Tales of a Southern Pagan Mom

Posts tagged “Pagan 101 for Kids

Pagan Parenting Part II: Beliefs

Introductionpaganparentingseries -2017

This is Part I of the Pagan Parenting Series. Raising children is hard enough, but when you factor in being part of a religion or spiritual belief system that falls outside the mainstream, there’s an added layer of difficulty. In addition to criticism by the mainstream, there is also a decided lack of resources for Pagan parents that deals specifically with the particulars of raising children in an Earth-based belief system. In the interests of full disclosure, I developed this series based on a discussion centering on the book, Circle Round: Elements of Spiritual Parenting, but you may find the self-assessment questions relevant even without the book. I looked for the original discussion, but could not find it to link. If this sounds familiar, and you have a source, please let me know and I will update the introduction with a link. However flavored by the original discussion, I have put my own spin on it for publishing here. In this series, I invite you to explore some of the topics and issues of concern centered on raising children as a Pagan parent.

Part II: Beliefs

All children eventually ask hard questions about the natural and supernatural world. What do we say when they ask about heaven or hell? Reincarnation? Deity? Do we pass our beliefs on to our children as ‘truth’, or do we want them to come to their own conclusions? Asking yourself these questions and others along these lines can make the difference between being prepared to answer or being blindsided when you’re not expecting them! As parents, it can be hard enough to answer those kinds of questions when you’re part of a mainstream religion, but when you fall outside of the norm, how do you answer? It can be very difficult to decide how much information is age-appropriate, or how much is ‘too much’. It can also be hard to find ‘traditional’ information to pass on to your kids.

Over the years, we’ve relied on literature, mythology, philosophy and religious studies to round out the kids’ knowledge base. Most Pagans I know personally don’t indoctrinate their kids into their path in the same way that other religions tend to assert you should. That presents problems for some; how do you teach them without forcing it on them? I think that has a lot to do with just exposure, and how you present things. My kids have always been welcome to attend Circle events and Ritual with me, and we’ve also taken them to other church services and allowed them the choice to attend, participate or opt out. We’ve always been open about XYZ being ‘one way to think about things’, or ‘this is what Mommy believes; this is what Daddy (or Auntie or whoever) believes’ with the approach that belief is a personal thing, neither ‘right’ nor ‘wrong’. Your approach may differ based on what your goals are.

One thing I know about my own beliefs is that they’re ever-evolving. There are ideas and concepts that I ‘like’, but don’t necessarily ‘believe’ and figuring out how to explain some of those things to my children has been challenging. Fortunately, if you’re interested in sharing your beliefs as a Pagan, or person on a more Nature/Earth-based spiritual path, there are some things online that can help to explain, or at least give you a starting point to start teaching your children. I have found it helpful to have a starting point, and for us, that was defining what it is that I believe in; what goals I am trying to attain as a person. Since we are somewhat secular, I was drawn to the 15 Guiding Principles of Secular Paganism as a teaching tool. I also appreciate the Nine Noble Virtues of Asatru, and the Golden Rule as it is explained in other various religions. If you’re more traditionally Pagan or Wiccan, then The Witches Creed, The Wiccan Rede, or 13 Goals of a Witch might be more fitting, or have attributes that you want to include in your children’s education. As an eclectic practitioner, all of these have value for me.

In my practice, gratitude and mindfulness are two concepts that I am deeply attached to and so I try to incorporate those ideas and ideals into my life on a daily basis. While this doesn’t involve ‘giving thanks’ to a deity figure,  it does involve being mindful of the good things in my life and focusing on the positive. Depending on your feelings about and/or interpretation of Deity, you may include prayers, devotions or other ‘little rituals’ that are meaningful for you and your child(ren). We have Goddess and God and Sabbat candles in the kitchen that are lit almost daily, and directional/elemental candles that are lit for various reasons. Other things, ‘traditions’ that are rooted in belief and practice have their place as well: decorations (besom, Witch Balls, altars, ritual sweeping, smudging, etc.)… those things are just part of ‘our house’ and are normal for my kids. Other facets of your belief system will depend on your personal interpretation of your path and what religion and belief means to you. I like the Four Centers of Paganism as a model for understanding, and teaching as well. Defining where you stand, and how you interpret your path can make it easier to articulate and demonstrate to your kids.

