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Pagan Parenting

by Emma Swailes

Now then witches and beautiful souls, allow me to introduce myself.

I am Swailes the Friendly Green Witch, based in Leeds. I am a mum of two little ‘witchlings’ and an ever-growing petting zoo of magical animals (real and imaginary) including a grumpy bearded dragon called Dave who is very messy and a bit gross. Life is busy, I squeeze more in every month, and I thrive on it.

So when I was invited to join the POTN team, to write a little column about pagan parenting from a busy witch mum’s point of view, I was absolutely chuffed.

I have two little lasses - Flossy (7) and Clementine (5) and I am never still for a moment! Between the school runs and the witch biz, the many half-baked hobbies and the social media addiction, the garden gets neglected, the herbs dry up, the house plants die, and the home is always 87% a mess. I hate the dust (and the dusting) and I have many an unfinished project lurking in the cupboards with good intentions (forgot what I was going to do with that!). I don’t have time to meditate, I would rather look at my ‘To Do’ list and sigh, then waste an hour on Coin Master…. yes, I am that witch. And I am (mostly) ok with it!

In a dream world, I would love to be able to cast spells every week, following the wheel of the year to a tee, throw rituals under every esbat and have all the plans sorted for upcoming sabbats, but it is very rare any of those things materialise. If it’s organised by another, I can rock up no problem! However, I often sit and watch Netflix through most full moons because I am pleasantly shattered. I consider it a success if I remember to get a handful of pocket crystals slapped on the windowsill to charge in the full moonlight before I head off to bed. Then they tend to stay there for almost all month, forgotten about, with the full moon water I also forgot about in the garden…that has become a posh birdbath for the pigeons! Lucky birds.

For some time, I was asking myself ‘am I even a pagan/witch if I don’t have the time to practise monthly, never mind weekly?’ I go a long time between purposeful planned magic, toys sit on my altar for weeks. Of course, the answer is a big ‘yes’! As paganism and witching are so much deeper than the practical magic, it is a way of living life. It is teaching the little ones to respect and care for animals, to wonder at flowers on the school run, to spot shapes in the clouds, to recycle and to care for our mother earth.

I love including my daughters in my spirituality; as childhood is *mostly* a magical time anyway it naturally compliments this way of life. I try to spot it all around us every day which can be challenging on those meltdown Mondays. I also put a big emphasis on the magic within, how they talk to themselves, and how their words matter to the universe.

For a long time, my eldest daughter, Flossy, had a whole imaginary family of humans and dragons. Her first dragon was called Dorothy; she was rainbow coloured and very playful. She was big, and started requesting a space at the dinner table - to Dad’s amusement - so we found the tiniest plate we could and chucked a spud on it, which she apparently loved. It felt a little like leaving a mince pie out for Santa. Dorothy grew up fast, having dragon egg babies of her own. Flossy would tell me how Dorothy loved fish and chips, riding on the scooters to school with us, and keeping her safe at night. The walls became covered with drawings of dragon kingdoms, and my witchy heart sang. How amazing is it that children do this?! I read that children with imaginary friends are likely to be the first born, and many of them grow up to be creative thinkers, artists and writers, leading a colourful life, thinking differently from the norm.

From a spiritual perspective, dragons have a wide range of interpretations. In China they are considered lucky, some say they represent knowledge and protection, teachers and transformation. If Flossy had a dragon spirit guide it wouldn’t surprise me; she is an old soul.

The imaginary friends are not around as much these days as she is growing up at lightning speed. This does make me a little sad. However, over the bank holiday we camped on our last break of the school holidays on beautiful land next to a beck near Settle. It was a wet and muddy one as is standard in Blighty! The kids were feral and loving the freedom to get wet and mucky most of the time; tree swings and dens galore. Flossy sat by the water with her sketchbook for a long time and I started to wonder if she was alright. When she came to show me her art, it was a surprise to see what she had drawn. A stream of dragons nestled around the rocks in beautiful honest interpretation. Floss could see them crystal clear in the running water.

Without sounding like a right cheesy witch, I am attempting to see the world with my kids through a different lens. I became too rigid with my understanding of what it is to be a pagan and a witch, believing that I had to be constant in the wheel of the year and celebrate a certain way, like the books suggest. As a full-time parent this just isn’t realistic. Their needs and wants always come above mine, and it took me a while to realise this didn’t have to be separated, and it need not be them before me. It could be us together. So instead of a set ritual for the autumn equinox, we will all go for a walk in the local woods. We will listen for bees and play with sticks, eat some cake and bring some litter home with us, probably in the rain!

Swailes x

Listen to Swailes and guests on her biweekly show, The Bell Witch Podcast, available on all major podcast streaming sites.

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