Hearth, Heart & Home: Adventures in Pagan Parenting

Raven (yes, really), a pagan, homeschooling mother of two -- one teen, one tot -- shares her adventures in parenting from a pagan perspective. Watch her juggle work, education, parenting, cooking, gardening, and . . . how many balls are in the air now? Sometimes they fall, and sometimes she learns from her mistakes. You can, too.

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Raven J. Demers

Raven J. Demers

Raven lives in a forest with her two homeschooled children, partner, and several demanding cats. She enjoys performing, cooks a mean burger, and is obsessed with farming, but has yet to adopt a goat. Her publications are listed at SatyrsGarden.com.

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Lessons of Life and Death

We don't shy away from talk of death in my house.  With five cats, some of them sneaks who get out the front door before we can catch them, we see enough death on a regular basis in the form of rodent and bird carcasses laid out for us.

Some parents would tell their little ones the dead mouse is sleeping, but I believe in being honest and direct with my children.  Death is a part of life, and it happens all around us.  Living in a forest near a busy road we see the cycles of life as a tangible constant: sex, birth, growth, decline, decay, and renewal.  They're in the plants and animals who share our space as our neighbors and family.

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Harvesting the Intangible

My best friend has a mantra she says when her children are being difficult, "I love my child, I love my child, I LOVE my child …" and it helps to some extent when dealing with the upsetting behaviors of those we love.  I've tried it out a few times myself, and it tends to lead me to laugh or at least to breathe and reconnect with my priorities.

Lately, the mantra hasn't been working for me.  As a birthday promise to myself to change some of my own poor habits, I disconnected myself from Facebook for a month (still going), because it had become such a big distraction, it was bleeding into my writing time, my cleaning time, and worst of all, time with my kids.  So, I set up a filter so all my notifications go to a special folder instead of my inbox, I deleted the related apps from my phone, and stop myself when I unconsciously start typing in the URL.

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Momentary Silence

By candlelight we sat together on the king-sized bed as a family engaged in something we rarely do in our home or our nation.  With the power out and our bellies full of grocery store deli food, my partner, children, and a few of our cats, sat or wriggled about as I read a short story about a clever feline who saved a town. My partner, daughter, and I each selected a book we thought appropriate and let the toddler decided which of the three to read from.

Town Cats by Lloyd Alexander, Dada's selection. My daughter groaned because she wanted Percy Jackson.

I read the first story, candles flickering, and little fingers playing with the corners of the pages. I held the hand light over the book, and smiled when my daughter laughed at the funny parts.  I waited patiently each time my son interrupted with his Rarity plushie or demands the cat move out of his way.

Once the story ended and the call to give the little one milk came from his little lips, we ran back to our bed and snuggled until he fell to sleep. When I stood up to head back to my partner's room to talk, I paused in the hall and felt how clean and pure the sensation to be in the house in near dark with no electric noises on. The hum of the refrigerator. The almost imperceptible buzz of the computers and monitors, my partner's clock radio droning on about news or playing jazz, the J-Pop coming through my daughter's earbuds another room away.

Their absence left me feeling calm, whole, at peace.

We live in the woods and outages happen often, but usually in winter, when we can't appreciate the stillness because we're working hard to stay warm and the additional layers are uncomfortable.

But the outages in warm months are rare and beautiful.  I seem to be the only one in the house who takes pleasure in them. I don't mind being temporarily deprived of the stove or the computer, because when we don't have these constant distractions and electronic noises that only I notice, we're a kinder family, and we do more to connect.

It's not a new sentiment: to feel joy when relieved of our technological burdens. To escape into nature. But it was Saturday night, as I lay in bed, and a cool breeze brought in the honeysuckle and muddled plum fragrance of summer's farewell.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Raven J. Demers
    Raven J. Demers says #
    Molly, I find myself torn between such disappointment of losing the Ilene and joy at reconnecting with the mundane world. After al
  • Molly
    Molly says #
    "Some would say this world has lost its magic, but it's here, all around us. Most cannot sense it because our senses are overwhel
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you - what a lovely picture you paint of that quiet and sweet time.

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Finding Meaning

Sometimes we encounter challenging situations or obstacles and we want to give them meaning or significance. Take my current situation. My family has struggled on and off since February dealing with septic and pluming issues without an obvious cause.  While we think we're finally honing in on the source and remedying each obstacle as we come to it, it's created a great deal of stress for everyone in my household.

As a water-worshiping witch, I wanted to apply meaning to this event. I wanted there to be a supernatural or metaphysical reason behind this unpleasantness. Even more so because of my close ties with water and earth. But after a lot of avoidance of the matter, and a steep depressive chasm for a few days, I came to realize through calming meditation and talks with my guides that this is just one of those awful, mundane bits of life that have no more significance than the house is old and the septic system was poorly built or maintained by previous owners.

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Rule #1

When I had my first child, asking for help was the hardest lesson I had to learn.  With my second, I struggle with picking myself up and keep going.


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The Waiting is Hard

When you've put forth energy and intention toward something miraculous coming into your life, the waiting can be the hardest part.

In the past two weeks, though, something outside my control that I wanted for years has come to pass. Something for which I had given up wishing and let go as impossible. A friend I hadn't heard from in a decade came back into my life.

After a great deal of worry after hearing of his rapid decline in health and then years of nothing, I'd thought him either dead or at the least, that he didn't wish to continue our friendship any longer.

He had been a dear friend and an important part of my life for many years.  To lose him to depression and medical issues was a heartbreaking experience, but he's back, and it's all thanks to my precocious toddler.

My son had grabbed my phone while I changed his diaper, and since it distracted him from his usual game of Kick Mama in the Head, I let him play for the duration of the cleaning.

A day later I had a few messages from friends explaining why they did not accept my LinkedIn invitation--one I had no knowledge of sending.  After a round of apologies and explanations to everyone, I saw a new email.  My lost friend didn't know what LinkedIn was, but he wanted to reconnect. We've been talking by phone and online for more than a week now, and I've been elated to have that connection once more.  Whatever one might say about chance, I choose to see this return as a reminder that sometimes the requests we put forth are answered with a "Yes."

At a time when my every endeavor seems up in the air, out of my control, and awaiting word for the feedback of others, having my friend return gives me a little calm amid the storm.  It reminds me to trust that once I've done the best work I can, I need to surrender the illusion of control and allow my goals to be realized.

Though I await word from a publisher about a novel, and a grants committee about funds needed for my volunteer work as deadlines loom, I am calmer now.  I am trusting in the work I've put forth, and surrendering to flow.

The waiting is hard, but the rewards are worth it.

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The Search for Community

Recently I spoke with a dear friend of mine who has known struggles and walked through darkness more times than most.  She had sought out a group for people like her, empathic and aware, but was denied  her right to participate the moment she presented a part of herself that did not fit in with their narrow concept of enlightenment.

She brought up the subject of death and was summarily told that death wasn't something they talked about, so she left, yet continues to seek a place where she can find community and support.  A safe space, which can seem sometimes out of reach for the solo spiritualist.

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