Just an FYI this site will be going down for maintenance in the next couple of hours. Should be up by tomorrow. I apologize for any incovenience.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Children's Yule Story

Wednesday, November 30, 2011
“Grandfather can you tell us a story?” the children asked in unison as they ran up to the old man reclining peacefully by the fire.
The old man sat up straighter in the chair, took a puff from his pipe and asked with a grin, “What story should I tell? What story do you want to know? You there,” he said pointing to one of the children, the smallest, “you haven't had a turn to ask for a story in quite a while. So you pick, tell me what you want to hear.”

In a small voice, the child said “Grandfather can you tell me of the story of the first Yule? I always liked that one the best.”

With a clearing of his throat and another puff on his pipe, the Grandfather started to spin the tale of the first Yule.

“We all know that Yule is at the end of December. When the night and the day are equal to each other. But the story really starts much earlier. In fact over a month earlier. For you remember that in August the Harvest Lord laid down his sword of power and went away to Summerland to rest. Well the Goddess missed her husband so much that she began to grow old just with the grief alone and that is why we have Winter. The time when the Earth grows barren and cold.

“Well the Goddess because of her sadness after a time, left us also and went on a journey to Summerland to try and find him. Now she doesn't die now, she only goes on a vision quest. But she is gone so long that at Samhain her body passes on and when she is found frozen in the forest two weeks later a wake is held for her in the Holly King's drinking hall.

“It took over a week for all the faeries and other mourners to come.For they came from all corners of Creation. But there was one unexpected guest, an old woman. She was so old that she almost looked like a walking skeleton. So of course everyone there was mean to her out of fright and disgust.

“Yet when she greeted the Holly King, calling him her Son, everyone realized with much fright that this was the Goddess returned to them. The very Goddess whose death, they were there to mourn.

“So angry was she, that she was treated so poorly, the Goddess passed a prophecy to the Holly King. That she had within her the Oak King, soon to be reborn. And for rebuking her the Holly King would pass to Summerland upon the birth of that child.

“Now this scared the Holly King that he decided to lock the old Crone away in the top room of the tallest tower in all the world. Then he walled up the doors and all but one of the windows so that she is trapped within the room at the top of this tower. The window he left open so that he could have the birds fly food to her.

“Now he did this hoping that he could escape the doom that was foretold to him. But the Crone knew that the birth of her child was her only hope of escape. The Crone then wove magick and took the light and warmth from the Sun, and passed it to her son. So that in just four weeks, she gave birth to the Oak King. Who ever after was also given the name of the Sun King. For he was born fully grown and glowing with a golden light so bright that it caused the dying of the Sun to be reversed.

“Those four weeks of magick are why we light the candles for the four weeks before Yule. One candle for the first week and two for the second and so on until we have four candles lit on the night of Yule. This represents the growing light inside her as outside the Sun grew weaker.

“But the birth was hard on the old Crone, so hard that she slipped into a sleep very near to Death. So the Sun King in his anger thinking that his mother was dead, flew out the lone window as a large golden eagle. All across the Earth he hunted the Holly King, Lord of the Wintertime. Finally cornering him at the shores of a great ocean.

“And when he found him he threw his magickal spear at him and destroyed him. The spear hit the Holly King so hard that his body just vanished. But don't worry, for the Holly King simply reappeared in Summerland. When he got there he found the Crone in one of her other aspects, the Young Maiden.

“She spoke to him of prophecy and the Wheel of the Year. She spoke of the new cycle that had been made in the last year. That the events of the last year would repeat themselves forever and ever.

“And although the Holly King had passed away now, he now knew that he would return just past the height of Summer to take the Sun King's place again.

This is why the Holly King, as Santa Claus, brings us gifts every year to make up for the Winter that he brings with him. But he only brings presents to good little boys and girls because he wants us to learn to not be mean like he was to the Crone on that first night that he met her so long ago.

“Now back to the Sun King, when he returned to the Crone he saw that she wasn't really dead but only asleep. So he went out and found a large log, the first Yule Log, cut from the largest Oak he could find. In hopes that this would revive the Goddess. And for their lifegiving properties he decorated her room with evergreens. Even bringing in a tree and decorating it with his light.

“But all this magick did was to make her youthful again, so that now she was a beautiful youthful Maiden. Yet she still slept a deep sleep almost near death.

“So you see my grandchildren there are good reasons why we do the things that we do at Yule. They served a purpose long ago and it is good to recognize and honor that. “
“But Grandfather,” spoke up the eldest, “What happened next? I know the Goddess didn't stay asleep forever. Please tell us more.”
Shaking his head, the old man said, “Lunch is overdue and I'm hungry so let us go to eat and then I will tell you all another tale. I will tell you of what happened next to the Goddess and to the Sun King. I will tell you the story of the first Imbolc.”


