Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ask Me Anything: Gossip and Malicious Speech

In this semi-regular feature on Witch Mom, I answer select questions from readers. There is always a box to the right of my blog posts if you would also like to ask a question, or click here. It could be about The Craft, parenting, pop culture, multi-religious education, homeschooling, or whatever! I cannot promise to answer each one, but I will read them!

A reader asks: "Lily, can you share something--a perspective, prayer, survival tips--on how to deal/see gossip-mongers and malicious people? THANKS." 

For previous related posts on this subject, check out "Pagan Values Month", Kalama Sutta, and Extremism Worldwide. Both posts have related thoughts (but are not addressing this issue head on).

We have all had to deal with negative, judgmental people in our lives. Some folks are just not happy with anything that others do, while others have no empathy for people with other life experiences and the values formed from them. It makes interacting with these folks more of an endurance test than a pleasure. I find my limits get strained by these types much more than my own toddler- who is quite adept at testing limits!

Long ago, one of my teachers gave me this tip (unsure of the original source of this quote, so if you know, leave the credit in the comments): "What other people think of you is none of your business." At first, I was aghast. I mean, I am a person who values community- and to me, gossip (when it is done correctly) has an important function in a tribal society. It reinforces tribal mores and holds people accountable for their actions. In tribal cultures, gossipers are held just as accountable as those being talked about. But I was forgetting something: most of us do not live in anything like a tribal culture, at least not 24/7. And that makes gossip more like a virus- something that spreads like wildfire, it's hard to find the original source, and you cannot hold a virus accountable.

Not related to the post, just funny!
This is the best survival tip I can think of: stop caring what others think of you.  If you do your work to be a discerning, ethical person and then walk your talk- it doesn't matter if people approve of you or not. Self love will save you from feeling bad when others disapprove. I am not saying that this is easy- especially when those casting shade your way are family or people you consider friends. I have lost fair-weather friends as well as family members because they are so critical, or get angry when they cannot control my words and actions. So be it. Life is too short to not live YOUR life to its fullest. You must follow your calling(s) and those that are truly kin (whether by blood or not) will find you and support you in your path.

Chances are, if you live your path unencumbered by others expectations, you will become a shining beacon, drawing others who are your actual kin to you. This has happened to me, so I can attest that this is no mere speculation.

As a last resort: If you are dealing with people that are messy and harm lots of others with their words and deeds as a matter of habit, I am not the type of Witch that is against binding someone. It can be a useful tool in a Witch's arsenal. Some people these days seem to be against using Witchcraft to harm or restrain others, but that is not my idea of Witchcraft at all. I am not personally bound by a Wiccan rede, as I believe if you cannot hex, you cannot heal. However, you should know that binding a person makes them attached to you in a way that may be uncomfortable for the long term. Choose this strategy carefully, as it makes the person less likely to harm, but binds them TO YOU, the Witch, in a way as well. If you choose this route, you need to be okay with the fact that in their struggles to harm others as before you will need to protect yourself from them even more than before. It is a skill that takes practice and you need to be ready to release the binding when the time comes for everyone's sake.

Ask Me Anything! You can ask me a question and I will answer- if it is a long answer, I will blog it. Past blog posts inspired by readers have included divine possession, ghosts, and astral projection! Just keep the question short- the application that I use  cuts off wordy inquiries from time to time. Or you can make suggestions for a blog post. What do you want to see me write about? 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Million Mothers March

Many women do not have the right to feed their infants when and where they need to. I live on the West Virginia border right now, and in that state, women can be told to leave somewhere if they breastfeed and someone doesn't like it.

Enough is enough. The Million Mothers March is an event organized by a mom who was kicked off a public bus for breastfeeding. It is being organized for August 6, 2012 in Washington DC.

There has been a rise in the incidences of harassment of breastfeeding mothers. Mothers are being asked to feed their children in the restrooms at Wal-Mart, an all women’s fitness facility even on public transportation. The unmitigated fact is that the list goes on and on. This madness has to stop! Breastfeeding Mothers Unite is a grassroots organization formed to bring awareness to the community and to UNITE mothers. We need to bring as much attention to a mother’s right to nurse her child whenever and wherever that child gets hungry.

I urge you to spread the word and get to DC next year if you can! I have posted this before, but it worth a second time:

Friday, November 25, 2011

Buy Nothing Day

A women gets trampled in a "black friday" shopping spree.
What are we becoming, all in the name of profit?
I refuse to call today "Black Friday" and think of the whole constructed day as a horrible event that harkens back to Roman orgies. Expecting people to riot and fight over discounts over things that they do not even need is appalling to me.

