Mother's Day for the earth mothers by Terry Mattingly

David Virtue DVirtue236 at AOL.COM
Sun May 13 22:23:02 EDT 2001


Mother's Day for the earth mothers

By Terry Mattingly

Few moments are as precious to mothers as the hushed rituals of
bedtime.

Kristin Madden's memories include watching her 3-year-old son use the
first personal altar he built on his father's old ironing board. He
covered it with a blue cloth and added rocks, a baby tree, an earth
flag and his hatching-dragon sculpture. Then the two of them would
snuggle and talk about magic and the travels he would take in his
dreams.

Finally, they would say a favorite prayer, such as: "Now I lay me down
to bed. Great Spirit, bless my sleepy head. As I journey in my sleep, I
know the Dragons my soul will keep. Mother Earth and Father Sky, watch
over me here where I lie. Fairies please carry my love to all.
Relations and loved ones, I do call."

Kristin Madden is a tutor in the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids.
Pagan mothers say bedtime prayers, too. They also celebrate Mother's
Day, which is natural since they focus their spirituality on nature
and, literally, Mother Earth.

The pagan pantheon includes female and male deities and most rites are
rooted in cycles of birth and death and the four seasons. Madden
stressed that it's hard to make sweeping statements about the legions
of groups in this complex and evolving movement. However, most Wiccan
believers emphasize feminine and lunar traditions, as well as spells
and witchcraft. Druids blend masculine and feminine symbolism and are
more solar oriented.

This is certainly an interesting time for magical families, said
Madden, who was raised in a single-parent pagan home in the heady
1960s. The pop-culture powers that be are so fascinated with the occult
that this has turned into a problem for many pagan parents, especially
recent converts. Children often think that what's happening in movies
and on television is real, she said. "You hear kids saying things like,
'Wow! Cool! You're mom's a witch? Can she cast a spell on someone for
me?' "

In Hollywood, this is the age of "Sabrina the Teenage Witch,"
"Practical Magic," "Charmed" and "The Craft." Oprah Winfrey is leading
Middle America in prayers to the spirit of the universe and covens can
be found in many liberal Christian seminaries. Pentagon debates about
pagan chaplains, naked worship and sacred daggers offer the first
glimpses of another constitutional issue -- the separation of coven and
state in the age of faith-based initiatives.

Works friendly to neo-paganism, especially Wicca, fill shelves in mega-
bookstores. In the wake of the New Age explosion, pagan publishers are
producing waves of their own books, from "Astrology & Your Child" to
"Secrets of Western Sex Magic." Madden is the author of "Pagan
Parenting" and the "Shamanic Guide to Death and Dying."

And everyone is pondering the kid-culture earthquake triggered by You
Know Who.

"The whole Harry Potter thing has just taken off and glamorized
everything. It makes it seem like all of this is about spells and
magic," said Madden, who has chosen not to read the J.K. Rowling books
with her 5-year-old. "It can be hard to get children to remember that
what we're about is faith and spirituality ... Many pagan parents
consider Harry Potter a mixed blessing."

Pagan parents realize that they live in a culture dominated by a "lip-
service" brand of Judeo-Christian values. The key, said Madden, is that
the mainstream fears any form of rigorous faith that "isn't normal" and
becomes counter-cultural. Thus, she is considering home schooling to
avoid having to compromise her family's strong beliefs.

Ultimately, this entire neo-pagan revival is about choice, she said.
More and more Americans are claiming the freedom to find their own gods
and goddesses, their own rituals, their own truths and their own brands
of spirituality. This revival is about believers insisting that they
can be their own priests and priestesses.

"As a pagan believer, I am very hopeful," she said. "America is really
coming along and becoming more open and tolerant. ... People are out
there searching for a personal relationship with a god and with nature.
They don't want dogma. They want new experiences and their own kind of
spirituality. They are ready to try all kinds of things."

 Terry Mattingly (www.tmatt.net) is senior fellow for journalism at the
Council For Christian Colleges and Universities in Washington, D.C. He
writes this weekly column for the Scripps Howard News Service.




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