Book Review: Pagan Parenting: Spiritual, Magical & Emotional Development of the Child

This review originally appeared in the Autumn 2001 issue of Reclaiming Quarterly under the name Loam Akasha-Bast.

Pagan Parenting: Spiritual, Magical & Emotional Development of the Child

By Kristin Madden

It won’t fill the same beloved space on your bookshelf as Circle Round, but Pagan Parenting is bound to make its way onto your parenting resource list.

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this book is author Kristin Madden’s introductory discussion on incarnation and her comprehensive analysis of the development of energy systems in a child’s body.  She presents exercises such as lucid dreaming and telepathy to encourage innate psychic abilities.  One caveat: much of the book is written from a shamanic perspective, so if you sway cynical toward the metaphysical, you may consider using this book strictly as an activity reference.

Chock full of hands-on magical activities and games (including a thorough resource appendix), Pagan Parenting provides a framework for families to explore such topics as nighttime protection, elemental play, grounding, and identifying your child’s spirit guides.  Age guidelines are provided for each activity, often including variations for younger or older children. One of the exercises I found particularly helpful with my own daughter is “Be a Bee”, a breathwork activity based on a pranayama technique.  This deep breathing activity has been extremely helpful in situations where my daughter is hurt or scared from nightmares.  By breathing in deeply through her nose and exhaling with an exaggerated buzzing sound, she is able to calm herself down without too much intervention on my part.

This book includes practical advice on topics such as health and healing, the family and community dynamic, honesty versus secrecy and some generalized answers to the “tough questions,” such as:  What happens when you die?  Do animals have spirits?  Where do babies come from?  Why are you homosexual/bisexual?  Why are we pagan?

Rites of passage rituals are included for everything from pregnancy to the death of a pet.  I was relieved to see an Abortion Healing Ritual included as part of these Rites of Passage; however, I felt the section focused too heavily on abortions for pregnant teenagers and precluded abortion as a possibility for adults.

All in all, this is a very conscientious book.  There were a few places where “male” and “female” energies were too genderized for my taste, but on the whole, Madden writes with a constant awareness of pagan ethics and is respectful of the various pagan paths.  She emphasizes sacred play in a way that is not at all dumbed down or condescending.  Parents are encouraged to work through their own shadows so they can they can be more effective parents.  Her ultimate goal is to help parents create empowered children who thoroughly understand their mundane and spiritual selves.

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