Raising Witches: Teaching the Wiccan Faith to Children, by Ashleen O’Gaea

raisingwitches

Raising witches is a structured view to teaching wicca to children. It advises it as a base paradigm for children as well as a book with curriculum that is easily translated into other traditions. Overall it does seem to follow what it advertises, although there are a few sections that I heartily- as a parent- disagree with. The book is divided into chapters on parenting, age groups, and sun day school.

In the introduction the book discusses the importance of children being grounded in the family religion as well as that of the community, heavily emphasizing that wicca is the best base paradigm for children of occult/pagan parents. Almost all of the points that they make supporting wicca as this choice- morals, ethics, and base paradigm for other paths- can be made by any traditional form of magic, for instance a simplified version of ceremonial comes to mind, as well as witchcraft, agnosticism, theology, and more. They also emphasize waiting to introduce children to multiple religions until they are older. I can’t help but think that this is one of the main reasons why the majority of Americans know so little about other religions- they’re only taught what is familiar and what the family believes. I think it’s important for our children to break away from this and to gain a working knowledge and familiarity with a variety of religions, and the sooner you start them, the more they will be open to learning about these other religions. Any one of the other traditions could easily be taught as a base paradigm as long as the parents emphasize morality and good citizenship in the home. It really doesn’t matter what religion your family follows, what it comes down to is the example led.

The next chapter is “Regency Parenting,” and serves as another introductory chapter to the style of parenting that the author advocates. While not necessarily a style I strongly agree or disagree with, its a nice reminder that children need to be allowed to find themselves. I think to some point it is a little more loosely structured than I could see myself implementing, and the tone taken in this section gives the impression that all other methods of parenting are subpar and unsafe for developing children. It also gives me the impression that it follows the style of non-parenting that seems to be particularly popular among people who assume that humanity is inherently good and doesn’t need rules, nor punishment. My experiences- particularly with children- have led me to believe that children need flexible boundaries and rules as well as punishment, not to mention that no one is going to say “Oh, you stole that candy bar? Well that’s alright. Just don’t do it again.” There are a few blessings and ritual milestones presented in this chapter; of them all I found the “Wiccaning” to be the most beneficial, as it could be easily changed and serve as a nice ceremony for a family and young child who wishes to be indoctrinated (page 27). These rites are a nice touch, and serve as initiations into different levels of life- a feature that is missing from most of our religions and one that impacts every life around us negatively (Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell). There’s also a very nice chart on the ages and stages of acceptable magic on page 32.

The chapter on Infancy really didn’t list much that wasn’t common sense. It encourages the use of chants for lullabies, “magical time,” candlelight, drumming, herbal baths, etc. I found the section on touching auras (pages 39 and 40), particularly applicable for children. The color rhyme on page 46 is very useful, and my preschool aged child loves it. It goes like this:

Red is for life, orange for balance
Yellow’s for thought and developing talents
Green is for nature and blue is for spirit
Indigo’s peace; be quiet to hear it.
Violet’s primal, enchanted and fine:
They make up the rainbow, and you make it shine.

Early Childhood covers ages 1 to 5, and emphasizes the need to learn. Pages 55 and 56 cover effective ways for children to vent their anger, including drawing pictures and stomping. It covers imaginary friends and the power of myth in small children. Page 58 discusses gifting compasses to small children. On page 61 it covers the concept of “Story spells,” one I hadn’t come across before, but which I felt was a simplified version of a hypersigil almost. There are a variety of things discussed in this chapter, among them children and alcohol use at ritual, robe making, altars, and a few simple spells (the ones on pages 88 and 89 are great). The wheel of the year section on page 81 is a concept that could be easily altered for a variety of pagan based religions, and would teach basic concepts like seasons and holidays. The section on healing friends (page 86) is also an excellent one, helping simplify the difficulty of explaining how magic works at its base form to children.

Later childhood covers ages 6 to 11, and build upon the last chapter’s work. The book, and this chapter especially, features a heavy emphasize on correspondences. The need for secrecy is discussed in this chapter, as well as pet blessings (page 97), animal and garden work, skyclad, as well as origin and history of wicca. The pagan history listed on pages 105 and 106 is a decent introduction to the history of the occult for children- it’d be easy to add to and take away from. This chapter also has an emphasize on the physical changes of children’s bodies.

Adolescence covers ages 12 to 15, and continues to build upon prior knowledge. This chapter features a guided meditation, which left me wondering why they waited so long to introduce meditation. Meditation has been proven (through various scientific studies) to be beneficial to young children. There is also a detailed overview and discussion of the Wiccan Rede and Three-fold law. While this offers a good moral gauge for middle schoolers, I’m sure there are a number of others that would work just as well.

Young Adulthood is 16+, and covers taking young adults on retreats, driving, the book of shadows, and dedication. The Toast for young adults presented on page 152 would make a very nice rite of passage, as would the driver’s blessing on page 155. The practice of making a “craft name” for oneself is discussed in this chapter as well. The section on Book of Shadows was interesting and informational, whether you choose to do yours as formally as they present.

The next section is “Sun Day School,” and discusses the advantages and disadvantages to teaching wicca to a group of children. I found the majority of the answers to the questions presented in this section to be oversimplified and/or unrealistic. Despite this, this section is probably the best section in this book. It lists all of the pros and cons to presenting a formal education in the occult, as well as the issues that may present, and an example curriculum/syllabus. This section would be an excellent resource for any occult coven/group to refer to as a base line on what to include in their version of a sunday school. Their sun day school feathered a focus on “history, theology, cosmology, ethics, rituals, lore, and magic” (page 180), which are all excellent focuses for any occult paradigm. The craft ideas on page 181 are an excellent resource as well

This book is a decent book for someone who is interested in teaching the occult to children- especially if they are following a wiccan or witchcraft paradigm. The photo quality is less than desirable, but there is enough good information to counter all of the information one may disagree with.

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