In conclusion, I think the important thing is to prepare yourself for those hard questions, and not to leave your children out of the process of discovery. Whatever your approach, and whatever their path, the journey towards a personal style of spirituality and belief is interesting and full of self-discovery. Whether they agree with you, or take off on a completely different spiritual path, they’ll make it their own just like you have.

Here are some books and other resources that I’ve found both interesting and helpful at various times over the years. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and I am not affiliated with the authors, publishers of distributors; the links are just for ease of locating them if you think they may be of use to you. Please feel free to comment with other books and resources you’ve found helpful, especially if they’re specific path relevant (i.e.: Druidry, Asatru, etc.)

Paganism For Kiddos: A Kids and Parents’ Guide to Pagan and Wiccan Practice by Jessica M. Hauptmann

Raising Witches: Teaching The Wiccan Faith To Children and Family Wicca by Ashleen O’Gaea

Circle Round: Raising Children in Goddess Traditions by Starhawk, Diane Baker, Anne Hill, & Sara Ceres Boore 

Celebrating the Great Mother: A Handbook of Earth-Honoring Activities for Parents and Children by Cait Johnson & Maura D. Shaw 

The Pagan Family: Handing the Old Ways Down by Ceisiwr Serith

D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths & D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths by Ingri d’Aulaire & Edgar Parin d’Aulaire

Be sure to check out the other parts in this series:
Part I: Values
Part III
Part IV

What are your thoughts on sharing your beliefs with your children?

Brightest Blessings,
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Pagan Parenting Part I: Values

paganparentingseries - 2016Introduction

This is Part I of the Pagan Parenting Series. Raising children is hard enough, but when you factor in being part of a religion or spiritual belief system that falls outside the mainstream, there’s an added layer of difficulty. In addition to criticism by the mainstream, there is also a decided lack of resources for Pagan parents that deals specifically with the particulars of raising children in an Earth-based belief system. In the interests of full disclosure, I developed this series based on a discussion centering on the book, Circle Round: Elements of Spiritual Parenting, but you may find the self-assessment questions relevant even without the book. I looked for the original discussion, but could not find it to link. If this sounds familiar, and you have a source, please let me know and I will update the introduction with a link. However flavored by the original discussion, I have put my own spin on it for publishing here. In this series, I invite you to explore some of the topics and issues of concern centered on raising children as a Pagan parent.

Part I: Values

In the first part of this series, we’ll start with some introspection. All of us, as parents, have core values that we want to instill into our children, and help them develop as they grow. As a Pagan, I’ve been asked on more than one occasion, ‘Where do your values come from’. It’s a question usually inspired by the belief that values are strictly a Christian commodity, and that the Bible is the source and guardian of all the Good Things, including behaviour and motivation, and that without them, you’re incapable of having a meaningful system of values. Obviously, that’s not so, but the idea and assumption that because you are Pagan you’re incapable of having a moral compass persists.

As a parent, this issue is compounded. Not only are you considered ‘less than’, but (clutches pearls) ‘think of the children’!! We parents have a great responsibility in raising the next generation to be productive adults. It’s worth it to take some time to consider what things in your spiritual history are worthwhile, what things you’ve abandoned, and what you’ve learned that you hope to pass on.

Some of the questions for this discussion are:

How were you raised spiritually?
What do you reject of your spiritual upbringing?
What do you still value?
What parts of your current spiritual path are new to you?
What are the essential qualities you want to give your children as they grow?

How were you raised spiritually?

No matter what religion or spiritual beliefs you were raised with, it left a mark on you – on how you think, on how your spiritual beliefs and practices evolved and grew. Whether you continued in a similar path, or found something that fit better, or forged your own path, your foundations matter. It’s common for the birth of a child to shake you a bit. It’s a huge change in life-roles, and it’s normal for every aspect of your world to be rocked to the core. It’s fairly common for new parents to revisit the beliefs or religions of their childhood, especially if those memories were happy ones. One advantage that most established religions have is community. The lure of a ready-made community is strong. As a new parent, your network of support may be fragile, or non-existent, and a religious community fills that void in a big way (at least it does in the US South – not sure if it’s the same in other places). If you live near family, then there may be great pressure and/or temptation to return to your foundations by family or friends.

