Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Pagan mothers and Barefoot Books

I recently got an email from a pagan mother living in south east England.

Antares, who is a witch trying to raise a family in a way that is consistent with her spirituality and beliefs, wrote about some of the problems she had faced.

She said: "I wonder if I could trouble you to help me start a debate about if we want to recognised as a religion, we must remember that not all witches are able to base their faith around drinking sessions at the pub, that motherhood is hard enough without feeling isolated from people of your own religion because you have children, that there are not enough resources out there to advise people on pagan parenthood, and a lack of events that are inclusive of family."

I sympathise. Although I don't have children to look after, I do care for my elderly, frail mother. This often means I can't get to pagan events without arranging for careworkers to look after her while I am away - which is expensive and requires plenty of forward planning.

Antares also said in her email that she had experienced trouble finding pagan-themed books suitable for children - but this was one problem she had managed to solve.

She said: "One of the issues I had was trying to find books for my children regarding regarding alternative lifestyles and so I found - and then joined - a children's book publishing company called Barefoot Books. I will be honest I run it as a business and try to earn a living from it, but much more than that I believe in the philosophy of Barefoot, they are ethical, multicultural, promote global community, have children's books on vegetarianism, the Goddess etc , but they do embrace all faiths as well as pagan."

Antares asked me if I would review one of the books on A Bad Witch's Blog. However, as I am not a mother - and also have a growing pile of other books to review on my blog already - I wasn't really sure I was the right person to do this. Nevertheless, having had a look at the Barefoot Books website and feeling the ethical company was definitely worth giving a plug to on my blog, I thought the best thing to do was to ask Antares to send me some more details.

Very promptly, I was sent the Barefoot Books mission statement. Here it is:
"Explore. Imagine. Create. Connect. Give Back. That’s what Barefoot Books is all about. It’s exploring other cultures, our planet, ourselves. It’s making time for make-believe and letting imaginations run wild and free. Most of all, it’s about using the power of stories to nourish the creative spark in everyone and strengthen connections with family, the global community, and the earth.

"Barefoot Books began with two mothers who wanted their children to have books that would feed the imagination, while instilling a respect for diversity and a love of the planet. Today, we are a world-wide community of writers, artists, storytellers, musicians, and others who are committed to providing timeless stories and captivating art that can help children become happy, engaged members of a global society."
Antares also sent me a short review, written by pagan mum Heather, of a Barefoot book called Winter King Summer Queen.

Heather said: "Winter King Summer Queen was a beautiful book from start to finish; my son - who is four - loved the way it explained why we have the seasons and why it can't be summer all the time. The illustrations are gorgeous and as a pagan I love that finally there are books out there that convey these ideas so well. The God and Goddess flow throughout the book and it is a delightful story that I will be reading many times with my son."

The author of Winter King Summer Queen is Mary Lister and it is illustrated by Dianna Mayo. The book is suitable for children aged four to nine and the paperback costs £5.99. You can find out more or order copies through the Barefoot Books website at http://www.barefootbooks.com/marketplace/15953

I do feel Antares has raised some important questions about how the pagan community can help those others who share the same spiritual path but feel isolated because of the constraints of being a mother or a carer. It would be good to hear from others in similar situations, so please do leave a comment below.

The pictures show Barefoot Book cover images

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I felt the same around 10 years ago so started a group with a friend that was specifically geared to women, and their children also, if they had them. We no longer exist as a formal group as our children are now grown and we seem to have moved around now and no longer live nearby. It was fab! We still meet up as and when we can and it has been a great source of friendship, empowerment and support.
My advice to people would be to start something yourself instead of bemoaning the fact that no one else is providing for you. You are the best person to know what you need so take the magickal Bull by the horns and take action! We cannot expect dynamic spiritual communities to spring up next door to us with no legwork on our part. In my experience there are other parents out there hoping and waiting too. Put up some posters locally, stick an ad on witchvox or other sites. Before you know it you'll be meeting up in coffee shops instead of pubs!

Nellie said...

I'm so glad to see people talking about this. I have young children and there are so many parenting issues that just don't get adequately covered from a pagan perspective. Paganism in general is such a personal thing that it becomes really hard for us a pagan parents to forge a way forwards. Even deciding whether or not to even bring our own faith/spirituality into our childrens lives is a fraught decision - a problem that many of the mainstream religions just don't have!! I think of homeschooling and how many resources there are for christian homeschoolers, in contrast to what a pagan homeschooler can hope to find. As pagan parents we seem to be a generation that is feeling the way with pagan-parenting. It makes it twice as difficult because as you say we tend to be so isolated and lack the support structure that other parents from other faiths/cultures may have. This has been on my mind a lot of late and I've pulled together a group of pagan parents to write on a blog - real pagan parents sharing their views on what it is to be a pagan parent and the challenges we face, the questions we ask ourselves. The posts are still fairly sporadic as yet, but I hope once the ball gets rolling we'll see people posting more often (and there's some great people who have agreed to write on the blog when they get time! Ah free time, remember that!?)
I agree that having children does make it more difficult to participate in the pagan community because our commitment as parents obviously comes first. The closest pagan group to me is a good 25 minute drive away. I love to be part of it and meet like-minded people but I'm just not able to spare the petrol money, or able to fit it around the children at this point in time. One of the biggest problems for myself has been that it is hard enough to find a pagan in my locality, let alone a pagan parent to have some sort of sense of community with!
Anyone who is putting out feelers ~ I'm interested, here I am (heehee!) I personally would like our spiritualities to be recognised as a religion, because with that comes some degree of social acceptance, and many pagans, particulary parents, are still very much in the broom closet because paganisms are not particularly well regarded at large by some people. It is difficult because 'pagan' is an umbrella term for so many spiritualities, but so is 'hindu' and yet that is regarded as one of the worlds major religions. One Hindu can be very different in belief/and practise to the next. Everything is doable, the question is merely 'how' surely?
I've actually waffled on so long I can even remember the original question... ;)

barefootsara said...

Hi, I have just come across your blog as I was searching barefoot books! I am a barefoot ambassador and I would just like to say how lovely the review is that you have written!
I strive to teach my (5) children good morals,values and to treat people how they would like to be treated themselves, The barefoot books are such a great way to spend time with them and teach them something without them even realising!
I'm loving your blog and would like to link from my own blog to yours... I have many friends that will find you a great support to them as I am now!
Thanks sara

barefootsara said...

Hi, I have just come across your blog as I was searching barefoot books! I am a barefoot ambassador and I would just like to say how lovely the review is that you have written!
I strive to teach my (5) children good morals,values and to treat people how they would like to be treated themselves, The barefoot books are such a great way to spend time with them and teach them something without them even realising!
I'm loving your blog and would like to link from my own blog to yours... I have many friends that will find you a great support to them as I am now!
Thanks sara

badwitch said...

Barefootsara - Thank you very much for your lovely comments and for the link on your blog!

Nellie said...

BadWitch can I be cheeky if I say pretty please??(Especially cheeky as I'm a fairly new follower!!)

This post of yours keeps floating around in my head. It's a shame there weren't more responses. I wondered if you'd pass on my email address (elphie[at]vodafoneemail.co.uk)to Antares as I'd love to exchange a word or two with her? Having had a look at the barefoot book shop I'd love her contribution to the pagan parents blog I mentioned earlier.

Sorry for being so cheeky ~ I'll be sure to make more relevant comments in the future! :D
Nellie x

badwitch said...

Nellie - I have forwarded your email as requested.

Nellie said...

Thankyou thankyou! :)

Antares said...

Thanks for all your feedback, support and comments x