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Yule Recipes -- Vegan

Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Yes it is that time again. Recipe time, I hope that you guys all enjoy these recipes, courtesy of veganfamily.co.uk. And Happy Cooking!

Sage and Onion Roast Potatoes

  • 4 teaspoons of dried sage or 8 teaspoons of freshly chopped sage
  • 4 tablespoons of sunflower oil
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 4 tablespoons of medium oatmeal
  • Potatoes, peeled and cut to desired size (this coating is enough for about 4 or 5 lbs/2 or 3 kilos.)
  • salt to taste

Par boil the potatoes then just when they are beginning to soften remove from heat and drain. Place in baking tray and rub the coating all over them (careful!) - roast in a hot oven until nice and crispy (30 minutes plus). You might want to baste with a little more oil half way through for extra crispiness!

Variation: sesame roast potatoes - coat the potatoes in sunflower oil and plenty sesame seeds before roasting - this has a lovely flavour too.


Cashew Nut Roast with Sage and onion stuffing

A sixth of a cup/30g/1oz of vegan margarine
2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
1 medium leek, finely chopped
1 and a half cups of hot water
1 teaspoon of yeast extract (marmite, vegemite etc.)
3 cups/550g/16oz of ground cashew nuts (or other nuts of your choice - almonds work well too)
2 Tablespoons of soya flour
2 teaspoons of fresh herbs - winter savoury is great (if using dried 1 teaspoon)
3 cups/160g/6oz of white bread crumbs
seasalt and pepper to taste
sage and onion stuffing (see recipe further down the page)

Melt the margarine (in a large pan for mixing) and cook the celery and leek in it for a few minutes. Mix the yeast extract into the hot water (alternatively you could use any stock you like) and add this to the leek and celery. Stir in the soya flour, nuts, herbs, breadcrumbs and salt and pepper and mix well. Allow to cool slightly while you grease a loaf tin. Place half the nut roast mixture in the tin and press down well - then add the sage and onion stuffing (pressing down well again) and place the rest of the nut roast mixture on top. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes at 180/360 then turn out of the tin and slice. Nice served with all the traditional trimmings.

Variations:- you can substitute wine (red or white) or soya milk for the water and yeast extract. The sage and onion stuffing is optional - it works just as well without it and might actually slice up easier! A layer of sliced mushrooms and garlic is an alternative to the stuffing.


Sage and Onion stuffing

  • 6 slices of wholemeal bread
  • half a cup/85g/3oz of vegan margarine
  • 4 teaspoons of dried sage or 8 of fresh, chopped sage
  • 1 finely chopped large onion
  • salt to taste
Melt the margarine in a saucepan and then cook the onion in it until soft. Break up the wholemeal bread with your hands (into fairly small pieces) and then mix into the onion and margarine with the sage and salt. This can be pressed into an oven-proof bowl for baking or if you like meat analogues it can be sandwiched between two Redwood Cheatin' Turkey Roasts (see below for turkey substitute links), wrapped in foil and baked in the oven!


Monday, November 28, 2011

Symbols of Yule

Monday, November 28, 2011
Yule is a major holiday to many pagans; to some it is the beginning of the year and the rebirth of the Pagan God of Light, to others it is the return of the sun as Frey. But many decorations, symbols and traditions are held in common, even with Christmas and Hanukkah.

When people think of Yule, they, in most cases, instantly think of evergreens and mistletoe. Evergreens have always symbolized power to conquer death and winter, since they stay green throughout the year. Mistletoe was called "All-Heal" by the Druids and represented their god. There is also an ancient Norse legend relates that Freya, the goddess of love, placed mistletoe in a tree between Heaven and earth, and decided that people who pass underneath it should kiss. The plant then became a sign of love and friendship.

But what else can you decorate with as a Pagan practicing Yule? Well staying within the plant family there is Holly and Ivy, and there is the Yule log. Holly long a symbol of protection, it is also an evergreen bush. Also Romans at one time would send the plant to friends and family at the new year as a symbol of good wishes.

The Yule log was used by the Celts to symbolize the story of Yule. This log, representing the Oak King, adored with traditions evergreens, representing the Holly King, signifies the death of darkness and the warmth of the Sun during the newly born solar year. According to ancient Celtic tradition, the log should burn continuously for twelve days, and a bit of wood should be saved to start the next year’s fire. The first day of Yule varies depending upon religious belief. Pagans usually light the Yule fire on the Winter Solstice. This may not be practical especially in these days, when many do not have fireplaces. What you can do is take a oak log and decorate it with holly and mount three candles within it. Light these candles to represent the returning light. The number of candles does not matter, I have seen three candles, representing the three faces of the Goddess, and I have heard of eight, like the menorah.

