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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Teaching Children Paganism and the Wheel of the Year

Thursday, November 19, 2009
As many of you know I have been rerunning a series this past month on Raising a Child in the Old Ways. But today I looked back at my previous post and was actually dissatisfied with what I had written. Of course much has changed in the last two years, since I wrote that post.

So instead I figured I would share links to some of my other relevant posts along with some of my thoughts.

This blog is all about teaching your children the Wheel of the Year and raising them as Pagans, so there is an abundance of info on how to do just that. But that material is not enough. What is lacking is parents taking the first step and just including your children in your spirituality.

Over the last year I have had many parents (either through FWTI or through this blog) ask me on how to teach their children their faith. And while my answers have been vague and very general this is done with a purpose. Wicca and Paganism is not about dogma or "right or wrong". Rather it is more about intuition and emotion.

So my advice to all Pagan parents is to just start. Whether it is just lighting a candle with them or telling them stories and the myths of the Old Gods. Or other simple activities to celebrate the Sabbats, all the way up to full fledged rituals.

In my family we try to do the Family (Full) Moons and to at least commemorate the Sabbats if we can't do ritual. With conflicting schedules my wife and I can't always be there to do a ritual with the whole family. But this doesn't make us bad parents or bad Pagans, our intent is good and that is all that matters.

Over the last few months I have picked up many subscribers and I want to say Thank You for all the comments, either here or on Facebook or email. And I hope that you continue to stay with me in the years to come as I continue this blog. After Thanksgiving (can you believe it is less then a week away?) I will start on the Yule Season. So if you haven't already please subscribe.

Blessed Be!

You may also want to check out these posts:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Importance of Balance and Compassion

Wednesday, November 18, 2009
We should all know our place in the world. Poised perfectly between the spiritual and the mundane. The world of humans and the animal world. Yet many of us have forgotten this. We have forgotten that we are all connected. That which we feed on will eventually feed on us.

Yet this does not only apply in the world around you this also applies to the world within yourself. Yin and Yang, the light balanced against the dark. Children are usually balanced from birth; it is only life itself that throws the human soul off balance.

The forgotten role of parents is to help to prevent this. In encouraging openness and teaching good communication skills, we help to prevent children from growing up with baggage. Too many parents abuse their children, whether verbally or physically, or try very hard to keep children in their "place".
I'm sure we could regale each other for hours about the trials of childhood and the baggage that we either carry or have carried. Trials and tribulations are important, for as Buddhism teaches, "suffering brings enlightenment", but parents seem to outdo themselves in providing suffering. Not that my childhood was particularly bad but I still see it in the world around me. Broken homes and adults that have no social skills. The rapid increase of mental illness and the rise in violent crime.

Don't believe me? Then take a week and just listen to the people around you. Observe them and feel their pain and hear their stories. So often in my life I have been pushed into the role of counsellor so I know the pain that is around me.
Yet we as Pagans have the ability to overcome this in our own lives and then to teach it to our children. Not all of us can be counsellors and healers of the world around us but we can first focus on our own lives and the lives of our children. Is that not our job as parents? And as Pagans we should accept responsibility for ourselves, should we not?

So now that you have read this, go to your children and spend some time with them. Let them know that you love them and when they talk to you listen to them. Really really listen, they have great stories and important things to tell you. Don't shush them when you don't have to, you have other jobs as a parents, such as paying bills but if you are just watching your favorite TV show, then don't shush them, stop what you are doing and listen to them. When they are grown you will regret the missed opportunities.

Just remember to not blame yourself if they don't turn out perfect. You don't have the only input on them and their growth and in the end they will choose their own destiny. But spend time with them in the meantime, it does a child good. Sorry, I know bad pun. Go down to their level and help them to rise and grow above themselves.

While you are there talking to them, tell them how we are all connected, one to another. Human to Human, Human to animal and so on. If they are old enough to understand, then talk to them of Carl Jung and the universal consciousness; if they are younger speak to them simply about how each animal no matter how small or how large is equal in importance in the grand scheme of things.
This is just as important as inner balance. For what good is it to be balanced within but damage the world around us? We must have both to truly balanced. Balanced within and without, both sides in perfect harmony. Seen and unseen against each other. Yin and Yang.

Blessed Be!

This post is a continuation in my series on Raising a Child in the Old Ways. I recommend checking out the rest of the articles.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Get Outside and Respect Nature!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Most people, I think, would agree that there is little that is more awe-inspiring then a sunset or sunrise. So this is probably the easiest lesson to teach your children. To love the world around them; the deep forest, the blue waters, the flash of lightning and the fall of rain.

