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Wiccan Altar/by Kam Abbott - Flickr

Pagan parenting 101

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Wiccan Altar/by Kam Abbott - Flickr
Wiccan Altar/by Kam Abbott – Flickr

It’s a new year with new beginnings, and as Pagans, such as myself take inventory of our supplies, our youngsters decide whether they want to follow in our footsteps and join the “magic circle”…. and we parents loose our cool. Panic! How does one go about teaching a child about paganism?! Here are some tips from fellow Pagan parents and personal experience.

  Age

I honestly don’t think there’s a “proper” age that a child should be to start learning about paganism and witchcraft (how many religions out there start kids as soon as they can walk?) It would depend on the individual child. For me, my son started showing interest when he was around 4 years old, but I waited until he turned 6 years old to start teaching him, mostly because of the fact that his attention span didn’t last long and he wasn’t  big on following directions. So, I’d say that when your child can do a simple craft from start to finish without loosing focus or needing to be reminded repeatedly to pay attention, they’re ready to take the first steps on the pagan path.

A good way to open the gate is to read to your child about pagan gods and goddesses. Teach them about the different holidays and nature. You can even include some legends. If you really want to get creative about it, make up your own stories and have each story teach a lesson or be about a specific god.

 Altar

When it comes to what to use for your youngster’s altar, I’d go with two definites: STRONG AND STABLE. You want the altar to withstand being moved around and hold a significant amount of weight. You also want to make sure the altar is stable enough to not tip over when your wee witch bumps into it. For these reasons, anything that folds up is not a good idea — a better bet would be to buy a cheap (low) table, like a small patio or end table with a smooth surface and strong, thick legs.

A good, inexpensive altar cloth can be a cheap (fabric) table cloth. Or you and your wee witch can visit a fabric store and he can pick out a yard or few of fabric to make their own altar cloth. I wouldn’t worry too much on what pattern or color your child pics, although it does make the choosing easier if you have a theme already decided on (like leaf pattern or certain colors). If your child wants to decorate the edges of their altar cloth, let them! Craft stores have a ton of decorations that can be used, so let your child’s creativity take over — remember, this is their altar cloth, not yours.

 Safety

Before I go any further, I’m going to stress a major issue: regardless of what your child is learning, ALWAYS- ALWAYS keep safety in mind! Yes, paganism and witchcraft can be very rewarding, but I am going to say that it can also be very dangerous if you’re not careful (burning candle and incense, handling fresh or dried herbs, etc.).

Never trust or let your child practice or work with any tools or supplies alone — even a teenager can be distracted or knock something over. Don’t wait for the worst to happen before you let your child start — put emphasis of safety before your child begins his/ her first lesson. Always have a fire extinguisher and a first aid kit easily available, just in case.

Supplies

Supplying your wee witch can be rather tricky. As a rule, I try to stick with substitutions. For example, when a spell calls for an herb to be cut with a Boline (white- handled knife/ dagger), you can just use white handled safety scissors. Instead of buying a cauldron, you can use a fondue pot.

Here’s what one that a friend does for her daughter, and I think it’s a great idea: rather than let her 7-year-old daughter have an real lit candle on her altar, my friend bought some of those LED flameless candles for her daughter to practice with. She uses them for practicing spells and meditating (she says the candles work great because her daughter would sometimes lose focus and walk away or fall asleep while meditating), and since the candles run on batteries, she just replaces the battery, rather than the entire candle.

A good substitute for a chalice (or goblet) is one of those plastic margarita or champagne “glasses” you can buy at most party stores. In place of wine, you can use apple cider (Martinelli’s makes apple, grape and cranberry cider). Kids usually like it because of the fizz- my son calls it “fizzy juice”.

For your witchling’s Book Of Shadows (spellbook), your best bet would be either a composition book (like for school) or a spiral notebook (both are inexpensive, and they’re always in ready supply anywhere). Eventually, you and your child can move on to better notebooks or (possibly) making their Book Of Shadows (it’s a really good parent- kid project).

There really is no substitute for incense (that I’m aware of), so I’d strongly suggest lighting the sticks or cones yourself and stress to your child to not touch it. Anything that requires actual burning should be closely supervised.

 Meditation 

There is nothing harder than trying to get a kid with the attention span of a flea to sit quietly and stay that way, but it can be done (you’re laughing, aren’t you?)! In the begining, start small. Have the meditation sessions be only two minutes, then move the time to five minutes, then increase the time by five minutes until you’ve found a comfortable length of time that both you and your child can work with. Sometimes it helps to take your child shopping for their own cushion or mat to sit on while they meditate (you could even make a mat to match the altar cloth).

Since meditating calms one down, it will help with teaching your child to think things out (problems at home or school, etc.), prepare for a test or athletic event, or — you will love this one — get ready for bed. 

Storage

Your wee witch has everything he needs to take those steps towards becoming a pagan, but where- oh- where to keep it all? There are a myriad of possibilities available for solving this dilema, some pricey and some affordable.

For my son, I invested in one of those plastic cabinets with the easy pull- out drawers. These things are inexpensive, found at most crafting stores, and fairly strong, making them good for storing whatever your child needs with room for a tad extra. They come in various sizes with different numbers of drawers, so you can choose what would best suit your child’s needs. HINT: these also make good altars, provided you get the ones with a smooth top.

Something else that I’ve done for my son (and this is entirely up to you) is encourage him to have a ” Pagan Treasure Box.” This box holds anything that he feels is special (stones, amulets, nature items, etc.). This can be any size and made with anything you like.

I hope that this helps out in starting out the wee witches of the world. As always, suggestions are always welcome.

Jamie Brannock

About Jamie Brannock

Brannock is SpokaneFAVS' Pagan writer. She studies and practices witchcraft, which she plans to explain through her writing.

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