If you are a part of a faith, you have certain traditions and rituals you practice during the holiday season each year. I am a Jewish woman, and I also practice Jewish witchcraft. As a Jew, I am grateful to have rituals from my own religion that I practice.
However, this cannot be said for everyone. Within the Pagan and Wicca communities, cultural appropriation has been a topic of much debate. There are many practices and herbs sacred to indigenous culture. A few are using Palto Santo, White Sage, and smudging. Hoodoo, Voodoo, and Bruja are other practices that are off-limits to white practitioners. However, many do not realize or do not admit that Jewish witchcraft is also off-limits for non-Jews.
The Kabbalah is a source of Jewish witchcraft and mysticism. Kabbalah came into existence in 12th century Spain. Driven mainly by Sephardic Jews, it spread quickly throughout the Jewish communities around the world. Its practitioners desire to experience intimacy with God. They believe within the soul of every individual there is a hidden part of God waiting to be revealed.
It is meant to be studied by those with extensive knowledge of Judaism. They must be emotionally and psychologically mature to study the text. The spiritual intensity of the Kabbalah’s text is why there are traditional restrictions set for those who can practice it.
Cabala is the Christianized version of Kabbalah that seeks to reinterpret it through a Christian lense. As part of the Renaissance project, Chrstian scholars became interested in the Kabbalah in hopes of understanding the origins of their religious practices.
However, the main reason for studying Jewish mysticism was to convert Jews to Christianity. This was antisemitic and encouraged Christian supremacy. They translated whole books of Jewish mysticism to validate the Christian doctrine and suppress the Jewish people.
Thankfully, Cabala meant nothing to the Jewish community and failed to convert them. For centuries, it was practiced to oppress Jews. Christian Caabalists used it as a weapon against the Jewish people to assert their belief Christianity was a superior practice.
Qabalah is another teaching also heavily based within Jewish mysticism. Giovanni Pico Della Mirandola, one of the founders, happened to study with a Jewish teacher. Yochanan Alemanno tutored him in Torah, Hebrew, and Talmud. However, this was not Giovanni’s first introduction to Kabbalah, as evidence shows he learned Hebrew for the sole purpose of learning Kabbalah and interpreting it for his own use.
Qabalah is a blend of Jewish mysticism, alchemy, western astrology, and pagan religions, including Egyptian and Greco-Roman. Despite this practice being a blend of various religions and cultures, it is branded as the “original Qabalah.” Despite the fact that its founder took lessons learning the Jewish Kabbalah, and acknowledged the book is rooted in this practice. Furthermore, the Jewish Kabbalah predates it as well.
Aleister Crowley, a well-rounded figure in the Wiccan and Pagan community, promoted this version. However, he was known for being antisemitic and racist, and even specifically culturally appropriating Jewish mysticism. He went as far as to name his daughter Lilith after a Jewish demon. While those who practice Qabalah do not wish to convert us, they are interested in handpicking parts of our religion that suit them and their beliefs.
Why are non-Jews not allowed to practice?
Inside everyone’s body breaths a soul; the soul is our essence, our character, feelings, consciousness, and perception. Imagine personifying Judaism, and the soul of this being is the Kabbalah, the inner wisdom.
Kabbalah is often called “Torat ha-Sod” translated to “the teaching of the secret.” This is why for most of the time Kabbalah was transmitted from teacher to select student in utmost confidence. Restrictions were placed on the practice to ensure those who were studying it were intellectually and psychologically prepared to take on the task. This means you must be well versed in the Torah.
In the past, rabbis have attempted to demystify our religion to make us more approachable and less threatening to others. This was to protect our community from those who use our religion as a weapon against us. This is clearly connected to how Christians bastardize our religion and sacred teachings in hopes of converting us.
Non-Jews can get an intellectual insight of the Kabbalah’s concepts or perhaps even be invited to study. However, they are not allowed to study on their own and cannot directly participate in its teachings. Judaism is a closed religion, meaning that unless you are born into it or convert, our practice is CLOSED to non-Jews.
When we do speak out on these issues we are constantly silenced by the occultist and new age spiritual communities. They ignore us or claim we spread misinformation. Many will even resort to antisemitic rhetoric to bully us into silence.
I will once again reiterate: if you do not convert or are not born into Judaism, you have no place studying the Kabbalah. If one does not observe its intricate relations with the commandments of the Torah and its prayer, they cannot practice it. Unless a non-Jew is prepared to make the full commitment to its teachings (conversion), they have no business practicing it.