I prefer to send a message of sustainability and reason by participating in Buy Nothing Day. Instead of spending the day in a florescent lighted, over-crowded mall, I spend it making memories with my family: baking cookies or making crafts with my son, playing in forts, and playing games with loved ones.

The winter holiday season is about gratitude and family* for most people, so the idea of Black Friday runs counter to what this season is supposed to be about. Instead, I encourage you to Buy Nothing.

*As well as the religious reasons. In my case, the turning of the Wheel of the Year.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

National Day of Mourning, New England.
I have been teaching my Sunday School class all about Thanksgiving and other cultures' similar holidays. Many religions and cultures have similar days of gratitude. I taught them about Purim and Harvest Home/Mabon last week. I also taught them about how Indigenous Americans see this holiday and showed them footage of The American Indian Movement occupying Alcatraz Island. I told them of participating in the National Day of Mourning in Massachusetts when I lived there.

In teaching them about today, I leaned something myself:

While there was a harvest festival in 1621 (that had pilgrim immigrants from Europe and native Mashpee and Wampanoag people in attendance), the holiday started being celebrated on the 4th day in November when Abraham Lincoln called for a "National Day of Thanksgiving" after the Civil War ended. We have not been celebrating this day, in perpetuity, since the days of the pilgrims as we are led to believe. It was made a legal holiday in 1941 on the 4th Thursday in November. So the official, secular holiday has its roots steeped in war and a longing for peace.

I also worked with the kids on cultivating a gratitude practice. I talked about how when you are feeling bitter or resentful about something, a gratitude practice is the best fix to make yourself feel better. I had them list 5 things that they were grateful for, in that moment. It was telling that they had a hard time with the exercise. Most of us are our of practice when it comes to being thankful and expressing our gratitude. We take things for granted.

This holiday, I am grateful for many things. My top 5 are:

1. My son- who makes me laugh every day and gives me a great sense of purpose.
2. Supportive and loving family in this time of transition.
3. The basics that I should never take for granted: shelter, food, clean water, and love.
4. That my partner has found a job and is working hard for our family.
5. A wonderful life plan and goals before me.

What about you? What are your top 5?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Teaching Children the Craft: Weather Witchery & the Environment

In this ongoing series, I share insights and make proposals regarding teaching children the Craft. My hope is that you, the readers, will join me by using the comments section. Please make comments, ask questions, and engage in dialogue with me and each other. My hope is that fruitful communication will benefit us all in the form of a Craft curriculum for kids of Witches everywhere.

Rowan is now profoundly aware of the weather around him and now has names for some of the more common things relating to weather: sun, clouds, wind, rain, fog, hot, cold, and wet, among others.

Given that he loves water and the cold (just watch the boy jump in the ocean, over and over regardless that his lip is quivering and his legs are icicles!), I am wagering that winter will be a fun time around here, playing in the newly discovered snow (he has never seen it in person before).

First pumpkin carving
As I teach Rowan about the natural world, I am also sharing with him the ways that humans and Witches can change the natural world (for good or ill). Litter is a bad thing, but picking it up changes the destruction someone else did. As a conscientious human and Witchlet, I am teaching him to leave the environment better than he left it. He is already super eager to help. And that is the precise attitude a budding Witch should have!

Water baby
But Witches also can have some control over things like weather. And while it is tempting to change it to suit our whims- we should only do so when it won't be a greater hardship. For example, in Oakland where I used to live, we were subject to droughts. To my mind, changing rain to sun in a climate like that would not be beneficial, so I never did it.

Now I live in Appalachia and there is plenty of rain, so much that the river often floods and destroys homes. I have been playing with cloudbusting and moving weather patterns since my arrival. This past weekend, I worked to move a storm that had an 80% chance of bumming us out on a neighborhood scouting trip to Columbus (our future home). Mission accomplished! And I plan on teaching my son this skill (and corresponding responsibility) as well.

What lessons are you teaching your kids about the environment and their control over it?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Size Acceptance

In most parts of the US, racism, sexism, and even homophobia are uncool to express. While there are still unenlightened people on these issues (we all know at least one, don't we?), most folks know that they are likely to be called out on these kind of isms when they surface. (The "it was just a joke" defense is so tiresome. To be a joke, it has to be funny, people! Satire is funny- poking fun at power is funny. Making others feel crappy is not.)