Speaking of candles, they are also an appropriate decorations. The tradition of lighting candles may have come from the ancient Romans, who gave them as gifts during the festival of Saturnalia. Their brightness was thought to chase away the dark and urge the sun back into the sky.

Now we come to the Yule tree, itself. The Germans originally decorated their trees with fruit, candy, cookies, and flowers. These ornaments symbolized the abundance to come when the Sun shed His warmth. They decorated their trees with round, three-dimensional shaped ornaments replicating the shape of the Sun to honor it. You can also decorate the tree with tinsel and lights to represent the stars and put a star on the top to represent the sun and moon.

According to legend, the snowflake was formed from the tears that Demeter cried after Persephone’s descent into the Underworld. The microscopic flakes have six sides, and since six is the numerological digit associated with affection, the snowflake was used by Pagans as a winter symbol of love

So incorporate some of these things into your Yule traditions and make merry. Don't be afraid to take traditions of other religions, because in most cases a lot of these things have already been adopted from the Pagans of ancient Europe.

Blessed Be!


Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Yule Tree

Sunday, November 27, 2011
While we haven't gotten our Yule tree yet. Possibly this next upcoming weekend, I know that many people get a tree after Thanksgiving or at the beginning of December. So I wanted to talk about it now. To kick off this Yule season here at PaganDad.

But all this, begs the question, where does the Yule tree actually come from? Many stories are out there that talk about the Christian origins of decorating a tree. But I believe the tree was the replacement of the Yule log as fireplaces became less common.

It also serves as a symbol of rebirth and life everlasting, both things that are present in the pagan Yule ceremonies. Evergreens have always held a special place in the heart of men, the only tree that seems to conquer winter and all its harsh weather.

Some of you may be wondering what is the best way to pick a tree? Well for those is a list copied from commercialappeal.com.
  • Look for a tree with a healthy green appearance.
  • Run your hand along the branches to see if the needles are fresh and flexible. They should not come off in your hand.
  • Bump the trunk of the tree on the ground. If lots of needles fall off, the tree is not fresh. You can expect a few brown needles to fall off.
  • Make sure the base of the trunk is straight and 6 to 8 inches long so it can fit into a tree stand.
  • If you see splits in the trunk, the tree may have dried out previously.
  • Locally grown trees are usually fresher and less expensive than trees that have been shipped from a distance.
  • If possible, cover your tree with some type of tarp during transport to prevent it from drying out, particularly if it is going to be transported on top of your car.
  • If the tree is going to be kept outside several days before it goes into the house, place it out of direct sun and wind to keep it from drying out.
  • If the base of the tree has been cut within the last four to six hours, it will not need to be recut; if longer, the base should be recut so the tree can absorb water.
  • Cut straight across the trunk (not at an angle) and remove an inch or more from the bottom.
  • A cut tree will absorb a lot of water, particularly during the first week. It can use four to six quarts of water per day.
I recommend getting a real tree if you have the room, if for no other reason, at least because it is better for the environment. There are no readily accessible places at which to recycle a fake PVC tree (at least in my area). And a Yule tree farm, even if they use pesticides and herbicides, at least they replant what they cut and in the meantime the uncut trees are absorbing carbon dioxide and putting out oxygen.

And when the season is over, you have several options as what to do with the tree. You can compost for mulch, sometimes your local municipality may take it and use it themselves for mulch. My local municipality has a program in which they take the tree and sink it local ponds for fish habitats.

A third option is to buy a tree with roots and plant it in your yard, if you have the room. I'm not qualified to talk about finding the right species for your soil and climate. So seek advice from a qualified professional. But remember that this tree should only be indoors for about a week.

So good luck in your Yule tree hunting.

Blessed Be!


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Recipes -- part 2

Tuesday, November 22, 2011
A few hours before I sat down to write this post, me and my youngest daughter prepared the turkey for cooking on Thanksgiving. This involved finishing thawing the turkey and washing it thoroughly. I then rub the turkey down with butter and then olive oil. Followed with kosher salt and poultry seasoning. Now the turkey is in two plastic bags sitting in the fridge.

Tomorrow I am planning on boiling the turkey necks for broth and making the cornbread for the stuffing.

But today I am going to share with you my recipe for macaroni and cheese.

You will need:
  • 1 lb colby jack cheese
  • 1/2 lb mozzarella
  • 1/2 lb sharp cheddar
  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • Small amount of milk around 2 cups
  • Two eggs
  1. Boil macaroni according to directions on box.
  2. Shred all cheese together in a bowl.
  3. In a large pot beat the eggs and milk together. 
  4. Then scald the mixture. In other words get it to just before boiling.
  5. Now add the cheese by the handfuls allowing time between each for it to melt nearly completely.
  6. When the cheese has all been added and given time to melt thoroughly, resembling a fondue, pour cheese mixture into elbow macaroni and stir in.
  7. Next bake at 325 degrees for about an hour or until the top has become golden and crispy. If the edges are cooking to fast you can cover them with aluminum foil.
Blessed Be and Happy Cooking!


