Family Book of Shadows
The Cookie Baking Ritual
Earthwise: Cloth Diapers, by Ember
Monsters in the Closet, by Crystal
Requiem for a Hamster
Samhain Dumb Feast Ritual
Spiritual Cleansing 1: Posessions
Watchtowers, Candles and Children
New To School
This is a work in progress. It's something that we are living at the moment, and I want to share our triumphs and failures with you. I'd also LOVE to hear about your family's school experiences. You can email me or discuss this topic in sort-of real time on the Pagan Parenting Forum (sign-up is required). If you do choose to email me, let me know if it's OK to publish your story on these pages.
The local school system has taken the "coward's way out" of the whole Halloween controversy by scheduling a teacher's in-service day for October 31st and closing all the schools. I know that I should not complain at all about it, because this means I don't have to pull my child out of school for a religious holiday (even though we are celbrating Samhain on the day the sun is at 15 degrees of Scorpio, which places it on November 4th this year). I think I would feel better about it if they acknowledged it as a religious holiday, but I guess that's wishing for too much.
I suppose it's better to give everyone the day off instead of restricting behavior and banning costumes entirely (which is what they've done in recent years at the High School).
It's been a while since I've updated this column. Our daughter is in the second grade, now. There have been no incidents to relate in regards to religious intolerance in the school system. I'm not even sure that it's come up at school or among her friends. In answer to my own questions, I have done these things:
I chose not to publicize our religion to the school officials or our daughter's teachers. I have a "don't ask - don't tell" policy at the moment. I will answer honestly if I am asked a direct question by any adult or child about our spiritual beliefs, but I haven't gone to the PTA meeting and introduced myself, "Hi, I'm Mamawitch, and I'm a practicing eclectic Wiccan working with an Indo-Celtic pantheon! Nice to meet you!" Religion isn't really brought up. Neither is politics, for that matter (another subject for people to argue about endlessly for hours, for no great purpose). So far, the question hasn't come up.
That does not mean I haven't prepared for it. I'm sure it will come up sooner or later, especially as the children being raised Catholics approach their various rites (communion, confirmation and all that). There are children in my daughter's class who know she's being raised Pagan (because their mother is also Pagan).
I have kept her home on the occasional holiday. It's only been 2 or 3 times. Sometimes, I am guilty to admit, it's better for me to clean the house and do a private, solo ritual while she's in class so that the family can have the ritual when she gets home from school. I have also found some resistance in my husband for taking days off from work for our Sabbats. I can understand this partially (he works for himself, so he gets no paid vacation days), but the spirit DOES need time off from daily routines! Now that she's older, she can help around the house with cleaning (I still haven't got the knack of making it a game, though).
I also will admit I've been low-key with our spiritual practice in order to let the parents of my daughter's friends get to know us first. I figure that they can see how much we are all alike before they find out about all our differences.
I also think there is more conscious awareness of religious tolerance since the tragic events of the fall. Especially in this area, where there is a large Muslim community nearby, and there were many parents of children in our schools who worked at the WTC.
Our daughter will be starting public school this fall. In fact, we have just registered her, and met the principal and poked around the place. Up until this fall, she has been in a wonderful private daycare center, with great teachers and an atmosphere of tolerance and celebration of diversity (and there is quite a diverse population in the place). The teachers and staff know that we are Wiccan (because our daughter talks about the rituals she attends), but the parents didn't seem to be too aware of it. It's always a suprise to me when I "out" myself when I think that I'm already out!
My dilemma now is this: do I publicize our religion on day one of school? Do I pull her out of class for the major sabbats, and demand that she not have to use up her sick days to do it? This column will address these issues. I have the summer to research and compile a package that I will give the school.
On the plus side, we are in New Jersey, very close to a huge pocket of Hindus. I am hoping that local exposure to the Hindu form of polytheism will make ours a little more acceptable than if we were ensconced in the Bible Belt somewhere.