I am blessed that the area around where I live is full of wildlife. Sometimes I have to drive an hour to the deep woods but even then that is worth it because of the deer and the calmness away from the city. This is also something that I can teach to my oldest, Juliet, that the world around us is sacred and must be both respected and taken care of.

Both of children exclaim in wonder as they see the moon rise over the trees, full and bright. I have started Juliet with an interest in astronomy. Which by the way is a great investment, meaning it costs little to begin and provides hours of fun with no extra cost. She loves to watch the moon and the planets. The youngest, Lassair, does not have the attention span for it but I let her look if she wants.
Both of my children enjoy camping and the oldest enjoys fishing. Whenever I take them they talk for days about all the stuff that they saw and did.

It is so easy for any of us, even Pagans, to get a disconnect from the natural world. Yeah we see the moon rise and maybe even plot its phases, but when do we actually go outside civilization and really experience Mother Earth. It is one of my goals in life to go out to the Southwest or somewhere that is remote enough for me to actually see the Milky Way and all the stars the way the ancients did.

So I challenge you to get off your chair and take your kids outside, and if you don't have kids, go by yourself. Take a walk, it'll do you good, breath some fresh air and listen for the birds. Sometimes their music is better than the music on the radio.

Blessed Be!

For the rest of the articles in this series, check here.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Love and Recognize the Goddess and God

Sunday, November 15, 2009
Immanent deity. In my opinion this is the greatest thing about the pagan faiths. There is no feeling like the feeling of being in the arms of the Goddess and God. I try hard to include this in the rituals that I have led. And I will try just as hard to show this to my youngest child, Lassair, (the oldest one being Christian this probably won't work). She knows about the Goddess and God already. We have told her that the Goddess lives in the Moon and the God in the Sun.

With the death of a good friend of the family, me and my wife decided that being candid was probably the best course to take. So we told Lassair that Marge had died and had gone home to the Goddess. This consoled her and she was, if not happy, at least she was not sad.

While she is not old enough to understand immanence of deity, I am starting with recognition. Once they know what the Goddess and God represents then they can learn to know who They are. This is the essence of raising a pagan child. For it is this inherent knowledge of the Deity that defines pagans as such.

Right now we are listening to music, and Lassair's favorite song is "Freya, Shakti", by Emerald Rose. She sings, some of it at least, and bounces all over the room trying to dance. This is another way that I try to show Lassair about the Gods. For can not the Gods be found in music and dance? This song can be found on the following album Bending Tradition.

So remember to tell your children about the Gods and about the old stories.

Blessed Be!
For the rest of the articles in this series, check here

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Love and Kind-Heartedness

Thursday, November 12, 2009
As we continue on my latest series, on Raising Children in the Old Ways
This is probably the hardest and easiest lesson to teach anyone, especially children. Easiest because it is easy to tell your children to love and to be kind. The hardest because you do not only have to show children love and always strive to be kind, but you have to teach them how and when to show compassion, and not pity.

Children are naturally kind and loving, such is the nature of innocence, but naivety is often times taken advantage of by the cruel. This is the lesson that must be taught; when to be kind and when to be stern.

I strive with my children to always show them love. My best friend when he lived with us in the beginning of this year, commented one day that he had never heard the words, "I love you", as many times in one hour as in my house. To me this was the most heart-warming thing I had ever heard.

Now I do admit that we say it often, but we really do mean it. It is in my opinion that parents must show love not only to their children but to each other. For parents to show love, they can't only just say it they must show it. Whether through little gifts or through activities. Yet be careful that your children don't associate love with the receiving of gifts. I instead choose to do activities with my children and include them in many things that I do. My oldest one totally and absolutely enjoys her time with me in the kitchen. Yes I cook, I know hard to imagine, a grown male cooking but I do. I have taken the oldest one fishing and plan on taking the littlest one when she gets old enough.

The best advice I can give anyone on this topic is open your eyes wide and pay attention. Take advantage of every moment available to spend time with your children. Every opportunity that arises show your children how to show compassion and kindness. Talk to them as you would adults. Speak candidly about the things you do (how candid is dependent on the age and maturity of the children) so that they know why you do what you do and why you make some of the decisions that they make. Remember the children are always watching and always listening, even when you think they are not, so always show kindness and love if that is what you wish for your children to show.

Blessed Be!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

God of the Week - Varuna

Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Considered to be the highest of the Vedic Pantheon, Varuna was worshipped as the Supreme Lord of the Cosmos. He was also the the keeper of divine order, the bringer of rain, and the enforcer of contracts. But he was also feared as the God of the Dead and it was believed that he would kill those who broke their promises.