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Should we, as Pagans, be concerned about Secular Holidays?

Sunday, November 20, 2011
In my personal experience the more holidays one has the better they feel. I personally like to cook and so any excuse I have to cook good food (and eat it also) I sieze it with both hands. But for me this doesn't apply to the holidays of other religions.

There are other reasons to celebrate as many holidays as possible. Some of these are family and friends, networking and a chance to recenter. All of these can be as equally important. So as we come up to Thanksgiving take some time for yourself, don't let the over-commercilization of our society drag you down and make you depressed. It isn't the gifts that should count but rather the thought and the power of family.

Also take some time to spend with your kids only, take them for a walk (head to the mall if it is to cold) or sit down by candlelight and talk about the year past. Remember that family is the most important thing we have in our spiritual, physical and emotional lives.

As always I am interested in your thoughts and reflections on this topic, so comment below.

Blessed Be!


Monday, November 14, 2011

Thanksgiving Recipes -- part 1

Monday, November 14, 2011
With Thanksgiving just a little over a week away. I figured I would share some recipes and tips that I use for this holiday. But today won't be all of them, so stay tuned for tomorrow when I will put up some more.
In a normal year I would have pulled my turkey out of the freezer this weekend so that it is thawed by tomorrow. (Because of a myriad of things I'm not cooking this year)The reason for this is that I rub the turkey down with butter and olive oil and a combination of spices (typically kosher salt and poultry seasoning) on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The result, come Turkey day? One of the moistest turkeys that I have ever tasted.

Although I don't stuff my turkey, I do make some stuffing as a side dish. Here is the basic recipe I follow.
  • 4 lbs turkey necks
  • 1 box of Jiffy Corn Bread Mix
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Green Bell Peppers
  • Poultry Seasoning
  1. Boil turkey necks to make a broth. I usually make nearly a gallon of this. In this I also add the celery, carrots, onions, and peppers. Two notes here, I put the onions in chopped in half with skins intact for the best flavor. And second the peppers on day two and three tend to turn mushy, so it is up to you whether or not you add them
  2. Make corn bread and when cool crumble up in same pan used to bake it.
  3. To this add the boiled vegetables and shredded meat from turkey necks. Turkey necks have small verterbrae in them, easy to see but a pain to debone.
  4. Then add some broth. I have never measured the broth I use, aim low and then add more if it is to dry. The ideal amount is enough to soak everything but not enough to have the bits swimming.
  5. You can also add some poultry seasoning for flavor. If you so desire.
 Blessed Be and Happy Cooking!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Raising up the Next Generation in Faith

Sunday, November 13, 2011
Yes that is my byline, right up there at the top of the site. But what exactly does that mean? Well if you are reading this article, then you are already or at the very least thinking of it. The children of the world are being lost in record numbers, they grow up without faith to bolster their spirituality. And as such they can be very apathetic about the Divine and their whole spirituality.

This month I am working on finally putting my book down on paper. Or is that screen? Either way one of the things I talked about was the garden of our soul that is found in each of us. In children this garden is of course new and not grown up. And as the child grows up their spirituality will grow and blossom. Continuing with the garden metaphor this spirituality is like a viny plant and without support it will grow out of control and eventually choke out this garden. This is why so many teenagers are just like, 'something is there just don't know what it is.' They have given up trying to get their spirituality, that vine, under control.

As parents it is our job to provide that support through faith or religion. Through giving our children a religion, in my case obviously it was Paganism, we provide a wall or trellis for that spirituality to grow on. Now of course as your children get older they can add onto this wall if they choose to change their faith. But we have provided that foundation that kept their spirituality vibrant and alive.

But like any wall that we build in the physical world, it has two parts; mortar and brick. This spiritual wall also has two parts; faith and family. So I hope that you join me over the next few weeks as I explore  these two different parts of this wall that the spirituality of our children grow on. And of course any comments would be greatly appreciated.

Blessed Be!


Friday, November 11, 2011

Families Support and Care for Each Other

Friday, November 11, 2011
I have seen many families that are content with just going through life not talking about the things that bother them. They ask their kids how their day went and their answer is? "Fine" or "OK". The parents never pursue it further, either not wanting to pry or just not taking the initiative to become active and engaged parents. Which is not an easy thing to do, by the way.

In these same families and in others the adults do not talk to each other either. They have problems with each other and with other things but for some reason fail to vocalize this. If they do vocalize it is usually in an argument that has been brewing for months. This is probably one of the biggest reasons for divorce in the West, lack of communication.