If that happens, it’s okay! Consider it a learning experience. Go – enjoy what you can from the experience. You may find that it fits now in a way that it didn’t before. But if your beliefs are dramatically different and/or incompatible with how you were raised, then don’t be surprised if those temptations are fleeting, or you feel out-of-place relatively quickly. That’s okay, too. Considering the possibility that this may happen to you once you have a child is, as they say, forewarned is forearmed.

What do you reject of your spiritual upbringing? What do you still value?

This is a multi-faceted question, and interesting to explore. By getting a good idea of what you reject and what you still value,  you can form better ideas of what you want to pass on to your child. In the context of religion and spirituality, if a Creator story is important to you, then finding resources that embody your current values may be something you want to look into. If the idea of serving the community is important to you, then finding stories and histories that illustrate that idea would be important. If celebrating special events and Holy Days as a family are important to you, then you’ll want to figure out how to incorporate that into your family routine.
What parts of your current spiritual path are new to you?

I firmly believe that one of the best things that parents can do is ensure that their children know that they’re still learning. Life is made up of one learning experience to the next, and even as adults, we learns new things, make adjustments to our worldview and keep on growing as people. It’s completely okay not to have all the answers, and letting your kids know that you’re willing to study and learn something new with them creates bonds of communication and trust that last a lifetime. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be an authority in their lives; your life experience and book knowledge absolutely give you a broader perspective, but it’s totally okay not to know everything, especially when it comes to spiritual matters.

One thing I have noticed about Pagans is that many have a set of core-beliefs but that they also tend to be fluid with what aspects of their spirituality and practice are most important to them at various times. They’re also eager to learn about new ideas, concepts, methods of practice and mythology and willing to put those things into their own practice when they feel something strongly. As you learn new things, don’t be afraid to introduce them to your children. There are many Pagans who adopt a ‘family friendly’ approach after they have children, and even festivals, gatherings and some circles consider themselves ‘family friendly’.

What are the essential qualities you want to give your children as they grow?

Part of being a parent is guiding by example. Whatever your children see you doing – good or bad – they’ll imitate. Many of those things will become patterns of thinking and action. I think one of the best ways to teach is to show them. Whatever you want your children to do, start now. As a family, get involved in activities, or routines that instill something in your children that you want to see grow in them.

Feel free to explore these questions on your blog, and comment with a link so I can read it!

Part II: Beliefs
Part III
Part IV

Brightest Blessings,
RH_med small

 


PBP: The Wheel of the Year – Part 2

Prompt: The Wheel of the Year

“When celebrating the Wheel of the Year, you can interpret it many ways. You can see it as symbolic, agricultural, astrological, etc. You could even do a combination. How do you find significance of each holiday in the modern world we live in? For example, during the fall season, the holidays relate strongly to the harvest. In this day and age, most of us don’t live on a farm harvesting grain and ensuring the following year’s crops. How do you stay in touch with the roots of the holy days we observe when some times we are so far placed from them?
How do you interpret the Sabbats of the Wheel of the Year and make it fit the modern world around us?”
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In Part I of this prompt, I discussed making connections to the Sabbats for the first part of the calendar year. In this part, I will continue with my thoughts on the Sabbats during the latter half of the year.
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Lughnasadh

Lughnasadh is all about the God for me. I mean, yes, the Festival of First Fruits is in there, too, but the Celebration of Lugh is one reason why I cannot call this Sabbat ‘Lammas’, even though that is a perfectly valid name. Cernunnos, Herne, Pan, Dionysus, Bacchus  – all of the Earth Gods and fertility gods are highlighted on this Sabbat for me. The legend of Lugh as a ‘jack of all trades’ is one I like very much. As The Equinox Project says, “Lugh was a traveler, a master of all crafts, hand skills, sorcery, divinations, magic, healing, miracles, music and trade. as “lawfather” he set the rules that governed family life and Celtic society in both Ireland and on the Continent.”  As such, Lughnasadh is a time to examine our family. As my children grow into young warriors and hunters, this is a time to honor their growth from the past year, and make plans for the coming year. Lughnasadh is also the time when last year’s plans and planting have come to fruition. For spellwork, I make plans and cast in the fall (Mabon or Samhain) or in the beginning of spring (Imbolc or Ostara) for fulfillment by Lammas. The Goddess is the Grain Mother, full and ripe with the seeds of the new year. She fully embodies the Mother aspect, and as such is a position I relate to, being a mother myself.  
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Mabon

