Night Witch - Life and Times of a Nocturnal Pagan

Paganism and Parents: Advice for Pagan Children

January 11, 2012
I just got a piece of email from a girl re: a comment I made on this Catholic article about a book on the dangers of Wicca, thanking me for my telling my story and how I gave her hope about being a Pagan child of restricting Christian parents. Lauren said that both she and her mother are natural healers and that she often recieved crystals as gifts, but after her parents read the aforementioned book, she was forced to throw them out. She has never come out of the broom closet, and is afraid to now more than ever, and feels as though her only outlet and method of practice is now gone. 

So here's the response I wrote to her:

Thanks so much for your kind words, Lauren. It's nice to know that my words make an impact on somebody. ^.^

I tend to find that argumentative speech with practitioners of other faiths only makes the situation worse. When my parents first found out about my conversion, things went really badly. My father is a convert to Catholicism from being a Southern Baptist, so he's more studied in Catholicism than most that are born into it, and he and I would fight like cats and dogs over my beliefs and he nearly pushed me away until a friend of mine whom he had never met but who had heard me fighting on the phone with him took the phone when I ran away from the conversation out of anger and frustration and told him that, whatever he was doing, all he was succeeding in was pushing me away. 

Now, our conversations take on a much more intellectual tone, and tend to focus on the philosophies of beliefs. My father's favorite topic tends to be challenging the Rede, and it gives me some practice in clarifying my personal beliefs and new ways to look at problems and find answers for myself, and there are times where he'll bring up issues that I haven't thought about before. In the challenge that he presents, I learn and grow. 

I suppose what I'm saying is, if you choose to talk to your parents about your faith, remember to keep it calm and direct, express your emotions with your words and try to avoid attacking them, even if they attack you and your faith. The truth behind their reaction is most likely because they are worried for you. I know my parents were, and I think they still might be, but they understand now that they won't shame me or trick me into leaving my faith, and the best they can do is ask me questions and have open dialogue with me about my beliefs, and then voice theirs. 

My favorite way to tell people my ground rules for religious discussion is to say that I enjoy conversation and even debate about religion, but the minute someone starts preaching, the conversation is over, and I'm not listening. It's a challenge to others to keep a truly open mind (open-mindedness is the willingness to examine a point of view and decide for yourself how valid you believe it to be, not to believe what someone says just because), and a challenge to myself to do the same. 

I'm sorry that you have such troubles with your family, and I wish you luck in your life and your relationship with them. Try to see it from their perspective and remember that they love you, even if you feel like they're smothering you or restricting you. The Gods give us challenges to overcome and make us stronger, more capable people. In this case, emotional outburst may happen, and you may be its target, but your challenge is to remain calm and reasonable, and to wait out the emotional flood until they are calm enough to discuss. 

I generally leave my beliefs unmentioned in my house, keep my Tarot cards out of sight, and leave my statues and candles in my room when I go home, and wait for my parents to ask me something or start the conversation. I wait for an appropriate time to talk about it because it is their space and they aren't entirely comfortable with my practices, so I leave it to them to decide when they want to face it. That may be what you end up having to do. It's been a struggle of about 5 years at this point to get here, so be patient. 

In addition to this, I've got a few more points to make in general about interfaith discussion and coming out of the broom closet.

The major problem I see when one faith talks about another, or during interfaith conversation, is misunderstandings that root in the language used by the religion. No, I'm not talking about language like French, Spanish, and English, but the vocabulary of the faith and the particular definitions used. For example, Catholicism uses the words worship, honor, and pray to to mean different things, while Pagans and Protestants think of worship and honor and pray to as interchangable terms for the same concept. This is where the misconception of Catholics worshipping Mary and the Saints comes from. God (the Trinity, where God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are one entity with 3 facets, much like the Triple Goddess, lovelies) is worshipped as the Creator and the All-Powerful and is the entity through which all miracles and blessings, etc. occur. Mary is honored as the Mother of Christ, an elevated being born without original sin and chosen by God to be the mother of the Savior, and is prayed to in hopes that she will intercess on behalf of the supplicant. The Saints are similarly honored for being messengers and vessels for God, and are prayed to for intercession and for help in the various areas that God grants them the power to help with. The concept of a patron saint (such as St. Jude, the patron saint of children and hopeless causes) is similar to arts patronage; the saint focuses energy and prayers on certain causes and topics, and vice versa is given power by God to help with those things. (Their area of patronage tends to relate to their causes and focuses in life.) 