One of the few isms that is still OK in our culture is fat phobia and/or looks-ism. Our culture is obsessed with being thin, looking a certain way, and enforcing that standard to the detriment of all. People who do not fit that norm or choose not to are outcasts and deemed unattractive.

I do not want my son indoctrinated into those values. I know that he will be exposed to it eventually (we all live in this culture after all), but with limited television (with no commercials!) and exposure to all kinds of people (who are all attractive, regardless of size or other surface factors in my opinion) in person and through media I am trying to counter its poisonous effects as long as possible.

And if you think this is all about health, let me assure you- it's more than that. It is a civil rights issue. Fat people are less likely to get jobs, are paid less, and are abused more. They are taught to hate the way that they look and the world tells them that they are not sexy or worthy of love. This is not the world that I want my son to inherit, but there you have it. So I am educating him so that he can help change it, regardless of his size or appearance.

Folks who think thinner is healthier than fat and that everyone can fall within a societal "ideal" weight should read about health at every size (which the surgeon general advocates now, instead of the long-held, false line of "lose weight to be healthy", by the way),
The war on obesity has taken its toll. Extensive “collateral damage” has resulted: Food and body preoccupation, self-hatred, eating disorders, discrimination, poor health... Few of us are at peace with our bodies, whether because we’re fat or because we fear becoming fat.- from the Health at Every Size website.
For those of you new to the size acceptance movement or health at every size, here are some resources. No Lose is a queer fat positive organization that hosts a conference almost every year.  The Fat Nutritionist is a great resource. So is the International Size Acceptance Organization. So is National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance.

Available here. Link for informational purposes,
I am not/was not paid for this recommendation.
So how do I broach this idea with a toddler? Well, we are just starting with abstract ideas and reading, but I have found an awesome book that Rowan just loves! It's a Sandra Boynton book (she's a famous cartoonist famous for her cute animal drawings) called The Belly Button Book.

Along with being a cute rhyming board book, it also shows hippos not covering up and being ashamed of their big bellies, but instead wearing clothes too small on purpose, to show it off!

This book is a breath of fresh air and Rowan absolutely loves this book. He went through a phase of showing everyone his "bee bo" (as the book calls belly buttons) and also lifting up everyone's shirts to see their navels. 

My edition also came with an audio CD with a belly button song, which is pretty cute as well- and Rowan likes to dance to this song and asks for it, too! 

How do you feel about society's view of "people of size"? What messages are you sending to your kids (be they intentional or unintentional) on body acceptance, accepting others as they are, and self love?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Violence In The Home

This quote below really tells how I feel about "gentle discipline" and why, even though I struggle, I will not strike my child out of frustration, anger, or the desire to instill discipline or boundaries in him.
"When I was about twenty years old, I met an old pastor's wife who told me that when she was young and had her first child, she didn't believe in striking children, although spanking kids with a switch pulled from a tree was standard punishment at the time.
But one day when her son was four or five, he did something that she felt warranted a spanking--the first in his life. And she told him he would have to go outside and find a switch for her to hit him with. The boy was gone a long time. And when he came back in, he was crying.
He said to her, 'Mama, I couldn't find a switch, but here's a rock you can throw at me.' All of the sudden a mother understood how the situation felt from the child's point of view: that if my mother wants to hurt me, it makes no difference what she does it with; she might as well do it with a stone.
The mother took the boy onto her lap and they both cried. Then she laid the rock on a shelf in the kitchen to remind herself forever: never violence. Because violence begins in the nursery - one can raise children into violence." -From a peace prize acceptance speech given by Astrid Lindgren, author of Pippi Longstocking
Actions are not the only things that are violent- words can be violent, too. Thinking before we speak, especially to impressionable children, is so important. I struggle with this as well as allowing my son to have his voice in our home.

Allowing our children to say things to us that may be uncomfortable is important. I believe that children are equals- not necessarily in experience, but in value. All too often, people treat children like property, or burdens, or second-class citizens, all because they have lived less time on the planet (in this lifetime, anyway!). I want my child to feel comfortable telling me anything. And so I listen. Often at this stage, when he is trying to get his feelings and ideas expressed in so few words, I must coax and offer new words and ideas to help us understand one another.*

What are your feelings on this topic? Do you believe spanking (or other corporal punishment) is violence? Why or why not?

