Damh the Bard’s movie “Spirit of Albion” is now available.
You can find it at www.thespiritofalbionmovie.com
I’m hoping to have get a copy to review for you all fairly soon.
Celia, Many Trees, For the Asking
Legend, Spark to a Flame, Cardinal Points
Nancy Bloom, Blessed Be, Spirits Walking the Wind
Alexander James Adams, Sword and Staff, Wintertide
Dragon Ritual Drummers, Invocation of the Spirits, Vol 2.
Annwn, Corn that Springeth Green, A Barroom Bransle
Emerald Rose, Hills of America, Celtic Crescent
Damh the Bard, Spirit of Albion, Spirit of Albion
Gaia Consort, Heather in the Meade, Vitus Dance
Heartbeat, Heartbeat of the Earth, Bloodmoon
Legend, Lyonesse, Triple Aspect
Hecate’s Wheel, Hecate, Hecate’s Wheel
Featherscale, Gypsy Heart, Gypsy Heart
Loreena McKennitt, Between the Shadows, The Visit
Hu Dost, In an Eastern Rose Garden, In an Eastern Rose Garden
Moon void of course data courtesy www.drstandley.com
Today is July 5, 2012. It’s the 187th day of the year. The Sun is in Cancer and the Waning gibbous moon is in Aquarius.
Tomorrow, July 6, the moon will be void at 7:08 pm, and will enter Pisces on Saturday at 5:53 am.
On Monday, the moon will be void at 2:29 am, and will enter Aries at 2:01 pm.
On Wednesday, July 11, the moon will be void at 1:28 pm, and will enter Taurus at 1:35 am on Thursday, July 12.
Pagan and mixed families
Today I want to talk a little bit about Pagan and mixed families. Are there any differences between Pagan families, secular families, Christian or other religious families? What about mixed families – those families where one parent is Pagan, and the other some other religion? Is it okay to share your faith with your children?
For some Pagans, these aren’t even questions – the answer would be “of course!” But some others of us have some trepidation. Some of us become worried at the idea of practicing our religion around children. Some groups have rules which prohibit children. And so tonight I want to discuss this idea of raising children in Pagan households, or in households where at least one parent is Pagan.
So our first question is this: Is it moral or ethical to teach our children our faith? This is a question that many of us have asked – especially those of us who have come to Paganism from other faiths. We tend to believe that our children should be free to make their own decisions – we don’t wish to impose our beliefs upon them. There is also a longstanding tradition of teachers not taking on students who are beneath a particular age. For some, that age might be 14, 16 or 18 years old, and some teachers will only take on students who are minors with the permission of that student’s parents. For the most part, this is strictly about legal issues, and it says absolutely nothing about raising our own children as Pagan.
So when it comes time to raise our children, the question is simply this: do we raise them with our own faith, or do we not?
I think the answer to this question tells us a great deal more about our selves and our relationships to Deity than it does about the faith that we profess. If we look at our faith as something which informs our morality, as something that is good and which enriches our lives, then to suggest that it might be inappropriate in any way to NOT teach our faith to our children becomes somewhat silly. Why would we not wish to share with our children something that is beautiful, beneficial or blessed?
As I see it, there are few reasons that a person who professes to follow a Pagan path might not wish to teach that path to their children.
1: They are not sufficiently familiar with that faith.
2: They are fearful that others will not understand their faith.
3: A spouse, partner or someone else may object to the teaching of that faith.
Let’s look at these reasons and see if there are solutions.
There are many of us who are quite simply not as familiar with our faith as we might wish to be, or as we perhaps ought to be. Let’s face it – there are many 101-style books out there, and most of us never get past them. While 101-style books are great for teaching the rudiments of a faith, they simply don’t delve too deeply into the well. With such books, we might lower a pail into the water and quench our thirst occasionally, but this tells us nothing about where that water comes from. If we want to teach anyone, our children included, we need something much more than a beginner’s level understanding of the faith that we profess. To teach effectively, we need to be able to answer the questions that the books we are reading might beg of us. For example, as we’re coming up on the feast of Lughnassadh or Lamas in a couple weeks, if a book tells us that we celebrate Lamas or Lughnassadh at the beginning of August, we need to answer some deeper questions: Why do we celebrate at the beginning of August? What is meant by “first harvest”? What does “Lammas” mean? What does “Lughnassadh” mean? Who was Lugh? Where is Tara? Who are the “Tuatha De Danann”? Why do some say “Tuatha De Danann”, and others “Tuatha De”? Why do some say that the translation of “Tuatha De Danann” as “peoples of the Goddess Danu” is incorrect? Why did some people believe the cross-quarter days to be more important than the quarters? Why do we associate particular festivals with particular directions, and why is there disagreement as to which direction represents a particular element? What other festivals are dedicated to specific deities, and why does it seem that Lugh is somewhat special in this manner?
The thing is that if we are to be prepared to teach another person, it’s important that if we don’t have a particular answer when a question arises, that we at least recognize there is an answer, and we need to be ready to seek the answers to such questions out. In matters of faith – in pretty much any endeavor, an answer of “that’s just the way it is” is weak. It suggests that our understanding of our faith may not be as deep as we might wish others to believe. Here is the thing – if someone asks the question, it likely has an answer – and to the question “why”, “it’s always been that way” is usually a cop-out.