However, Pagans use the term worship in relation to their patron deities, honor in reference to deities outside their normal interactions, and prayer as interaction with the Divine. 

Let me point something out: pray is interchangable with ask in English. Thus, the phrase pray tell is equivalent to please explain or tell me. So, to pray is to ask something, whether it's asking for help, information, or even that the subject of your prayer be honored by your attention. (Not the best phrasing, but I can't think of another way to say that.) 

It's not so much that x faith is against y faith, but is more likely that there's a massive miscommunication between them because there's a whole different lexicon for x than for y. 

So here's the advice: make sure to be as clear as possible when using faith-specific words or words that have a different definition in your faith than in your parents' faith (or whomsoever you're talking to), or try to use the equivalent term that they would recognize. Ritual is essentially liturgy or service or Mass in Christian (or Roman Catholic in the last case) terms, magick is working with your Gods (I find it useful to relate magick with Divinity to the adage "God helps him who helps himself"), prayer is a request for support and a way to feel connected to your Gods. There are, of course, concepts that don't necessarily translate, so it can be a task to explain them to someone with no frame of reference. 

The thing I also feel I need to stress is this: it's okay to admit that you don't know or that you haven't addressed something that someone may bring up. For example, my father challenged me on the basis of the Rede that my wearing my pentacle where he could see it caused him harm because he saw it as a sign of Satan's deceiving me away from God and that, by the Rede, I should take it off so I didn't harm him. (For reference, the full version that I use says An it harm none, do as ye Will; An it cause harm, do as ye wish.) I responded that his wearing his cross in plain view caused me harm because it made me feel alienated and cornered when I came home from school because I wasn't accepted by my family because I was Pagan, but it's unreasonable for me to ask him to hide his cross because I felt uncomfortable. But, he responded, it's not a Catholic belief to harm none, but it is a Wiccan one. (I'm not Wiccan, but it still follows since I do use a form of the Rede.) I responded that it's harming me to remove my pentacle because, in addition to its being the sign of my faith, I see it as an amulet and a form of protection from harmful influence and, none in the Rede includes myself, so I cannot harm myself just because he says I'm harming him. 

Which brought up the question: what do you do when the problem harms one person, but the solution harms yourself? I hadn't thought of that. 

A lot of Pagans feel that we need to be able to snap back with a quick answer to any question someone throws at us. Well, the Christians might be able to do that in simple cases (and they might think the questions they're asking are simple), but the highly individual nature of Pagan paths means that we don't have rote answers to issues. And, if they were to be honest, most Christians don't think about the more complex issues for themselves, and the Church or their pastor or the Bible may not have a direct answer. For all religions, the moral code is a guideline for decision-making. The Rede is the basic reference to decide whether to proceed with an action and how to do so. There is a thought process that simply outlines how to approach a situation:
Does it cause harm? 
No: Then do as your conscience and spirit guide you to do.
Yes: Then do what you feel must be done, and do what you can to minimize the harm caused and to treat the harm that cannot be avoided.
Is this important enough to risk causing harm?
What harm can be caused?
Can it be avoided, and if so, how?
If not, what can I do to put the harm right? 
Is this important enough to risk the harm? 

It's not a hard-and-fast rule; it's an ideal to which we aspire. Explain that, and the thought process the Rede is intended to lay out. Explain that "do what you Will" doesn't translate to "do whatever you want," but that the Will is your higher conscience and spiritual purpose, and that you should do what it guides you to do and attempt to minimize your harmful impact on the world around you and yourself. Draw the connection for them between the Rede and the Golden Rule ("Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"). 

I hope that I'm being helpful. All I can do is go off of my personal experience and recommend what's worked for me. 

I will post some links to episodes of the Pagan Centered Podcast (http://pagancenteredpodcast.com) when their website is back up and running - their hosting service was facing imminent flooding of their server housing as of a couple days ago and the servers were shut down to minimize damage. 

 
 

Email questions!

