back a tattooed and pierced fundamentalist Christian, betrothed to a "Chrispie" (a Christian hippie, that is). I was a virgin the day we married. Five years later I graduated bible college with highest honors and post traumatic stress disorder. I deepened both my theology and trauma on the road by traveling the country in a big yellow school bus. For three years I lived as a nomad, playing music and leading bible studies, from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine. I learned that Christianity in America encompasses a wide range of beliefs and practices, from Amish groups casting demons out of school busses to Roman Catholic priests breaking into government buildings. I saw Jesus in the oddest places. And then everything changed and I ended up a polyamorous Witch in a Pagan community in California.


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