Now on the other hand, imagine a family that actively addresses these issues and makes time for individuals to come together and air their differences, with the promise that all parties involved will work together to reach common ground. A family where there are none or only seldom an argument.

This is what I mean when I say to become a family that supports and cares for each other. Your kids have stress and problems with school, whether it is peer pressure, school work, body changes or just bullies.

They need someone to talk to, but are often times afraid of coming home and saying something to the parents because they don't want to get into trouble. Now do not think I am saying that your kids should escape punishment simply because they are being honest and open. What I am saying is that they should be free to say whatever (as long as it is respectful) without to much fear of recrimination.

This same thing should go for the adults as well. Just think, when was the last time that you and your partner sat down and aired your differences and/or talked about each other's and the family's long term goals?

If you are going to build a strong family then everyone in leadership needs to be on the same page, heading in the same direction, right?

But this goes beyond just listening. How many times do you tell your partner or your kids that you love them? We say it so many times in a day that my brother, at the house one day, felt like he had to say something about it. He was just amazed at the number of times that we say it on an hourly or daily basis.

On the other side of this, how much is your house filled with sharp and harsh words? Do you find yourself snapping at your kids or at your spouse? Maybe you are just cold and distant? The outside worlds requires us to be distant and professional and it is easy to carry this demeanor home with us. But we do not need to worry about punishment for fraternizing with our family, do we?

So as we all go forward from today, let's all try to show a little more love and openness in our families. Listen to their problems and help them if they need it or want it. If not then just be an ear and a shoulder. And remember to tell your kids and your partner that you love them and that they are important to you.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Family Moon

Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Hope you all have a Blessed Full Moon!





Circle Casting

Have all join hands and still their thoughts. Let the first to speak say;

From Me to You; followed by the next person saying
From You to Me
and repeat until all have said both lines.
For the purpose of tonight's ritual have the chant move deosil (clockwise) around the circle of people.

Then when it gets back to the first let them say;

The Circle is Cast and the Temple is raised.
So Mote It Be! (All can repeat)

Quarter Callings

If you would like you can give the children bells and have them ring them after the invocations are spoken.

Start today in the East, the direction for new beginnings. Have a fan here and wave it at all present so that they can feel the presence of air.

In the East we call Air.
May it clear all obstacles that seek
To block us in our search.

Now move to South where you have a candle ready to be lit. Light it now. And have all focus on its flame. Carefully let them feel its heat.

In the South we call Fire.
May it light our way
To find wisdom tonight.

Come to the West. Have a cup of water there and have all take a small drink. Have all think about the water and how much we need it.

In the West we call Water.
May we have the vision tonight
To see inside its murky depths.

Finally we come to the North. In my practice I like to have a bowl of patchouli here so that we can smell it and be reminded about the Earth.

In the North we call Earth.
May it grant us the strength
To face the wisdom granted us.

Ritual Content

When you return to the Center talk to them about the Goddess and the God and how they are always there. Let them know about Love and the Blessings that the Gods can give us. If you are outdoors then have them look up at the moon. Tell them that tonight is the night of the Mother Goddess, represented by the Full Moon. While you are doing this you can light the red candle to represent the mother aspect.

Read to them the Rede of the Mother. Or just tell them what the Mother means to your family. Let them know that they are loved always and that the Mother provides for all of her children. And if you wish check out at the top of this post for other ritual ideas for this night's moon.

Cakes and Juice

Touch the plate of cookies or cakes and say; Flesh of my Flesh
Then touch the juice in the goblet and say; Blood of my Blood

We are of Them as They are of us
Joined in Love and Light
Married in Strength and Truth
Showered in Power and Blessings
We Drink from Her womb
We Eat from His hand

Drink from the chalice and then eat from the plate of food feeling Their Love and Strength.
So that we always remember our Love for Them and Their Love for Us
Pour out a libation and leave some food for the Earth and for the Gods.

Bidding Farewell

Return to the North;

Element of Earth we thank you for your presence
Hail and Farewell! (All can repeat)

West

Element of Water we thank you for your presence
Hail and Farewell! (All can repeat)

South

Element of Fire we thank you for your presence
Hail and Farewell! (All can repeat)

East

Element of Air we thank you for your presence
Hail and Farewell! (All can repeat)

To close circle have all join hands. And the first to speak at the casting releases his grip on his left hand and says; We open the Circle.

Moving widdershins (counter-clockwise) have each member repeat until the chant moves back to the first person. Who says; But we remain a Circle. Family united in spirit. Circle open but unbroken.

Then have all have a group hug. Remembering that we are all one family. Not just those present but all those on the Earth.

And remember our giveaway, here at PaganDad, is still going on. Head here for details. Or to just enter click here and be sure to Like my Facebook page.



Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Your Turn to Build a Spiritual and Strong Family

Tuesday, November 8, 2011
In this series on building a spiritual family I have talked about the two parts of the wall that a child's spirituality grows on; Faith and a Strong Family. I have talked about the Creed of my Family as well. So today I wanted to end this series with some questions to help you in the task of creating your own Family Creed.

  • What is a Family? Here you are looking for specifics, not a dictionary definition. Think more like what you what your family to look like. What is the ideal family? 
  • How do you want the members of your Family Coven to treat each other? What should their relationships be like? 
  • What are the responsibilities of the members of the Family? To each other and to those not in the family.
  • And finally what kind of parent(s) do you want to be?


I wanted to close today with a final bit of advice, remember to listen with respect and take everyone's opinion in mind when doing this. One person alone cannot create the Creed of his Family Coven, the whole family must be included in this. Even the young children (provided they are old enough to talk that is) should be included. I say this because all parts of the family help to makeup and define the Family at large.



Monday, November 7, 2011

Prayer Builds Faith

Monday, November 7, 2011
Spirituality is inherent in children, they recognize the wonder of Deity and see it in so many things. Yet as we age we tend to lose this connection, especially since so many modern religions focus on faith rather then fostering that connection to the Divine. We don’t need to feel that God exists, rather we should just simple believe. I don’t know how many times I have heard that line. And I always disagree, in Paganism our belief in an immanent and ever present Deity is what sets us apart from other religions. It is in fact what led me to find Wicca.

So how can we as Pagans rediscover that feeling of the immanence of Deity? This answer, at least, is very simple. Prayer. I can almost hear the questions now. Prayer? Isn't that something that the other religion does?

Many Pagans I have met don’t pray. They have fled so far from their Christian roots that they have shed any thing that vaguely resembles Christianity. But there is really no better way to foster and strengthen that connection to Deity, other than ritual. And we can’t always do a ritual every day. Some of us still have to work. There is another benefit to prayer, creating Family mind. Like the old cliche I used for the title of this chapter, A Family that prays together . . . stays together.

Now of course using a Christian prayer may not work real well, so you will have to spend some time working something out that works for your family. To help here are some tips to help you get started.

  • Take a moment to ground everyone. You can have everyone visualize themselves as a tree. With their roots deep in the Earth and their arms and branches stretching far up into the sky. They can visualize the negativity and stress going down into the Earth and good, positive energy coming in through their branches, like sunlight on the leaves.
  • Turn everyone’s focus on their breath. Remember bad out on the exhale and goodness in on the inhale.
  • When you stary to speak remember to keep it simple. There are no extra points for being the most eloquent or long-winded. State your intent and your message clearly.
  • Keep the ages of your children in mind. The younger they are the less they will be able and wiling to sit through.
  • Make sure that you are not just saying the words. Mean what you are saying. Feel the Gods come to listen, just like when you do an invocation in Ritual.
  • Give everyone a chance to both lead and add input if they so desire.
  • This should be a two way street. Just like you can talk, they can also talk back. So make sure that you give yourself time to listen. Unless you are just saying thanks for the bounties that you have
  • received.
  • And remember don't just pray when you need help. This is about having a conversation. The Gods should be like an extended part of our families. Not so extended that we never talk to them, but more like best friends that are like brothers and/or sisters.
  • But most importantly is to just do it. Pray and pray often. The more you do it the easier it gets.

You can also think of this kind of prayer as an extended form of meditation. My prayer oftentimes can be described as prayerful meditation. I meditate on the wonders and mysteries of the Goddess and the God and along the way we start a conversation.

Here are a couple example of prayers that my family use

Simple Prayer for saying Grace

Lord and Lady, watch over us,
and bless us as we eat.
Bless this food, this bounty of earth,
we thank you, so mote it be.


Bedtime Prayer (written by my lovely wife)

Great Mother Great Father,
I pray to thee
Take care of my family
Day or Night
Give us the blessings
Of Love and Light


Sunday, November 6, 2011

And as We Receive Power and Blessings . . .

Sunday, November 6, 2011
So do we offer up Thanksgivings. These last few words of the Creed of my Family are, as all the others, reliant upon the other words that precede it. We do not seek power for power's sake, but rather understand that power comes from living a good life. The power to affect change, both in the world and in ones self. Also with living this Creed the Gods smile on you and shower you in blessings. But the most important part is those last few words. To offer up Thanksgivings. But that is in direct odds with the world around us.

As the holiday season draws nearer we will all undoubtedly witness many selfish children, maybe even face head-on this most undesirable trait in our own children. I have worked hard, and I am sure that you have done the same, to instill a sense of gratitude in both of my children. In my opinion there is nothing worse than a bratty, inconsolable, self-centered child. Refer back to my post on Selfishness vs. Self-responsibility for a more detailed description. I point these children out to mine, granted they are rather hard to miss. The red faces, the high pitched keening screams, you know, the screams that rattle your molars? They serve as a good example to my children of how not to act, ever, especially in a public place.