BlodeuweddMabon is another easy connection for me. When I first heard the legend of Blodeuwedd the Owl, it struck a chord for me. She’s gotten kind of a bad rap over the years, but when the culture and circumstances of her life are discovered, her role and actions in the larger tapestry are revealed. The Triple Goddess is another important part of my path, and at Mabon, She is represented fully to me. Of the three Harvest Festivals (Lughnasadh, Mabon, Samhain), Mabon is the one that is ‘Thanksgiving’. It’s the main harvest, and as such a time for reflection and giving thanks. It is Spring, fulfilled, and celebration for the completion of what was planted earlier in the year (be it seeds or a garden, spellwork, or plans). For my family, Mabon is a season of pouring back into the community and into the people who touch our lives. Though we are involved in community service work throughout the year on a regular basis, Mabon is a time for recognizing the blessings we have received and showing thankfulness through generosity. Mabon is also a time to celebrate the Dark Mother. As the earth is dying just a little, preparing for Winter.  Persephone/Proserpina and Demeter/Ceres are also honoured at this time, as the earth descends to darkness and the Crone aspect of the Goddess is beginning.
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Samhain

Samhain is my favorite Sabbat, as it is for many Pagans the world over. It is the third and final Harvest Festival, and a Cross-Quarter Day. The Crone aspect is at it’s fullest, and the Veil that separates the world of the living form the world beyond is at its thinnest. Samhain is the time for Divination, and communing with the Ancestors. I tend to do a lot of meditation around this Sabbat – it’s easier to fall into meditative states and trances when the Veil is thin (Beltane & Samhain). I borrow from other traditions, and keep an Ancestors Altar, and our Circle group always has an Ancestors Altar set up in addition to the main altar as well. Many Pagans consider Samhain the end of the old year/beginning of the new year at Samhain as well. I haven’t made a decision one way or the other, personally. It doesn’t ‘feel’ like an end to me, so I lean more towards celebrating the new year at Yule. At Samhain, I honor Cerridwen, for her wisdom and inspiration; Cailleach Beara (Brigid’s crone aspect), who is reborn this night; Hades and Osiris for protection and divination; and light candles for my Ancestors.
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Yule

The Yule season is another of my favorites. I love re-reading the Legend of the Holly King and the Oak King, and observing the ever-turning cycle of the Wheel. I have always had a hard time with ‘transitions’, from one phase to another, and Yule helps remind me that all things must flow into thier next phase, whether we’re quite ready for it to or not. This is the beginning of the ‘new year’ for me. Along with Yule, I also observe Modraniht, or Mother’s Night, on December 24th, as a time not only to honor the Goddess, but also to honor my own matrilineal line. I can trace my maternal lineage back to the 1600’s, with each passing year adding a century or two as more information is processed and put online. I love the connection to both deity and my ancestors in this way.

Yule is the Winter Solstice as well; traditionally a time of rest – settling in with kith and kin by the fire, counting blessings and weathering out the last of winter. Though I’m in the Southern United States, and our temperatures reach to 80’s (F) sometimes, the sentiments are the same – gathering close to freinds and family, and counting ourselves fortunate.

Another observation that I feel is important to do is ‘Walking the Boundaries’.  Every year, on the Quarter Days (Yule, Ostara, Litha & Mabon), I walk the boundaries of our property and leave Thanks and Offerings to the boundary spirits for continued good-will and protection. We share the land with Those Who Came Before, so we try to honor them with a little something.

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One thing that I absolutely love about the Sabbats is the both the variety, diversity and continuity of the legends surrounding the Wheel of the Year. I find it easy to connect with the many myths and legends surrounding the Gods and Goddesses, and the continuity of the overall great arc of the Wheel. Each year, I tend to focus on a specific legend and tale, which gives each Sabbat a unique ‘flavor’ that makes it more meaningful and individual. The Sabbats are never boring for me. Being eclectic gives me the freedom to re-invent each Sabbat, or to find meaning in ancient ways or celebrate in grand style or a simple affair.

If you’re so inclined, feel free to use the same promt and write your own blog post. Be sure to link back!

