Beltaine: Marriage-Minded Muddle

Beltaine is the marriage of the Lord and Lady for many of us. I could express all the rich symbolism of union and creation of this time of year purely in song lyrics and poetry. We celebrate this conception and ripening into Parenthood, and continuation of the species, and continuity and familial joy with great mirth. Which can seem a bit odd considering how little support our communities provide for those Pagans who seek this out for themselves.

Murky1 via Flickr CC

Single Pagans have a confusing set of contradictions thrown at them. An ardent eclectic polytheist will insist you have only one soulmate, who may be Christian so it’s wrong for you to look for a Pagan mate. A polyamorous Pagan will insist it’s more normal and natural to have many fluid relationships than a single life-long commitment. Some Pagans will be horrified that you want to raise children in a Pagan religion. Even in something so personal and individual as your sexual, relationship and parenting choices single Pagans run constantly into the “you are not tolerant/evolved enough because you don’t agree with my perspective” from their fellow Pagans they turn to for support.

What resources exist benefit mainly those seeking casual, kink or more tenuous poly relationships. For a Pagan seeking a life-long committed relationship with another Pagan with the goal of raising Pagan children, your resources are slim to none. Upon mentioning this as your goal or preference you’re likely to be smacked down by a chorus of pish-tosh: you should be content to find a tolerant Christian partner and raise secular children. It’s amazing how often someone’s well-reasoned preference in the most intimate relationships of their lives can be met by dismissive intolerance.

For those who feel they should be creating strong Pagan families and communities, where can they turn? I’d like to think their faith communities would support them. Finding a mate for life, to raise children with and practice with requires different qualities from a casual lover. If you are Heathen you would want a partner who is interested in being active in your kindred, who is committed to raising Heathen children and is a person of good character according to Heathen values. Stating your intention to wed and start a family to your kindred might be your first step, because they have an interest in seeing you happy and in seeing their community made stronger by the addition of people who share their values.

I think that’s a powerful idea: enlisting your spiritual community to help you find a life-partner. It’s how Jewish communities have maintained their traditions for years. At some point we have to decide whether our traditions are worth preserving, if they are going to help our children build the good character and compassion they need to face life as adults, and if we need to be more active in maintaining our traditions.  Because if we do then we need to support same-faith marriage as much as we support same-sex marriage (note that supporting is not the same as promoting). Paganism cannot thrive on converts forever, and if it is of any worth to us, we need to actively plan on how to pass it down to future generations. Gay, straight, or poly, we need to embrace the concept of embracing and supporting Pagan families.

This Beltaine think about the holiday’s themes: marriage, union, conception, survival, generations, community, and planting for the future. How do these themes impact not merely you, but your community? Your friends? Your children? Your ancestors?

About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.

  • Khlari

    I’ve actually managed to raise a Pagan child just by giving her the option….made her aware of Christianity whilst also informing her about Paganism. Now she has chosen for herself…

  • Khlari

    I’ve actually managed to raise a Pagan child just by giving her the option….made her aware of Christianity whilst also informing her about Paganism. Now she has chosen for herself…

  • http://twitter.com/Fernwise Fern Miller

    Okay, I’m married to a Methodist. But, c’mon, I’ve been married for just under 31 years – it was WAY harder finding single pagan men back then.

    • Billwheaton

      or women :)

    • http://twitter.com/MrsBsConfession MrsB

      Or even now! I only know a handful (in person) and *literally*, they are all married or gay.

  • http://twitter.com/Fernwise Fern Miller

    Okay, I’m married to a Methodist. But, c’mon, I’ve been married for just under 31 years – it was WAY harder finding single pagan men back then.

    • Billwheaton

      or women :)

    • http://twitter.com/MrsBsConfession MrsB

      Or even now! I only know a handful (in person) and *literally*, they are all married or gay.

  • Azldesigns

    I don’t have any children yet, however I plan to give my children the choice to be anything and everything they want or could ever dream they want to be. I would like to inform them on as many religions as I’m capable of and let them make their own decision. Of course they’ll know I’m pagan and their father (my Fiance) is an athiest, but they don’t HAVE to be anything they don’t want to be. Just like my moms catholic and my dad’s protestant, but I haven’t been to church in 10yrs.

