Every so often I get a wave of people online or at events who ask me to explain my belief system. I’m happy to open up, but my children sometimes need reassurance that it’s okay for us to be who we are.
Many Pagan parents dreads the “our family is different” talk. It’s a conversation we have to repeat many times throughout our children’s lives. Because there have been a lot of misjudgments made about the different branches of Paganism and other similar faiths all throughout history it can be a sensitive topic.
Luckily religious freedom is abundant in modern society. Pagan holidays and symbols are now recognized by the US military, colleges, employers, and other organizations across the country. Even so some people are still unsure about Pagans. To help quell any concerns, here are five reasons that my Pagan family is like yours:
We want others to treat us the way that we treat them
The golden rule is nothing new. Every religion and culture has their own version. (I even wrote about these different versions of the same teaching in my award winning children’s book: The Golden Rule.)
Most people understand that if they want to be treated fairly they must treat others fairly. Pagans have a simple way of putting it. We wish to: Harm none. That can mean many different things depending on interpretation, like everything in life, but mainly it comes down to intent and owning your actions.
Pagans want to be loved and sometimes raise families
A lot of people want to find someone to share experiences with. Sometimes they celebrate that by getting married and raising families. Pagans are no different. Our wedding ceremonies are sometimes called Handfasting ceremonies which is a small intimate exchange of hand-written vows. Preferably done outside, they are beautiful moments.
If and when the time comes, our approach to parenthood holds the same fears and hopes as anyone of other cultures. We wish for happy healthy children who love us, we want them to be safe and grow into successful self-reliant adults. (I myself am that crazy mom who already dreams of having grand kids)
We have the same concerns for our children
All good parents have fears and hopes for their children. Like the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and Atheist parents I have met, I want my children to succeed. The hopes that my kids will grow up to be happy, healthy, well-adjusted adults is very common for most parents.
Raising children is scary for everyone at times. There are plenty of dangers to face. My son is constantly testing my husband’s ability to ward off heart attacks. My 7 year old cracked her head open a couple of years ago. Things will go wrong and kids get hurt. That’s part of life, but learning to balance letting them be themselves and explore while teaching them to take care of themselves and NOT die is serious work. I personally find comfort in the fact that no matter how anyone’s beliefs differ, I can relate to other parents in this.
Pagans like to celebrate their faith
Like every other American family, mine enjoys celebrating its faith. Whether we are singing outside for our winter celebration, collecting flowers in the name of spring, enjoying building a fire for midsummer, or collecting leaves for our fall festival, these are all very important aspects of our faith. Each ritual is very different and special.
Celebrating one’s faith also means respecting others and not being afraid to learn about different cultures either. I love finding similarities between all belief systems (or lack thereof). Yes some issues within tenants create boundaries, but well-intentioned individuals understand that.
We also have a media presence
Last but truly not least, Pagans have a media presence. There are Pagan social networking sites where we can go to write about their experiences, meet others like us, and find out about community events in our areas. There are numerous Wiccan and Pagan magazines, books, movies, and musicians. New Age stores are all over the country in the past few decades, I know of at least three good ones in my city. We have an annual Pagan Picnic where the family can go and just be with other like-minded individuals and feel at home.
When it comes down to it every family is different. Many people have been reared by numerous parenting styles and faiths, but we still hold a lot of the same values. My Pagan family is no exception, we abide by our “Golden Rule”, find love, have fears and hopes for our children, want to celebrate our faith, and see varying portrayals of ourselves in the media (some accurate, some annoying). When people ask me about my faith I’m happy to smile and talk about it.