Tag Archives: pagan family

Food, feasting, celebrating, staying alive…

Food is an essential part of everyday life, a focus at festivals, and a significant ethical consideration. How we handle food day to day can have huge effects on family life, and spiritual expression.

What do we buy? Producing food has huge environmental impact. Do you source locally when you can? Free range? Does meat feature in your diet? Do you think about food miles? (the drive to and from the supermarket causes the most damage in this regard). How healthy is your diet? Do you make food from scratch, or buy pre-pre-prepared? All of these issues represent ethical dilemmas around food and family.

I’m not suggesting there are any right answers, but, here are a few things to mull. Good diet significantly contributes to good health. Whatever else you do or don’t eat, getting plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables on your plate is good for you. Eating together is a powerful, bonding activity. It creates opportunities to talk, and listen, and reinforces bonds. There is a quote (no idea where from) that goes ‘families who eat together and pray together, stay together’.

There’s a trend in western culture towards fragmented eating, individuals foraging from fridge or freezer to re-heat in microwaves, eating alone and around other activities. Good food, and the sharing of it, is life enhancing. If it’s not viable to do all the time, there’s still much to be said for trying to do it as often as you can. Making good food is an expression of care for your tribe, and an act of creativity. Those who put in the time and effort, should be honoured for their generosity. If someone makes a cake for your ritual, that’s something to celebrate and praise. If someone other than you does the cooking, make sure their work is fully acknowledged. Meal making is important, don’t take it for granted! There is fun to be had in making good food, and it is something that can be shared. If you want to teach children about nutrition and food ethics, nothing beats getting them into the kitchen.

Western culture pushes us towards living faster, doing less for ourselves, and perceiving less value in traditional skills. There is nobility in self sufficiency. There is magic in the rising of a loaf, the crafting of a banquet. ‘Ease’ and ‘convenience’ are seldom satisfying, and pre-made food, whacked into the microwave may keep your body moving, but it will not feed your soul. If you let food be an active expression of your paganism, it will have significant positive effects on you, and those around you.

Bryn Colvin

www.brynneth.org.uk

Walking

I can’t think of a better shared activity for pagan families. Walking is great exercise. For most of humanity’s history it’s been the primary mode of transport, so setting out on foot is a way of connecting to the ancestors.

Walking is cheap. Anyone who is at all mobile can do it to some degree, and there are plenty of places where those who need wheels can travel with those who do not.

No matter where you are, walking will enable you to connect with nature – even in a city, you will see birds, the sky, and plant life in ways that you can’t from a car. Walking out into rural or wilder places gives you chance to experience nature alongside family members.

Walking allows time to talk, sharing stories, philosophy and observation. It also enables you to encounter other people and have brief moments of connection. In a world where we are increasingly inclined to shut ourselves into little boxes, this human contact is essential.

Walking is green. In terms of leisure, and fitness activities, you can’t get much better than walking out of your front door and ambling about for a few hours.

The rhythm of walking is meditative, and long walks take you out of regular mindsets, create calm, ease stress, and changes perceptions.

Walking allows us moments of unexpected beauty and wonder. Shared walking deepens relationships, both in the family and with the rest of the world. Nature and exercise are good for everyone, there are all kinds of soul blessings to be found along the path. It’s worth finding a few hours every week for this, and making it part of your life, and your pagan practice.

Families and Rites of Passage

Pagan folk very naturally want to celebrate their rites of passage in pagan ways. Some places you can even do that legally, but the bigger issue lies in handling non-pagan wider families, and possibly also friend circles.

Part of the point of a rite of passage is to have an important personal event – be that the birth of a child, a marriage, or a death – witnessed by the wider community. Rites of passage ask those around us to accept that our circumstances have changed in a big way. Consequently, it doesn’t really work or make sense to exclude the non-pagans from such events.

Where there are serious tensions over religious differences, this can be a minefield, and I can’t really cover that here. What I want to offer today are some strategies for including non-pagan family in pagan ritual.

1) Talk a lot before hand. People tend to fear what they do not know. Make sure non-pagans attending your rite of passage know what is expected of them, how they should dress and what they should bring. Give them a sense of the shape the celebration will take so that they can better follow events as they happen.

2) Never, ever in this kind of ritual speak for others, or require anyone to voice prayer in any way that may conflict with their own beliefs. Make it clear beforehand that you will not do this and that no one will be compromised in their own spirituality.

3) Invite participation. If you can have one or two non-pagan folk taking a small active role in your celebration, it will help all the others to engage, fell comfortable and part of it. If possible, allow everyone time to speak and offer their own things in their own ways.

4) If you have a celebrant leading the ritual, make sure they are aware of the presence of non-pagans, and that they feel comfortable working with that. (Most will).

5) Be patient with people if they find it hard. This is most true when you have a non-pagan family trying to bury a loved one in a pagan way, when they don’t really understand what is called for. Listening compassionately and answering questions will enable people to do what is needed.

Rites of passage create the most amazing opportunities to share aspects of your spiritual life with your wider community. It can be a scary thing to do, but it can also be powerful and affirming. It can ease fear and further understanding. It’s a way of bringing pagan practice out into the open. Seeing the sincerity, celebration and beauty of pagan ritual can dispel a lot of myths and fears for folk. It’s well worth going the extra mile to make that happen.