As the modern Pagan movement progresses and evolves, the Pagan community has grown to encompass people of all age levels. Those who discovered Paganism as teens or college students two or three decades ago are now raising their own children, and so the demographic within the Pagan community is constantly changing. It's not uncommon at all to meet families in which one or both parents are Pagans or Wiccans, and they may have kids who follow a variety of religious paths.
One of the questions that arises, though, is that of how to include children in Pagan practice. After all, it's not as though there's a Pagan version of Sunday school for us to send our kids off to. Don't worry, though -- there are a number of different ways you can include your kids in your Pagan beliefs, and get them involved. Although the type of activity you do with them may vary based upon age levels, you can always find some way to incorporate Pagan values and beliefs into your kids' lives.
Activity: Do a hands-on nature project. Take a hike in the woods, gather found objects like pinecones and fallen twigs. Bring them home and put them together in a glass vase or some other centerpiece.
Teaching moment: Talk about the cycles of the season, and how all of nature is tied together. Depending on the time of year, discuss the phases of life, death, and rebirth in the natural world.
Activity: Make a wand. Even a small child can decorate a stick with glitter.
Teaching moment: Use this opportunity to help your child learn about directing energy. Help him or her visualize energy as something they can control using the wand to direct it.
Activity: Create a felt board. Cut out shapes of Pagan symbols, gods and goddesses of your tradition, or magical tools out of scraps of craft felt, and help your child place them on the board.
Teaching moment: Encourage imagination -- your child can use the felt board and pieces to illustrate a story of her own about the deities, magic, or the world in general.
Activity: Let your kids have an altar. Allow your child to create an altar space of his own, with the gods and goddesses of your family's tradition. If you don't follow a specific path, let him put things on their altar such as found items, natural goodies, and items of comfort.
Teaching moment: Letting your child have his own altar shows them that their needs are valued as much as anyone else's in the family. It gives them a space that is private and sacred of their very own.
Activity: School-age children can often participate in rituals, if they have a decent attention span. You know your child better than anyone, and if you think she is capable of taking a ritual role, then encourage that.
Teaching moment: This helps your child develop a feel for ritual procedure, as well as proper behavior in a ritual setting. Equally important, it lets her know that her participation in family activities is valued.
Activity: Encourage your child to learn about the deities of your family's tradition. There are countless books about the mythology and legends of the Greeks, the Celts, the Romans, the Egyptians, and others. Keep a good library of Pagan-friendly books on hand, and spend some time reading together as well.
Teaching moment: You're never too young to do a little research. Giving kids the tools to read and grow can't hurt at all, and it allows them to take some ownership of their spiritual education.
Activity: If your teen is up to the task, ask him to write a ritual of his own, with only as much help as he needs. Teenagers are surprisingly inventive, and can come up with some amazing ideas. Pick a Sabbat or other event, and have your teen create a ceremony that the whole family can participate in.
Teaching moment: Not only does this encourage creative thinking, it helps develop leadership skills. It's never too soon to get a chance at being in charge.
Activity: Kids of any age can get involved with Sabbat-themed craft ideas. Try some of our different Sabbat crafts to celebrate the ever-changing Wheel of the Year, and use these to decorate your home and altar.
Teaching moment: By doing hands-on projects related to the various Sabbats, kids can get a better feel for what the Pagan celebrations really mean. Depending on your tradition, incorporate craft projects into stories, legends, and mythology.
Finally, remember that the best way to set a good example of Pagan practice for your kids is to show them yourself. If you want to stress values such as being kind to others, respecting the earth, and living a magical life each day, then do so. Your kids will see your behavior and emulate it themselves.
Recommended Reading for Pagan Parents
- Madden, Kristin: Pagan Parenting. Madden's book focuses looks at the development of kids from birth onward. She includes tips on how to encourage your children's psychic and magickal abilities, as well as teaching them rituals and meditation skills.
- Serith, Ceisiwr: The Pagan Family. Serith looks at raising a family in non-mainstream religions, and offers dozens of excellent suggestions on how to incorporate Pagan beliefs into day-to-day living. This book is presently out of print, but it pops up a lot on used-book lists, so keep an eye out for it.
- Starhawk: Circle Round - Raising Children in Goddess Traditions. Starhawk and fellow authors Anne Hill and Diane Baker include numerous ideas for each Sabbat, life milestones, and craft and recipe ideas. This book offers some excellent suggestions for families trying to instill Pagan beliefs into their children.