Brightest Blessings,

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A Relaxed Approach to Raising Witchlings

When my children were born, I was somewhere in the midst of a philosophical crisis of sorts. I was of an age where I knew what I wanted, but lacked the confidence to go after it. I found it really difficult to decide what the ‘right’ thing to do was, regarding teaching my children about religion:

  • Should I bring them up in my parents’ religion (I turned out ‘fine’, right??)? Even though it wasn’t my belief, most of my family is in the church, and there’s a rich history that comes with it. Is it ‘right’ to deprive them of that culture, even though I personally disagree with it?
  • Should I raise them to follow my personal belief system, even though I recognize that my personal belief system is ever-evolving? I think it’s okay to not be ‘sure’ and to adopt new ideas and attitudes, but do children need more stability (even if it might be wrong)?
  • Should I not tell them anything and let them figure it out on their own? Are they capable of making that kind of decision?
  • Should I give them a wealth of information on all religions and hope they choose wisely? What happens if I don’t do a good job of making other beliefs available to them; what happens if they’re swayed by one religion before gaining an appreciation for all and/or less structured belief systems?
  • Something in between all that? And what happens if I choose wrong, or change my mind mid-stride?

Being a parent is exhausting, and trying to figure out some of the more obscure and complicated aspects of producing a functional member of society can be extremely taxing! Even knowing that you don’t have to have it all figured out today does nothing to alleviate the looming responsibility of raising your children ‘Right’.

Obviously, I can only share my own experiences, and I am far from anything resembling an expert. But as my kids get older, I do feel like the choices that we made with regard to bringing them up have been good ones. That is to say, they’re no more screwed up than any one else (and a great deal less so than many others). I’d also like to preface this article with the understanding that my viewpoint is a rather conservative view, both because I prefer my privacy (while not ‘in the closet’, I don’t advertise my spirituality overtly), and to protect my children’s privacy until they’re of age.

Living in the South, there were/are often a number of additional factors that go into your decision-making progress. I live in an area where Paganism and its associated terms and beliefs are stigmatized negatively. In my town, for example, there are probably as many Christian churches as there are gas stations (and we live in the petroleum refining capital of the world… so that’s saying something). We’re deep in the Bible Belt, and it’s generally assumed that you’re Christian until you say or do something that casts that assumption into speculation. Everyone here has a ‘church’, and you’re absolutely judged by which one you attend. As far as ‘progress’ goes, there’s a growing Atheist/Secular Humanist movement, which is helping to bring round the idea that one doesn’t have to be religious to be a good person, but it’s ever-so-slow, and does absolutely nothing to help the stigma attached to Pagan Life (and often creates yet another source of friction due to the ‘woo’ factor).

The children, themselves, are another problematic issue. The little blabbermouths darlings tend to have no filter, so openly talking about your beliefs in easily-recognizable terms can be problematic should they say something unexpected at a playdate or party. Even mostly benign subjects like meditation, mentioning the full moon, and herbal medicine can get the side-eye from the conservative set. Having people in your home is another source of worry. If your altar is in public view, it can create tensions with people who visit – even if they don’t know exactly what they’re looking at, they know it’s ‘Something’ and that that Thing is different from their Thing. Even hosting a family ritual in the back yard can cause problems with neighbors.

I use the term ‘relaxed approach’ because that’s my parenting style in general – at least, I feel like it’s relaxed in relationship to how I was raised (which was extremely authoritarian). I’m sure some would look at my approach and say that I am authoritarian as well, but I am okay with that. What I mean by ‘relaxed’ is that we didn’t start out with a framework that we tried to fit our lives and our kids into. Rather, we let our growing relationship with our kids help shape the framework that our lives became based on. We didn’t necessarily start out with the idea that they should be brought up with XYZ ‘beliefs’; we took a more broad/general approach. We shared stories and read myths and tales with origins in many religions. As an American, our entire culture is shaped by Christianity, so I feel like my kids need to have a basic knowledge of what that means. As they get older, we’ve taken a more ‘religious studies’ approach, which seems to have been a good choice for us/them.