*He is learning new words every day and just starting sentences! His first sentence ever was, "I did it!", said in a very proud voice. Sadly, it was not something his mama wanted to do (dump the dog's water), but he was so excited, I had to laugh.)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Happy New Year, Folks!

As many of you know, Samhain (which for me just happened, as I follow the cross-quarters as opposed to the Gregorian calendar date) is the Witch's new year. It makes sense to me, as my ancestors were agriculturally based people- and this is the end of the growing season.

The dead have been making their presence known. Some, who passed this year in less than desirable circumstances, are restless and needed aid in their passing. We, as Witches, helped with that. Still others returned for a visit and some unsolicited advice. (Just because someone is dead doesn't make their advice any more valuable or correct, sadly! You still need to look at the source of the advice as an individual.)

This past weekend, I attended two Samhain rituals- one for initiates of my religious tradition, the other was a more open ritual. Both were lovely and seasonally appropriate. In the more public one, we had an element of the ritual that focused on the new year aspect- we put wishes for the new year or things we wished to purge from the previous year in the cauldron then set it ablaze. We then stood around, being contemplative and enjoying the warmth and watching our intentions char. They eventually rose into the air, releasing our intentions into the world.

How did you celebrate the new year?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Today's Full Moon

November’s full moon (which happens on the 10th) goes by many different names:
    * Ancestor Moon
    * Beaver Moon (Colonial America)
    * Larder Moon (Stregheria)
    * Moon of the Dead
    * Mourning Moon (Neo-Paganism)
    * True Moon
    * White Moon (Chinese)

Here in the part of the world that I occupy now, (Appalachia) it is called the Apple Moon.

Most of these names have to do with harvest or the dead, both very Witchy subjects. For most, following the wheel of the year comes from an agricultural world view- planting, ripening, harvest, laying fallow and how that is a metaphor for our lives. Communing with the dead is reserved mainly for Witches, shamans, and other clergy of (mostly) non-Abrahamic religions.

Protesters at the Port of Oakland on General Strike Day.
This full moon, I am a little sad and grieving for my home in Oakland, California, especially since the Occupy movement is so important and animated there. I am watching from afar and wishing my friends, chosen family, Witch family, and co-seminarians as they do the hard work of dismantling corporate control of our lives. I wish I could be there with them.

This month, I am working for the protection of my family and those I care about (an issue I will not speak of here, but would love your prayers and well wishes), for harmony in my temporary home (living with extended family can be tense at times), and for the safety of the protesters in all the cities they occupy- safety from overzealous law enforcement, corporate media, and extreme weather.

What are you working on this full moon?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Power of Secrets

After years of being an eclectic Witch and generic pagan, I am now an initiate of a Mystery tradition of Witchcraft that holds secrets, applies oaths, and has specific religious beliefs. It is a perfect match for me, but I am sure it is not perfect for others. I don't worry about that- my tradition was never meant for the masses (even the pagan masses), nor was it meant for those that do not follow what our idea of what a Witch is:

To me, a Witch is a Shaman (the terms are interchangable- they just come from different geographical regions-"Witch" simply means a western European shaman)- they are highly trained in specific skills. They have done years of rigorous self work to get to be as strong as possible (magically, energetically, physically, emotionally, and mentally) to be a strong container for the Mysteries that will be revealed to them. This self work exists as preparation for the actual work of a Witch- affecting change in all the worlds. (This Great Work is not done for its own sake, or to become a "better person". Witches do it to become the best Witch possible.)

Witches can talk to and relay messages from the gods. They can act as a human vehicle to bring them here for others. They can divine people's possible futures and help weave destiny. They can do spellwork to manifest changes in the worlds. They are healers, artists, and activists. Witches are NOT dabblers- they are priests.
Yes, I know people who call themselves Witches but do not fit this definition. If they asked me to give a definition of what I thought they were, I would probably say "pagan" was more accurate*. Pagan is a commonly used term for a huge umbrella of people, including people who work magic- and is general enough to cover all kinds of non-Abrahamic thought and religion- be it polytheistic, pantheistic, Wiccan, heathen, or what have you. Pagans can be what Christians call "lay people" or "laity"- that is, not just clergy.

