Rites of Passage
Warning:If you've come here looking for dramatic, sinister, intense rituals, you are about to be disappointed. I believe that our children are too precious to be subjected to any kind of intense religious doctrine. A child's spirituality should be clean, simple, joyous and peaceful--in short, just the way it is until a church or parent starts to muck about with his or her sweet little soul.
The thoughts you will find below express my belief that we, as parents, should spend more time learning spirituality from our children and less time confusing them.
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IN MY OPINION: Our kids are constantly portrayed as small versions of adults. I prefer to think of us as large versions of children. Children, (and adults allowing themselves to function in a child-like way,) are acting upon instinct. Yes, instinct can be cruel ~ survival of the fittest and all that ~ but the purity of emotion that "childishness" engenders is what makes us feel alive.
Paradoxically, much of the thrill of being a child involves mastering adult skills and experiencing the physical and emotional changes that getting older brings. In other words, the best parts of being a kid are often about leaving another stage of childhood behind.
My point, and I do have one, is this:
Growing from child to adult involves a series of changes. All of which are life-altering and intense. You've heard this gripe before, but I'll repeat it ~ Our society sucks when it comes to ushering children into adulthood. We consider them kids until (pick one):
they get a driver's license they enter high school they start having sex they get a job she gets her period OR he starts having wet dreams
Lovely list isn't it? What about:
when they bring home an injured animal and actually care for it when they realize that they too will die when they first tell an authority figure "No--" when they discover how much power hurtful words have when they decide the opposite gender is . . . interesting
These leaps are often noticed, and cooed over, by the adults that surround the child WITHOUT the child's knowledge. We don't want to embarrass them. So we let them muddle through and we smile. And we lose the opportunity to praise, nurture, support, and teach.
Because I don't believe that church dogma is particularily healthy or useful for children, I have ~in the past ~ been at something of a loss about how to offer the spiritual instruction that should help ease these growing pains.
When I began to pursue the practice of the Craft, I didn't think very much about how it would impact my mothering skills. I expected it to be a private activity. I was not prepared for the positive effect this path would have on my family.
THE WITCHES' PATH:
First understand this, I do not actively teach my children or my husband about witchcraft. (Or about Christianity anymore, for that matter.) I thouroughly answer any question that comes up to the best of my ability. A lot of questions come to the fore. I find that the practice of witchcraft itself provides ample opportunities to teach by example as well.
One of the perks I have found on the witches' path is the availability--no, the necessity--of the small celebration. My home is full of ways to recognize, and show thankfulness for, the "little" blessings. I can make a charm or an amulet in ten minutes. I can easily make a special cake in an individual, moon-shaped-pan, that sits at the ready in my cupboard. (Mostly, I just use a boxed mix by the way.) I've spent a fair amount of time collecting such materials and I use them whenever the event is appropriate.
Perk number two is that my daughter (12) understands that I'm a little flaky. (Come on, don't take yourself too seriously--you are too, or you wouldn't be reading this.) The result is that she "indulges" me when I fuss over her accomplishments or difficulties in some "witchy" manner.
She knows I spend my most peaceful time outside gazing at the moon's reflection in our pond. She also knows she's welcome to join me. Occasionally, she actually does.
She notices when I've added a symbol of a current, personal concern to my altar. She understands why I do that. I don't think it will be too long before I find a test-taking-pencil up there too.
She's learning that Creator is accessible. That religious freedom is still an important concern. That woman have, historically, paid dearly for their talents and gifts.
This religion allows me to teach, seemingly without effort. My acts of faith and words of praise are in my family's full view all the time. They are watching me celebrate my own rites of passage, as well as enjoying my fussings over them . . . and thus they learn.
So mote it be.
I've created a page to recognize our children's passages. By "our" I mean my children and yours. If you have a passage you would like to honor--please e-mail me at: LizCrowe@netscape.net To Mothering To The Children's Page of Honors
BACKGROUND BY LILITH SILVERHAIR