When Caleb was born I threw myself into research mode to find the best way to educate him on the pagan faith without pushing it on him as so many of us had experienced with monotheistic religion as kids. My search led me to this book:
Raising Witches is more than a simple teaching guide for parents. The author, Ashleen O’Gaea, has compiled years of practice and study into writing a very user-friendly guidebook that takes the guessing out of how best to teach to children of any age. While she of course has her own beliefs within the faith, she writes from a perspective that any practitioner can follow.
As a whole, this book is to be used as a guide for parents or teachers to educate children from infancy to late adolescence on the path of Wiccan and Pagan spirituality. It carefully and clearly explains the stages of children’s development and capabilities for understanding material at each age group. She offers advice, knowledge, and lessons for each stage along with age appropriate chants, spells, and activities.
Included in the text is a comprehensive breakdown and study of the Wiccan Rede. The author explains the Rede before dividing it into sections and taking a look at each key point as well as comparisons between it at other “Golden Rules”. “In a class we attended once, a student asked how you could reconcile ‘threefold’ with every action having an ‘equal and opposite’ reaction. If we’d been teaching, we’d have answered that Newtonian laws apply only in certain realms of the physical dimension, and that what we do in the world has an effect on dimensions beyond the physical.” (O’Gaea, pg.126) By doing this she puts the Wiccan Rede in a context that someone not familiar with the faith might be able to parallel with a more widely-known belief or understanding.
One recurring theme throughout the text is the need for your child or children to have a firm sense of safety and security. “What children really need in the way of support, while they’re going through this first round of identity establishment, is security.” (O’Gaea, pg. 72) She goes on to stress that a solid sense of sanctuary is essential for one’s emotional growth as well as spiritual.
The underlying tone of the book was one of concrete knowledge and understanding of the subject matter. Not once did she leave you questioning whether the methods included were plausible or credible. In fact, since reading her methods, I have chosen to implement many of her practices into the teaching and guidance I offer my own child.
The values gained both from reading as well as practicing the techniques described in the book are perfectly in line with my own beliefs, making this title a go-to reference for teaching my son the Wiccan faith.
The only limitation I have found in reading this book is that while she incorporates song and chants she doesn’t include the accompanying tune to most of them. Two lines of standard notation for guitar or simple piano would have gone a long way toward making this book that much better.
That being said however, I am unable to find fault in any other form. Ms. O’Gaea has penned a manual that I believe every parent in the faith should read. The way she separates the information and activities by age group makes the book that much more accessible in that it does not pour too much knowledge on the reader (and consequently the child) at any one time.
What Ashleen O’Gaea did very well was write a book that is easy enough to read by a beginner yet thorough enough so as not to disappoint a seasoned practitioner. Her points are clear and concise and her ideas are very well thought out and worded. She even went so far as to include photographs of her own family to help illustrate not only the points of the text but to show that she practices what she preaches (so to speak). By doing this she creates a tone of camaraderie rather than that of an authority figure.
A bit of digging on the internet revealed that Ms. O’Gaea is not only an author but was one of the founding priestesses of the Tucson Area Wiccan-Pagan Network, a very prominent organization in Tucson, Arizona. She also helped to begin the Mother Earth Ministries-ATC, a Neo-Pagan prison ministry program. She also, along with her husband, Canyondancer, provides clergy services in and around southern Arizona.
Again, I definitely recommend this book to any parent or teacher. Not only those who follow the faith but also those who may have pagan or Wiccan students in their classes as a way of incorporating spiritual beliefs into everyday life.
This book can be purchased through nearly any new ago bookshop or you can find it on Amazon here.