How to Explain Beliefs to Family?

I’m sure there’s been many topics about this but I really wanted some advice on how to explain my beliefs to my mother (the only person I live with). I’m very secretive about it, and she has no idea that I’m a hard polytheist. She knows that I’m “spiritual”, because I’ve bought candles and incense and doing meditation/prayers. But I never elaborated on what I believe to her.

She thinks that I’m an agnostic/atheist. Because I tend to criticize Christianity a lot just in conversation, bringing up conversations about critical thinking and being frustrated with the way Christians act and believe. She’s under the impression that I don’t believe in any god, which obviously, isn’t true, I just disagree with the Abrahamic religions. Recently, I told her that I held many beliefs that are animistic in nature and that I “relate” to the old polytheistic beliefs. She gave me a quick queer look but seemed to accept it and agreed with me a bit on animism.

Normally – I’d just keep quiet like I am. I have no desire whatsoever to have to go into depth about it. But, I’ve been really wanting to make a small shrine for my patron deity, so I can have a specific place to pray and there’s a lovely statue I’d like to get. But, how would I tell my mother about the statue? How do I tell her that I believe in the greek gods? It just seems like it would be a very awkward conversation. It’s like someone you thought was an atheist that criticizes religion, saying they wanted to build a shrine to the magical purple unicorn. I hate to compare to that, but nowadays, people see the greek gods as being just myths, so I fear that’s how she’d see it. So, how do I do this? Has anyone else done this in a similar situation?

Do you plan to raise your kids pagan?

(As some of you may know from back when I introduced myself, I noted that I’m working on an essay for my college writing course, and would, at some point, require interviews. However, this being an online site, I’m doing things a bit differently. I’m going to pose the question, one that I both need for the essay and am curious about, and answers will be recorded for the essay. Please note, if you wish to answer, I ask that you state how you want to be named – anonymous, your name on the forum, etc. Thanks in advance!)

Many articles I’ve read about modern pagan families have all dealt with a parent’s, or parents’ concern on whether or not they should bring their children up as pagan vs. exposing them to the religious practices but letting them make a choice when they wish about whether or not they wish to become pagan.

My question is this – what did you choose as a parent? Bring the child up as pagan, or let them choose when they’re ready?

First Spell?

What was the first spell you did?

When I was in high school I found a reference book in our high school library on Witchcraft – this was in the mid 80s. I was extremely curious even though I was a very active Christian at the time. I read through it and found a dream spell.

The spell was to dream about the person you were meant to be with, your soul mate sort of thing. You put a glass of water half filled under your bed – under where you’re pillow would be – with a piece of wood over it. You would dream of walking over a bridge and you would fall in and the person that pulled you out would be the person you were meant to be with. You could do the spell until it worked and then you could not do it again (and have it work again).

So, I did that. It worked fairly quickly – within a few nights. I dreamed I was walking along a river on a path. The river was on my right and the bridge was behind me. On my left was a volcano. The volcano erupted and knocked me into the river and a tall dark haired man pulled me out.

When I tried to see his face it was blurred, like something from CourtTV. I could not see his face no matter what I did. I was infuriating. But more than that, I was completely freaked out that magic was real and I never looked into any pagan again until just a couple of years ago. I did try the spell again but of course, it never worked.

Interestingly enough, the only guys I have ever dated have had dark hair. I still haven’t met ‘that’ guy though.

“Religion with homework”

I’ve heard the phrase kicked about, especially with regard to reconstructionists of any sort, that their path is “religion with homework” (meaning that they do a lot of research). As someone who is blending her own path of witchcraft and druidry (of which I am currently studying the ADF Dedicant Program), I can say that applies to me, too in many ways.

At what point can “religion with homework” become “homework with religion”? At what point should we sit down our books and “just do it”? Can research become a crutch? Can it eventually interfere with practice?

And most importantly, what should the balance be between UPG and research? I know that’s a subjective, personal question, but I hope amongst us we could come to some recommended guidelines.

I know we’ve talked about these ideas before in other threads, but I don’t know that we’ve approached them from this angle lately.

Is Lore and Myth Really Important?

Although I have read quite a few mythologies of gods from different cultures, I have an aversion to ancient mythology. I often feel uncomfortable relying on myth and ancient texts as part of my practice, mostly due to the fact that I often associate it with my birth religion, Roman Catholicism and also Abrahamic religions in general. I’m not sure I want to have any sort of mythology involved in my practice at all.

Would you say reading mythology is a big part of being Pagan? If I’m not willing to read myths or have lore as part of my practice, do you think getting involved in Paganism is a waste of time?

Herbal Reference Book?

I’m looking for a good reference book on herbs. The one I see recommended all the time is Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, but that’s also the one I see being decried all the time.

One of the biggest issues with Cunningham’s book seems to be that he doesn’t warn readers about the dangers of some herbs, especially in relation to pregnancy, medications, and stuff like that. But for someone who already knows that stuff, would it be a good book just as a reference for magic? Or is there something else you would recommend?

Ritual Attire?

I’m attending public rituals with a group and they asked us to wear attire that’s just for the rituals we do with them, something that isn’t street clothing. While there are many websites that sell clothing like this my problem is that a. I don’t have loads of cash sitting around for this and b. I’m plus sized and pregnant so getting clothing off of a website would be difficult.

So what I’m asking really is where did you get your cloths, what do you consider ritual wear, and what suggestions/advice do you have to give?

Wisteria Correspondences

I was wondering if anyone knew of any correspondences for wisteria. Living in the Southern U.S., wisteria is endemic. I’m used to the purple wisteria, but recently moved and here, they have white wisteria. I was thinking the white could be used for lunar magic/worship. They have an evocative scent and most flowers are used for love magic so I thought that might be a good correspondence. I’ve looked in Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs and the only reference is in the very back (if you own it, page 288) under properties of oils and it says wisteria is for protection. I’ve also checked the only other herbal I own, A Witch’s Guide to Herbal Enchantments, Folklore, and Divinations by Gerina Dunwich and there’s no mention of wisteria at all. Any help filling in this gap of knowledge is greatly appreciated.

Sensing and Recognizing Energy

A lot of what I’m learning about seems to first start with energy and then centering/ground/shielding/etc. It makes sense to me. I am going to throw out a definition here and hope I’m using it right, but I get animism and that everything has an energy or gives off an essence. But my hold up is…I can’t feel it. I’m of the belief that we all have the ability to sense energy but it isn’t nurtured growing up so you don’t realize that energy is around you, like when you hear a buzzing noise and eventually your body just tunes it out and you don’t hear it but it’s still there.

I have been reading and re-reading on Jenett’s website the portion about energy and how different people sense it with different senses. And I have tried the activity of rubbing my palms together and feel the resistance. But all I feel is warm palms from friction.

So here is where you lovely people come in!

Did you learn to sense energy or did you always have the ability? How do you sense it (sight, sound, touch, etc)? What types of exercises would you recommend? Can I have walls up and not realize it?

I think that meditation would play a role in this as well, just focusing on your breath and your self will allow some of those hidden skills to emerge and become less hidden. Has this been the case for you?

I feel like energy is an important factor and I’d like to practice it while I continue to learn.