Since arriving in Ohio, I am reminded that many in the general pagan community do not understand or appreciate what it means to hold secrets and keep oaths. I have spoken to several folks (all of whom I like and respect) and found their attitudes towards secrets troubling and strange. In general, they believe that secrets are "bad" and lead to "power dynamics" (here's a news flash- humans lead to power dynamics, and not all power dynamics are bad). They say things like, "if something is good and beneficial it should be shared with everyone". They believe that in the pagan community, we should all be equal- and by equal they mean the same. I do not believe equality comes from uniformity.

My partner (who is also an initiate of my Witchcraft tradition) and I have talked about this phenomenon and have a couple different takes on it. We both agree that we disagree with this opinion. (I mean, we both keep secrets and have oaths, right?!). We just disagree for different reasons and I think that these differing reasons complement one another.

I personally believe that folks who say these things have not reconciled themselves to power and being powerful. They have lived, as we all have, in a culture that takes power from others and is hierarchical and puts people in opposition to one another. They have a hard time seeing a new way of being, within the shell of the old. They are afraid of inequity- and so they reason that no one should have something that others do not. They see it as a great equalizer- throwing out all secrets and oaths.

To these people I say, you have work to do. People can be powerful in and of themselves without diminishing others. One Witch can hold a Mystery that you have not been exposed to, and that does not make you less than. And further, not everyone is meant to be a Witch. I do not say that to be mean or elitist. I just say that as a statement of fact.

The whole "everyone can be a Witch" movement, to me, is a fallacy. It takes innate talent, the Gods claiming you as one of theirs, and lots of hard work to make a Witch. It takes sacrifice- willing sacrifice that most are unwilling to do**. Can everyone be an opera singer*? Nope, and not everyone can be a Witch. And you know what? That's really okay. I am friends with folks with many religions, faiths, and philosophies- I do not value my Witch friends more than the others.

My partner tried to explain his reasons for secrets to a man this past weekend this way: "You wouldn't go telling everyone and anyone what you do with your partner in the bedroom, would you? What you do with your lover is an intimate secret- for you two alone. It is the same way with us and our Gods. They are our lovers."

I tried to tell this same person that someone who is unable to keep secrets is a leaky vessel. The Mystery and a tradition would not remain intact in a leaky vessel, it would ooze everywhere and get mixed with all kinds of outside debris. Our job, as initiates is to protect, uphold, and pass on the tradition intact. To do so, we must be intact vessels.***

*Many thanks to Eldri for this analogy.

**Personally, I lost all financial stability, my marriage, half of my family, plenty of friends, and much more. These changes happened organically as I personally changed. Witchcraft changes you. In the end, you are not the person that starts study. And that is the point. I know a Witch that calls it "being cleft from the herd". It is like that- as a Witch, you are perpetually in-between. It can be an uncomfortable place to be, in a comfort-driven society. Many are unwilling to do this. That is a choice made by someone who is not called to be a Witch. I personally had no choice. At a certain point in my training, I realized I could only go forward, never back. There was no back. 

***We do have lots of interesting influences getting into the tradition gradually, through the initiates who live and breathe it daily. Some are Buddhist practitioners, are root doctors, or have other Witchcraft or cunning traditions that influence how they practice and pass on the tradition. For example, my oath mother was raised in an indigenous tradition and that flavors what she passes as well. So while we do not share with outsiders (who have not taken an oath to protect), the outside does get in.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Book Review: Operation Marriage by Cynthia Chin-Lee

Click here to order a copy.
Operation Marriage is all about gay marriage, LGBT families interacting with the rest of the world, prejudice and bigotry, and California's Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage after it had been approved in certain localities throughout the state.

Any family wanting to have a discussion about gay marriage and civil rights could use this book as a jumping off point- you don't have to be in California and know the ins and outs of the proposition itself to get something from this book.

In the story, a young girl's named Alex has a best best friend that tells her that he can no longer be friends with her, because her parents aren't married. Because her parents got together at a time when gay marriage was not legal, they had a commitment ceremony before adopting their children. Alex wants her moms married, and decides to launch "Operation Marriage" with her brother Nicky. The plan is to get their moms hitched before Proposition 8 bans gay marriage for everyone.

After much cute lobbying, the moms agree and Alex and Nicky get to be ring bearer and flower girl at their parents wedding. Afterwards, Prop 8 passes but her friend and friend's parents come around as well.

I like that the story deals with sadness and fear that comes from being different. It also deals with the frustration kids feel when singled out by bigotry. What I don't like is the light-handed treatment of marriage. While this is a kids book (and perhaps that is why the subject gets the treatment it does here), we are not privy to the moms' conversations about "why marriage" and so the whole subject comes off as "why not have a party?"I believe that the authors were trying to err on the side of kids' empowerment rather than get into heavy handed legal-ese about marriage- so I can still recommend this book to you.

