Where the Wild Things Are: Teaching Pagan Ideas to Kids

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, February, 20, 2003.

What do you do with Pagan kids?

I think kids are too young to get started on the more serious side of being Pagan. Partly because they are too uninformed to make the decision to be Pagan versus something else. Also, calling themselves Pagan could become a problem with other members of the family or kids/ teachers at school. Most people don’t understand Paganism and thus they don’t trust it. Kids are a bit too defenseless in that situation.

That doesn’t mean kids can’t be Pagan too. Calling yourself Pagan is not being Pagan. What is being Pagan about, at it’s heart? To me it’s nature, the Earth, life, history, science, traditions and environmentalism. Is there any reason kids can’t be involved in those things, of course not. Kids just love to talk about the supernatural too, few kids don’t enough the spooky element of Halloween. You can add the facts about ghosts, Witches and such to their ghost stories.

Teach kids to appreciate nature, take them on walks outdoors, show them how to recycle and make it a priority to learn about history and science. Involve them in your rituals. Take them on a nature walk to gather leaves, stones, etc. Let them know what your altar is for, don’t make it a big mystery, but don’t make it sound too “weird” either. Get them started writing a journal, they don’t have to know it’s a Book of Shadows. Spend time with them, that’s the most important thing for any kids, Pagan or otherwise. Remember, they learn from you. What you do is what they see and what they believe.

You can introduce kids to the Wiccan Rede, the basic ideas behind Paganism and what you believe about Gods, Goddesses, life and death. But, make sure they understand not everyone shares your same beliefs. For one thing you want them to make their own decision about being Pagan. For another you don’t want them to be confused when they discover people who disagree with Pagan ideas.

Kids haven’t lived enough to have a deeper understanding and they don’t know how to protect themselves from those who think Pagans are evil, devil worshipping types. That’s the main reason I think I would just let kids see the heart of Paganism and introduce them to the body later. Likely, they will have had a life of living like a Pagan and it will be a very smooth transition to become Pagan officially.

Where the Wild Things Are: Talking About Being Pagan

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, January, 16, 2003.

Staying safe, in your own safe little world. Is that where you are? Many of us choose our adventures, how far we will go depends on where we have our safety nets.

For instance, have you told anyone you’re Pagan? Have you told your family, friends, co-workers, boss? I’m not suggesting you rush out and do it. I’m certainly not daring you to tell them either. It’s a personal thing. Being Pagan is a personal thing in itself. A personal choice and something just for you.

It should not, however, be some dark secret. Something deep, dangerous and naughty. That’s not what Paganism should be. It’s not something you should have to hide from your family. Being Pagan is about caring for life, the Earth and old traditions. How can they really object to that? Still, you can find the safety zone. You can let them know you’re into nature, environmental issues and historical traditions. You can be Pagan without saying the word Pagan to them.

People don’t always get that. They think they have to hide being Pagan because others won’t like it or will be shocked by it. They turn it into a deep, dark secret. By doing that they make it become something dark, secret. No wonder so many people still think of Pagans as devil worshippers.

You have the power to find where your safe world is, set the boundaries and set the record straight if you choose to. Let people know you’re Pagan, if you can or if you choose to. But, don’t make it some dark mystery. Don’t let them find an altar, a book or a pentacle in your room without explanation. If you make being Pagan something to be ashamed of or fear you hurt all of us.

Instead be proud of who you are and be as honest about it as you can. For me, the only person I couldn’t talk to about being Pagan was my Grandmother. It scared her. She couldn’t think of it as anything but dangerous for me. She didn’t understand that it’s not something dark, but something light. She didn’t know what I made of being Pagan, for me. She only knew the stereotypes she had heard all her life.

Where the Wild Things Are: A Pagan Appreciation for History

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, March, 1, 2003.

Do you care about history?

I love reading a bit here and there. I studied history in high school. I would have taken it in college but it wasn’t available among my optional courses.

Mostly I like reading about women in history ancient history and old cultures and customs. Being a Pagan/ Witchy type person I tend to read about superstitions and old traditions connected to nature and ceremonies too. I once spent several hours in the public library reading about wedding traditions and omens. That was long before my own wedding.

