Pagan Parenting holds many responsibilities, and I think one of the most important duties is to teach one’s children the virtues of Nature; for how can we use the craft without this knowledge; how can we heal ourselves and others, or know our totems if Mother Earth is alien to us.
With the wonder of Nature unfurling through the year every parent should be readily using this as a tool for teaching their offspring the wonderment and virtue of creation. Each season is a myriad of potential knowledge; nature abounds with gifts of healing through to magic.
As the trees budded and gained leaves I helped my thirteen year old son Josh to note the size, shape and characteristics of them in order to identify the trees; at first when he was just an infant I simply began with ‘evergreen’ and then explained the ones that shed their leaves were deciduous and the evergreen coniferous. Holly and Ivy are good starters and Oak and Ash; then gradually build until all the native species are well known. These last 2 years I have been working on the wild flowers, using the fact that Mother Nature sensibly staggers the blossoming time from spring into summer and so one can almost just focus on 2 flowers for the week.. The lessons are a game we play each time we walk the dog; having played this since he was a small boy he expects it and the learning is fun not traumatic.
Yesterday he learned to recognize Hogweed and Hemlock, and I explained clearly their anti social nature and degrees of hazard, he was impressed and yet respectful, noting how similar Wild Parsley looked to Hemlock.
One of my deepest worries is that we are loosing these skills within even village communities, people just do not seem interested in knowing the virtues of plants, they do not know what is safe; what is actually very tasty and edible, or what is extremely poisonous. And if you look at fungi the problem escalates for very few have the confidence to gather their own mushrooms. I feel it is the duty of Pagan parenting to undertake this appreciation of our Mother and that every Pagan household should have a set of information books with the flora and fauna of our native land with great colored pictures for identification.
Don’t use the feeble excuse that you don’t know them yourself, because you can learn together and this will make it even more fun, and by learning week by week the information can be absorbed gradually over many years