Pagan Parenting – a practical guide
Miss Chris shares her guide to pagan parenting based on personal experience. Wiccanings, Initiations, tricky family and school issues and keeping yourselves happy, entertained and full of magick. If you do it? LIVE IT.
Hi! Before we start… I’m Wiccan. These are my views on the world, from the eyes of a very practical, yummy witch mummy. I used the word Pagan because I really don’t think the technicalities matter… and the title sounded good with all the P’s.*
I was about twelve when I had my first encounter with magick. It was the year of my Confirmation, a monumental day for Ireland’s Catholic kids. The party clothes quivered on their designated hanger, the new shoes gleamed, the fancy hairstyles had been abandoned and tried again. Then, a mere fortnight before the big day, our teachers announced we’d be sent to pray with some mountain-dwelling nuns.
Nobody cared; we wanted to get back to persuading our mothers into letting us wear makeup. But that afternoon my teacher, two nuns, classmates and I all prayed together. We closed our eyes, relaxed our bodies, and breathed in silence. There was no horseplay, no barely suppressed giggles. This was real.
The energy was magnificent and irresistible. Not really knowing what I was doing, I let some of that wonderful energy in and – eyes glistening, heart bursting with joy – I felt energy spilling over into my soul in a focused but relaxed pull towards the depths of my heart. I was surprised to find myself imagining luminescent wings unfurling from my back. I thought of reaching back to touch them, practically feeling the soft feather bristles poking through my fingers. But I didn’t budge.
I knew something special was happening to me, beautiful and intangible. I’m certain those were my first steps towards becoming Wiccan.
Kids are the best Pagans!
Children are magnificent creatures. They soak up all sorts of energies like little sponges. Smile at a baby and the odds are they’ll smile right back. If they catch you crying, there’s a good chance they will too. Watch them marvel at the world it’s utterly breathtaking.
Kids believe in magick without ever needing a reason, without even stopping to think about it. They know as deep and far as they can imagine, and they run with that in the most fearlessly faithful manner. When it comes to magick, they don’t need to be taught they feel it all naturally from the day they’re born. It’s up to us the growing minority group of Pagan parents and friends of pagan parents to help them retain that incredible ebb of energy and appreciation. No-one else will!
Lil Witch Babies: Wiccan Christenings (Wiccaning), Initiation and Beyond
When you discover you’ve got a baby on the way, you find out all sorts of interesting things, not the least of them being what regurgitated porridge looks like. For example, only you as a parent are legally allowed to give the go-ahead for any sort of medical intervention (unless in an emergency of course). You get to choose your baby’s name (Mookychick does of course have a list of Wiccan and Pagan baby names for you to consider), place of residence… even, in some situations, their nationality. You also get the honour of introducing them to whatever set of beliefs you please. Personally, I believe in choice. I believe in raising kids with inclusion and acceptance, and letting them make up their own minds when they’re older.
Kids and Wiccanings
The nice thing about “Wiccan Christenings”, or a Wiccaning, is that, while a formal introduction to your family in the sacred circle, your child can always change their mind and remove themselves from the circle later in life if they decide it’s not for them.
Wiccaning has become, I think, a bit of a “replacement ceremony” something you do so as not to disappoint non-Wiccan family. Since there’s so much confusion and secrecy about the history of Wicca, we can only really trust the last hundred-odd years for even remotely solid sources of tradition that’s why having some incentive and creating your own family traditions is vital.
Regardless, a Wiccan Christening is a lovely ceremony you gather your closest, most open-minded family and friends in a circle, pass the baby around, and welcome them to the family. It’s not an official dedication of child to religion it is, quite simply, a welcoming. It can be as formal or informal as you like, with lots of sage and calling forth the elements, or just a simple circle with some protecting energy, a few candles, and lots of love.
My best advice is to plan in advance, keep it moderately simple and ASK who does and does not want to be involved. Explain to dubious loved ones that they won’t be dancing nude around a tree, and that it means a lot to you and your baby. Don’t be upset if some people are uncomfortable and don’t want to take part they can give their own blessings another time.
Kids and Initiations
The next big leap for a child is Initiation – confirmation that they want to be part of the family circle as an adult Wiccan. This ceremony was more common in years past, and more common again outside of family situations it’s more of a coven thing than anything.
However, it’s a nice way to mark your kid’s decision and make them feel important. Initiation varies wildly, so a ceremony of your own device is probably best. Generally, it takes place when they’re thirteen years and one day old. In the absence of a High Priestess or Priest, as it would be in a coven, the parents perform the Initiation.