When I first heard of Wicca I went to the library to read about it. I wanted to know where it came from and who was involved. How did they feel about the things that matter most to me? That’s all history too. Most, of the people who created Wicca are no longer here to tell us their side of things. If you go even farther back, the first Witches and Pagans are hopelessly lost to us. We couldn’t even come up with a reliable source to know who the first Witch really was. Just some woman gathering herbs and helping people I would guess. But, you can’t know. That’s something lost to history.

History gives us a past, an anchor. Whatever else you learn about, it’s all current or in the future. Nothing but history teaches you about mistakes, conquests, people and possibilities that have come before you.

Not everyone appreciates history. Some think of it as just dusty old books that don’t matter any more. But, I think differently. How can you follow your path if you don’t know where you’ve been and what you’ve passed along the way?

Where the Wild Things Are: Choosing your Words

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, June, 10, 2003.

“The bible was written by the same people who said the Earth was flat.”

This was on a button, a collection of buttons, on a website. I think it’s an interesting point.

How much trust do you put into someone’s words. If they make it into black and white are they gold? Or do you think about what they say, compare it to your own ideas, values and common sense?

Then, do you go a step further and consider who the writer is. What influence do their own values have on their writing. After that, do you think they are a good source to base your opinions or actions on? Never stop using your common sense as a guide, no matter how grand the authors seem.

Just as you should never copy someone’s Book of Shadows and claim it as your own. It will never be yours, why would you even want it to? Your opinions should be your opinions, not a copy of someone else’s life and thoughts. Stretch your mind, take a chance and have opinions and experiences of your own.

In the end, people who believe everything they read and copy it as their own, never are anything but a clone – a copy. Be unique, be an individual, take a deep breath and step out into mid-air, invent something new – yourself!

Where the Wild Things Are: Do You Believe in Fairies?

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, June, 28, 2003.

Some Pagans believe in brownies, fairies, and assorted little people. I’d like to. But, the practical side of me just can’t quite let me. How cute it would be to see little elven creatures frolicky around in your garden if you woke up early enough some fresh morning.

But, what would those creatures do the other 23 hours of the day? Could you imagine turning over a wheelbarrow to find several fairies sheltering under it from the heat? Then, that really practical side of me gets into the mess angle. Where do fairies sleep, pee or bury their deceased? Every living thing makes waste. Some more than others, look at all the pollution people make compared to animals in general.

So, though fairies would be sweet, magical and all that, I just can’t accept them as more than a pretty fantasy. I like them for desktop wallpaper on the computer.

What do you believe? Don’t let me knock your convictions if you feel otherwise. I’d like to hear from someone who believes and has answers for my practical questions.

Where the Wild Things Are: What Kind of Pagan are You?

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, July, 28, 2003.

There are so many choices to make once you decide you are a Witch. First, what kind of Witch are you, are you even a Witch at all? Some prefer to call themselves Wiccans. To me, Wicca is the new religion based on ancient witchcraft. We don’t know a great deal about witchcraft, the old ways. Things weren’t written down they were instead passed along from mouth to mouth. Many things were lost along the way, of course. Some were never passed along at all I’m sure. So, modern Witchcraft is only based on what the Witches were doing a hundred or a thousand years ago.

Still, I consider myself a Witch, not a Wiccan. I like to think my beliefs are the older ways, rather than based on the revamping of the older ways which was started with Wicca in the 60’s and 70’s. I don’t put Wicca down as not being true to the old ways or some how not worthy as a Pagan religion. It’s just not right for me, personally.

Once you get past the Witch versus Wiccan stage you look at all the flavours in being a Witch/ Wiccan. There are so many. Some are based on different cultures like German, Italian, Egyptian, Irish, Celtic, and Native Indians. Others are based on different elements like water, fire, and ice. Then there are traditions based on mythical things like unicorns, dragons, mermaids and fairys. Don’t assume being a myth to our modern culture makes it a myth in reality. People who believe in dragons and fairies and follow that style of Witchcraft are not just playing around, they believe.

Here are some of the basic flavours and styles of witches to help get you started. You should find out at least a few things about each one. That way you will be making an informed choice when you pick which path you will follow.

Alexandrian

British Traditionalist

Celtic Wicca

Caledonii (Hecatine)

Dianic

Eclectic

Gardnerian

Pictish

Seax-Wica (or Saxon) Wicca

Strega

Teutonic (Nordic)

Hedge Witch

Solitary

Asatru

Druidism

Shamanism

Faery