Celebrating the Seasons and a few thoughts on Modern Pagnism, Children and Religion

I feel the need to preface this with a story. The other day I mentioned to my husband that I’d had the strangest dream in which Phineas Parkhurst Quimby and Mary Baker Eddy were portrayed by Muppets Uncle Deadly and Miss Piggy (complete with the MBE-hairsytle of later years) in a Muppet-esque skit, song and dance routine about mortal mind and mesmerism. It was amazing, twisted, and it really should go on tour. My husband suggested (as he has many times before) that perhaps I should read/write about something other than Christian Science. I reassured him that my next post (this one) wasn’t about Christian Science, but about Seasonal Celebrations and Modern Paganism. He didn’t really have much to say after that.

There is not much celebrating in Christian Science, the most exciting thing that happens in the C.S. calendar is the Principia Club’s Christmas Hymn Sing and mediocre potluck, and if you’re not one of the Principia Elite (or someone they’re trying to woo into becoming a Prin Elite), you’re usually off the list.

There are no special holiday services – with the exception of Thanksgiving, and the only nod to the changing of the seasons is that occasionally the flowers are changed from holiday poinsettias and springs of evergreen to something else. Since leaving Christian Science I have been struggling with the idea of seasonal celebrations, birthdays, sure, but what about the rest of them, and — most importantly — what do I tell my children and how do I explain it to them?

One of my Facebook friends has been busily reposting things from the Wicca Teachings (1) facebook group, some of which have caught my interest. The one that I’ve shared below is the 2014 Sabbats, or pagan holidays that fall on the changing of the seasons. Wikipedia has an article, Wheel of the Year (2) which explains

In Pagancosmology, all things are considered to be cyclical — including the year. It is understood as a perpetual cycle of growth and retreat tied to the Sun‘s annual death and rebirth. This cycle is also viewed as a micro- and macrocosm of other life cycles in an immeasurable series of cycles composing the Universe. The days that fall on the landmarks of the yearly cycle traditionally mark the beginnings and middles of the four seasons. They are regarded with significance and host to major communal festivals. These eight festivals are the most common times for community celebrations.[1][2][3]

These ideas blend nicely with Rudolph Steiner’s ideas (3) about seasonal rhythms, natural cycles, and festivals as being important in early childhood. I have children who still fall into the “early childhood” category, and I am slowly trying to incorporate some of these ideas into our routines.

1518981_275658255916461_545061951_nThere is some over-lap of what we are already celebrating, under slightly different names, and with slightly more commercialized overtones: Yule (Christmas), Ostra (Easter), Samhain (Halloween). I’d like to work in a few more, perhaps Beltane/May Day, or Litha/Midsummer, and I would also like to take the commercialized edge off of the rest of the celebrations.

It is at this point my buffet-approach to religious philosophies comes into play, while I like some of the elements Wicca offers (the Wheel of the Year being the big one) and the Mother Earth/Father Sun of modern paganism (and the snack-time blessing that Kid1 likes to sing), some of the other elements — magic, ritual, etc. are things I can’t get past sort of like Buddah and the elephant story.

As tempting as it is to teach the children about Sol Invictus, or my favorite deity Agnostos Theos, I think I will refrain from now. I will also not tell them that Axial Tilt is the Reason for the Season and the reason for axial tilt is because something smashed into the earth (4). They’re still little and still believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny (thanks Grandma).

Further reading of interest:

  1. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wicca-Teachings/127815357367419
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheel_of_the_Year
  3. http://books.google.com/books?id=VOrhbuNvoPMC&pg=PA93&lpg=PA93&dq=waldorf+seasonal+cycles&source=bl&ots=cwq9DYbJAR&sig=oGh03z6S7-QsnNVhlcaLgfc4lUM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=DRbLUrncBNPdoAThjoHwAQ&ved=0CGcQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=waldorf%20seasonal%20cycles&f=false
  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axial_tilt#Obliquity_of_the_ecliptic_.28Earth.27s_axial_tilt.29, http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_caused_Earth_to_tilt_on_its_axis

image via Wicca Teachings facebook group