  • Azldesigns

    I don’t have any children yet, however I plan to give my children the choice to be anything and everything they want or could ever dream they want to be. I would like to inform them on as many religions as I’m capable of and let them make their own decision. Of course they’ll know I’m pagan and their father (my Fiance) is an athiest, but they don’t HAVE to be anything they don’t want to be. Just like my moms catholic and my dad’s protestant, but I haven’t been to church in 10yrs.

  • Billwheaton

    We are childfree, but that’s just us. I love kids… other peoples. And many of my pagan friends have pagan kids they are raising. There are all kinds of resources for pagan parenting. Lydia Crabtree in Cartersville is devoted to it for example: http://familywiccantradition.org or articles on wvox. She has some explicit values she hold forth that are worth listening to. In fact you might get her to input a guest article?

  • Billwheaton

    We are childfree, but that’s just us. I love kids… other peoples. And many of my pagan friends have pagan kids they are raising. There are all kinds of resources for pagan parenting. Lydia Crabtree in Cartersville is devoted to it for example: http://familywiccantradition.org or articles on wvox. She has some explicit values she hold forth that are worth listening to. In fact you might get her to input a guest article?

  • Sunweaver

    I find this post a little odd. Perhaps it’s different in your community, but most of the married couples I know are Pagan-Pagan marriages and many of these have since become parents or intend to become parents who are raising Pagan children. At the time my husband (who was raised Catholic) and I were first handfasted, there was a great deal of concern about my intent to marry someone who *wasn’t* Pagan and my dear friends would speak of the difficulties of a mixed marriage.
    Almost eleven years later, Husband and I are still going strong and our daughter is as Pagan as any kid.
    I don’t think either same-faith or interfaith marriages are better or worse than the other. It is most important that a person who intends to get married finds an appropriate partner for them and that all actions proceed in perfect love and perfect trust. Sometimes that means finding a mate within the community and sometimes that means seeking love in other places.
    As for raising children, I have watched our “first batch” of kids grow to be adults. One in particular was pushed into becoming a priestess while her brother was raised as a pagan but not so pushed. The former grew up to be a non-practicing Pagan who chooses not to participate in the community (most of the time) while the latter is on the path to priesthood. This particular instance has served as an example of how not to raise Pagan children. With our “second batch,” we’ve allowed them to participate in rituals when they want to, not when they don’t. We teach and inform, guide and support, but do not push. We’re now on our third batch of Pagan babies and I have no doubt that their parents will learn from the mistakes we’ve made.
    Our kids have changed our practice for the better. We try to hold rituals and build a spiritual life not only for ourselves, but for them also. They keep us honest, insist that certain rituals take place, ask us questions, tell us we’re doing it wrong, and ask for the recipes.

  • Sunweaver

    I find this post a little odd. Perhaps it’s different in your community, but most of the married couples I know are Pagan-Pagan marriages and many of these have since become parents or intend to become parents who are raising Pagan children. At the time my husband (who was raised Catholic) and I were first handfasted, there was a great deal of concern about my intent to marry someone who *wasn’t* Pagan and my dear friends would speak of the difficulties of a mixed marriage.
    Almost eleven years later, Husband and I are still going strong and our daughter is as Pagan as any kid.
    I don’t think either same-faith or interfaith marriages are better or worse than the other. It is most important that a person who intends to get married finds an appropriate partner for them and that all actions proceed in perfect love and perfect trust. Sometimes that means finding a mate within the community and sometimes that means seeking love in other places.
    As for raising children, I have watched our “first batch” of kids grow to be adults. One in particular was pushed into becoming a priestess while her brother was raised as a pagan but not so pushed. The former grew up to be a non-practicing Pagan who chooses not to participate in the community (most of the time) while the latter is on the path to priesthood. This particular instance has served as an example of how not to raise Pagan children. With our “second batch,” we’ve allowed them to participate in rituals when they want to, not when they don’t. We teach and inform, guide and support, but do not push. We’re now on our third batch of Pagan babies and I have no doubt that their parents will learn from the mistakes we’ve made.
    Our kids have changed our practice for the better. We try to hold rituals and build a spiritual life not only for ourselves, but for them also. They keep us honest, insist that certain rituals take place, ask us questions, tell us we’re doing it wrong, and ask for the recipes.