Some things I have found that work and (some things that I have not tried) are in the list below:
  1. Make a List
  2. Set the Example
  3. Try going without
  4. Say Thank You often
  5. Volunteer
  6. Give blessings before eating
Preferably you would gather together as a family to give thanks often, but at least do it once or twice a year, Mabon or Thanksgiving are good occasions for this activity. It may be helpful to work together to make a list of what you and your kids are thankful for. Go over this list and talk about each thing on it. Talk about why you and/or the children are grateful for the things on the list.

In my family I talk often about what other people in the world have to do without, at least with my oldest daughter. She responds with incredulous horror most of the time. Not understanding why people are so mean, and why people don't do anything about this obvious problem. I tell her that most of the time, people have made bad decisions to get to those points, I have been there and because of bad decisions. But in some cases, I tell her, that there are charities that do good things for those people that are really in dire need of help.

Next on the list is - Set the example. This is probably one of the easiest things on the list for you the parent to do. Let them see you show common courtesy to the people you meet in your everyday life. I often shock the young people on the other side of the intercom at the drive-thru of local restaurants. I say please and thank you, sometimes even responding to their greeting as I drive up, with a 'I'm doing fine, how are you doing?'

Right now I am not a rich man, although I hope to be. So doing without comes naturally to me and my family. Yet to many families, this is probably the hardest thing to do of anything that is on the above list. I and my oldest daughter, Juliet, have made bread or even hamburger buns, rather than go out and buy those products. Me and my wife, Danielle, don't buy much for ourselves or our children for Yule. But we do our best to make those gifts count for very much. I personally don't agree with the parents that buy their children the world and the moon and the stars. These are the children that don't appreciate what they have because there is nothing that they don't ever not have. We only have one car, so there have been times that my wife, when I am work, takes Lassair on a walk to the corner store. Something that is unheard in many families that I know. We as Americans, would rather be up to our eyeballs and beyond in debt, than be inconvenienced in any way.

This last tip sort of coincides with the second list item, but deserves a second mention. Say thank you often and mean it, really really mean it. To your kids, to your wife, to everyone else on the planet that ever does anything for you, no matter how small. Your kids are watching whether you think they are not. We may think that our kids never pay attention to anything, especially us parents, but they catch much if not all that we do. Just try to talk about Yule gifts in front of them, without them catching on.
I have not taken my children on volunteering trips. But I do encourage them to help out if we are out at a friend's house. They also help out a lot around my house. We have chore charts and small rewards when the kids manage to fill up the chart full of stars. People in general tend to be more grateful for things that they either have to pay for themselves, or that they had to work for. The harder they work, the more grateful that they usually wind up being.

To some Pagans this may be to Christian in nature but prayer does not necessarily have to be anti-pagan. I will cover different kinds of prayers tomorrow, but today I will talk about praying before meals. Teach the children to whom they need to be grateful to for the blessings that they receive in this life. Tell the Goddess and the God thank you. Sometimes they need to hear it as much as you need to say it. Below is a sample prayer, feel free to use it for your personal use or write your own.
Blessed Mother and Holy Father
We thank you for these blessings before us
For the food we eat, and for what we drink
May our blessings multiply under our hands
With your everlasting grace
So Mote It Be!
With the fast approach of Yule, it is a good time to express gratitude and to encourage this in our children. Gather together on Yule or the eve before it around a burning Yule log, if you have a fireplace, or in my case around the Yule tree, gaily decorated, and talk about the past year and the good things that you have received. It may be a good idea to do this before you open gifts, so that the kids don't just rattle off a list of what they just received. Talk also about what is coming up in the next year.
Hopefully these things help you in your quest to be a better Father. Be grateful for your kids and teach them to be grateful for the things that they receive. A person who is grateful, tends to receive much more in their lives than the bitter and resentful.

Blessed Be!


Thursday, November 3, 2011

With Strength and Truth we Bear much Fruit

Thursday, November 3, 2011
We all look at the world and wish that things could be different right? Well if we are going to do this then we need to start with ourselves and our families. Yesterday I talked about fostering Love and Light and today the extension of living in both of those.

What is Strength?

It is the ability to withstand and to overcome adversity. Children are lacking in this by their very nature, this is why we as parents are so important. Now I am not trying to insult anyone here but just think about crimes against children; they are the most heinous because the kids can't defend themselves.

Now while none of us can be fully prepared for a big disaster, unless you have experienced something equal in scale, we can foster strength. Both in ourselves and in our children. Go back to my article on Raising Children in Faith, it is this faith that we give our children, paired with their spirituality and bolstered by a strong family that will enable them to be strong when they need to be. Or at the very least to find solace in the times of adversity.