All grown up: Pagans and Handfastings
Similarly, when your baby grows up and if they choose a Handfasting/Handparting, the parents perform again. Or, if a High Priestess is available, get involved and give your child your own beosum to jump over, or make a special one for them. Who knows, maybe you’ll have another Wiccaning to do before long…
Everyone Else: Pagans and Non-Pagans alike
Pagans of all descriptions are on the rise and with a bit of luck, we’ll get to rule the world some day. Until then, we’ll have to acknowledge the rules and expectations of everyone else.
Parents come under pressure from many sources, but there’s only a few particular groups that will really put your Pagan parenting skills to the test namely old-fashioned family members, and your child’s non-Pagan friends.
Dealing with family can be extraordinarily difficult. Most of us will go through this at some point. There’s no simple way around it all you can do is remember that your family all love you and your child, and usually they’re just worried about them being left out. Be loving, open and honest, but also very firm your decision is made, and nobody but you can influence what you believe in. If things get nasty, walk away and say nothing. A little bit of the silent treatment can go a long way sometimes. Remember, you’ve got the upper hand in this situation, and you have the strength to deal with it. With a bit of faith, perseverance and love, things almost always work themselves out.
Your child’s non-Pagan best friend can be equally troublesome. Kids can be awfully cruel sometimes, especially with things they don’t fully understand, so make sure you talk to the other parents you know. Stick to the concept of teaching your kids about acceptance and equality, and they’re sure to be convinced.
I almost forgot about the teachers. Please, PLEASE, talk to the teachers! There’s nothing worse than having your child come running home, teary-eyed and confused, because their teacher said their beloved deceased pet isn’t in the same place as their beloved deceased relative. With each new teacher, try to establish a relationship and be sure to tell them what is and is not acceptable for them to be preaching to your sensitive and vulnerable child.
Finally, it can be difficult to get a sense of community as a Pagan family. It’s hard watching all the other kids having their big days and special ceremonies, so be sure you don’t get left out. Sometimes a conventional holiday will fall close to a Sabbat the solution there is easy. Other times, take your child out of school for a day, and be sure to make a big fuss. Bring them to a forest, or the seaside, to help them reconnect with their inner witch. Buy them a keepsake their first Book of Shadows – for collected natural bits and bobs. Take photos even buy them their very own disposable camera. Tell them how playing with dead leaves and drawing pictures in the sand and feeling happy and free is just as important as what their friends are doing. As long as they feel special, you’ve done your job.
The Pagan Kiddie Wheel of Life
When it comes to inclusion in the Wheel, keep it simple they can join your formal ritual circle when they feel ready. Until then, remember that kids feel magick with ease, and as long as you explain to them the meaning behind the special day, and establish some of your own traditions together, it almost doesn’t matter what you do.
Personally, I keep Yule and the unavoidable lure of Christmas separate gifts and extended family on the 25th, a ritual feast and relaxing on the 21st. Plant seeds at Imbolc, bake at Mabon, dance together at Beltane. Get them involved in the little miracles of the everyday that represent the power behind the Wheel, and you’ll build memories that last a lifetime. The key is simplicity and consistency – it keeps them interested, and excited about the next turning of the Wheel.
As well as Wiccaning, there are other kinds of milestone ceremonies you might like to share with your child, or even create yourself birthday celebrations (buy a tree when they’re born and every year tie a coloured ribbon to it to invite fairies to come play at their special tree), starting school (making a small success/ protection/ luck pouch with them and pop it in their schoolbag), the heartache of grievance (write final goodbyes and prayers carefully on a paper lantern and let it off into the sky). There’s no end to the ways you can celebrate the important moments of your child’s life together.
Whether you follow the Wheel or create your own ceremonies, cast spells with vigour or prefer the simplicity of meditation, one thing remains unchanged your witch children embrace the little things with unrivalled rapture. Read them stories full of fantasy and wonder. Draw pictures of magickal rainbows and mysterious moons. Tell each other about your dreams. Let them make their own little altar, or even just a nature table. Find an animal companion for them as early as you can. Take your newborn baby outside to soak up the power of the sunrise. Pray and send energy together. Bake bread and eat pomegranates. Talk about angels. Gaze at the stars together. Draw down the moon. Read them The Iliad. Sing them songs. Pick flowers and make daisy chains. Whisper blessings. Take your child out on the windiest days, and watch them dance in the rain. That, dear reader, is real magick.