“I didn’t grow up Wiccan.” most older Wiccans, including myself, will tell you. Most of us were raised in “traditional” spiritual paths – Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, etc. Finding dissatisfaction, something lacking, many of us searched long and hard for a spiritual path until we found Wicca, which seems to encompass more of the philosophies we held/hold about life.
Now we have children and even grandchildren. In Wicca, what does that mean for them? Being a parent and grandparent, and also being very human, we would like to see our children and grandchildren follow the path of our faith because of the peace and joy it has brought to us. There is a difference between Wiccan parents/grandparents and those of other spiritual paths. We truly believe that each individual should have the right to choose their spiritual path and that includes our children and grandchildren.
In many faiths, children are seen to reach the age of “manhood” or “womanhood” at a specific designated age. Often this age has to do with physical changes that occur at certain ages, usually around the age of 12 or 13, sometimes a little later. In Wicca, we view this age of transcendence from childhood to take place at 12 or 13. In some traditions, there are even rites of passage to celebrate this stage of life. It is at that age we feel the choice could be made as to what spiritual path a child wishes to follow.
What about before then? How do we handle their spirituality? In some traditions there are rituals called Infant Blessings (some call them “seignings”). When a child is born, as parents, we want them to be watched over, blessed, protected. A “baptism” to us would be incorrect, as we are not asking for them to be entered into our faith. That, after all, will be their choice later on. We can, however, ask for the blessings and protection of the deities we worship until that time comes for them to choose.
And what about spiritual ‘education’? Einstein said imagination is more valuable than knowledge. He was so right. Most adults were handicapped at an early age by being forced to live too deeply in the realms of ‘reality.’ There is a connection between the realms of the Spirit and the realms of imagination. They are both of a higher vibration than the ‘reality’ we are faced with in our everyday lives. So, step one in raising a child born into a Pagan/Wiccan household: Encourage the use of imagination. This can be done through many creative avenues including art, music, reading, poetry and more.
There’s more though. It’s difficult to make such an important decision about one’s spiritual path if you have not experienced other faiths. While it is wonderful to share your beliefs and practices with your child, don’t place limits on their ability to experience the practices of other faiths. If they show an interest in seeing a Christian church service, take them or let them go with someone you know and trust. The same holds true for Catholic mass or services of the Jewish faith or any other. At the very least, help them read and research the beliefs and practices of faiths that are different from your own. Answer the questions you can, without bias, and help seek the answers you don’t have. Even if they ultimately choose to be Wiccan, they will end up with a very well-informed spiritual background. It’s good to understand those who practice differently than you do.
Reading fairy tales such as those of the Brothers Grimm and reading Aesop’s fables also aid to inform the mind and expand the imagination. Of course, reading mythology will help them to understand the many traditions of Wicca.
There’s also the immense value of getting them outside to enjoy and learn about Nature. Do you gather your own herbs? Share that with your child. Teaching them about the trees, plants, birds and animals also gives them an appreciation of all that our planet has to offer. Who knows? It could cause them to look at working in Nature when they get older. Looking at the night sky and showing them the constellations or enjoying a meteor shower or the Full Moon can bring delight and wonder. There’s also always the chance they might become an astronomer or astrologer.
The point is to give them as much resource and as many tools as possible, from as early an age as possible, so that when the time comes they can decide from both a place of knowledge and also from a place of feeling.
When that time arrives, should they decide that Wicca is the path they wish to follow, a rite is performed to acknowledge that choice. In the tradition I follow, that rite is called a Seigning. Yes, some traditions use this to refer to an infant blessing. However, in my tradition, we see ’seigning’ to mean a naming for, in this rite, they choose the spiritual name they will be known by and called inside the Circle as well as often called when amongst friends and family.
All that mythology, as well as Nature study, helps when choosing a name. The name should represent something the child aspires to become. For example, the name Fawn might be chosen because they see themselves as a young Deer and want to develop the ability to listen and be keenly watchful while also being gentle and compassionate. Most God/Goddess names are pretty heavy energetically for a child to take on so they are encouraged to take on the name of an animal, bird, plant, etc. Most of us have had more than one magickal name, especially when we have fulfilled the aspects of a name and now feel it’s time to take on another that we aspire to. So, this is just the beginning name. Help them to ease into the lessons that come with the taking of a name.
Once the Seigning has taken place, formal training begins. This all depends on the tradition that you follow. Studies can include learning rituals, meditation, getting to know themselves, mythology, herbology, astrology, energy healing, etc. Of most importance, in my opinion, is the teaching of the One Law: “And ye harm none, do what thou wilt.” It’s not just a set of words. From the beginning, a young adult should understand what that means and how it is practiced. If your tradition also practices the Seven Tenets, then these, too, should be thoroughly explained as to meaning and practice.
Through it all, we, as parents and grandparents, must allow them to choose, even if they choose a path other than ours. We must also encourage them to use their imaginations as much as their minds; to feel as much as think. Only then will they find their path and their purpose.