Raising a Pagan Child Pt. 1 -- Making the Decision
Article ID: 14071
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Patrick McCleary
Posted: August 8th. 2010
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We as parents have a great responsibility. We have at least one other person who is reliant almost solely, in some cases, upon us, our child (ren) . And not only for food and housing but for spiritual guidance as well. In other words, we are tasked with leading a part of the next generation forward through faith. I look around see that there is a slow growing movement afoot, one that is moving towards a wider acceptance of raising children in Paganism. Yet I still wanted to share the story of how my wife and I together came to the decision to raise our child up in Wicca. And the advice that we have to share with parents who have also made this decision.
For a long while it was our belief that spirituality was enough for us to pass onto a young child. Yet the longer we explored that concept the more we came to realize that spirituality was very much like an ivy plant. With just a little watering and tending it can grow very strong, and very quickly as well. Yet without a trellis to grow on, it very quickly becomes haphazard and scatters itself everywhere. Religion is that frame. Like the trellis, religion helps to order ones spirituality into something majestic and long lasting.
Yet even though we had come to this understanding, we still were unsure of whether we were making the right decision. I say this because of our upbringing. We had been forced into a religion by our parents that ultimately left us unfulfilled. Yet Wicca/Paganism is not like Christianity. These religious choices are not about right and wrong but rather about individual experience and personal fulfillment. Paganism is not about an invisible God, separate from us, who will dole out punishment for what He deems to be wrong.
I hope by now you can see why we made the decision that we made. After all this thought and struggle to understand how to do what we had decided to do (I mean there is no manual for this kind of thing) I decided to launch my blog, PaganDad, and through it I found many parents who were struggling with this same decision. And some who had made the decision but for a myriad of reasons, did not know how to begin teaching their kids Wicca or Paganism. Some of the reasons that I have heard from them are:
-They are new to the Craft and unsure of their own path much less how to share it with their children.
-They are unsure of the age that they should start teaching them at.
-In general they are just uncertain. While you can teach the how and the why, students can still struggle to understand the deeper Mysteries.
My advice in these cases has almost always been the same. Start small and build up, and most of all be patient. While the age of a child ready to call the Elements or cast the Circle will vary widely, almost no child is too young to experience the wonder of a bird in flight or the beauty of a sunset or the power of a crackling fire.
Of course, this is just the beginning of the advice that I have offered to parents I have talked to. But for the sake of simplicity I have cut the mass amount of advice on my blog down to this short list of a few basic things.
The first of these being the concept of immanent deity. In my opinion this is the greatest thing about the Pagan faiths. There is no feeling like the feeling of being in the arms of the Goddess and God. I try hard to include this in the rituals that I have led. And I will try just as hard to show this to my youngest child (the oldest one being Christian this probably will not work) . She knows about the Goddess and God already. We have told her that the Goddess lives in the Moon and the God in the Sun.
I know a simple explanation but she is only six. But once they know the symbols that represent the Goddess and God then they can learn to know who They are. This is the essence of raising a pagan child. For it is this inherent knowledge of the Deity that defines Pagans as such.
Now this brings us to the next tenet I wanted to talk about, The Circle of Life or our connection to the natural world.
Most people, I think, would agree that there is little that is more awe-inspiring then a sunset or sunrise. So this is probably the easiest lesson to teach your children. To love the world around them... the deep forest, the blue waters, the flash of lightning and the fall of rain.
I am blessed that the area around where I live is full of wildlife. Sometimes I have to drive an hour to the deep woods but even then that is worth it because of the calmness found away from the city. This is also something that I can teach to both of my children, that the world around us is sacred and must be both respected and taken care of.
Both of my children exclaim in wonder as they see the moon rise over the trees, full and bright. And get excited when we are visited and heralded by birds early in the morning as we break camp.
It is so easy for any of us, even Pagans, to get become disconnected from the natural world. Yeah we see the moon rise and maybe even plot its phases, but when do we actually go outside civilization and really experience Mother Earth.
We all seek to know our place in the world. Poised perfectly between the spiritual and the mundane. The world of humans and the animal world. Yet many of us have forgotten this. We have forgotten that we are all connected. That which we feed on will eventually feed on us.
So if you start with these simple things and begin to include them in ritual, you will find that your child (ren) will catch on very quickly. Just remember to be patient because they are still just children.
Location: Zephyrhills, Florida
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