December 26, 2011
Oh, excitement! I got my first bit of email back in October (I know, it's been a few months, but anyway) from a lovely girl named Selena. I asked her if I could put her emails and my answers on the blog, and she said yes, so here's the transcripts!

Hello Miss Myst,
My name is Selena, I was wondering if you could tell me more about being a Nocturnal Pagan.  I've been trying to find my religion and I came across Dark Paganism while looking at Neo-Pagan religions and found Nocturnal Paganism by ex...

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The Yule/Christmas Debate and Why It's Utterly Ridiculous and Embarrassing

December 26, 2011

I really don’t understand why Pagans and Christians have to spend a season that is supposed to focus on internal examination, celebration of the return of the light, and the coming of the Solar God (whether it’s Sol Invictus, Mithras, or the symbolically-Solar Jesus Christ) arguing abo...


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Thanksgiving Issues: What's the issue?

November 25, 2011
For some of my readers, I'm going to sound like a total heartless bitch with my next statement. I'm sorry, but it's my real opinion, and I ask that you at least read the whole entry before you judge. And please, feel free to comment.

I think the people making a huge deal over Native American rights and appropriation and what-have-you are just wasting their breath. No, really. Nobody's listening. Nobody cares on Thanksgiving because they're watching the football game, the Macy's Thanksgiving Da...
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I am so sorry, everyone....

August 21, 2011
I know, I know. It's been since April that I've posted anything. And my life has gone and turned itself on its head in the meantime. 

So as not to pull the drama into my blog, I won't go into my extreme hatred of the girl involved in my breakup, I have broken up with my fiance, and so I am now single. I'm not sure how well I'm handling this, but I've been told that my management of emotions and my responses to them is actually healthy, so I'm supposedly doing well. Still hurting, but I'll live...
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Destruction in Alabama

April 29, 2011

As some of you may know, I live in North Alabama, USA. As more of you may know, yesterday, 27 April 2011, North Alabama, as well as the Birmingham and Tuscaloosa areas, was hit by three waves of extremely intense tornadic storms that generated 128 tornados. Huntsville, my hometown and where I was located, had 28 form and/or touch down in its limits, and Birmingham and Tuscaloosa were hit by tornados that I heard were classified as EF5 tornados. Parts of the cities and U of Alabama are now f...


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Bad Pagan attitudes

April 24, 2011

I follow the #pagan tag, and it’s Easter (Happy Easter to my Christian friends, by the way), and almost everything I see is some bitchy comment about how Easter is a stolen Pagan holiday with an attitude to suggest that it is invalid just because it happens to share timing and themes with Ostara. 

Why are you all being such asses? 

This happens on nearly every major Christian holiday, and you wonder why so many people hate us. I’m ashamed to be a member of the community when this happens. I...


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It's time for a Change...

April 17, 2011

Tonight is the Full Moon, the brightest time for a Night Childe like myself. The velvet black is midnight blue tonight, and Selene, another Childe of Nyx, shines down in the darkness, a full woman now. Tonight is the time for metamorphosis. 

Things have been painful, recently. I’ve felt childish, overemotional, unbalanced. I’ve injured myself, both physically and emotionally, and I feel unfulfilled. Tonight, my blood cries for a change. My soul screams for fullness of being, and my body fe...


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Yuletide and Personal Examination

December 19, 2010

In recent weeks, I’ve found myself in a bit of an unclear situation spiritually. I’m honestly in a bit of a slump. My life has been so dialed in on my schoolwork and mundane life that my spirituality and my magick have fallen by the wayside. Perhaps, then, it is a good thing that Yule is coming up.

The thing about most of the world that celebrates a holiday around the Winter Solstice is that there is a major focus on the Light. For the Christians, Christmas is the coming of the Light o...


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Facebook Like Page!!!

September 7, 2010
I'm psyched. This is really just an update on the linking I'm doing to put the blog out there. There's officially a Facebook Like page, a Like button on the Home page, and the FB is linked to my Twitter account, MystoftheNight. Also, there's a dedicated email for the blog posted on the front page, mystofthenight@gmail.com. (Nightwitch was taken.) 

I've also got a Facebook account myself, Mystere de la Nuit. 

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