Adventure Wicca’s Perspective on Children in the Craft
“Is that a Star of David?”
“No, it’s a pentagram. I’m Wiccan.”
“Oh, yes, I’ve heard of that. I’m Lutheran myself. Nice looking boy you have — you’re not raising him to be Wiccan, are you?”
“Of course I am! You’re raising yours to be Lutheran, aren’t you?”
– a real conversation, 1984
WAIT A MINUTE – WHAT’S “THE CRAFT”?
Before we talk about children in it, let’s be sure we know what the Craft is. It’s another name for Wicca, a Neo-Pagan religion. Wicca’s a modern form of paleo-European religious traditions. It’s not ancient itself, but the ideas about our relationship with Nature and magic are. If we are parents, then we have Children in the Craft.
Wicca was developed in the middle of the 20th century by Gerald Gardner, who believed he was restoring a centuries-old practice. We know now that what he and other first generation Wiccans thought was our history is actually our lore.
Wiccans worship a Goddess and a God, who are partners, not opponents. Because our gods are cooperative, we see life and everything in it as deeply interconnected, and complimentary rather than adversarial.
Wicca is one of several neo-Pagan faiths. Others include Asatru (the Viking religion) and Druidry.
OKAY, NOW ABOUT THE CHILDREN…
No one’s surprised when Catholics, Jews, and Protestants send their children to religious classes. But some people are surprised to find out that many Wiccans raise their children to their faith. Why wouldn’t we raise or Children in the Craft?
O’Gaea has written two books about raising children to the Craft: the second edition (revised and expanded) of her first book, Family Wicca; and Raising Witches. Both are from New Page Books. Both are helpful to anyone wanting to re-raise their own inner child, and to parents who want to teach their children about their own Neo-Pagan faith, whether it’s Wicca or another one.
IS THE CRAFT DANGEROUS FOR CHILDREN?
That’s a frequently asked question. Isn’t there a lot to Wicca that children shouldn’t know about? Stuff that could hurt them or get them in trouble?
Well, there’s the notion that what you put into the world comes back to you, and the Wiccan Rede: “an ye harm none, do as ye will.” There’s the sense that your social status isn’t a measure of your intrinsic worth. There’s an appreciation of all stages of growth and a respect for experience and creativity. There’s a thirst for knowledge about every aspect of the world(s). None of that is dangerous – except maybe to the status quo.
Obviously, there are some Craft teachings that need explanation and interpretation, and some Craft workings that children can’t manage. But let’s put that in perspective. There are some household skills that children don’t master immediately, but we don’t make babies wait outside till they can feed themselves or reach the light switches.
There are many things our children can’t fully understand till they’ve had some experience in the world. But even very young children can celebrate with the grown-ups.
Wiccan children are nurtured to the faith throughout their childhoods, gently, with patience and love. In more and more places, young people can be under the guidance of a coven or an even wider community of adults who are available to answer questions, offer advice, and give shelter from lingering religious persecution.
Even if our children find another faith as adults, their training in Wiccan fundamentals is relevant for the rest of their lives.
FORCED RELIGION AND FREEDOM OF CHOICE
Some Neo-Pagan parents are reluctant to share their religion with their children because as children themselves, they were forced to accept their parents’ faith. We don’t believe that Wiccan can be “forced down anyone’s throat,” for Wicca’s Goddess and God are neither jealous nor vengeful, and they don’t take it personally that not everyone is Wiccan!
We also know that raising children is the most important act of magic we will ever perform, and that manipulative magic is not only wrong, but unwise and unreliable. In other words, it’s against our religion to guilt-trip or bully our children into accepting a Neo-Pagan faith.
As for freedom of choice, we don’t understand how teaching our children what we believe precludes their believing something different later, or discredits a later choice to follow Wicca or another Neo-Pagan faith. Free choice is informed choice, and who better to inform our kids about our Neo-Pagan religion than us?
Even if, when they’re older, our kids choose to follow a non-Pagan path, or no religion at all, the more they know – about anything, including Neo-Paganism – the more success they’ll enjoy in any pursuit, social or spiritual. And isn’t that what we want for them?
AND WHEN ARE THEY “OLD ENOUGH”?
Some families are still “in the broom closet” and haven’t told their own families/friends, and they’re worried that their children will “spill the beans.”
From about five or six years old, children can understand secrets in terms of people not being ready to learn yet. But honesty is the best policy, so when it’s at all possible, we think the best solution is to find a way to let people know at least that you follow an “alternative” religion. Another option is to teach Wiccan basics in Nature terms, so that little Hepsibah can tell Gramma that “we went on a nature walk and collected leaves,” and little Bucky can tell his schoolmates that “we went to the woods and chose our own tree to decorate for the holidays.”
Absent any need for secrecy, when can children start learning? Right away! As both Family Wicca and Raising Witches emphasize, we can involve our children in our Pagan religions from the beginning.
Honor the process of pregnancy, and when you hold your baby, be gentle and calm – patient, sensitive, unconditionally accepting. Introduce young children to Mother Earth and the Green Man, and take youngsters deeper into the wider Craft experience as they grow, not forgetting rites of passage. (Raising Witches identifies five stages of growth, and suggests cultural as well as religious rites of passage.)
Every Neo-Pagan family and community can raise its children to common but customized ritual, just as families and communities of other faiths raise their generations.
We advocate what we call Regency Parenting: keeping in mind that our children are not our chattel or our second chances, but individuals who are temporarily dependent on us for survival and nurture. The legal and social power we have “over” them is really theirs, not ours to wield. We’re holding in trust for them. Parent-regent’s job is to make children fit to claim their own power, take responsibility for their own lives, and set out on their own adventures.
A parent-regent’s goal must be to outfit children with a wide range of skills, knowledge, and experience, physical and emotional and spiritual. It’s not enough to teach them the rules for Here; they need to know how to figure out what’s right and wrong when their lives take them Away on their own quests.
And a parent-regent is (or learns to be) joyful when each child is fully empowered. That goes for our own inner children as well as the youngsters we’re bringing up. Indeed, regency parenting our own inner children helps us to be better parents to our offspring.
Parenting is long-term magic – so take this reminder that one day, the spell will be fully manifested. Your children will be grown, and you’ll find it’s not a loss, it’s a great boon, for you and for the all world(s). Huzzah! Good luck, and blesséd be!