It is appropriate that this maxim comes up in time for Mother’s Day. This is an idea that is central to just about every tradition I’ve ever heard of. It either comes across as honor your parents, or respect your elders. Contrary to what my behaviour suggested between the ages of 11-14 and 19-25, this is a maxim that I’ve taken very much to heart. (I’m sorry, Mum.)
Now that I’m a parent myself I see that it’s doubly important to respect my parents because if I don’t do that how can I expect my kids to respect me? I also know that I need to be worthy of that respect. As a spiritual value, I think that, no matter our backgrounds with our parents, getting right with them, or coming to terms with our upbringing, gives us a foundation on which to build healthy relationships with others: partners, children, lovers, friends, the gods, everything and everyone.
As a more specifically Pagan spiritual value, I think this maxim is especially important in traditions that honor the Ancestors and Mighty Dead. How can we honor the ancestors if we do not work to honor our parents? As Star Foster suggests in her post, “If you can’t call your parents and/or spend time with them, for whatever reason, then perhaps you can make a regular habit of pouring a libation or lighting a candle to be thankful for your life and that you survived to adulthood.” This puts parents in their respected role of ancestors, for much ancestor devotion begins with a simple honoring: a libation offered, a candle lit in memory of, a thanksgiving whispered.
Happy mother’s day to all mother’s biological and chosen!