Formal Rating:

Title: Operation Marriage
Author: Cynthia Chin-Lee and Lea Lyon
Publisher: PM Press and Reach and Teach Press
Price: $14.95 USD 
ISBN: 978-1-60486-422-9

Topics Covered: civil liberties, prejudice, youth empowerment, politics, LGBT issues, families

Target Audience: children ages 2-10
Witch Mom Rating: Two and a Half Hats
This book does a good job sorting out a politically loaded issue from a child's point of view. Aside from the children railroading their parents into a weighty legal decision, I think the book is a good asset to a child's library!

Friday, November 4, 2011

November is National Pomegranate Month

I found out that November is National Pomegranate Month a while back, and that is something worth celebrating. While the holiday is probably a lobbied holiday to sell more fruit, pomegranates are pretty awesome. Here are the reasons this Witch loves them:

The red seeded fruit is healthy! A pomegranate a day will supply you with a rich dose of heart-healthy antioxidants, help reduce blood pressure and the risk of blood clots, fight dental plaque, and may help prevent cancer.

Pomegranates have represented fertility for eons- because they are a sac with blood-red seeds and ooze a liquid like blood when juiced. In Chinese, the name is a pun for fecundity as well as the fruit! They are on the Emperess card in the tarot for a reason!

They have been associated with most goddesses across the world where they have grown, including Aphrodite, Kore/Persephone, the triune predecessor of Hera as well as Hera, and the Virgin Mary (which symbolizes her power of life over her son). It's not the only supernatural gift this fruit imparts: According to Wikipedia, Isfandiyar (Persian mythology) eats a pomegranate and becomes invincible, and in "The Persian War" Herodotus mentions golden pomegranates adorning the spears of warriors in the Persian phalanx.

That's quite a fruit- one of truly mythic proportions- after all, pomegranates may well have been the fruit of the tree of knowledge in the Bible, not an apple as most people think. After all, it makes sense that the forbidden fruit of Persephone is also the forbidden fruit of Eve.

According to this website, In ancient Syria, the god Rimmon (whose name means "Pomegranate") was akin to Jesus & Tamuz & Baal Hadad, a sacrificial divinity who passes temporarily through death, and whose resurrection is either instigated by or attended exclusively by women, nymphs, or goddesses. Many biblical personages and locations were named for this very god, who seems to have continued to be worshipped in the lands aportioned to Simeon and Zebulun. Rimmon seems for a while to have been a national deity overseeing lamentations for the death of Israel's kings. That is some history and mythology I had not learned before.

I make a pomegranate wine and look forward to making a pomegranate mead when I have bees of my own. I also use pomegranate juice for scrying, and pomegranates are offerings to Hekate and are on my money altar!

Do you use pomegranates in your Craft? 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My Master's Degree

Many of you know that I am in seminary, getting an M.Div from Starr King School for the Ministry. Many people who go through this program become ministers or chaplains. What am I going to do with my degree? I have decided to once again work with children* and help others who do so.

I am slowly but surely creating a homeschooling curriculum for people that want their children to have a multi-religious, multi-cultural, social justice-focused, child-driven curriculum. Next semester, I will begin actually writing the units that will serve as the examples of what the rest of the book (yes, I hope to be published!) will look like.
The world's religions, countries, and inspiring activists and artists will be studied. Issues like civil liberties and volunteerism will be critical in this curriculum, which will teach children and youth to read, write, think critically, analyze issues, and learn the scientific method.

Yes, indeed my son will learn math and science, too**. I am writing units on those subjects as well. The evolution unit will discuss Darwin (and how his theories were misused by those in power in the eugenics movement and in capitalism) as well as Kropotkin- another biologist in Darwin's time who discusses evolution not in terms of competition but cooperation. The unit will lead into a civil librties and critical thinking exercise about how some people use their religion as a reason to not learn about things like evolution and do not want others to learn it, either.

Do you homeschool? Why or why not? Did you create the curriculum, unschool, or use someone else's? Why?

*I have been a public school teacher, a mentor and tutor, and Girl Scout leader, and a Sunday school teacher. I continue to volunteer at my local UU church in the religious education department.

**This curriculum will serve me as well- as I intend on homeschooling my son.