Tending the next generation of witches.

I juggled with what I wanted to write about for my first official post on this blog – my first post about my experiences as a witch and a dad, about my perspective on parenting magical kiddos. I wanted this first post to be light, fun and friendly – to warmly welcome you into this space with all the hope and love that I’m pouring into this project, and to invite you to join in this adventure. Simple, right?

The more I’ve written and rewritten this first piece, though, the more I realize that this part of the project – this small space, Candles and Crayons, my blog – is grounded in who I am and where I come from, the heavy stuff as well as the light. So for this first welcome, I’d like to share a bit about my journey as a witch and a parent.

Being Raised, and Raising Witches

I was born in Arizona to a single mom, raised in poverty with a vague Episcopalian and agnostic bent, and came out when I was fifteen, at a time when it wasn’t really okay to be an out queer kid (much less a witchy queer and trans kid) in Phoenix. Community, at that time, was for adults, whether that meant queer adults or witch adults or queer witch adults.

Photo from the 80’s, with two white children (one baby, one toddler) playing a game at a plastic table.

 

There wasn’t a space for queer kids and teens and there certainly weren’t many spaces for underage witches, and although Starhawk, Diane Baker, Anne Hill and Sarah Ceres Boore had already published Circle Round… my relatively conservative family certainly wasn’t reading it. The only piece out at that point aimed at witches my age was Silver Ravenwolf’s Teen Witch; after (or perhaps instead of) that, the other young witches I knew in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s most frequently defaulted to books and online spaces created by and for adults, often surreptitiously (for better or, sometimes, worse). Most of us weren’t raised by witches or as witches – we found it on our own, and in our craft and our spirituality, we raised ourselves. It’s a testament to our dedication and resilience, but also one of our struggle to learn and to belong.

If you’re reading this, you’re likely in a very different place now. You may be a mom or a dad or a non-binary parent, you may be a guardian or a caretaker, or you may work regularly with witchy and/or pagan kiddos – this is amazing! What’s even more amazing, though, is how much things have changed since the late 1990’s/early 2000’s – where the resources for witches parenting used to be sparse, in the last few years the field of books, podcasts, websites and creators all focusing on us and our magical smols have sprung up. That this is all happening in the midst of discussions about gender inclusion, decolonized practices, and accessibility means that when we talk about raising witches now, we can do so with resources on justice, empathy, and inclusion as well as witchy basics like grounding, meditation, and connecting with nature.

In short: it’s an amazing time to be raising witches.

Razing Inadequacy: Imposter Syndrome, Parenting, and Witchcraft

We’re also in a period where discussion about witchcraft and other magical traditions is happening alongside an acknowledgement of the importance of intuition alongside education, and a greater recognition of the impact of imposter syndrome on our witchy communities.  I’ve been familiar with imposter syndrome since I was a grad student a million years ago, but it wasn’t until I heard and read Astrea Taylor talk about it in (and in relation to) her book Intuitive Witchcraft that I realized how pervasive it was, not just for me as a witch, but as a parent. Like Astrea says, many witches experience imposter syndrome if they don’t come from a witch lineage – if you weren’t initiated by someone who was initiated by someone else who was initiated into a particular tradition or if you don’t come from a family line of witches, this may be you (it’s certainly me!). Imposter syndrome, brilliantly described by Sheryl Nance-Nash , is

…a feeling that many people can identify with: why do I feel like a fraud even though I’m eminently qualified for this job? Despite having education and training, many have never been able to break free of doubting their worthiness and step into any a higher level of success.

Nance-Nash talks about how it’s often people who are marginalized – women, Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) as well as queer and trans people – who are most likely to experience imposter syndrome.  Taylor draws the connection between this concept and those witches who, while they may be doing everything “right,” still feel like they aren’t good enough because they aren’t part of that initiated tradition. I get that, and I absolutely feel it, since like most witches in my local community my knowledge and craft is largely informed by reading, combined with the few occasional workshops, conferences, and classes I can take. It’s an incredibly rewarding path that fits my family and my life, but that doesn’t mean I never wonder if I’m doing it “right,” or if my witchcraft is “good enough.”

In much the same way, I’ve struggled with feelings of inadequacy around parenting. The combination of a difficult childhood and one without parental support for my craft means that, as a witch and a dad to little witches, I often feel like I’m flailing. Witches don’t often have a version of Sunday School to which we can send our kids, nor do most bookstores and libraries carry books about witchcraft and paganism aged at the board book/picture book audience. I’m beyond thankful for those who are working to create and expand the discussion around witchy parenting – they make this journey feel a little more secure and a lot less alone.

Realizing we are tasked with raising part of the next generation of witches is a powerful, if only occasionally daunting thing, and sharing resources, tackling challenges, and finding fellowship with other parents of magical kiddos has been a huge part of working on my witchy – and parenting – imposter syndrome. There’s a funny bit of wordplay there – the more we raise (our children, our communities, our expectations), the more we raze (our sense of shame, inadequacy, and isolation – the latter only compounded by the enforced separateness of our current global moment). This isn’t to say that these feelings are bad or wrong – just that they don’t necessarily serve us well when parenting or practicing our craft.

Love and Magic

a white baby reaching up for a "Love" banner
Black and white photo of a white child standing on a couch facing away from the camera, reaching for a banner that says “LOVE”.

 

So right now, I want to do both. I want to support my communities, to support other witch and pagan parents, other queer and trans witches, anti-racist witches, to advocate for accessibility and inclusion both online and off; I want parents and kids to be welcomed (not just tolerated) in more spaces where witches and pagans gather and create magic and ritual and joy. I also want to work to excavate the feeling that imposter syndrome that follows me as a witch and a parent, to shine a light on it and work through the things that create isolation and self-doubt. This project is a love letter to to those who have lifted up witchy parents and their kids as much as it is a wish for those parents and kids themselves.

I wish you joy, I wish you confidence, I wish you growth, and of course: I wish you magic.

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