Another form of cultural appropriation by members of witchcraft, and especially the Wiccan community, is using Lilith in their practice. The story of Lilith, Adam’s first, is a midrash. Midrashim are retellings of stories in the Torah to help fill holes in the text and explain biblical mysteries.
Rabbis wrote them filling the missing pieces of stories between passages. They became an important way for the Jewish people to interact with various interpretations of the Torah. Often it would be taught as if the midrashim were the way things actually happened.
Lilith was first mentioned as an evil entity in the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), and later from the midrash. In Genesis 1 it stated how man and woman were created together. Lilith was created at the same time as Adam, therefore she considered herself equal. Ancient rabbinic tradition states she was a baby-eating demon.
When Adam and Lilith began to fight, she said, “I will not lie below, and he said, “I will not lie beneath you but only on top. For you are fit only to be in the bottom position while I am in the superior one.” Lilith responded, “We are equal, inasmuch as we are both created from the earth.” Lilith and Adam were formed from the same substance, so Lilith’s argument was more than justified.
She pronounced the magical incantation in the name of God and fled. God told Adam, “If she agrees to come back fine. If not, she must permit 100 of her children to die daily.” Three angels were sent to retrieve her, but she refused to return. They threatened to drown her in the sea, she responded, “ Leave me! I was created only to cause sickness to infants. If the infant is male, I have dominion over him for eight days after his birth, and if female for ten days.”
She swore that if she saw the angels’ names or forms in an amulet on a child, she would have no power over the infant. She also agreed to have 100 of her children die daily. We still practice this today: we wear amulets for their power as a regular (charm) to ward off evil entities like Lilith.
She is also mentioned in the Kabbalah as a figure of cosmic evil. She became the female consort of Samael. They were the “Great Demon” of the Alphabet of Ben Sira which was given the name Samael.
Lilith in Modern Judiasm
Modern Jewish feminists in the 1970s transformed Lilith’s image into a feminist icon. Modern Judaism shifted from viewing Lilith as an evil spirit to a role model for Jewish women. Her story emulates her ferocious strength, which must be respected and admired.
However, her story and her origin has once again been appropriated by non-Jews. Many will mistake her as a sexy, sensual goddess. There is NO evidence of her being a Goddess in any way, shape or form. Another claim is she a fierce protector among women. This, in turn, is false. As mentioned previously, she is a stealer of babies, and pregnant women wear amulets to ward her off. How can she be a “fierce protector” of women if she seeks out pregnant women to harm children? Or perhaps cause trouble during a pregnancy?
Without any proper education myself I was unaware of Lilith’s proper origins. I began to call on her as a goddess, not realizing I could have been calling upon another deity. I had briefly started working with her when I sought advice from a fellow Jewish witch about using Lilith in our practices. She informed me that many Jewish practitioners do not seek her out, especially if they have children or pregnant women in their life. She is a demon, and extremely hard to call up and work with.
She does not take to begging, and she operates on her own free will. “Many Jewish witches are extremely wary of working with her, because she is not one to be called upon lightly.” Therefore, if you happen to work with her know, her actions may be unpredictable and you could be putting yourself and others in danger.
I recently ended up giving up my brief attempt to work with her for two reasons. First, I struggle with fertility, and I have pre-existing conditions: inviting a baby-stealer into my practice is foolish. Second, I have a goddess of Jewish origin with whom I work, and I am happy with her. I also work with Hashem.
To my non-Jews who still find the need to appropriate Lilith and ignore us when we ask you to stop, be aware of who you are calling on. Know that you may be summoning an entirely different entity if you do not properly educate yourself on her origins. Which is terrifying to think about. She is not your sexy, sensual Goddess, she is not yours to include in your practice. Please understand how significant she is to our religion.
What you can do instead is find deities that share similar traits with her that come from open practices. For instance, the Lamia was a female demon of the night who devoured children. She originates from Greek mythology.
Judaism is a closed practice; one cannot take our sacred texts and entities and choose what would work best for them, especially without regarding the historical and religious significance they have. Unless you are born into the religion or convert, our sacred practices are off limits.
I would like to acknowledge that I am still new to this, and want to shout out Jewitches a brilliant source, who has helped me formulate this article and better understand my Jewish witchcraft. Please follow her page and subscribe to her Patreon!