Taking the Initiative and Raising Pagan Children
is that crying man on the swing with the long hair mom? A yellow
skinned Jesus, depicted on a popular Fox network TV show, sighs and
kicks the gravel under his swing -- dejected, Michael Jackson-esque,
scarred for all eternity by the scary, scary humans.
sons first real live questions about another faith. Inspired by popular
culture. Hmmm. Well, son. There are these people and they are called
This is about the point when I had to stop and
think. Obviously slandering another faith isnt something Id like to
pass on to my kids as a predominant trait of my faith. They believe
that God is a man in the sky and he has a son called Jesus.
My son (clever boy that he is) says, Is he crying because he misses his mommy?
as it may be at this point to plant clever anti-dogma in his
sponge-like little brain, I resist. I fall back to the mommy script
because, after all, he is five. And my head is really starting to hurt.
Nah, sweetie, hes crying because the other kids didn't play nice. Fortunately little Mr. inquisitive lets the matter drop.
why is it that we often hesitate to teach our paths to our children? So
often there seems to be an attitude that we will allow our child to
find their own faith. Often in the background these same would-be Pagan
children are riding along with Grammy or the neighbors to the local
Awana or Bible camp and inadvertently receiving the message that this
is the norm and their parents are in some way defecting from it.
wonder if in some ways this comes from unwillingness on the parents
part to take the responsibility for making the lifestyle decision for
their children that a non J/C/I path involves. We question whether we
can prove to the people who will matter in our childrens lives that
Paganism is really just another religion. Maybe in some ways, we
question our ability to persuade our own inner critics of the validity
of our experiences.
When we relegate our Pagan-ness to a dusty
corner of our lives, or worse satirize it as moms witchy stuff or Dad
and those swords again, we un-name and take power away from our own
At the opposite extreme, we have Mary-Jo and
Billy-Bob Pagan whove named their daughter Morrigan and send her to
daycare in a ritual robe. Don't worry, mommy and daddy have taught her
not to use her Athame on play dough.
havent taken the steps to assure the teacher that she need not fear the
athame (-whatever THAT might be) coming to class anymore than she would
expect an altar boy to bring wine.
Lesson here: If your childs
life is the stage on which your Pagan lifestyle is played upon, slow
down and ask yourself, Is my childs religion his/her most important
Remember, they are little people in and unto
themselves. Not ritual tools. They serve a very important role in the
Pagan community though. They will carry their beliefs where we cant go.
There is no greater test of your belief than in
evaluating whether it will serve your children, and even their
children. To lean too much in one direction is to jeopardize their
faith in consistent consensual reality. But to lean in the other is to
take away the joy of belief and their ability to trust their intuition
about things unseen.
You want your kids to feel surrounded by
the pleasant memories of departed relatives, scents of oak leaves and
campfires at Samhain. Not run screaming into the night for fear of the
dead guys outside.
Now wouldn't that would be delightful to have to explain to the kindergarten teacher at the Halloween parade?
how do you go about introducing pagan or Wiccan structured belief
systems to children? Bible verses and sticker books still hold the knee
jerk Brainwashing! response. High intellectual debate is a little
unreasonable at this point.
How do you decide which aspects of
your faith contain the keys to the morals and ethics you would like
your children to learn? What are the increments on the ruler you will
give them to measure their experiences against?
need to be a fully developed rule. You don't have to address the
morality of a 35-year-old man in your five year old. Over time, this
ruler changes and grows. As we mature, we make our own marks against
it. Many of us are no longer of the faith that we were born into.
of us do have a common element though. We did receive some religious
instruction. Fleeting or shallow as it may seem in retrospect, belief
is something you experience from a young age. Fictional characters who
arrive under cloak of darkness to hide treats under your couch, a
pillow, or a tree reinforce belief.
Its a good thing to
believe. Then this joy in belief is transferred onto an event that
happens reliably. Anticipation plays a big role in validating belief as
well. Being told something good is going to happen, and then seeing it
happen, makes us all the more excited about the next time it will
happen. (You mean, I get to feel this way again?)
pleasant emotion generated internally rather than in response to
external stimulus isnt just natural, its necessary. All the better when
it can be repeated regularly. This is one of the building blocks of our
coping mechanisms. Learning to self soothe. Its surprising how many
adults in the world still cant do this.
Children between 3 and
seven already have one foot set in sacred space at all times. They
havent quite learned the rules of shared reality yet and are still
unsure whether the things that live inside their heads might show up
under the bed or in the closet. At 2 a.m., the strength of a childs
belief can be trying. At best. On the up side, while your child is
experiencing deep fear related to a belief, this also shows they have a
great capacity for love and joy to emerge from belief as well.
giving our kids a system in which belief is pleasurable and rewarding,
any faith they later pursue is going to lack substance and
satisfaction. If we dont direct their natural desires to believe in
something, then by default media and routine will teach a loose version
of Christianity through holidays demarcated on a school lunchroom
calendar. I feel my children deserve a more diverse background in
religious tolerance than the sanitized Winter Assembly can offer.
spring, my oldest son, creatively dubbed Bubba shortly after birth for
non-legal purposes, attended his first ritual. It was Imbolg and a
daytime ritual. The timing was right, and the group hosting the months
circle was made up of mixed adults.
Bubba will be six in
November, but is not unfamiliar with the concepts of Paganism. Hes come
shopping with mommy to buy ritual supplies, looked at pictures in
endless books while mommy was busy looking at the boring black squiggly
stuff, and both fortunately and unfortunately at times, has listened in
on mommy waxing philosophic and impassioned on some topic or other. He
is rather partial to Z. Budapests depiction of Aphrodite.
also pay attention for a short period of time. He can sit, stay and
take instruction from another adult or myself from across the circle.
Until he was capable of doing these things reliably, he was, in my
opinion, not ready to take part in circle in a meaningful way. Im not
into the children as scenery and fairy robe models in ritual. In this
aspect they distract, and the belief they are learning is that they
will be complimented for what they look like rather than what they do.
did well. The circle was cast from heart to heart by all participating
and he was able to repeat the small incantation by which the casting
was passed as well as a gesture.
Discussions about what he
believes deity to be have been small and simplified. The role it seems
to play in his life is that of bigger parents. Eventually as his needs
change, I have a feeling this will as well.
If for now, the gods speak to him in the same voice that we read Goodnight Moon in, then I am satisfied.
I believe They just may.