Like many parents I'm juggling little ones - Master 5 and Master 18mths as well as awaiting Master #3. My days are spent doing the school run and changing nappies among the seemingly never ending pile of washing that grows and mutates daily. I bathe and read to the boys before bedtime, bake them cookies and comfort them when they have a nightmare or have hurt themselves. All the normal things a mum does, the only difference is that, well, mum just happens to be a Pagan.
Now truthfully I haven't previously given much thought as to how my boys would be influenced by their mum's chosen spiritual path, most likely due to the fact they are still very young. I must admit that I now think I was being a bit naive. I hadn't really stopped to think about this topic before I was asked to write a blog post, at least not as in-depth as I have been for the last couple of weeks. I decided that the best way to see if I was pagan parenting would be to observe how I interacted and engaged with my children. To my astonishment I began to notice telling details right away. Things that are so second nature to me that I didn't even notice I was doing them, things that are now obviously inheritatly born from my personal spirituality such as attachment parenting (which I didn't realise had a label until I was so informed by SBM) expressing my views of the world from topics such as my preference for natural, non-commercial products to our weekly sage cleansing of the house or that we have various crystals hidden all over the house and buried in our yard. Master 5's seemingly inherent knowledge of candle safety and maintenance. Simpler things like the lullaby I sing to Master 18mths, picking him flowers to dissect or chatting to Master 5 about the different seasonal changes in our backyard and why they occur. He turned to me this afternoon on our way home from school and informed me the 'element air' was being very cheeky and playing with the leaves on the pathway ahead as a gust of wind picked them up.
I didn't think I had passed on anything as I don't involve them directly in my pagan ways. I strongly believe in and encourage their freedom to forge their own path in life, but I have to acknowledge that while the boys may not join me during my rituals celebrating the energy of the moon or cycle of the seasons Master 5 has (probably) inevitably taken a keen interest and has an inquisitive eye for the natural world around him, and as his mum I couldn't be more chuffed. Walk anywhere with me and you must be prepared to take your time. I'm the kind to stop and smell the roses......... and touch the trees, watch the bee's, listen to the birds...... well you get the idea. Yesterday we were home 15 mins later from school just so I could show they boys an interesting lizard I spotted. He has expressed a connection with nature that is unfortunately a rarity in my own generation let alone his and if there is one thing I want to pass on to my kids it would be the love, respect and nurturance of the Earth. Just the other day he requested a small Goddess shrine to Gaia/Mother Earth be erected on his bookshelf where he can place the two gemstones he carries with him to school daily to 'recharge'. He never fails to remind me that they must be placed in his pocket before he sets foot out the door in the mornings.
I always thought of myself as a wife & parent first and Paganism was a secluded part of my own life, but I've come to realise that there really is no separation. I self identify as pagan, my spirituality has become the basis for who I am and who I will grow to be. I have discovered more about myself and my beliefs every time my path has evolved to another level. If I try to stifle or remove my spirituality from my parenting then I am not giving all of myself to my children. They deserve to have a whole parent, one who is not secretive or afraid to express herself and share of herself. Fortunately I have been blessed with an open minded husband who sees no ill will or forcefulness from my actions or maybe we have been together so long that like me he just doesn't bat an eye at my hippie ways any more lol.
I have been on the Pagan path for over a decade now and to be honest it hasn't always been an easy road to travel. When you find yourself placed outside the 'norm' (who defines normal anyway?) you inevitably have to deal with the ignorance and bigotry of others from time to time. This is true though for anyone from homosexuals & young parents to 'alternative' religions and even those darn trekkies sometimes cop it. In all seriousness I do worry that I may be setting my boys up for some rough times. This has been on my mind a lot more since Master 5 started kindergarten this year. I'm out of the broom closet, always have been but that doesn't mean I want my boys to be subjected to whispers or bullying. This is a path I have chosen but they didn't get a choice in having a pagan parent. Personally I'm very private when it comes to my spiritual beliefs and practices. Even those closest to me will only hear about anything specific if they initiate the conversation. I have been lucky enough not to receive such treatment in a long while, the last incidence being before Master 5 was born from a neighbour who I swear bore a remarkable resemblance to Mrs Kravitz.
The real decision I have to make will be one of the hardest, it may well end up being the tale of a double edged sword. Do we live openly and authentically as who we are and expose ourselves to potentially upsetting bigotry from people such as other parents at school to Pastor Danny Nalliah (not that this man has ever had anything remotely credible to say) who is convinced that Canberra Witches' covens had cursed our federal government with blood sacrifices on Mount Ainslie. (I actually went up to take a gander at the so called 'sacrifice site' and personally my opinion on this is that if you can't tell the difference between dried red soft drink and blood you're a freakin' moron (using my nice words today)).
On the other hand if we decide to be secretive what message will this send to my boys? Is there a middle ground? At the end of the day I realise that if my husband and I have raised thoughtful, considerate children who have the confidence within themselves to acknowledge exactly who they are then we have done our job well.
x-posted to Squishybum Mum