Guest Post: Apparently Pagan   1 comment

By Marlise Ditchweed, Guest Blogger
Marlise Ditchweed is a wandering witch lost in Pittsburgh from her home of OKC. She has a family based group with her husband and two children that has set up shop in the North Hills. Her formal training is in Georgian Witchcraft but prefers the freedom of the eclectic mix of seeking many paths.

“You aren’t going to raise your baby in that strange religion of yours, are you?” Those words slipped from my mother’s lips as I sat rubbing my swelling stomach and picking out a pattern for the nursery. It hadn’t occurred to me before that moment that I had a choice. I was raised that when you belonged to a family, you were expected to be a member of that family’s religion. Beliefs were only up for debate once you left home and tried to ‘find’ yourself. “Why wouldn’t I?” I responded. The answer came out as very matter-of-factly, but over the next several years, I would contemplate long and hard on that answer.

When it comes to raising spiritual children, there are so many positions to consider, so many points to note. As pagans we often take up the mantra that children should be exposed to many religions and allowed the freedom to choose on their own with no heavy hand to any particular path. I have met many parents who hold this practice. I respect their choice and believe it to be the better option when the other choice is the opposite agenda where you study only one truth and refuse to allow other paths to be acknowledged as a valid option. But I can’t help but feel that this technique leads to generic agnostic adults who no longer pursue spiritual goals. I have heard many people speak of their childhood where religion was left as an open ended topic but not one actively encouraged. This approach has led to adults who ‘believe in God’ but ‘don’t believe like other people’. After talking with many of these people it is revealed that they really just don’t have any true definitive beliefs or at the very least, feel no pull to subscribe to any.

On the other hand, many of us have become pagan in the first place because we were reaching out against the constricting parameters of a faith that was being enforced by our well meaning parents. If we do the same to our offspring will they rebel right into the arms of the very dogma that we fought to escape? Can we pretend to not be hurt when they don’t choose our path?

So where is the happy medium, where do we find that balance that we seek to teach? And should it even be a question in the first place?

We teach our children our morals and values. We teach them about our priorities, either through action or apathy. And yet when it comes to faith, we of the religious fringe take a step back in fear of pushing our own Gods onto our fragile free spirited children. What? The very core of our souls, the journey of spiritual pursuits, the activity of seeking the divine to commune with and this… THIS we hold close and sheepishly shy away from sharing in a structured way?

No. I believe the pagan community and all its varied religious sects offers the best of the past with the future and it offers the potential to advance us as individuals, groups and humanity. This we should teach our children with the same passion that we should feel for faith everyday.

In this house, we are pagan. All of us. But unlike the mistake of the matriarchs that raised me, we have not removed the truths that come from other religions. We share them, we talk about them and sometimes we have to research them to know better. But mostly we acknowledge them and then go back to our belief system and return to our own lessons.

And my mother? She has become a champion for my path. Steering me to seek counsel from my Goddess when my way was blurred. She has planned rituals and made costumes. She has purchased circle supplies and constructed props. She even calls to confirm that the gifts she plans to buy the girls are OK. She doesn’t hold my beliefs, but she has seen that it has made me happy and brought me peace. She has seen that it is a gift to give her grandchildren. And the answer to her question 14 years ago “You aren’t going to raise your baby in that strange religion of yours, are you?” remains the same. “Why wouldn’t I?”


Posted January 3, 2012 by otterblossom in Personal Essays

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One response to “Guest Post: Apparently Pagan

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  1. I was interestingly raised in a household that had both Christian and Pagan practices. My father was very good at encouraging me to attend all the different faiths once I was about 10 years old. I went to Eastern Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Franciscan, Methodist, Baptist and Gospel churches as well as rites of his shamanistic path in the following 5 years or so after that. I am always grateful for having been raised that way. I was never faced with the ideas most children are that convince, suggest or otherwise “help” them choose a path of faith. I think it has given me a great amount of tolerance for all paths that I might not have otherwise. I really love hearing that there are other households that, as you say, acknowledge other paths and systems.

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