Later Indra supplanted him as King of the Gods. This is likely because of the story that tells of how the demon Vitra stole the celestial waters, which falls through the holes of the sky as rain, from Iruna, which he had charge of. It was Indra who fought the demon and got the waters back.

After this he was stripped of his Lordship over the Heavens and given Lordship over the Waters of the Earth. Which is where he has remained as one of the Guardians of the Directions.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

There are the Selfish and there are the Self-Responsible

Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Continuing in my series from the other day on raising Children in the Old Way we come to Selfishness vs. Self-Responsibility. I hope you enjoy todays post and if you are a subscriber you should see a download link for my new ebook, "Introducing Children to Ritual". Please feel free to share it with your friends and I hope that you enjoy it.

There are two basic kinds of people; the selfish and the self-responsible.

The Selfish

  • Expect others to sacrifice for them
  • Make others feel responsible for their feelings of pain and joy
  • Consistently make their own feelings, wants, needs and desires important without considering the feelings, wants, needs and desires of others
  • Believe they are entitled to special treatment, such as not having to wait in line

The Self Responsible

  • Take care of their own feelings, wants, needs and desires rather than expecting others to take care of them
  • Support others in doing what brings them joy, even when they are not doing as they want them to do
  • Show caring for others for the joy it gives them rather than out of fear, guilt, or obligation
  • Have the courage to take loving action on their own behalf, even it others get angry with them for doing so
  • Have the courage to speak their truth about what they will or will not do, and what they do or do not feel, rather than give themselves up to avoid criticism, anger or rejection

Now that I have defined the difference between selfishness and self-responsibility, what category do you fall into? Your children?

Too many people give themselves up to avoid being called selfish. But is that not deceptive? Would it not be easier to be truthful and let people know (nicely of course) about how you feel about someone or something, then to lie and constantly hide your true self?

Many pagans preach self-responsibility but fail to fully implement it. All of my friends will quickly tell you that Patrick means what he says and if he is unhappy with someone or something, that you will definitely hear about it from him firsthand. I don't believe in mincing my words or biting my tongue at all. This is also what I teach my children, both of them; there is no time to hint around an issue, if you have something to say, then just say it and deal with the consequences.

Too many parents have and continue to not teach this. This is evident in the fact that we live in a country of selfish people. People who care too much about themselves and feel that they are entitled to a handout. A nation of "victims" who are more worried about their rights rather than their responsibilities. Too quick to yell offence and sue than accept responsibility for their own actions. Our culture is obsessed with the phrase "instant service". We want everything now if not sooner.

But don't accept this list as a complete, fast and unchanging list. Far from it. Part of being self-responsible is making your own way in the world. Making our own definition of ourselves for in the end we have none on the physical plane to answer to.

This is just the list I abide by and try to teach to my children. For I believe it is my job to mold my young skulls full of mush into well adjusted and well rounded adults. Able to live and survive on their own in the real adult world.

Blessed Be!

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Story of Theseus and the Minotaur

Monday, November 9, 2009
Prince Theseus was the son of King Aegeus of Athens, not too long before the Trojan War (so maybe around 1300 BC). At this time the Minoans, who lived on the island of Crete, had a very strong navy. The Minoan king, King Minos, used to send his navy to attack Greek cities, including Athens [View map] . Everyone was afraid of him and his soldiers.

King Aegeus had an agreement with King Minos that if Minos would leave Athens alone, Aegeus would send seven Athenian boys and seven Athenian girls to Crete every nine years, to be eaten by a monster that lived on Crete, the Minotaur. They had been doing this for a long time, but of course the boys and girls who had to go be eaten and their moms and dads hated it!

One day it was once again time to send the children to Crete. Everyone was crying. Prince Theseus said that he was going to go with them and kill the Minotaur, to save these children and all the ones who might be sent in the future. His dad, King Aegeus, begged him not to go. Aegeus was afraid that the Minotaur would get Theseus too! But Theseus said he was, too, going to go, and he got on the boat. The boat had a black sail, to show how sad everyone was. King Aegeus made Theseus promise to change to a white sail if he lived to come home, to announce that he had won, and Theseus promised.

When they got to Crete, King Minos and his daughter Princess Ariadne (arr-ee-AD-nee) came out of their palace to see Theseus and the other Athenian children. King Minos just said to throw them in to the Minotaur the next day, but Ariadne fell in love with Theseus (yes, just like that!) and she wanted to help him.

So late that night Ariadne gave Theseus a sword and a ball of string. She told him to tie the string to the door of the Labyrinth where the Minotaur lived (a big maze) and unroll it behind him as he went so he could find his way back out, and to use the sword to kill the Minotaur. Theseus thanked Ariadne very much and promised to marry her if he escaped without being eaten by the Minotaur.