  • Illiezeulette

    I’m all for strong Pagan families. I’m inclined toward poly, but with the right person at the right time, I could definitely do monogamy. Generally, though, my acquaintance-friend-lover-partner continuum is very fluid, and although it can get complicated, I feel happy with it for the time being.

    I plan on adoption, and I plan on raising my kid(s) in a religious home, probably somewhere between neo-Roman and Roman recon. As long as strong Roman virtue ethics and makes an appearance. (: But that’s probably a long way off (I’m a poor college student, alas).

  • Illiezeulette

    I’m all for strong Pagan families. I’m inclined toward poly, but with the right person at the right time, I could definitely do monogamy. Generally, though, my acquaintance-friend-lover-partner continuum is very fluid, and although it can get complicated, I feel happy with it for the time being.

    I plan on adoption, and I plan on raising my kid(s) in a religious home, probably somewhere between neo-Roman and Roman recon. As long as strong Roman virtue ethics and makes an appearance. (: But that’s probably a long way off (I’m a poor college student, alas).

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PMTLR3IIGKPHZ2YNU3PDXWK4WA Kenneth

    I’m leery of having anyone act as “matchmakers” no matter how well intentioned. It is always contrived and forced and very rarely leads to anything lasting. I also don’t want to cultivate an atmosphere in which there is all sorts of social pressure to marry within the faith. That said, the wider community is a good resource if you invest yourself in it. Maintain circles of good friends who happen to be pagan. Spend some time at regional events etc. Very often the best lasting relationships and marriages arise out of situations where you meet your friend’s friends etc. (vs friends trying to “hook you up”).

    Nor will our community really be served well by “raising kids Pagan” if that means indoctrinating them in the same way many of us were indoctrinated into Judeo-Christian faiths as kids. I think we’ll be better off if we can let them experience the joy of what we have, try to convey the best of our values and then let them find their own path. Finding a partner that shares those values in a broad sense is more important than finding one who identifies as pagan or follows your particular trad. I’ve seen some very good pagan matches and family situations, but also some good ones involving one pagan and one agnostic or non-committal “spiritual seeker” and even some where one of the partners was an open-minded Christian or Jew.

    • Sunweaver

      My husband is one of those open-minded Christians and we answered the question of who’s taking the kid to church in a very simple way. I go, he doesn’t. (And by “church” I mean “circle.”) We share those broad values and want our little one to find her own way with the critical thinking and self-analysis tools to do so. She prays to Zeus when it storms now and has taken on a more or less Buddhist view of the world. Essentially, she’s picked up on Mommy’s Hellenic Buddhist ways.
      I worry about our offspring for many reasons because I’m her mother, but I don’t worry about her spiritual path. She has all she needs to find her own way.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PMTLR3IIGKPHZ2YNU3PDXWK4WA Kenneth

    I’m leery of having anyone act as “matchmakers” no matter how well intentioned. It is always contrived and forced and very rarely leads to anything lasting. I also don’t want to cultivate an atmosphere in which there is all sorts of social pressure to marry within the faith. That said, the wider community is a good resource if you invest yourself in it. Maintain circles of good friends who happen to be pagan. Spend some time at regional events etc. Very often the best lasting relationships and marriages arise out of situations where you meet your friend’s friends etc. (vs friends trying to “hook you up”).

    Nor will our community really be served well by “raising kids Pagan” if that means indoctrinating them in the same way many of us were indoctrinated into Judeo-Christian faiths as kids. I think we’ll be better off if we can let them experience the joy of what we have, try to convey the best of our values and then let them find their own path. Finding a partner that shares those values in a broad sense is more important than finding one who identifies as pagan or follows your particular trad. I’ve seen some very good pagan matches and family situations, but also some good ones involving one pagan and one agnostic or non-committal “spiritual seeker” and even some where one of the partners was an open-minded Christian or Jew.

    • Sunweaver

      My husband is one of those open-minded Christians and we answered the question of who’s taking the kid to church in a very simple way. I go, he doesn’t. (And by “church” I mean “circle.”) We share those broad values and want our little one to find her own way with the critical thinking and self-analysis tools to do so. She prays to Zeus when it storms now and has taken on a more or less Buddhist view of the world. Essentially, she’s picked up on Mommy’s Hellenic Buddhist ways.
      I worry about our offspring for many reasons because I’m her mother, but I don’t worry about her spiritual path. She has all she needs to find her own way.


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