Today I want to respond to Pagan Families’ July topic, “Magical Parenting.” I have a story to tell you…and a useful trick for nightmares.
My son, now an adult, was the kind of kid who didn’t seem to need much magical education for the most part. Actually he was fey and wily and had strong opinions about things such as what fairies liked. (Peanut butter). There was an incident at an “adults only” Beltane ritual some years ago, where someone in the circle foolishly called the Fay to “come and make trouble.” The May Pole promptly fell over. Twice. Then the wreath holding the ribbons slid halfway down. We dared not take the pole down again in order to fix it, so we danced as best we could awkwardly ducking under low-hanging ribbons.
Meanwhile, down at the child care area set aside to keep the kiddies away from all of the bawdy adult fun, my son looked around at the other children and said, “You realize, this is just a distraction.” He tried to recruit them to go and crash the party, but for some reason everyone else’s children decided to be obedient that day. (To be fair to him, I hadn’t actually explicitly forbidden him to leave child care. I believe my exact words were, “Be here when I come back.”) My son, undaunted by the lack of enterprise displayed by his fellow children, commenced a Mission Impossible-style belly crawl up the hill to see what was what.
I was greeted by him as I came out of the ritual, whereupon he promptly told me exactly what he’d been doing. “But don’t worry,” he assured me. “I remembered what you taught me. I didn’t break the circle. I just stayed outside to watch.” Thank you, son.
I briefly considered sending him back to our campsite and going to child care (where people apparently still hadn’t realized he was missing) and raising hell: “WHERE IS MY BABY????” But I decided the child care person was up against superior powers (my son + the Fay) and besides, there were other things to worry about. The post-ritual bonfire had gotten out of control. Behind the barn. Also, the organizer for the festival who had called Undines for the West and was a very experienced priestess was somehow having trouble un-Undining herself and would only hiss at people.
The moral of this story is…well, you can probably figure that one out.
Even very fey, wily, bold and enterprising children get scared sometimes. How to deal with nightmares is a perennial parenting problem, not to mention how to get said child to go back to sleep without giving up space in your bed. I taught my son a modified version of the quarter calls I learned from Oak, Ash, and Thorn, which in turn are similar to the ones found in Mastering Witchcraft by Paul Huson* (though much simpler). Like so:
“I turn me to the East and call the mighty Eagle, Ruler of the Element of Air. Watch over me while I sleep and protect me from all peril approaching from the East!” Follow with a lion for the South, a dragon for the West, and a bull for the North. If your child has a flair for the dramatic like mine, this will go over well and also give a sense of empowerment. With any luck, they’ll use it on their own and won’t even wake you up. (I know. One can hope.)
*Huson’s book also seems to be the source for the witchy material in The Active Enzyme Lemon-Freshened Junior High School Witch by Wallace Hildick, one of my all-time favorites and the book responsible for me telling everyone in the fourth grade that I was going to be a witch when I grew up. I bet they didn’t believe me. I also bet Paul Huson never thought he’d be such an influence on people’s childhoods. Life is funny like that.