Being a parent isn’t always so easy, especially if you are not a part of the major religion and you live in a small and somehow concervative country.
As a witch, I’ll raise my kids to walk the same path as I’m walking – so do the christians and catholics and so on and so on. But while their religions are major religions and have the status of the official religion, my religion is unofficial and nameless (it’s a type of a traditional nature based witchcraft). My path takes me to nature, to the shores of the sea and to the mists of the forests instead of great brick churches filled with other brainwashed people.
I don’t have – or need – anyone to tell me how to practice my religion, I do it my own way, honoring and respecting nature. I am my own priestess and a highpriestess of my family. I only answer to my family and to my gods and goddesses and other beings that are important to my religion. How I raise my kids is up to me and my husband, there’s nobody telling me how I should do it or not do it.
Being so free in perspective of religious raising gives us a great deal of responsibility. We need to do it right, otherwise my kids end up gagagugu nuts. The thing with kids is simple – they are much smarter than they might look like. They need information – not just vague mumblings and circumlocution. Of course, with information you’ll have to be careful and concider the age of the kid. It’s not cool to throw everything – all the sprites and rituals and stuff – into the face of a three year old.
The younger the child, the smoother the things that you tell them. We started by telling about the nature, how it’s alive too and will feel hurt when it’s trees are cut and animals hunted. We told that there’s a lot of gods that live in the nature and are born to the elements of fire, water, air and earth (she already had the knowledge about christian god because of school education). We started to tell stuff that was clearly an interest to the kid – she loved nature and animals and still does.
After a while – year or two – we started telling about other entities and the spirits of the deceased, in a warm, loving way (it’s not cool to say to the kid while she’s going to sleep that she’s surrounded by dead people). She understood well and didn’t freak out.
She’s been a part of our sabbaths from about 7 years old – then she was old enough to be as respective as needed. Se ate the same food, she came along in the nature when we went to feed the animals and giving nature our sacrificial foods and she attended in our candle rings. I’ve been reading her cards since she was about six years old and she’s been having premonitions since she was about five years. She’s been born with the blood of a witch – as am I.
School and community
Being a witch and having a different religion than most of the people doesn’t show that much in our everyday life, but when it comes to holidays and communities and school, it’s something else than easy.
In Finland, you just don’t go to kids school and say “hi, we are witches and will keep our sabbaths free days from school” – no way. In Finland (we have this thing called reilu meininki) we keep to ourselves – especially in these kinds of little towns as we live in. We have “sick days” when we’re having sabbaths – it’s kinda humiliating and sad, but you just simply can’t say that your kid is away from school because of your religion (if it’s not a religion that has somekind of status in our country). Even muslims and hindus probably have it easier in here.
Our community here in Finland is very conservative and centered with christianity. Our kid was babtized as a baby and when she grew up she wanted to leave the church, so we had her resign from the church. After that, she didn’t have to be involved with religious education of the school. Which brought up question on behalf of the teachers; “why isn’t she a part of the church anymore?”, “she must still be in class when theres religious teatching, doesn’t she?”, “surely she comes to christmas church with us, doesn’t she?”. Well, I gave them the answers; “none of your business”, “no”,”no”. Still, after all yhese years, the school isn’t prepared to have kids that don’t attend to religious classes – my daughter has to be in the classroom (even if there is law that says that she should be provided with a different kind of education) while her class is having their weekly religion classes. Well, let’s hope it gets easier after she goes to upper comprehensive school.
Her friends don’t know that she’s on this kind of religious path – we’ve decided that they don’t have to know and they have one thing less to bully about. Her friends do know that she is not a member of the church and they are ok with that for the most of the time. Some more fanaticly religious parents have had their moments of glory commenting such things like “are you a heathen?” or “do you know you’ll go to hell when you die” either to my kid or to me. I usually just smile to them and curse them in my mind.
We don’t exactly look like any other “normal” people. We dress as we like, our personality shows in our outfits quite much. We don’t dress differently because we’re pagan – we dress differently because we like these clothes.
When we were living in a bigger city, no one noticed us, we were just some people, but here in a tiny little city (if you can even call this a “city”) everybody notices us where ever we go.
When we go to shop or some school occasion, everybody turns around and gives a great long scowl at our direction. Great. I’m not that kinda person that wants to be the center of attention. Because of this, I sometimes have to think like “normal” people do and dress differently – like the “normal” people do – so that I would not be the center of attention always.
So I guess I have to admit that I can’t really be who I am infront of other people, not here, even in the 21st century. It’s a sad thing, but lets hope it changes someday.
Family and relatives
Our whole family is pagan, so we don’t have anything to disagree religiously. We walk the same path, believe in the same gods and goddesses, speak to the same spirits. But our relatives are a different bag of nuts…
My husbands parents are wonderful people, an atheist and a believer. They probably don’t have a clue about our religion – we have never discussed about it – and never will.
My mother is somekind of a believer, not a member of the church but believes in higher power or a god. She knows about our path, and with a loving tone in her voice she calls it a “humbug religion” and she says that I am quite nuts (in a good way 😉 ). She’s little worried about how we raise our kids, but don’t get involved because she knows that it would be the last nail in her coffin. My religion is my religion, and she doesn’t have a saying on it. But I can tell you, it’s not easy to say to your mother “hi, mom, I’m raising you granddaughter to be a witch”.
Other relatives are so distant, that it really doesn’t matter what they know or think.