Editor’s Note: This blog series comes from a paper and presentation Taffy Dugan wrote on Pagan parenting and sharing spiritual practices with children. With her permission, Pagan Families is republishing lightly edited versions of the series from her site MagickalKids. Start with Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
Maybe you want to share more with your children but, are afraid that they might not be able to keep your faith secret. I love this list sent in by Jessica Hartwell, another mom who was kind enough to answer my questionnaire wrote:
“I thought about teaching her to not talk about it, but secrets get told, and telling a secret can create some guilt or shame. So instead I have focused on a few things that she can talk about:
1. We are good Witches. Bad witches are mostly just in stories and fairy tales.
2. Being a Witch means you try to be a good person, you have a special relationship with nature, and love is the most important thing we are here to learn and do.
3. Witches can use their powers when they grow up. We do not control others with our powers or use them to cheat. We use our powers to be kind, to heal, to help.
4. Some people may not understand what we are and think we are bad. We don’t have to care what they think. They will think what they want but we know we are good and loving and that is what matters.
5. Being a Witch is our own private business and we don’t have to talk about it to anyone if we feel uncomfortable. We can stop talking about it by saying ‘let’s talk about something else,’ or ‘I don’t want to talk about that anymore.’ Talking about being a witch is something we do with people who respect our beliefs.
6. Everyone can believe what they want, and there are many different gods, religions and beliefs.”
If you live in an area where you feel uncomfortable being open about your religion, there are ways you can hide in plain sight. For example, the Unitarian Universalists are quite welcoming to Pagans. They have a subgroup called CUUPS – Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans – which is wonderful. They also have a great curriculum is you’re looking for that. I purchased it and use some of it in our kids’ circle.
Perhaps you want to share more but are still concerned about the possibility of imposing your beliefs on your children. Ashleen O’Gaea in her book Raising Witches: Teaching the Wiccan Faith to Children wrote “Being an experiential religion, Wicca is holistic, embracing our feelings as well as our reason. This means that it’s appropriate to teach Wicca with respect for feelings and with expectations of reason. Actually, it’s impossible to teach Wicca by force! It can’t be ‘rammed down’ anyone’s throat because…there are no threats to make, no promises to promise. ” This book is one of my favorites on Pagan parenting because she really delves into Wiccan parenting. She gives a lot of great advice and even has sections that go more into what is appropriate to teach at what age.
You could start slowly with meal and bedtime prayers, like I already mentioned. Or maybe an ancestor altar where you can pay your respects and gratitude, giving the kids a feeling of family continuity. This also helps them feel connected and to see more the “big picture.” Maybe you instead wish to start with an altar for the spirits who protect hearth and home. Deborah Bender, in a comment about The Wild Hunt’s blog about this project called Including Children in Pagan Practice wrote, “I think that putting up a shrine to tutelary spirits of the dwelling and doing simple daily ritual there (acknowledgement, gratitude and maybe a small offering) would be a simple custom that children could participate in from toddler age on. Romans venerated Lares and Penates, many Asian cultures have spirit shrines in or just outside the dwelling, and the European folk practices of putting out bread and milk for the fairies may descend from similar pre-Christian practices.”
***If you would like to take part in this project by being interviewed, here are the questions:***
Please let me know if I may quote you with your name, or if I should use “anonymous”
With what tradition do you identify?
Many Pagan families want to share their practice with their children but, don’t know how or even if they should. What advice would you give them?
Some parents needs to keep their path hidden for a variety of reasons such as living in areas where they don’t feel safe to come out of the broom closet or maybe are afraid to lose custody of their children, do you have any tips for them?
Did you share your path with your child? Why or why not?
Did you start out wanting to share or were you afraid to impose your path onto your kids? What have you done that’s worked well? What hasn’t worked?
Were you raised in a Pagan tradition or something else?
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your answers, comments, or questions.
Thank you and Blessed Be
Taffy Dugan runs South Bay Pagan Kids, owns the webstore MagickalKids, and is a Priestess in Waxing Moon Circle. She also enjoys doing talks at Pagan gatherings on creating rituals for children, and other Pagan parenting topics. She lives in San Jose, CA with her husband and their children.