Incurving: Spiraling through Motherhood

Mothering with a Pagan Perspective

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Kira Nuit

Kira Nuit

Kira Nuit is a writer, geek, textile artist, witch and mother. She strives to build a simple and fulfilling life that integrates all her parts -- which includes figuring out how to provide excellent care for a small child while also bathing regularly.

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

When I thought about having a child at home, my first concerns followed Maslow’s pyramid pretty closely: how will I care for this child’s physical needs; how will I make sure I understand her developmental needs; how can I help her live a happy and fulfilling life? I did not immediately think of the fact that in addition to caring for her physical, mental, and emotional needs, I’d be her first priestess. Once I realized that, I embarked on a serious investigation of my values and beliefs.

As a younger pagan, I had played with paradigms. I read as much as I wanted, tried on new ideas, and tested out theories and spells. I allowed myself to change my mind as often as I liked. Once parenthood peeked over the horizon I felt obligated to solidify my ideas somewhat. I will of course continue to learn and grow, but with tough theological questions would be in my future I wanted to know how I might answer.

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I’ve spent this winter living in an unheated, uninsulated, unfinished house. Most years this would not be a big deal — Central Texas sees snow once a decade, rarely more than an inch, with average low temperatures in the upper 30s — but the Polar Vortex has changed the game. It’s a new and different cold, fierce and unfamiliar. The wind, such a gift in the hot months, whips through our clothes and bites at our skin. We can’t escape it: no insulation means that my construction zone of a house gets only a few degrees warmer than the outside air. We’re essentially winter camping all of the time, and I feel more aware of Nature’s intensity than ever before. 

I hadn’t realized I’d grown so disconnected from my environment. I grew up in a house without air-conditioning or central heat; I took frequent camping trips; I lived in a tent for many summers as a camp counselor; I drove a motorcycle in all weather. And yet, during adulthood I managed to get just as climate-controlled as everyone else, spending my days indoors losing my ability to tolerate heat and cold. I might not have gotten my acclimatization back had it not been forced upon me.

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  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    Kira, what an interesting post. You are so right that only a few generations ago, what you are experiencing would have been the no

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
If there is prayer, there is a mother kneeling, hands folded to a private sign. We recognize it. If there is a mother kneeling, hands a tent, she is praying or she is crying or crying and praying at the same time. Although it is recognized, the signals of it, it is private and no one knows, perhaps not even she, the content of the prayer, and perhaps its object. If there is a mother praying, she is on her knees over some object, as one does not often pray in the middle of the room. One prays at the window or over the bed, the head bent slightly up or down, the eyes open or closed. This is a prayer for prayers, you know, a wanting something equal to a prayer, even though I am not a mother.
--Disciplines by Dawn Lundy Martin

Before I had a child, when I had the luxury to spend my time deconstructing and analyzing theology, I worked through and digested the baggage around prayer acquired from my Catholic upbringing. The very word sat badly with me at first, reminding me of churchgoers begging forgiveness for sinfulness or making endless petitions. At worst, these kinds of prayers felt transactional, something I wish to avoid within my own sacred relationships. As a childfree pagan going through a reactionary phase, while I would do formal magick on my own behalf, I made a bit of a point of only doing prayers of devotion when outside of a Circle.

Now, as a mother, I pray constantly. Despite my personal opinion that the the collective host of non-corporeal/energetic Powers are beings with whom we enter into relationship, and thus should not be called on the psychic phone only when we need something, I find myself making petitions. It's my constant refrain, reflexive, in any moment when I feel particularly aware of how precious and ephemeral I find my daughter: let her be safe and well. This deepest wish of my heart has been a practice, has been part of my Ancestor relationship, and has been consistent since I discovered my pregnancy. Even when the offering bowls are dry, the candles are dusty, and the hymns unsung, I pray for her safety and wellbeing. 

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into the forest

I sent my daughter off to school today. This a big milestone, both for parents and for children, a definitive and culturally recognized step down her spiral path. I delivered her into the care of strangers -- her first time to be supervised by someone unfamiliar. The week before we read books about going to school and I parceled out the treat of PBS shows on the same theme. We talked about it. On her first day I said encouraging things, told her I’d be back, and assured her that she’d have a wonderful time. And yet, she cried when I walked away. Of course she cried. She’s been in my energy field her whole life, and then I forced her to take a step that perhaps none of us would take willingly: a step away from the comforts of home into a strange new world.

(I must say, in today’s age of modern technology I certainly wished that her teachers could have sent me a text to let me know that she stopped crying. They can’t, of course, I understand that. And she stopped quickly, I’m told. Still, I worried until the first hour passed without a phone call.)

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  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    I love the idea of her first day of school being the beginning of her Hero's journey. Blessings on your both in this journey.

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To incurve means to curve or to bend, specifically to curve inward. During my pregnancy I frequently curved my arms around my belly. I wrapped my attention, spirit, and energy bodies around the ever-increasing roundness holding my growing child. After her birth I continued to curve my body around hers: nursing her in the cradle of my arms, sleeping nestled together like spoons, walking with her secured to my chest in the circle of a carrier. I bent, too: bent to pick her up, to sit at her level, to retrieve her toys or silverware. I bent the entire path of my life to curve around her.

And yet, she must always spiral away from me, and I must let her. The responsibilities of our roles as parent and child align in many respects but differ significantly in this way: my incurving cannot impede her dancing fully into her own life. I may hold her hand for those first steps down her own winding path but I cannot hold on forever. Sooner than I want, she will walk forward without me. My own parents allowed me to explore the twists and turns of my life; I will do the same for my daughter. (I never understood what a gift my parents gave me until now, when I must give it to my own child. My life continues to spiral forward; motherhood spins a new loop of it; and that too comes from the blessings bestowed by my upbringing.)

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  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Lovely images - blessings on your dance with your daughter.
  • Henry Buchy
    Henry Buchy says #
    ancient harmonies...

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