R/S: Have you ever witnessed a fertility ritual?
AH: You bet! I went to the fertility ritual of two good friends who conceived right afterward. They had a lovely daughter who is now a good friend of my daughter’s. I’ve seen fertility magic really work!
I also have a friend who did just about every fertility spell you can imagine, and kept having miscarriage after miscarriage. I’ve had friends who ended up adopting because they couldn’t get pregnant. So what does it mean if for whatever reason the gods or the Goddess don’t grant your wish? Fertility for women is an incredibly huge issue, and there’s a lot to learn. If a woman can get past blaming herself or her body or whatever, she can learn a lot from thinking about this.
Before I had a child I was a student at U.C. Santa Cruz. I majored in Women’s Studies and then got a teacher’s credential. After about a year, I realized I wasn’t really cut out to be a classroom teacher. But that experience taught me a lot about how children learn. I think I’ve brought a lot of that educator’s perspective into mothering.
One of the most wonderful things about mothering is watching a child learn; it’s totally thrilling. Suddenly an infant will be able to reach out and actually grasp what they’re seeing in front of them. You get swept up: “Ohmigawd, using all those synapses between their eye and their brain and their hand, they’ve carved out this little channel so they can now grasp something!”
Learning exists on so many different levels. Once an infant can grasp your finger, that’s just the beginning of being able to express their needs and desires, being able to feed themselves, or otherwise get what they want. Their ability keeps on multiplying, infinitely.
Personally, I think the most challenging thing about being a mother is–and it doesn’t have anything really to do with Paganism–is that it’s an opportunity to work through my own childhood garbage. I can compare my own history when I was a kid, and reflect that my assumptions about how they’re feeling are to some degree based on how I was feeling way back when. Sometimes the insights I get from my kids are so profound it takes me years to figure them all out!
Hopefully, Pagan children will have memories of rich rituals, and of sharing deep bonds with other Pagan friends. They grow up with the sense that “I can create my own altar, I have access to spirits that are helping me–my ancestors, the elements.” Hopefully you have bonds with the community where there are people you consider elders that you can go to for help if you need it, or maybe even a circle you’ve grown up with since you were little. Having both the inner and community resources to help you through tough times–or to help you celebrate great joy–is a real advantage.
And so–best case scenario–my hope is that a child who was raised Pagan will as an adult have a sense of connection to the divinity within everything. That will affect everything: politics, relationships, choices in food and housing,their creativity and their work; everything.