As for the ‘how’, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when or how we went about teaching them. As parents, you’re always teaching your kids – whether intentionally or not. They pick up on everything you say and do, and in many ways, the habits and routines you set just become part of their life effortlessly. If you pray or do spellwork openly, then so will your kids. If you honor the moon, or pay homage to deity, then your kids will, too. You can certainly call attention to it with explanations and rote, but as long as your path is fascinating and tended with love, then your children will grow up with those values and traditions and habits. I took a more conservative approach – while not doing such things ‘openly’, I didn’t hide it, either. That created a safe space for me to settle into life as a confident adult, while still exposing my kids to my belief system without overwhelming them. As they have gotten older, I’ve found it to be easier to talk to them about what I feel or think and why.

Some of the more important things to me, we’ve covered a little more in-depth, and certainly where interest is shown, I am more than happy to delve into. I do feel like it’s good for the children to know what my beliefs are, and to participate in group activities with other kids who are in non-traditional/non-Christian households, not necessarily because they’re ‘Pagan’, but because such people tend to have a more open and accepting worldview. That is the kind of attitude that I want to foster in my kids, and that is the community that values it. That doesn’t limit their fellowship, but it does segment it to a certain degree. Pagan families are hard to find, I think partially because of the stigma attached to Pagan religious misconceptions. Groups like Spiral Scouts have made it a little more mainstream, but the minute people read that it’s based on Wiccan philosophy, people immediately shun it.

I was fortunate in that by the time I decided to be more open with my kids about what I believe, they were a bit older. The only thing that ‘changed’ really was talking about it. They were already familiar with Mommy’s altar (very, very simple when they were little – but the same rules apply about touching), and meditation practice and herb crafting. Many of the things we did at the turn of the seasons became more celebratory, but they were still the same things we’d always done. Books like Circle Round, and Honoring the Great Mother, and Pagan Homeschooling were great resources, too. Even though they seem to have gone dormant, back issues of newsletter like Pagan Moonbeams and Pooka Pages have tons of great kid-centered information.

Autonomy is important to me, and as a parent, it’s important to me that my children have the autonomy to choose their own paths. We emphasize communication and the idea that you should try things before deciding that they’re not for you (most things; some things we can look at objectively and make a decision based on those observations). We’ve invited the kids to participate in ritual and Teaching Circle classes, and also taken them to visit local churches and facilitated discussions about religion with peers and family members. My youngest has a personal altar set up in his room, but my oldest doesn’t feel the need for it. Neither have chosen a set path, but I feel like they have the opportunity to learn and choose as they will, and I’m okay with that. My point in writing this is to emphasize that you really DON’T have to have it all figured out. It’s perfectly fine to take it day by day, or situation by situation, and address things as they come up.

What’s your approach to raising witchlings look like?

Brightest Blessings,
RH_med small

 


Do More of This

This picture was posted on Old Ways Facebook page this morning, and I have been thinking about it all day.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been off-and-on actively going to a group meditation practice at a local Buddhist Temple. Last year, the community decided to center more on the native Vietnamese community and so the English-speaking Buddhist community moved to another location. I’ve been meaning to get over there since they moved, and just have not been able to get myself together and join the group in the new location… until last week. I was finally able to go, and I hate to say it, but I was severely out of practice. I was fidgety, and distracted. There was ambient noise that was very ‘loud’, and I just had a really hard time falling into a meditative trance. I don’t remember it being that hard – it wasn’t when I was in good practice. So that’s one thing I really want to get back into on a more regular basis – group meditation.

I also have been neglecting teaching/leading/encouraging the kids in their meditation practice. A couple of years ago, I made meditation jars with the kids. There are literally tons of tutorials on Pinterest, but we used mason jars, water-based hair gel, water, food coloring, glitter and gorilla glue (to seal the jars) for ours. The kids’ jars calm after being shaken in about 7 minutes and mine takes closer to 14. The more gel, the longer the jar takes to clear. If your kids are new to meditation, you can use smaller jars, or less gel so that they clear a bit faster. I was thinking that making several with different calm times (5 min./10 min./20 min. etc.) would be a cool way to expand the time the kids meditate for.