To Thine Ownself be True

OK I know that is a cliche, and one that is overused. But isn't that what we should all aim for? These lines (yesterday's title and today's) come from my Family's Creed, and I always explain truth as never doing anything that you feel like you need to lie about.

But that is easier said then done. We live in a culture that easily overlooks the little white lies and one that almost expects one to lie, so that you may 'spare one's feelings'. But if we are going to raise up our children to be the adults we want to them to be, we are going to have to make a stand for truth.

I've always said that children will learn from example. So with that in mind just be truthful in your actions with them and most of all with the world around you. They will pick up that behavior and be truthful with you, especially when it counts.

Thoughts?

Blessed Be!

And remember our giveaway, here at PaganDad, is still going on. Head here for details. Or to just enter click here and be sure to Like my Facebook page.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

With Love and Light We Have No Fright

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

To Teach Love

The greatest two things that we can teach our children is that they are loved and that they should love all things as Creator loves us. But how to do this? The first should be easy, right. Show them love and tell them that you love them and that you are proud of them. So I won't talk about that part.

But the second part is the one that can elude us. I think that this starts with the first part. Show them love and they will return it. Show them how you love the world around you from the ant up to the waiter at your restaurant to other more important people in your life. Inherently children know what love is and how to express it. Yet they are not always sure of how and when to express it. And to whom. That is where us the parents come in.

Take Them Into the Light

Just like children inherently love they are also not born as creatures of shadow. No matter how much the neighbor's kids remind you of hellspawn, they were still born into the light. It is life that takes us into the Shadows and then that shadow takes up residency in the depths of our soul.

So then we should just shelter our child from life and all its stress and trials, right? Well then how will they learn anything? The answer is not to shelter them but to teach them Strength to overcome the trials that life throws at them. But more on Strength tomorrow, with the rest of this series.

Any thoughts? I would love to hear them.

Blessed Be!


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Confidence is the Cornerstone of Strength

Tuesday, November 1, 2011
This is the start to a series that I ran last year around this time. So while I continue to plan the upcoming months' posts I hope that you enjoy this series. Also be sure to check out the new poll on Pagandad.com Just head over and look to the left.

Definitions

To start I need to define the role of family, as I see it. Family is a network and support structure comprised of loving people. The job of these people is to bolster each other and to be a wall of confidence to the outside world. In days long gone by, the family structure was necesarry to protect one from the wild animals in the dark, just beyond the edge of the fire. Today family is there to provide a safe haven, an oasis of peace from the stress of the world, just beyond the edge of the walls of your home.

But for this system to work there must be confidence and our world seems to excel in breaking the confidence of people in it. So I wanted to share some tips on, first, restoring confidence in our selves and then in passing on that confidence to our children.

Confidence Comes from Defeating Fear

I understand first hand the fear that can come with being a parent. Do I have enough of what it takes to be a parent? Much less a good one? What if I can't pay the bills and the kids can't eat, then what? I'm sure we all have some version of these questions in our lives. That chorus of doubts that gnaws away in the dark, just before bed. For us to be confident we must banish this fear from us.

In the novel Dune, by Frank Herbert there is a small poem, called the Litany of Fear.

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

Now while it is fiction this poem makes a lot of sense. We as humans, and more so as Pagans, have the power to change our world. Whether you call it magick or the power of positive thinking or just prayer we all believe that we can change our world. This ability to make change allows us to conquer our fear and turn it into confidence. It allows us to choose how we act, instead of just reacting to events and circumstances.

So what happened to us? When did we give up that power? Take some time this week to examine your fears and doubts, let them pass through you. Don't identify with them, just observe them. Look for the solutions that have been avoiding you. In my case I found that my working an extra day or cutting back on expenses was all that was necessary to have enough money for bills. But in your case it may involve more action, from magick to finding a new job or any combination of things.

Children will Learn from You

Now as to passing this onto your children. If we show confidence and security in our lives and they see we act instead of choosing not to react then they will learn this. All we can do is to add to this sense of confidence, by encouraging them in their activities. This is very different then this egotistical version of self-esteem that they teach children these days. Some of us our good at something while others have no skill in that area at all. Confidence comes from knowing your strengths and weaknesses and acting without fear. It is this confidence that allows us to try and try again when we fail. So encourage this in your children.

For older children in high school they are dealing with very adult things, while at the same time they are being treated like children still.; so they may benefit from the section in this article for the adults. Talk to them as adults and see what fear they are facing. You may be surprised to hear what they say.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Or any stories you may want to share. Please come on over to the blog and comment below.

Blessed Be!

And remember our giveaway, here at PaganDad, is still going on. Head here for details. Or to just enter click here and be sure to Like my Facebook page.