Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ideas for Lughnasadh?

I was just talking to my partner about what we should do with Rowan for the upcoming sabbat. When our son, Rowan, was born we made a commitment to observe all the sabbats with him from the very start. We want him to have fondly remembered rituals and holidays from childhood.

But observing sabbats with a child under one is difficult. What to do? We've had decent rituals (albeit simple ones) with him thus far, but his particular age and ability level is getting harder and harder to accomodate.

His first sabbat was Imbolc, and he was tiny. We introduced him to Nimue, one of the gods of the Feri pantheon- (without getting too in depth and giving you a Feri 101, Nimue a child god who has power of a god in the hands of a six year old. She's impulsive, prone to fits of pique, and is fiercely protective of her children.) When we did Imbolc with Rowan, we were parents for a mere few weeks. We were tired and the baby was small and less active than he is now. It was a simple introduction, in front of her altar in our temple.

Oestara was lovely- we had Feri guests and together we held a ritual specifically for baby Rowan- he was blessed by each person there and then introduced to our 7 directional Feri guardians. He got hungry during the ritual and mom and baby had to sit at one point and get our boob on in circle, but the ritual was lovely nonetheless.

Beltaine we went up to Wolf Creek Radical Faerie Sanctuary in Oregon and did their Walpurgisnacht bonfire, Maypole dance, and introduced Rowan to the Sacred Land where he was conceived (the previous Beltaine).

Midsummer was a simple feast and introducing him to bits of fruit.

And now we are coming up on Lughnasadh, when Rowan will be 6 months old- a wiggly, squiggly 6 month old who won't hold still or keep quiet, nor will he be able to participate like a toddler could in dancing or as a preschooler could in crafts. So what do we with a child do at this age?

A wonderful go-to guide for slightly older children is Circle Round, written by three priestesses in the Reclaiming trad. I have a copy of this book and cannot recommend it enough. When Rowan gets older it will be a great resource for us! In the meantime, I intend on documenting what does and doesn't work with a child his age as we go along.

If anyone has age-appropriate activities you'd like to share, I'd be much obliged. Feel free to leave comments here on the blog- and we'll get a discussion started!

Friday, June 25, 2010

As a Mother, I Parent the Whole World Now...

Something has happened to me since becoming a parent. I am unable and unwilling to stand idly by as children suffer, but I also cannot bear to watch. I call it the Mama Bear Syndrome.

It's as if all children were in some way my own now. And in a theological sense, that is, of course, true. We are all connected and suffering is suffering. It is as if God Herself opened a part of my soul to expose me to a fraction of her love for all her creation. I feel open, raw, and over-extended a lot of the time now- especially when I read the news.

I cannot read or learn about a bad circumstance involving children without getting nauseous or angry (or both). I have a hard time reading and watching videos about circumcision, for example. When the baby screams and passes out from pain and shock, my heart leaps out of my chest and I want to hunt down the person that did this horrible thing and bite their head off, literally. Beware the Mama Bear- she loves and protects her cubs, with violence if necessary.

This Syndrome makes me avoid watching and reading about such things. I know that I should stay informed on this (and other) issues in order to do the most good, but when the time comes to watch or read that first-hand account, my body rebels.

I have never had a hard time getting involved for social change. I have been a part of queer anti-violence patrols that stopped hate crimes and domestic violence on the street, for example. In the moment, I am clear-headed. I am discerning and strategic. I do what needs to be done for maximum benefit. I deescalate when possible, disarm when necessary. I have taken away guns and knives, faced down gangs of skinheads and frat boys. Little 5 foot 2 inch me and my queer friends. And afterward? I usually throw up.

It's hard being a new mama, and not in the way that I think many people mean (the lack of sleep, the lack of self-care, the crazy routines, the inability to get as many things done as you used to). It's hard because you realize, now more than ever in a tangible sense, that the world is in your hands. That you are responsible with your action, inaction, words and deeds. And I struggle to make every one of those words and deeds count. For the maximum benefit of all.

I got an unsolicited email from a Feri Initiate friend yesterday. It was something I needed to hear right now (gotta love psychics!):

I don't know if you want any direct advice but I do have some, lol. The first year after a child is born, especially the first year for a woman doing spiritual work, you will be very sensitive on many levels. Some of this is very primal wanting to protect your child and wanting a better world for that child. When Victor (Anderson, former Grandmaster of the Feri Tradition and now among the Mighty Dead- ed.) spoke to me of respecting both the strength and fragility of human nature in body, mind and spirit; he spoke of the need for new mothers not to take on the world even though they might want to. This is not wimping out. :) but a time of self love and focus. Hugs BB -C

I laughed when I got that email. It was so timely.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What is This Blog About?

Witch mom? Yes. I don't expect that I'll get as many readers as mainstream mom blogs, but I did want to write about the experience of being a mom, a priestess, and a religious minority in the US.

Being a witch (some people are more comfortable with the term "pagan"- but that is an umbrella term for lots of different types of religions, and I am trying to be specific here) and a parent has its own set of built-in challenges.

Many people fear what they don't understand, thinking we abuse children or are somehow "bad people" for our religious beliefs. Still others think that if a religion doesn't have one (male) god and a building attached to it, that is not a "real religion", or it is laughable. Still others do not understand what we mean when we speak of "magick" and they envision scenes from Harry Potter (which is a book series I like, by the way- so cute!)

This blog is about respecting religious traditions of all stripes. It is about respecting and fighting for the planet we call home. It is about raising a child with a set of strong personal ethics, rather than a fundamentalist set of morals. It is about the amazing journey of parenthood, through the eyes of a religious minority.

Things that will be discussed here:
  • conception, pregnancy, and birth
  • baby , toddler, and child milestones
  • brain and social development
  • how our family deals with the outside world and its culture
  • preschool, homeschool, unschool, or co-op group school?
  • morality and ethics
  • genital integrity of boys and girls
  • attachment parenting versus other styles of parenting
  • daily struggles of life balance
  • fostering compassion and empathy in our children
  • developing a curriculum for pagan families
  • environmentalism and social justice
  • things that I discover that I recommend and want to share as a pagan and a parent

And probably oodles more that will come up along the journey that I cannot think of right now. I hope that you join me (and join in on the conversation, too!)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Attachment Parenting PSA

Attachment parenting makes a world of difference. Babies cry to communicate, not manipulate. Comfort a crying child today.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Nature of Love

So I prepared myself as best as possible for this thing we call parenthood. I took classes read lots, talked to other parents, and did internal check-ins about what was happening to my body, my life, and my mind as I progressed in pregnancy.
But to be honest, nothing prepared me for the emotional wallop of having a child. I know it sounds sappy, but I never thought I could love someone so much. Yes, I have been in love, have had long-term relationships, etc. But this is different.

The experience of loving an adult is like building a house. It is a deliberate act to create something nurturing and sheltering with someone. If you do it right (and often we novice house builders need more than one pass-through to create a house that will stand!), you start by building a great foundation, and add bells and whistles from there. I have built fancy turrets without a proper foundation, only to have it crash down around me. I have also built huge deep foundations and failed to build a living space that was fanciful enough to capture my imagination for the long haul.

Loving my son, though- that is more like being a force of nature. (Because I am!) Sometimes I feel as though I could rip through someone, utterly destroying them, if they went to harm my son in any way. BEWARE the mama bear.
And the intensity of this love scares, exhilarates, and surprises me. I know I can never be the same again, because of this love. I know that I will never be completely worry free ever again, either. But it is a fair trade-off, I think.