Violence that has shredded this world has an uncanny way of effecting children. They become grumpier. They have a harder time sleeping. They feel very much at the mercy of the waves of hatred that the violence rides upon.
Like children, we as pagan adults can feel that same overwhelming sense of hopelessness and fear. The news seems geared to keep us in this heightened state of terror that we are even now exposed and helpless against terrorists and random gun violence.
As parents we have several options open to us. We can ignore these events and assume that our children aren’t exposed to any socially charge energy around events like the attack on Paris because we don’t let them watch the television and minimize the likelihood that they will have to directly confront dealing with the event.
However, if you are dealing with especially psychically sensitive children this might be harder than you think. My own son seems/seemed very susceptible towards the ebbs and flows of social and worldwide energy.
The other option is based on the strategy of realistic discussion and magical intervention.
Children Birth to 5/7 Years
These young children may vaguely be aware that something bad has happened in the world. They may over hear adult conversation around terrorism and violence. At this age group, judge your child’s response and monitor their energy. I recommend hematite beads sewn in or strung on shoe laces as a means to ground children in a natural and unobtrusive way.
Explanations should be simple at this age. Stick to vague details and incorporate geography into the discussion. Show a world map and point out Paris, Kenya, Beirut, Iraq, Iran or the town in which the latest mass gun shooting in the United States has taken place.
Simple explanations are best.
“Sometimes people hate others and then they blow up a building or shoot a bunch of people because they hate them.”
In the case of mass gun shootings, “Sometimes people get sick in the heart or head and filled with hate. Then those people shoot a bunch of people to try to prove their point.”
In either case the follow up questions may be along the lines of, “Am I safe?” And/or “What can I do?”
Explain that it is not likely that something bad will happen to them and there is no guarantee either. The best thing that humanity can do is focus on loving each person we come into contact with and accepting all the different races, genders, sexual orientations, and religious paths we met.
Ages 5/7 to 12/13
At this age group, more detailed information could be given. Here terrorists go from some general group to specific and distinct groups. Daesh (ISIL) is responsible for the killings in Paris and Beirut. Boko Haram is responsible for the killings in Kenya. In the United States, gun violence is most often perpetrated by the mentally ill.
iscussions can begin around who Daesh is, why they are bombing, shooting and killing in Paris and Beirut, and some history of the Middle East region. It is important to point out that there are many more Muslims who are not terrorists than there are Muslims who are. It is important to note that Daesh is attracting career criminals who leave the Western world to have more money and backing to commit these crimes. It is further important to emphasis that the Western world could not possible understand the complex tribal issues that the Middle East face.
When asked again about being safe, it wouldn’t hurt to attack this on two fronts. The first is to risk assess your Family Coven’s likelihood to meet a terrorist group carrying out an attack. Living in large cities, especially New York, New York and Washington DC, certainly increases the risk. Living in the suburbs of Atlanta makes the likelihood significantly less.
Once the risk assessment is done, analyze what would happen if a terrorist attack occurred and you weren’t with your child. (This same type of discussion applies to natural disasters.) Talk about the fact that cell phones will be difficult to use during and immediately after an attack. Encourage your child to find a police man or emergency service person and let them take them where they will be safe. Emphasize that staying safe is their job and that you will come for them as soon as possible.
This is also the same advice children should be armed with when talking about mass shooting violence. In the case of school shootings, children are typically run through Lock Down drills at school. Ask your child if your school has ever done one. This is where a specific alarm is sounded within the school and teachers will turn off lights, lock their doors and instruct children to hide behind their desks. Later an all clear is given, and the Lock Down drill is over.
It is very important to encourage your child to NOT contact you during a lock down. They should be encouraged to stay silent and hidden until authorities have cleared their school. After they are safe, then they should use their cell phones to contact you.
In the case of terrorists attacks in major cities or even natural disasters that can happen when families are separated, having a plan for what will happen afterwards is a good thing to share with your children. Other than having children of all speaking ages memorize your cell phone number and address, tell your children exactly what you would do if you heard that a school shooting, terrorist attack or natural disaster had struck in the area that you live.
At the ages of 5/7 to 12/13, my son was instructed to stay at the school unless he was moved by authorities to another location. Tornadoes are common in my area of the country and I told him I would always check the school first. After 9/11, I told him that if something like that started happening again, I would pick him up from school and take him home.
Now that my son is in the 13/14 to 18 year old range and our school is only three blocks from our home, he has been instructed to walk home and wait for us there.
Ultimately our Family Coven plan is to gather at the covenstead (home) and then figure out what to do or what needs to be done from there, as a family coven.
If we lived in a big city, with my son at his current age, I would arrange a rendezvous location. A land mark that, if we were not home and separated, would serve as a place to wait for each other at. In larger cities have at least two of these locations in different parts of town, is smart planning. It wouldn’t even hurt to do a little drill. Spend a Saturday doing errands away from each other and agree to meet at one of the points at a specific time.
