Thoughts On Raising Paganish Children

My husband and I have two young sons, and as you could probably guess, we’re raising them in a pagan kind of way. It feels natural, but it can be frustrating because there’s not much in the way of guidance, at least as far as I’ve found. Most of the resources I come across are Wiccan, which is not at all what I do. Because of that, I spend a lot of time just winging it. But I like what I’m doing with my kids! And so I wanted to write about some of the things I do to incorporate paganish ideas into my kids’ lives. It’s all simple and intuitive, but I feel like it’s important to share.

Most of what I do with my children centers around a deep reverence for the natural world. Which is super easy, because that reverence seems to come naturally for children! Most children I’ve met are deeply curious about and tender toward the world around them—all I have to do is cultivate that curiosity and tenderness. I try to teach my children that they don’t exist outside of nature and that nature doesn’t exist in service to them. A bee deserves the same respect as an oak tree deserves the same respect as a person. They’re all living things, they all have a part to play, and it’s our job to care for them in the same way they care for us. And this idea in particular I don’t consider explicitly pagan. It’s more about teaching my kids to be good stewards of the earth.

In relation to that idea of connectedness with nature, we do follow the seasons closely. We celebrate solstices and equinoxes in place of, or in addition to, the Christian holidays my husband and I celebrated growing up. For example, instead of Easter, we celebrate the spring equinox. We dye eggs and have an egg hunt. We spend time outside feeling the warm sunshine, looking for flowers and budding trees, new bugs and new birds. We celebrate Christmas in a very Yule-like way. There’s no nativity scene at our house, but there is a tree and pomander balls and a lot of evergreen. The summer and winter solstices always get a small celebration and a discussion of what’s happening in nature at that time of year. It’s all pretty low-key, honestly, just because my parenting style in general is pretty low-key.

I practice some hedgewitchery, largely focused on herbalism. I’m fairly new to the practice, and it’s easy for me to pass on what I learn as I go. So basically, my kids are learning a truckload about plants! As I learn to identify native plants and their uses, my kids learn too, because I’m rarely out and about without them. As regards growing our own plants, we don’t have an expansive garden because we live in an apartment, but we do have a porch overflowing with potted plants, and my kids spend a lot of time helping me care for them. They understand that different plants have different needs, just like people. They know that over-watering plants makes them sad, as does not giving them enough water. They also know that, if you take good care of plants, they can take good care of you too. They’ve learned that if they feel blue, they can rub some lemon balm between their hands and breathe in the sweet, sunshiney smell. That if they feel congested, they can take baths filled with vick’s plant and eucalyptus leaves. That our aloe plant is full of skin-soothing juice. They’ve also picked up my habit of greeting plants as I water them, and I can’t deny how sweet it is to see them say hello to their favorites. I want them to understand the relationship of mutual respect between a plant and its caretaker, and the idea is something they’re receptive to.

Tarot is another big part of my practice, but it’s something that I feel my kids are a little young for, at 2 and 4 years old. They know I have cards that I use and that are special to me. They sometimes pull oracle cards with me, and my older son has a little lenormand deck that he pulls out and plays with sometimes. But honestly, they haven’t shown much interest in it, and I haven’t pushed it. I’ll be more than ready to teach them if they ever want to learn, but it’s not something I feel is necessary for them to know.

I keep my tarot decks on or near a little altar I have set up. It’s populated with stones and bones and herbs, a small space for, I suppose, what I’m feeling or what I want to feel. I met someone recently who has a kind of nature altar for her children to tend to, and it’s such a simple idea I can’t believe I never thought of it. My kids already collect little things nearly every time we go outside, whether it’s into the woods or just outside our apartment. So often their pockets wind up filled with snail shells and feathers and river rocks and wildflowers. All these treasures usually wind up scattered about our apartment, but I love the idea of having a place for them to be displayed. So that’s something I’m planning on setting up for them, and it ties in well with our focus on reverence for the natural world.

If all of this seems straightforward, that’s because it is! Part of it is because my children are still very young. Part of it is because my own practice has been very straightforward since I had kids. At this point in my life, I don’t have time or energy for more complicated spiritual practices. I spend most of my days taking care of my kids’ immediate and animal needs, so my life is intensely grounded right now. But even though the things I do with them are small, they feel good and right.