So what is the solution to our ignorance? Education, study, work, learning, experience. While we don’t need to be clergy to teach our basic traditions, it’s important to realize that there is always more to learn, and the more that we learn, the deeper our appreciation of our faith will become. When we meet someone we are attracted to, we wish to spend as much time as possible with them. We wish to get to know them – their likes, their dislikes, what they find humorous or distasteful – we wish to know everything there is about them. That’s what love is. Our religion should be just as much a love affair as is a human companion. We should be always thirsty to know more.
And when it is time to teach our children, we should not be put off because they might ask a question to which we have no answer. Rather, that should be an opportunity to seek out that answer together. This might mean that we ask someone who knows more than us, it might mean some time spent in research. But questions are never something to be afraid of.
The second point – fear that others might not understand our faith, is actually fairly important. There have been parents who have lost custody of children because others didn’t understand their faith. In some parts of America, this is still a very real concern. The ACLU has helped, as well as the Lady Liberty League, but the harsh truth is that there are those who do not understand us; there are those too, who do not wish to.
So how do we deal with people who do not understand us? Well, the answer to the first question applies here as well – we need to be able to understand our faith to those who might question it. The preconceptions of Pagans as Satanists, as the stereotypical “evil witch” – these things still live, much like archetypes, in the minds of many who do not understand who we are. We need to remember that in many parts of the world, the religion we practice as Pagans has only been legal for a few decades. There are those who are practicing Paganism today, who were alive when it was illegal to do so.
There are those too, who believe that Paganism is a make-believe religion. And, frankly, there are those among us who do not take the faith seriously. Some come into Paganism from rather strange paths – from the Society for Creative Anachronism, or from the gaming world – through games such as Dungeons and Dragons.
I think that all of us, when we are new, have the capacity to be a bit more outspoken about our faith than might be good for us. And I don’t think that this is peculiar to Paganism. You can look to the new convert to any faith and see that newcomers tend to be a bit exuberant. We want to share what we have. We want others to believe what we have found – in part, it helps us to reinforce within us, our own faith. Sometimes, in doing so, we can be almost a parody of that which we profess. But again, this is just a part of being new to a faith – it’s the “fluffy bunny phase” that most of us manage to get through.
Ours is a family of faiths that is growing, and more and more of us are available to speak out, knowledgeably, about our faith. This is important, and the more that it happens, the less we’ll have to worry about those who don’t understand.
Where some children have had a problem in the past, being told they could not wear an emblem of their faith to school, this is changing, our world is becoming more accommodating to people of varied faiths. Even here in America, those who have a problem with other faiths are coming, more and more, to be seen for what they are – hysterical, alarmist, deluded and ignorant. If we don’t cede them any ground, they won’t gain any.
What do we need to do to insure that bigotry doesn’t win? We need to follow the same advice that Peter gave the Christians – “Always be ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within you, with gentleness and with respect”. It’s good advice. If you take nothing else from my talk tonight, please take that.
Lastly, and probably most difficult of all, is what to do when a partner or spouse objects to us teaching our faith to our children. It might be that we came to our faith choice after we were married, or our spouse converted after we were married. It might be that we are divorced and have joint custody. Whatever the situation, this can be the most difficult of all.
The problem is that when parents have arguments or disagreements, children can become pawns. It takes constant vigilance on the part of parents to prevent this from happening – we can begin to use our children without even knowing it’s happening. So the first thing to insure is that we are constantly aware of our motives and our actions. Once we’ve committed to doing this, to keeping our motives pure, we can move on to the second stage.
Whether married or divorced, we need to insure that we are going to work with our spouse (or former spouse), and put the needs of our children first. This means that we need to be willing to communicate with each other, to make decisions jointly. It means that we need to be willing to take into account each other’s wishes.
One of the biggest problems can arise when our spouse is an evangelical Christian and we’re Pagan. There is such diametric opposition in such a case that it might be difficult to even have a conversation about faith. In such a case, I’d recommend knowing as much about not only your own faith as possible, but about your partner’s faith as well. If a Pagan learns enough about the fundamentals of Christianity, it’s possible to speak to matters of faith more in a philosophical context than a religious one. With enough study, it’s possible to examine the moral underpinnings of each religion and to discern the many similarities. Each and every religion has its own “golden rule” – the “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” of Christianity is remarkably similar to “that which you send out will return to you” of many Pagan faiths, and to the law of karma. We see in Paganism the same calls for hospitality that we see in Christianity. If we spend the time looking and understanding rather than comparing and defending, we’ll see that the common ground is vast.
We can learn also, with practice, that we teach our faith every bit as much by how we live our lives as we do by offering formal lessons. We can learn that our entire lives are a ritual, and even if we don’t invite our children to share a beltaine ritual with our coven or grove, we can still give thanks to the Mother and the Father for each and every one of our blessings.
In the end, we can’t help but teach our children. If we fail to do so, we do them a disservice – we are failing to give to them that which is most important in our own lives. Our situations may be such that an actual formal Pagan education might not be possible, but if our children know who we worship, if they see us living lives that are complete, happy, dedicated – these are things that they will remember.
In the end, we may raise our children as Pagan – if we have a spouse who agrees, if we have a Pagan household. Or we may raise them simply with the knowledge that we are Pagan, and that it is but one choice. In either case, we need to know our own faith well, and not be afraid to share it.
And one last and important thing that we can all do for our children is to pray for them – whatever age they are, whether they live with us or not. If you don’t have a prayer for your children, here’s one you can borrow.
Lord and Lady you who know me well,
You who above, below, within, without do dwell,
I place my child(ren) within your gentle arms
that safe you will keep them (him or her) from any and all harm.
Guide them by day and protect them at night,
and keep them always on paths true and right.