“Don’t eat the incense”: Children’s Participation in Contemporary Pagan Practice
Keywords:Paganism, children, ritual
AbstractBased on ethnographic fieldwork with Pagan families around the United States, this article examines the changing spiritual needs of Pagan parents and children as evidenced in the development of child-friendly and child-centered rituals. Pagan parents’ ritual adaptations and innovations provide ways for children to participate in ritual and offer instances of the religious creativity of Pagan families. Examples of child-oriented ritual adaptations are drawn from a private family ritual as well as a large community ritual performed by a SpiralScouts circle. In addition to these adaptations of “traditional” ritual elements and tools, this paper suggests that understandings of “ritual” be expanded—especially when children are involved—to include seemingly mundane everyday activities within the family as well as larger, group ceremonial practices. The emphasis within Pagan families on the performance of ritual activities and spiritual practices in everyday life reflects the importance of considering ritual as only one of the many venues for religious expression among adults and children.
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