Imaginations by Carolyn Clarke also suggests teaching children to lay down, relaxed, with an eye mask (lavender? chamomile?) to aid them in letting go, and also to block distracting visual stimuli. My boys lay on their stomachs with chin on hands when they use their jars usually, though they have used them at their desks as well. We also sit criss-cross-apple-sauce style with knees touching and eyes closed on occasion, but that’s more often when we need to re-connect with each other. As a connectivity tool, meditation is an amazing alternative to ‘time out’. Some see that as a ‘non violent’  method of discipline (and being raised in a house/religion that insisted that spanking was the only/best way, I saw time out that way for a long time. Even though I used it sparingly, it still wasn’t ‘comfortable’, but I lacked the tools to do anything else when mine were very small).

With age and experience comes wisdom, and now I liken the ‘time out’ method as similar to the practice of ‘shunning’ that some religions endorse as a corrective method. Having experienced that several times myself, I now see the practice (both of them), as somewhat extreme. I feel that children need to be held a little closer in times of trial, rather than exiled. Rather than isolating an immature child to think for themselves and draw what conclusions they may, drawing them closer and having some time to reconnect physically and spiritually, without the burden of conversation, for a bit eases the way into a productive conversation where redirection can be effective. It’s very difficult to touch someone you love and maintain anger and irritation – the physical connection somehow short-circuits the negative emotion. I need to take my own advice more! So that’s something I also want to work on – meditation practice with the kids and physically connecting with them instead of distance when I am frustrated with them.

Another thing I have started doing is copying and printing the kid crafts that we do and add them to the kids’ Shadow Books. There’s not a huge population of Pagans who have grown up this way, and as a parent, I often have a hard time finding ‘traditional but modern’ new crafts or esbat/sabbat-specific activities. I figure by documenting the things we do, they will have their own ‘tradition’ handed down to them to use with their children if they so desire. My path is pretty eclectic, and constantly adding new elements as I learn them, or modifying old ones. It’s also neat to have a record of my path as it progresses. I used to be really diligent about filing my papers into the correct Shadow Books (binders) and have gotten lazy about that, too. I started re-arranging my shelves and cabinet the other day, so I want  to finish that as well.

How about you? Have you tried meditation with your kids? Any tips or tricks you’d like to share?

Brightest Blessings,


Book of Shadows for Kids

I have been looking high and low across the internet for a Book of Shadows (or as we call them here, ‘Shadow Books’) for kids. I’m not looking for a ‘story book’, but an actual list of things to include that would be useful for kids – spells and simplified versions of things that I might have in mine.

Once upon a time, there was a series of printable books for pagan kids by Eliza Fegley available at sacredspiral.com. There were several basics – one on the Elements, one on the Magic Circle, and one on Seasons, I think. Now, that site re-directs to sacred-texts, and you can still find some of the other sacredspiral pages up (like the Pagan Patterns and Design book) but I cannot find those books anymore. (update: I did manage to find a couple of them on the Austin Pagan Kids site and linked to them from there).

So, (before I found them) like many people who can’t find what they’re looking for, I wrote my own versions: The Young Pagan’s Book of Seasons  and  The Young Pagan’s Book of Elements and Directions. They’re relatively simple in format and I just pulled clipart pictures to illustrate them. I am uploading free pdf versions of them for general use. They’re inspired by Eliza Fegley’s similar books, but I have changed them to reflect my own path and correspondences (which means that they may or may not work for you). I wanted something that was simple, but with more content than Eliza’s books since my kids are a little older. I think they turned out nicely! I am also working on a book for tools and am considering creating a kids’ tarot – but that’s a pretty big undertaking (but I did find the printable and color-able Hello Kitty tarot – too cute!)

While the traditional Shadow Book is hand-written, I don’t know many Pagans who keep that ‘rule’ as unbreakable. I don’t consider myself a ‘techno Pagan’ and still follow the old rules about not having electronics in Circle, but I do rely heavily on the internet and on printing rather than writing things that I add to my book. In my Teaching Circle, we regularly have printed hand-outs that we use and most people add them to their Circle Book of Shadows. With my kids, asking them to write out long lists of correspondences and associations isn’t practical. So I ended up finding some really good resources for my kids’ books and printing them. We’ll also add handwritten things, but as they’re interested with an eye towards personalization with drawing and note-taking.