All of this knowledge and planning should always be presented in the context of “not likely to happen.” Emphasize where high risk areas are and given that, focus on the statistical unlikelihood of having to ever do any of the things you are planning. By doing this planning, you are empowering your children to know what to do in a crisis and you are given them something to focus on that is outside all of the variables they cannot control.
Ages 13/14 to 18In the 13/14 to 18 age range, discussion about prevention is also important. Talk to them about friends posting that they are going to kill people at school and what they should do should that happen. Ask them what they would do if their high school was attacked by a shooter and let them explain and defend their answer. Then try to influence their decisions by discussing it with them.
Walk them through other scenarios that might happen: riding an train while traveling in Europe, being in an airport when an emergency happens, being on a college campus that is under siege. Have them talk about what they would do. Who would they seek out for instructions? How would they communicate?
This is also the age group to encourage an exploration of what they think about the violence that has happened. Who is at fault? What can the United States do? What is the United States obligation? Try to not influence your child’s thinking and no matter what they think, even if you agree, try to play the devil’s advocate to encourage critical and thorough thinking about these larger world issues.
Outside of and even in the light of discussions and reassurances, sometimes the children who are living in the stress of this world violence need to be empowered that they have an ability to affect change and be given a space and time to grieve and release the stress they pick up.
Not all children will need this type of magical intervention. Some children may do better with the empowerment of simple prayer or a talisman of personal protection. Only a mother priestess or father priest will know if the following ritual is appropriate for the child/ren in their life.
Things You Will Need
- Hematite Rocks
- Colored String:
- Brown or Green
Cast your circle and call the quarters according to your family coven tradition in paganism. I would note that you do not have to circle cast. Remember that with Family Coven spiritual practice should be done in a way that is most comfortable for the child/ren involved. This entire activity can be done at the kitchen table.
Give your child/ren a hematite rock. Tell them to think about the violent event (Paris, Beruit, Kenya, Sandy Hook, Russian Airliner) and to feel all the pain and upset and concern and confusion they feel about it. Holding onto that for a moment, have them imagine pushing all those negative feelings into the hematite. Talk in a quiet and soothing way about some of the details that might have been upsetting specifically to your child, all the while walking them through expelling the grief into the stone.
When this is complete, have the stones place in a container.
Now show your children the string. The four colors represent the four elements: Air, Fire, Water, Earth. Hopefully your family coven already has totems for the four directions. If this is the case, simply remind them what animals are in the four directions. Some suggestions might be: Hawks and Dragonflies for Air – Salamanders and Spiders for Fire – Dolphins and Salmon for Water – Bear and Dragon for Earth. If your family coven doesn’t have four totem animals for the directions, first walk your child/ren through deciding which animal (real, imagined, and/or mythical) represents the four directions.
Now tell your children:
Today we are going to ask our elemental animals to go out into the world and help us combat the violence that has happened. Our Air animal will go out and find thoughts of hatred and plans to hurt others and reveal them to the authorities or talk the person having those bad thoughts out of doing those bad things. Our Fire animal will go out and use love as a way to thwart any potential violence – the terrorist’s/gunmen’s cars won’t start – their weapons won’t work – the cell phones will not keep a charge and lose signal. The Water animal will go out and find people who aren’t set on violence and fill them with compassion – they will make sure these savable persons find someone who intervenes and brings them into a place of love keeping them from committing unspeakable crimes. The Earth animal will go out into the world and find the good people who fight to keep the world safe – they will give them hints about what might happen so they can stop it – they will protect them from injury – and they will make all the different people who fight to keep the world safe strong and better able to do their job.
Pick one animal that you want to send into the world. Now tie the colored string on your wrist and if you feel scared or anxious, stop and hold the string. See with your mind that animal out in the world doing the work you have sent it to do.
At this point spend some time helping them to verbally describe the animal they are sending. What it looks like in detail. Does it have a name? How big is it? All of this discussion helps to create this energetic thought form. After the child/ren has the color string tied to their wrists, lead them in this simple chant to send the thought form into the universe.
Thoughts that Thwart
Through Compassion and Strength,
We send you now, terrorists (gunmen) to seek
By all that is holy in light and power
Fulfill these wishes at this hour!
Repeat three times, louder each time, having the child/ren repeat the chant line by line after you.
In the future, after this ritual has been first done, simply tie string to any child/ren that is having anxiety about these large violent issues and walk them through the visualization and chant again.
We are witches, pagans, wise people filled with a belief that magic is alive, and we, by our will alone, can effect change even in the face of the greatest of evils. Nothing is outside our reach or our ability. Believe this to make it so. Instill this belief in your children to make it reality in their lives. None of us are helpless.