Tag Archives: pagan parenting

Teaching Guidance for Pagan Parents

Teaching your children should come naturally just do what do.  Does it sound too simple? Well, it doesn’t have to be complicated unless that is what you want.  Still, it would be plain ridiculous for me to wave that sentence around and end it right at that point. Despite my internal conflict and initial reluctance to admit it to myself, I began as soon as my daughter was born.  I glided her to sleep with chants I’d made up and others I’d found online.

 

I took her to the park to watch squirrels and birds while she piled rocks on top of my head.  If she was too fussy, I’d take her outside to see the moon.  The choice isn’t whether or not to teach, children learn despite the choice.  The decision is whether or not to be actively involved in the learning process instead. Every moment is an opportunity.

As a mother, I felt like my intimate parenting time was devoured by the work-day, chores, school and errands.  In 2009, I took my daughter out of daycare, quit my job as an assistant cook and started working in early childhood.  My child attended the same care center I’d decided to work at.  It wasn’t a complete solution, but the weekends off were great for the extra parenting time I felt that I was missing.

The three years taught me indispensable things concerning child development, planning a basic curriculum, helping children to learn to express themselves creatively, and the effect of the environment on the development of a child.  These skills helped me to come up with ways to teach my daughter that would really make learning stick. I came out with these basic understandings: Children want the learning experience to be fun.  They need to feel safe if they are going to fully explore. Encouragement helps children to keep going, and mindful parents aid a child’s learning in limitless ways.

FUN LEARNING IS TRICKY

Imagination is vital.  As a child, I loved to make up stories.  I’d act the stories out as though the front yard was a stage, sometimes in complete costumes. A bunch of bored kids love the prospect of having fun, but if they learn something in the process that is even better. Entire generations used to learn a culture’s history through the art of story-telling.  One thing is for sure, the mind responds to creative imagery, music that stirs emotions, colors that capture the eyes, the excited tone of voice a teacher speaks with.

Illiondra’s favorite toy was a small music box with buttons that played tunes from different instruments.  To help her learn about the what she was interested in. I sang the name of the instruments while pointing at their pictures on the box.  I played a wooden flute and let her try it.  We watched little video clips of orchestras online, and when she was a little older I took her to a small community concert.

I really believe children are born to be dramatic, some more than others. While teaching art, one child insisted on drawing his magic candy land morbidly.  The cupcakes had sharp teeth and the lollipops had rope-like tongues.  Unsuspecting people who tried to eat the candy were gobbled up.  Little red drops of blood puddled at the base of the living candy monsters in his expression.  He had a ‘matter of fact’ attitude about his candy world.  He didn’t want it edited and explained that if those people didn’t try to bite the candy maybe they wouldn’t bite back.  Subsequently, I learned he had an issue with biting other children when he became too upset.  Dramatic antics are often a desperate attempt to find ways to solve conflicts and I use this to my advantage in teaching.

Illiondra had only finished watching “The Little Princess” and she wanted me to pretend I was Mrs. Mention, the wicked, greedy house mother that put Sara to work as a servant as soon as the money stopped coming. Meanwhile, I’m busy planning dinner, while trying to complete a homework assignment.  I became the terrible Mrs. mention.  I glanced at the pile of papers on my desk. “No, no this simply won’t do, you’ve racked up quite a debt Mrs. Sara, what shall we do with you?”  She followed me to the kitchen.  I slapped a dish rag on the floor, “I suppose we will simply have to put you to work, you can begin here with the floors and this bucket.  When you’re finished, I’ll take you to your new room.”  Illiondra’s eyes got big as she realized I was playing right along with her. Oh and if you’re wondering, she did actually scrub those floors.  It came in handy by the time I started teaching her about cleansing and floor washes.

In 2011,  I took a job with a company called Young Rembrandt’s.  They specialize in helping children to learn about and execute their own artwork using the Montessori Method.  This method of teaching was profound.  I found that even the youngest children responded to this type of instruction as the individual child is supported within the group setting, they learn how to work in a group while developing their unique skills.

Teaching is simple, you do what you do. I mentally put myself in ‘little shoes’ when I explained things.  I didn’t underestimate the mind of a child, they are walking, talking sponges.  Teaching through an artistic and analytic lens is the method that has best worked for me through the years.  When I encountered children who learned differently, I took a step back to observe them and get to know them.  What I learned taught me their likes and dislikes, their way of relating to others, and more.  Each ‘tid-bit’ is a helper in your teaching.

I feel teaching is like parenting, it is a life long commitment. It is easy to get overwhelmed when you try to sit and imagine all of the things you would like your child to learn.  It helps to have an idea of what you really want out of teaching your child.  I didn’t come to teaching goals until my daughter was almost six years old.  I decided I wanted her to be able to be completely ready to set off on her own by the time she was 18 years old.  For me, this included an understanding of the spiritual world, a working magical knowledge, skills of discipline such as meditation and visualization work, and understanding of rituals and more.  Before I could teach any of these things, I had to know answers to some of the following questions.

  • What do I believe about the spiritual world and why?
  • Do I have a relationship with the divine?
  • What is the divine to me?
  • How do I personally define myself and why have I come to this?
  • Why do I do what I do?
  • What kind of values do I want to impart to my child that I feel are absolutely important?

When I began, my most important charge was to know myself.  Often, I felt like I’d put signed up for a sadistic, personal dissection. After 17 years, I feel that picking myself apart has been of great service when it comes to teaching.  It helps to know our intentions, motivations and how we too were influenced by what we grew up with. I knew that if I didn’t understand what I believed about the world and myself that my efforts to teach would end in a confused and muddled mind.  Self-learning is also a lifetime of work but it pays off.

Parents are a little bit of everything; doctor, teacher, cook, house keeper, gardeners, the list could fill more than a page.  Looking at it that way made teaching less intimidating and relating to my child even easier. So, just do what you do with love and patience, take the advice you feel that suits you personally, impart the values and knowledge you hold sacred, stir the pot and pass it on.  Good luck on your teaching adventures!

 

TID-BITS TO REMEMBER
  • Make it fun by using imagination, playing games, singing songs, doing art projects, taking a fun trip, trying a new recipe…
  • Children love to participate, include them in the work.
  • Let them do it.  It is tempting to ‘help’ them out too much.
  • Let them choose.  Children feel they are really apart of things when they get to choose.
  • Don’t be afraid of a mess, children love to make them.
  • Have a ‘re-set’
  • Consider what you personally love and show them your passion for it.  As they grow, their natural talents and loves will be explored and revealed.  When you see it  nurture it.
  • Be excited, encourage them to question, study, and research as they grow. Let them see how you do it.
  • Observe your own reactions and support them as they learn with encouragement.
  • Be familiar with child development.
  • Coordinate with other Pagan parents, get to know the community if it is possible for you.
  • Stay engaged.  When they see you interested they get interested too.
  • Observe them and what they love to do.  Find ways to work their interests into the daily routine.
  • Use technology, look up videos and movies and games to support your teaching efforts no matter what topic your covering.  Children are growing up with tablets, phones, the internet and more.  Help them to see it is a tool that can make learning fun.

 

 

References and Links:

 

Pagan Parent

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.

Legacy

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.

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