Where the Wild Things Are: The Limits of Labels

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, June, 22, 2004.

A label is very limiting. When you label yourself a Wiccan, a Witch or even the more roomy Pagan, you are limiting yourself to certain acceptable/ acknowledged areas of belief.

I have never liked this aspect of being a Witch, Pagan, etc. There are times when I think I’m tired of being what others see as a Witch. I never quite fit in and my beliefs are definitely subject to change without notice.

But, there is no great alternative. When someone asks if you are Pagan or when you want to tell someone about your beliefs what do you say? It’s much easier to give them the known than to go into great and exacting detail about the unknown and all various details.

So, each time we call ourselves Wiccan, we limit ourselves. People take each other at face value too easily. They want to categorize everyone all neat and tidy. Perhaps it’s an organization fetish. But I think it’s something else, more selfish and primitive. When you can categorize someone you feel safe, think you know where they stand and what to expect from them.

Anyway, to myself I don’t call myself Pagan. But for others I allow them to go on believing I am. The drawback to that is that each time I say I’m Pagan I am reinforcing the idea that I actually am Pagan for myself as well as those around me. What you say will come true, one way or another. Words spoken can not be unspoken. Much like ghosts. I feel ghosts are remnants of emotions and words past. Lingering in the atmosphere, unable to dissipate once they have been created.

– Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.

— Buddha

Where the Wild Things Are: Teaching Pagan Ideas to Kids

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, February, 20, 2003.

What do you do with Pagan kids?

I think kids are too young to get started on the more serious side of being Pagan. Partly because they are too uninformed to make the decision to be Pagan versus something else. Also, calling themselves Pagan could become a problem with other members of the family or kids/ teachers at school. Most people don’t understand Paganism and thus they don’t trust it. Kids are a bit too defenseless in that situation.

That doesn’t mean kids can’t be Pagan too. Calling yourself Pagan is not being Pagan. What is being Pagan about, at it’s heart? To me it’s nature, the Earth, life, history, science, traditions and environmentalism. Is there any reason kids can’t be involved in those things, of course not. Kids just love to talk about the supernatural too, few kids don’t enough the spooky element of Halloween. You can add the facts about ghosts, Witches and such to their ghost stories.

Teach kids to appreciate nature, take them on walks outdoors, show them how to recycle and make it a priority to learn about history and science. Involve them in your rituals. Take them on a nature walk to gather leaves, stones, etc. Let them know what your altar is for, don’t make it a big mystery, but don’t make it sound too “weird” either. Get them started writing a journal, they don’t have to know it’s a Book of Shadows. Spend time with them, that’s the most important thing for any kids, Pagan or otherwise. Remember, they learn from you. What you do is what they see and what they believe.

You can introduce kids to the Wiccan Rede, the basic ideas behind Paganism and what you believe about Gods, Goddesses, life and death. But, make sure they understand not everyone shares your same beliefs. For one thing you want them to make their own decision about being Pagan. For another you don’t want them to be confused when they discover people who disagree with Pagan ideas.

Kids haven’t lived enough to have a deeper understanding and they don’t know how to protect themselves from those who think Pagans are evil, devil worshipping types. That’s the main reason I think I would just let kids see the heart of Paganism and introduce them to the body later. Likely, they will have had a life of living like a Pagan and it will be a very smooth transition to become Pagan officially.