Category Archives: The Pagan Child

Thanks, Squat!

Broom Parking.

All those dirty nun jokes paid off!  My son did indeed get one of the coveted parking spaces.

And now, an offering of thanks:

There once was a nun from Siberia,
who was born with a virgin interior,
until a young monk,
jumped into her bunk,
and now she’s a mother superior.

Thanks, Squat!



*If this is your image, please let me know so that I can properly credit it.  Thanks!


Filed under The Pagan Child

Got Squat?

Got Squat

When you’re a parent and and witch, you rather hope your offspring will follow in your footprints.  But — just as it should be — my son has always been his own person, with his own path to follow.  One that doesn’t usually coincide with mine.

So it was a proud day when I came upon my son looking up dirty nun jokes on the internet.

Before you start hitting your back button, take heart.  It all had to do with Squat, the Goddess of parking spots.

My son explained he was entering the lottery for a parking place at school (there aren’t enough spaces for everyone).  And he needed to appeal to Squat, Goddess of parking places, for Her help.

Awww … it makes a Mother proud.

And in case you don’t know Squat, the folks that call upon Her swear She’s very helpful.  I understand from my own HPS, she is especially revered in San Francisco, where to invoke Her you say:

Squat, Squat I like you a lot
I think you’re hot
Help me get a parking spot!

Then you tell a dirty joke about a nun, to fuel the spell.

Hence the dirty nun jokes.




Filed under The Pagan Child, The Vagaries

Planting the bann, a rite of passage

Bann – from O.E.bannan “to summon, command, proclaim”


Most of us are slipping — unremarked and unsung – through the phases of our lives.  And by and large, our children are learning to do the same.  Frankly, we all deserve better.   I’m not sure which Muse is in charge of inspiring the writing of pagan rites of passage, but to that Worthy Being, I herewith offer up my thanks and praise.

Here then is a simple yet meaningful rite of passage for a child entering adolescence.  It’s a bit different from other pagan rites of passage.  For starters, it’s entirely self-directed.  The parents make the ritual and the items needed available to their child.  It should be left completely up to the child when, or even if to work the rite.

If the youngsters are shy, they can do the rite and never tell a soul.  If they are social butterflies, they can pick their moment, so that everyone knows what they are about to do, and celebrate with their family afterwards.

But the thing dearest to my own heart is that this ritual isn’t molded and sanitized into political correctness.  It’s a Real Thing ™, and I believe our children deserve more that is real and meaningful in their lives.

Since I have a son, I’ve written this for him.  But truth is it will work equally well for a young woman, and I’ve included notes along the way for a daughter.  This rite may be done at any point after the youth becomes physically capable of procreation.

For the Parents:

When your son reaches the onset of puberty, present him with a small knife, and a charm which has been threaded to wear around his neck.   In addition to whatever other witchy goodness you work into the charm, the charm will act as a signal.  Your son will wear it to announce he’s off to work this rite, and that you shouldn’t talk to him, or otherwise interact with him while he’s wearing it — he’s invisible.

I gave my son a hare’s foot charm.   The hare is a potent symbol of fertility; something I’m both delighted and terrified to contemplate in connection with my son.  As well, there’s folklore about witches traveling to the sabbat in the form of hares, so that they wouldn’t be recognized and burned at the stake for their wicked ways.  Perhaps they were wearing amulets made from the hares, as a signal to those who were in the know that they were off to the sabbat.

Now, about the knife:  the blade must contain iron, so that it will change the flow of energy where it touches.  For this purpose, it will help attract the attention of the Ancestors.  Steel knives will fit the bill, as steel is an alloy of iron and (usually) carbon.   Be sure to check your local laws regarding carrying knives in public, so your child doesn’t risk getting in trouble during this rite.  For instance, around here it’s illegal to carry a knife with a blade of over 5-1/2 inches.   If you’re dead set against using a knife for magic, you could certainly use some other iron tool.  But then again, if you believe a knife too sinister a tool for magical work, you’ll probably stop reading just about the time this starts to get interesting.

When you give these gifts to your son, he’ll need to know what they’re for.  Discuss it face-to-face, or hang these gifts on his doorknob in the dead of night along with a print-out of the instructions.  It is (of course) all up to you.  Do be sure to discuss any safety issues you have beforehand.  For instance, if you don’t want him leaving the house at midnight to do this, then better say so!  Remember — once your son is wearing the charm, you can’t communicate with him.  He’s “invisible.”

If your son makes it known to you in some fashion that he’s off to perform this rite, be prepared to welcome him home.  Once he’s returned and removed the charm, rise to meet him, offering him the first sip from a cup of wine, beer or other drink with spirit in it.   This can also be juice to which you’ve added a bit of activated yeast – a pinch of dried yeast, which has been added to a spoonful of slightly-hotter-than-body-temperature water along with a pinch of sugar, and left for a few minutes until it foams up.  A drink with “life” in it is especially appropriate for toasting you son’s change of status.

After he has taken the first sip, share the cup around in toast of his stepping over the threshold from childhood to adolescence.

For the Youth:

Take up your knife or other iron implement, as well as some of your own semen on a small piece of fabric or tissue.  From here on out we’ll call it your Seed, because that’s exactly what it is.  Tuck both Seed and knife somewhere handy, but out of sight — either a pocket or a small sack would be good – as you’ll need to take both of them with you for your rite.

