A Pagan Mother’s Decision
Many Pagan parents have anxiety concerning educating their children about their faith or Craft. I wasn’t an exception. I imagined her being made fun of at school. I heard questions echo in my mind, “What church do you go to?” Do you believe in God?” “You just believe in fantasy shit -all made up.” I imagined the first friend she trusted gossiping about her, awkward stares, being left blown over because people were afraid of her, the vivid, distracting thoughts were out of control.
I wanted to protect her from feeling as though she was consigned to oblivion. As I grappled with these fears, I kept imagining the no smoking sign over the top of the visual intrusion. Contending with my own fears has taken constant work, I had to dig into my roots, fully comprehend what I’d come to believe and why, and if I had to admit it boldly, stop being afraid of what other people thought of me.
My initial reservations concerned giving my child a “normal” life. Other concerns included over-projection, living in a small town and more. The solution was knowledge. If I educated, encouraged, tended to her confidence, and helped her address her emotions, she would be better prepared for future experiences she may have. Sharing my perspective and wisdom while allowing her to come to her own conclusions felt right.
Refusal to guide and teach was cheating her out of her heritage. Folk magic has been a part of my family since I was a young girl -though it was never called magic. Mother kept an old horseshoe for luck in the kitchen, we ate dinners that would bring us good fortune and health on New Year’s Day, a knife dropped accidentally meant a man would be coming to visit, a bird that broke its neck on the window was an ill omen. My mother dreamt signs, talked about hands on healers in the family, and my eldest sister had the ‘wish-gift’. Relatives I’d never physically met came to sing to me and my younger sister by a year is a reluctant, troubled medium. By my own interpretation, my family was a collection of reluctant witches.
Witchcraft and Paganism gave me what I needed to face challenges in my life. It helped me to be a little less afraid, to reclaim and embrace my personal power and face parts of myself I may have run from otherwise. My spiritual path has been a rock in the turbulent times in my life –an ever constant that never fails me. I decided, the choice to hide these things from my daughter was a selfish one.
How I began
My daughter is a dark-eyed, sensitive and curious child. Out of my peripheral vision, I caught her watching me during an evening devotional when she was almost two. I pretended not to notice. I wondered how many times she had caught me during my devotionals.
From that point onward, I was a little less anxious. Later, she would bobble over to my working table and point at things she saw. “Tell me,” she would say. I kept things simple in the beginning. I named objects and let her handle them, but she knew they stayed on momma’s “special table.” Most objects in my working space were very safe. I kept shells, stones, homemade salt dough items, a mortar and pestle and candles. She understood what the word hot meant and didn’t bother to touch candle flames if I had them lit. My working knife stayed in the kitchen, along with a cutting board and small glass bowls for herbs.
She would crawl up in my lap to play with my ink pen and try to write in my notebooks. It brought me joy and opportunity to teach. Of course, she didn’t know that I was trying to keep the page in my book nice and legible. If I’d scolded her, she’d have associated the behavior with something negative. Instead, I let her do rubbings of leaves and stones in her own little book. “How beautiful!” I’d tell her as she pushed the book past my nose.
Children recognize what they have learned. At the age of six, I found myself discussing energy with my daughter due to her sensitivity. She showed early signs of being an Empath, and it wasn’t usual for her to see spirits. Initially, she did not recognize them as spirits at all. Nicknames for the energies she saw were things like “The man on fire,” “The woman without a face,” or “the flying thing by the window.” As a mother, I was naturally concerned. As a witch, I cleansed the house, double checked my seals and taught her basic shielding.
It sounds silly but, I found myself pleasantly surprised last year when she watched Avatar and Naruto for the first time. She jumped up and dragged me to the T.V. Both cartoons featured discussions on energy in the body. “That chakra is the same as the energy you said is in our body and they shield too!” It made me smile to see her lit up.
Now, at nine years old, Illiondra keeps her own working space on the nightstand beside her bed. She isn’t afraid to question what she sees me do and I tell her as simply as I can. House cleansings are explained as removing unwanted and harmful energies from our space. A ritual bath is to help you focus on something special, a spell is a focused wish with lots of power in it. With time and the desire to learn, she will come to understand more. I teach her morals and values that I too hold sacred. Here are some of them:
- Honor your word
- Hold Loyalty sacred
- Be aware of your emotions
- Take care of our needs and give with joy.
- Do what you most love to do.
- Believe in yourself.
- Protect yourself and those that you love.
- New beginnings can be frightening and that is not a bad thing.
- Think positive even circumstances are not great.
- Don’t seek to intentionally hurt others.
- Stand up for what you truly believe in.
- When you make a choice there are consequences. Many consequences make us feel good.
- Don’t seek to control the will of another person.
- Don’t do things against your own morals to please someone else.
- Honor those that have gone before you and treat nature with respect.
- If you experience something uncomfortable regarding the Otherworld remember that you are not powerless.
- Honor the spirits of place, they will aid you on your journey.
- Nurture your gifts, pay attention to what they have to show you even if that means it is scary.
- Magic is everywhere.
Lessons In Retrospect
Reflect on early childhood spiritual experience, it can help you teach. My mother was a prominent figure in my life. I wasn’t forced into religion of any kind. I visited several kinds of churches through my early years with my mother; Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran and Pentecostal. I was raised to be a seeker. When I became an adult, I looked back at childhood surprised at my resilience and adaptive nature. What a child experiences is normal to them, they don’t question it unless given cause. I explored spirituality because my mother too was a seeker. My favorite place to go was the library. I had a natural inclination towards mystery, folklore, and art. I did not question my interests, I followed what excited me.
As a second grader, my free-spirit began to feel ashamed of itself. My second-grade teacher allowed her students to pick their favorite movie and bring it to school at the end of the week. It was my turn. My favorite movie was Hans Christian Andersons: The Little Mermaid, released in 1975. It was a beautifully animated film. In the original, there is a brief scene of nudity as the mermaid transforms into a human girl. My fellow classmates and my teacher sounded off in disgust when the slight image of her bare breasts flashed across the T.V. screen. Immediately, I felt confused. I couldn’t understand what they were so upset about. From that point onward, I felt a distance between myself and my fellow classmates. The smallest gestures can teach. In that brief moment, I learned that not everyone saw the world the same way. That was a good lesson. As an adult, it also helped me to understand this: Children are learning behavior, life lessons and morals from more than just their parents. If you choose not to teach, they will learn from somewhere else therefore, a parent’s guidance is paramount.
Choosing to teach your children to work magic or walk a Pagan path is a personal decision. It isn’t always simple. As parents, we gift our children with our love and what we know. They may choose to take it up and carry on or they may do something completely different. My aim was to give my child a meaningful approach to face life with her head held high. My dearest hope is that she makes that choice out of the love and wisdom I have gifted.