Many people are suspicious of witches and all the more so if the practitioner has young children. They seem to fear that witches will exert some kind of evil influence on innocent minds. In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. Children of Wiccans are almost invariably kind to animals and aware of environmental issues.
Some groups have family celebrations and no responsible parent would introduce their children to any experiences before they were ready, least of all Wiccans to whom life is sacred and children the blessing of the Goddess.
Lisa, a Wiccan from Berkshire, describes how her daughter has grown up:
'Becoming a mother has touched me more deeply than I could ever have imagined. I am sure that every mother, pagan or otherwise, has felt and appreciated the magical connection between mother and child: eyes and hearts locked together during a breast feed; waking to silence in the middle of the night, only to hear the baby wake and cry out moments later; being able to recognise one's own child's cry in a room full of noisy babies.
'Being a pagan has brought all of these experiences into a spiritual focus that has brought me closer to the Goddess in a way that I don't think could have happened if I hadn't chosen to become a parent. It has allowed me to experience the Mother aspect first-hand; it gave new meaning to the moon cycles of a woman, it allowed me to become the microcosm of the great Earth Mother as I watched my own body grow and give birth to a new life. It gave me the protective instinct of Sekhmet [the lion-headed Egyptian goddess of fertility], when I realised that I would fight to the death to protect my child. It showed me the true and profound power of the female body; to create and sustain life within the body, to bring forth that life and nurture it with a perfect food made by the body.
All of these are precious gifts to me as they are all a reflection of my deepest spiritual belief and faith. When my daughter Skye is older, I will share with her what I have learned. For now, we just walk in the forest or along the river and my partner Jim and I give her the opportunity to explore her environment. She already has an image of faeries, elves and other magical beings and we try to encourage her to see the spirit in the tree or in the running water. We collect stones and leaves just to look at and admire their colour or shape. Some we take home, but most we leave where we find them. Skye loves these adventures and I am so happy to be part of her experience.
'On the sabbats, we and our friends celebrate with seasonal games, activities, myths and feasts, and the children in our lives are always eager and excited to join in. Skye is still a bit young for much of it, but even a two-year-old can dance around a maypole, pick berries, plant seeds and help bake bread or biscuits. It's exciting to think that the Wheel of the Year will have deep significance to her; that Samhain and Beltain will hold the same excitement that Christmas held for me as a child.
'I don't know if Skye will ultimately choose Wicca as her spiritual path, but I feel that growing up in a pagan home will give her the best tools for making choices in her life. She will learn to be aware of her environment and will feel a part of it, not above or outside it. Hopefully, this will inspire her to care for it and for others around her, and to encourage others to do the same. Wicca is self-governing, and I hope that Skye will have integrity and confidence in herself.
'Having a goddess as well as a god in her life will certainly give her a better spiritual balance than either Jim or I had as children. I wish for her to be strong and sure of her self, and not to be afraid to challenge or be challenged. Paganism certainly provides a framework for this, and regardless of the spiritual path she chooses, I believe that growing up with these values will help her immeasurably in her life.
'She is a perfect child of the gods: unspoiled and innocent of the limitations humankind have created
I have said that magick comes from within the individual, as a spontaneous expression of a higher force. This is not to suggest that it is entirely haphazard, however. In this chapter we shall look briefly at some general aspects of its theory and practice. At the end, I have included a simple ritual to illustrate some of these points.
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