Daughters, you’ll pack up your knife or iron implement, along with some of your menstrual blood on a small piece of fabric or tissue.  We’ll refer to this as your Tide, because your period follows a lunar cycle rather than a calendar month.  Blood is mostly made up of salt water, and your Tides, like the tides of the ocean, come in and out in response to the pull of the Moon.

Once you are wearing the charm, don’t speak, except to say the words of the rite itself.

After you’re out of your house, stop and take a moment to relax and gather yourself up – three deep breaths should do the trick.  This will help you to switch gears from your regular mindset into one better suited for ritual.

Walk to a tree that you like the looks of, and that doesn’t have any people near it.  Don’t spend a lot of time looking for the perfect tree.  What you want is to find a nice tree, perform a simple rite, and get home again, without speaking to anyone.   If you need to nod or smile in order to acknowledge someone who’s speaking to you, that’s fine.  Just do so and keep moving.  If you do have to speak, go home and try again another time.  If you’re interrupted during the actual rite, put things back the way you found them and find another tree.

Once you’ve found your tree, drop to your knees facing the tree, put your palms flat on the ground, and touch your forehead to the ground.  This is you greeting the tree, which is only polite, since it’s going to help with your rite.  Take your knife in your right hand (yes, even if you’re left-handed), and dig a small hole near the base of the tree.  The hole should be big enough to set the fabric holding your Seed (or Tide) into and deep enough that you can bring the soil back over it later so that your offering won’t be disturbed.

Plant your Seed or Tide in the hole.  Then, bend down so that your mouth is close to the hole, take a deep breath and, speaking softly but surely, say these words into the hole:

 “I am a now man”

Or, for you ladies:

“I am now a woman”

Cover the hole over with soil.  Place your palms on the ground and touch your forehead to the ground again, in leave-taking of the tree.  Walk away from the tree without looking back, return home without speaking to anyone, and don’t speak about the rite itself for at least one lunar month.

By announcing into the hole that you are a man or a woman, you are speaking to the Beloved Dead.  The Spirits Under the Mound.  Your Ancestors — those to whom you are related by blood, and those who inspire you.  Your announcement will travel to them through the roots of the tree.  They will hear you and recognize you by your offering who you are.  You are telling them that you are entering a new phase of your life, and they will stand ready to help you out.

In fact, that’s the origin of “knocking on wood” — folks rapping their knuckles on wood furniture or woodwork.  The wood was once a tree with roots that reached into the Underworld, and knocking upon it catches the attention of the Ancestors, so they hear you and help.   Going forward, if you need help or inspiration, don’t forget that not only do you have family and friends willing to help, you can ask your ancestors for help by knocking on wood.

Once you’ve crossed the threshold of your house and taken off your charm, you’re no longer “invisible” and free to speak and be spoken to.

May your Ancestors heap blessings upon your journey!


©Trothwy 2011

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Filed under Crooks and Straights, The Pagan Child

What would the neighbors think?

Personally, I’ve always found the Unitarians to be a fair folk.  And they have such lovely tenets:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
  • Sounds good, right?   Well, since you asked …

    After a spate of visits to their church, a pre-teen friend of mine invited his Baptist buddies to visit his church.

    The answer was yes, until the parents discovered he meant a Unitarian Church.  Turns out they disagree with the Unitarian principles.  Alas, no visit would be permitted.

    All right and proper.  Parents should make informed decisions for their children.

    But Pagans All:  Consider carefully before you exit the broom closet.  If this is what they think of the Unitarians, what would your neighbors make of you?

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    Filed under Crooks and Straights, The Pagan Child

    Night blessing

    When my son was very little, I struggled (like many of you probably do) with how he could experience the richness of our spiritual lives without running afoul of the other parents at nursery school or our right-wing neighbors.

    About that time I stumbled across The Carmina Gadelica: Hymns and Incantations with Illustrative Notes on Words, Rites, and Customs, Dying and Obsolete:  Orally Collected in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and Translated into English by Alexander Carmichael, published in 1928 as Volumes I and II .

     I love the lyrical feel of the verses.  And it’s obvious even to my unscholarly eyes that the gentle Christianity reflected therein is but a thin veneer over a rich pagan past.

    From there I discovered Mike Nichols’ pagan adaptation of the Carmina Gadelica.  I cherry-picked pieces of his verses and adapted them into a night blessing and warding.

    Even now, with my son all but out of grade school, we still use it.  Here it is, in case you find it useful too.


    (Standing by the bedside):

    Be thy soft breast, O Goddess, under my son’s head.

    (Cup under his head with my right hand)


    Be thy radiant light, O God, over my son shining.

    (Bring hand to pause over eyes, then rest on chest.)


    And be the pentagram upon him, protecting him

    (Draw an invoking pentagram on his chest with right forefinger, then dot the top.)


    From the crown of his head (cup forehead)

     to the soles of his feet (cup feet),


    From the crown of his head (cup forehead a second time)

    to the soles of his feet (cup feet a second time)


    (Kneel by bedside, hold arms bent at elbows and perpendicular to body, palms up):


    O Powerful Goddess,

    Ward the house, the hearth, the animals

    And all who dwell herein tonight.

    Shield myself and those I love.

    Preserve us from violence and from harm;

    Preserve us from foes and evil intent,

    For the sake of She who stands at the crossroads

    And He who shines in hilltop fire.

    Within and without and round about.

    Goiti, Beiti, Eman, Hetan.*

    Be it so.


    *Although I’ve been unable to find a good source to confirm it, these words are given to be a form of Basque, and to mean “Above.  Below. Here. There.”



    © Trothwy 2006

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    Filed under The Pagan Child