In the Mirror – From the Womb to the Cauldron: Growing Up With Religion
By Raven Corvidea
As the seasons change, and spring draws nearer, we see evidence of rebirth all around us. The sun begins rising earlier in the day, and lingers in the night sky a little longer with every sunset, preparing the earth for planting, and birth. Seeds are placed in soil, and with tender love and care, they sprout into seedlings and eventually grow into the trees, flowers and foods that line our spring and summertime landscapes. As infants grow into small children, small children grow into teenagers, and teenagers grow and eventually become adults, they are first exposed to religion by those people they interact with regularly- namely their parents (or guardians). They learn the beliefs and practices associated with their particular religion, and the world they are exposed to help to form their opinion of that religion, and whether it will be the religion followed through adulthood.
Children, born into a Pagan family, learn at an early to respect Mother Earth and all of the living things that are a part of her. The education they receive about their religion in a similar fashion to children of other religions. They are taught about the Sabbats, and when parents feel the time is right, they may be introduced into other aspects of Paganism that their family practices, for example spell work and candle magick. They may also learn about other “occult” topics such as Tarot, astrology, numerology and such. Being raised as a Pagan child in today’s society does have its disadvantages. For instance, most Pagans don’t advertise their religious beliefs in a public forum so there can be a significant lack of peer groups focusing on religion. The negative connotations that surround the word “Pagan” tends to keep families “in the broom closet” to the general public, only really disclosing their beliefs to other like-minded Pagans and Pagan groups.
Other religions don’t have the same public stigma that Paganism does, and those children are able to worship their respected deities both in private and in public settings. Catholic and Christian children are brought up through their churches. They attend mass on a regular basis. They are taught that they are defined by their religion and that everything they do has an ultimate consequence in the afterlife: heaven and hell. Catholic children attend Sunday school to learn about Jesus Christ and the holidays that the Church has absorbed as their own. Both Catholic and Christian followers, as well as most of the predominate religions, go out into communities with intent to recruit new followers.
A prime example of religious proselytization can be found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Single Mormon men and women in their late teens and early twenties are expected to serve on missions: travel to other countries and preach the word of Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ, in an attempt to convert new followers to their church. Service can be either part-time or full-time, though the majority of Mormon missionaries are full-time. They also provide community and humanitarian services to the area they are assigned. There are currently 347 missions operating worldwide.
This is only a sampling of the large number of religions that exist in the world today. This is not to say that other religions do not have obstacles in educating their youth on the practices and teachings that they hold sacred. With every religion, there are aspects that are easy to introduce and follow, and there are other aspects that are difficult to embrace in the presence of persons who heard the calling of another path. As with all religions, Paganism has its followers and its non-believers. There are those people who raise their children openly and teach them everything that they have learned from their parents and their parents’ parents. There are also people who practice while shrouded in a cloak of secrecy, behind closed doors in the comfort of their own homes.
Unfortunately, until society as a whole accepts the fact that everybody has the right to worship whatever deity or deities they choose, there will be people who feel forced to worship in private. Religion should be a source of spirituality and peace- not something to be feared. If people continue to be unwilling to educate themselves about religions other than their own, their ignorance will continue to influence how we pass on our religious beliefs to our children.
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