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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Washing the Greenman

March brought us a windstorm large enough to knock out our power, rain on the Equinox for the community egg hunt, and a whole host of viruses, which circulated around our family.  The last two weeks, we fought through sickness to be productive, both in the home and garden, clearing away the old, and making room for the new.

 
One part of our garden gone long-neglected was an old terra cotta Greenman, hung on the house by the previous gardener over a decade before.
 
I might have brushed away cobwebs once, but I think it kept slipping my mind over the more pressing and practical issues of digging, weeding, building, and so on.  But after nine years of living in the woods, and about five attempting to make a productive garden out of some of it, I turned and looked hard at the Greenman and understood.
 
After tilling and digging and building this weekend, I went back outside at dusk, took him down off the wall, and gave him a good wash.
 
The blast of cool water sent the worst cobwebs away into the dirt, and scrubbed free bird droppings. I washed behind his ears, where old spider egg casing hung empty and graying.  With the help of a gloved finger, I nudged away filth and debris around the wire where the hook held it.
 
Once rehung, he seemed to smile a bit more, his cheeks glowing in the fading sunlight.  Then we had a talk, and I asked his help in looking out for our little garden.  
 
"Thanks," I said, "for watching out for this space.  Thank you for working with the Mother to make sure things grow.  I ask you aid me in making this bit of land grow vegetables and fruits and herbs for my family, and a little extra for our animal neighbors.  Please help us in making this a working plot of land to feed and nourish those within the house and those who come to visit. Thank you."
 
I felt he heard me.  I felt he understood, and I gave him a nod and turned to go.
 
Before I left, though, I asked one more favor. "And would mind helping me reduce the number of slugs who come to call?  Not all of them, just enough to keep our garden growing strong."
 
Washing the Greenman reminded me of something:
 
When you're struggling to achieve something you feel is important, and practical steps aren't working, maybe it's time to take a look around.  There may be something or someone neglected who seemed superfluous but may prove instrumental in removing the biggest obstacles in your path.
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Teaching Hard Lessons

In homeschooling and parenting, some of the most difficult lessons to teach our children are those we struggle with ourselves.

For me, I've conquered some of my biggest struggles: I learned to ask for help, I learned to stop beating myself up for small mistakes, and I learned how to make sure I work on self-care.  But there are other lessons I still wrestle with, and even more I have yet to even recognize.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you for this tender wisdom.
  • Raven J. Demers
    Raven J. Demers says #
    Thank you for taking the time to respond and for the kind comment. Be well!

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Answering the Call

As the spring wakes us from our winter sleep, beneath the urge to wash away the lingering dregs of the previous year, I stronger call to give pulls me sideways.

I cannot shake the experience of the week past, when driving home from a friend's house at sunset, I encountered a detour two blocks from the turn I needed to make.  A firetruck blocked three lanes on a major road, and as I followed the other detoured vehicles I glimpsed the accident.

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Cycles of Renewal

When does the year end? The answer to the question depends on who you're asking.  For a Celtic pagan, Samhain might mark the end of the year, or another might say Winter Solstice, for the light returns.  The Chinese calendar changes dates each year, but falls sometime around the end of January or beginning of February to mark the renewal of a lunar cycle. While the Gregorian calendar tells us January 1st marks the beginning of a new year, cultures across the world and through history have celebrated the start of a new calendar year at different times in the cycle of seasons.

Thus, it is no surprise, as the digital age expands our ability to learn about and communicate with other peoples globally, a trend grows across the internet to not make resolutions, for the impetus to make change at the start of a new year often fizzles out.

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Music of the Longest Night

To many, winter is a time when the grief of loss strikes hardest.  The symbolic death of spring and summer combined with the cold have us turning inward, some seeking a spiritual hibernation.

For me, this grief has been compounded by my mother's December birthday.  This year she would be turning sixty.  One of my friends grieves both her parents today, while another sits in a hospital waiting for her mother's unconscious body to relinquish its hold after a stroke.

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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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