One source I found years ago that I just love is the Pagan Moonbeams newsletter. At one point, it was a large undertaking with multiple authors, covering things like ‘Focus on Faith’, which explored different religions, ‘School Bell’, which is a homeschooling lesson plan section, and sections for ‘Wee Pagans’ and ‘Teens’, ‘Beginner Magic’ and ‘Middle Magic’. As many publications do, it has waned as contributors have drifted off but they are still publishing it and the archives are posted. There are many pages that work well in a child’s Shadow Book, including a section on creating a correspondence journal (or just print the pages). My kids are very interested in the dream signs and animal messengers so they’re able to look up the things they see in their dreams and make connections on their own.

As a parent, one of my favorite features of the PM newsletter is the Focus on Faith section. There were only a handful of them written, but the format makes it easy to research, write (and maybe submit) additional religions for inclusion in their books. I think that it’s my duty to educate my kids rather than indoctrinate them, and so we approach religion as a bit more of an academic topic than some do. I want my kids to be familiar with my faith, but feel free to choose something else and be knowledgeable enough about other paths to make the choice that is right for them.

Another great resource for parents and pagan kids is the Pooka Pages Magazine. It’s an online magazine that is published before each Sabbat and focuses on Elsie and her little cat, Pooka. Each issue has stories, crafts and recipes for your child to try, and has a section that is printable for your child’s Book of Shadows with spells or information about the Sabbat. In one issue, there is a Full Moon Esbat rite story that Winnie the Pooh and friends participate in (led by Tigger). It’s cute, and nice to read about mainstream animated characters doing thins that are ‘normal’ to Pagan kids!

There are also kids’ pages at http://austinpagan.com/kids/ – coloring pages, binder covers and spells/ritual information.

For my kids’ Shadow Books, I started with a 1″  3-ring binder. That’s what I use for my books, and I like being able to add things into the proper sections and move them around when needed. Using a loose-leaf format also makes it easy to divide my binders when the time comes. I currently use 3 binders – one for my ‘working book’, one for Esbats and Sabbats and ritual/family information, and one for my Teaching Circle. Eventually, I’d like to consolidate everything into a ‘pretty’ scrapbook style boud-by-loose-leaf style book, but not yet.

Back to the kids’ books… 1″ binder. I included a ‘what is a Book of Shadows’ page that I found on Pooka Pages in the Imbolc 2010 issue. There’s also a BOS craft page so the kids can make their own books later on if they choose. Since we are somewhat secular, I included the 15 Guiding Principles of Secular Paganism. I also included the Nine Noble Virtues of Asatru, and the Golden Rule as it is explained in other various religions.

I included the books that I made on the seasons and the directions/elements (linked to above), and basic information on what ‘ritual’ is, the power of positive thinking, altars and making them, the poem Desiderata by Max Ehrmann, and some other ‘food for thought’ that were printed from the Pagan Moonbeams newsletter.

The next section is for magick and rituals. I included things that we’ve made together – dream pillows and other charms, and a birthday ritual, and some family rituals that we’ve done. Everything in this section is age-appropriate and written ‘for kids’. Several spells are also printed from Pooka Pages’ ‘A Little Book of Spells’ section. I also have a section with simplified information on each Sabbat and rituals that are associated with each of them.

Next, they have correspondence tables – moon, animal messengers (dream), dream symbols, planetary and vegetation alignments, gem & stone correspondences.

Then is a section on Gods and Goddesses. There are only a few here, mostly added as we come across them of if they ask about a particular deity. Some information is printed from the PM newsletter, too.

Up next is a section on divination – basic rune and tarot information. Since I read cards and my kids are familiar with seeing them, I included a section that is easy to understand for them. There is also a page on drum divination from Pagan Moonbeams.

Then I printed the Faith Focus pages from Pagan Moonbeams for the kids. As I have mentioned before, we choose to present all faiths and all paths as viable for our children, and equally respected. With that in mind, we want our kids to have information on different belief systems at their disposal. I feel that having this information included in their Shadow Books is a good way for it to be accessible without having to ‘ask mom’ and a good jumping-off point if they are interested enough to pursue research on their own. Though we did print the PM pages, I will be adding additional, similarly structured pages and hopefully uploading them here in the future.

These books are a work in progress, like most Shadow Books, to be added to and changed as the kids get older and things become more or less important to them.

If you’re a Pagan parent, do your kids keep a Book of Shadows? Did you help them, initially? What did you include, and why?

Brightest Blessings,