It’s my son’s 9th birthday. He’s working on a monster right now. 9 years feels like a very long time ago, of course to him it’s a lifetime. My tigerboy started going to rituals when he was a few months old. While being pagan informs a lot of how I am and how I live, I did not, in the early years, seek to raise him as deliberately pagan.
When he started attending a Church of England primary school, he found Christianity was being taught as a factual subject in the same way he was learning science, maths and reading. For him, there was no discernable difference and this caused him some trouble. I remember a conversation on the way home from school. “Jesus saves us,” James announced. “From what?” I asked. He had no answer, and recognised that he had no idea what it was supposed to mean, or why it was a good thing. Dealing with Christianity at school and talking to me about what he’d learned, he eventually decided whatever he was, he wasn’t a Christian. He asked “what am I?” and I said “what do you want to be?” So he asked what it is that I do, and we started talking about it. That autumn, aged 6, he opted out of acts of worship in school, whilst deciding to do all the cultural and social aspects of Christianity. He also decided that he wanted to learn Druidry so I set about teaching him.
We’ve done the teaching slowly and in an informal sort of way, as and when things come up. He has a keen appreciation of nature, a questing mind and a passion for philosophy. My tigerboy will happily spend chunks of time contemplating the nuances of ethical dilemmas. He likes to ask big questions, and ‘why?’ is a regular feature of conversations.
At the moment, my boy is doing druid stuff no doubt in part because it’s what’s there. I think there’s a lot about pagan religion that resonates with him. The ethical values and green consciousness will, I think stay with him as he grows. It will be interesting to see how he develops as a spiritual person.
I think many people who grow up in religious backgrounds have the experience of being directed, given one truth. I have no idea where my son will go, given support to be a spiritually aware person, but no pressure to manifest that in any specific way. If he decided to be an atheist, or pick up some other faith, I’d respect that decision. In the meantime, we have a birthday to celebrate, and monsters to draw.