The next morning all the Athenians went into the Labyrinth. The others were afraid, but Prince Theseus tied the string to the door and went to find the Minotaur. Finally he did find the Minotaur and there was a big fight, but then Theseus killed the Minotaur with his sword and followed the string back to the door. The other Athenians were very happy to see him and to hear that he had killed the Minotaur!

Princess Ariadne opened the door and let them out, and they all ran away to their ship and sailed away: Theseus, Ariadne, and all the other Athenians.

But when Theseus and Ariadne got to the island of Delos, halfway home from Crete, they stopped to rest. Ariadne fell asleep, and Theseus left her there on the island and sailed away to Athens without her. Different Greek stories give different reasons why he did this: maybe he just didn't like her very much, or maybe he thought the Athenians wouldn't like her because she was Cretan. Or maybe he was afraid King Minos would be angry. Some stories say it was because Dionysos fell in love with her. But all the stories agree that he left her there on the island.

When Theseus got as far as Sounion, he was close enough for the ship to be seen from Athens. But he had forgotten to change the sail from black to white! His father, King Aegeus, was looking out for Theseus' ship. When he saw the black sail he thought Theseus was dead, and he was so sad that he jumped off the cliff and killed himself.

When Theseus reached Athens, he was very sorry to hear that his father was dead, and it was his own fault. But then he became king, and he was a very good king who ruled for a long time.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Raising a Child in the Old Ways

Sunday, November 8, 2009
I have been combing through my archives over the last few days and came across this series that I ran at the start of my blog. So I figured that I would repost it for the newer readers. This first one is exactly as it appeared two years ago but the subsequent posts will either be minor edits or complete revamps. Hope you enjoy.

We as pagan parents, who are striving to teach our children pagan tenets, beliefs and stories face an uphill battle against our Christian society. The influence of this society is prevalent; evident in our media (news, tv shows), our stores (Christmas vs Yule - the prevalence of Easter etc) and even our schools. Not that our schools specifically support a specific religion, but the students within those walls that espouse Christianity and seek to browbeat their religion into our children.

Personally to battle this I have chosen to home-school my youngest daughter. Yet this is not the only reason that I have chosen to do this. It is my personal belief that our current school system has failed our children miserably. Take for example the following; Nearly 1 in 3 high school students in the Class of 2006 will not graduate this year, as reported by the Editorial Projects in Education (EDE) Research Center. All of this has me convinced that the best way to give my child a better education without all the brainwashing is for me to do it myself.

Between evolution, global warming and how evil the Great America is; there is little left in the current American school system that I agree with. I refuse to put my children in a second rate education system that teaches the children things that I believe are based on shaky scientifical evidence at best.

Now homeschooling is not the easiest or best choice for everyone. Most parents are not prepared to make the huge sacrifice that is necessary to home-school a child. I know that eventually some things such as a new TV or a better car will take second or even third place to the education of my daughter. But I am prepared to make such decisions and sacrifices.

But this is not just a struggle against the overly Christian culture it is also a struggle against the lack of spirituality in our culture. I know this sounds like a very large dichotomy but look around you at the culture in the western world at large. Our children are not taught consequences, they are not taught how to lose with good sport. They are raised in a society with a very large entitlement mentality.

Are these really the things that you want your children to be taught? This is the school system that has succeeded in raising generations of children without spines. Generations of children that often cannot find their home state on a map.
Whether you decide to home-school or not, there still arises the question of how to instill pagan tenets and beliefs in our children. What exactly are these things, when are they old enough to understand them? Some of these tenets I have referenced in earlier posts, but a semi-complete list would be as follows:

These are just a few of the many tenets of paganism but the finished list is up to you. Yet the two biggest questions of them all are; How do you teach these things to your children and when are they old enough to understand them? I will cover these things in subsequent posts over the next few weeks so stay tuned.

Blessed Be!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

God of the Week -- Ganesha

Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Widely know as the Elephant God of India, he is revered by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains alike, both in India and without. Known as the Lord of Beginnings and Lord of Obstacles alike he is also honored as a patron of arts and sciences, and the deva of intellect and wisdom.

According to the stories he was born with a human head but when he came between Shiva and Parvati he was beheaded by Shiva. After which Shiva replaced it with an elephant's head.

As the Lord of Obstacles he is believed to either help remove obstacles from one's path or to put them there as a form of testing.

But he is also much more then this. He is associated with the Hindu mantra Aum or Om. According to Kundalini Yoga he resides within the first chakra.

I believe Ganesha is an important deity to turn to at this time of the year because since we are between the end of the year (Samhain) and the start of the new year (Yule) we should be focused on removing negative things from our life. Ganesha can help to remove obstacles from our path to do just that.