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

Where the Wild Things Are: I Believe in Santa Claus

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, December, 25, 2003.

I believe in Santa Claus. Maybe I just choose to believe. But I think there’s more to it. In part it’s the Christmas spirit generated in this season, sharing good cheer and love, friendship. Maybe it’s the atmosphere of giving and not just taking. Maybe it’s the strength of all those children who also believe in Santa Claus. All those things combine and make strong magickal forces. You may scoff all you like. But the fact is this is a powerful time of year. Each person wandering around with their own part in the whole of the Christmas spirit contributes to the power. Each good deed, each gift shared and each friend greeted is part of a huge ritual taking place.

Children traditionally set out offerings for Santa: milk and cookies, something for the reindeer and a tidbit for the elves. We send him notes asking for blessings. Santa also has ritual music and poetry, widely known and frequently chanted at this time of year. The rituals are passed on to each new child, carried along and given new life for each generation.

All those people, no matter what path they follow, know about Santa Claus. He’s the focus of the spirit of giving and good will. For children he’s the figure of authority, he who must be pleased. Cultural icon, old wives tale or commercial legend, Santa has been given power and there doesn’t need to be an actual human being for that power to exist. We don’t need to see a man in a red suit driving an air borne sleigh, packing a bottomless bag of toys to believe in Santa Claus. It’s all around us, every moment of every day in this season.

So, scoff if you choose. But, I believe in Santa Claus. I like it that way.

Merry Yule, Seasons Greetings and leave Santa a little something tonight.

Where the Wild Things Are: Yule or Christmas

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, November, 23, 2003.

Christmas, by that name, is a Christian holiday, Christ’s Mass is how it started as far as I remember. Also, if you want to get technical, holiday is also a Christian word, coming from holy day, the long, extended version before the remix.

I was thinking tonight, do you call it Christmas or always religiously, in a semi-fanatical way, call it Yule? To me, I don’t think the small things are worth fighting against the tide over. I don’t mind calling it Christmas or a holiday. I know what it means to me. I know where it comes from, historically and spiritually.

I also know how I celebrate it. I don’t go to a church, not one recognized by the average Yellow Pages phone book. I live in my ‘church’ it’s always with me and all around me. Mostly, I just like being outside. That’s when I feel closest to everything that matters and makes me feel good.

So, for me Yule or Christmas, is about time outside as well as our family traditions. The Christmas tree, singing carols, the exchange of new pajamas on Christmas Eve, the big dinner, making bread together, driving around admiring the fancy coloured lights, and so on. My favourite things are fresh, new snow on Christmas day and admiring the tree all lit up and decorated with ornaments we’ve made and kept from year to year and relatives past.

However you feel about Yule, remember the spirit of the season. Don’t insist people recognize you as Pagan, call it Yule whenever you might be listening and don’t make someone feel their Christmas is less than your Yule. Play nice. Religious tolerance works both ways.

Where the Wild Things Are: Can you Be Yourself and Be Pagan?

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, August, 24, 2003.

Being Pagan isn’t about putting on a show. It’s really a very personal thing, a choice you might keep to yourself forever or reveal to your family or friends. They call it coming out of the broom closet cause that’s kind of cute. But, you were never in a closet. Being Pagan is about being free, living with the Earth and respecting our history/ traditions. How can those be bad? Why would you have to keep that under wraps?

I think people think they have to prove a point or show off when they yabble on about how Pagan they are. In the case of craft names especially, those were meant to be secret, from everyone! But here and there you can find Pagans using their craft names more than the name on their birth certificate. Some rationalize it and say that’s their public craft name and they keep a secret one, privately. So, why the show?

Can you be yourself and be Pagan too? I think that’s what it really comes down to.

If you have to dress a certain way, display certain objects around you and change your name to fit in, where do you really fit in? Being Pagan should be comfortable, part of who you already were. It should add to you, not reprogram you.

Think about your own Pagan or Wiccan lifestyle. Are you putting on a show or are you just being Pagan cause that’s part of who you are? If you have all the toys and gadgets chances are you’re really missing something. If you’ve copied tons of spells from the web but never written any of your own, chances are you’re missing the point. Reorganize, rethink and stop to breathe, find out what part of yourself is Pagan and relearn. Get back to the essentials, rediscover being Wiccan and have fun again. You can’t be having fun if you’re always trying to catch up to some ideal of what being Pagan should be. You are Pagan, you made that choice, so just go ahead and be Pagan. No song and dance required.

Where the Wild Things Are: A Pagan Celebration

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, September, 22, 2003.

Tomorrow is the Autumn Equinox. I should be doing something, celebrating the changing seasons. But I’m not. I’ll be at work from 9:00am till 8:30 at night. By the time I’m done I will be too tired to drive myself home. But, I have to do that so I’ll manage somehow. Times like that I’m so glad it’s the car that does all the work!

Anyway, real life does interfere with how Wiccan or Pagan we would like to be. That’s ok, it’s reality. If I was to skip work and the big meeting after work, that would be living in some unreal imaginary world of my own creation. I have to work to make money to pay for my car, my rent and the clothes I wear while I do all those other things. Now and then I even treat myself to a new book, a fancy coffee or a day of window shopping.

It’s ok to live in the real world. It’s ok to miss a Pagan celebration. It would be nicer to not miss it. But, really as long as I’m alive and still on this planet I’m not missing a thing. As I drive I’ll be looking at the darkened forest I drive through on the way home. I’ll be watching for deer and foxes who sometimes show up along the roadside in the evenings. I’ll be listening to the sounds of the night as I drive with the windows down to let in all that cool night air and the scent of crisp Autumn leaves.

You may not light candles, perform rituals or chant pretty rhymes but that doesn’t mean you’re not celebrating along with the rest of the world. It’s what you have in your heart, mind and soul that matters, even if you only express it to yourself. You don’t have to prove how Pagan you are to anyone but you.