Pandora's Box - Arthur Rackham,C. 1900
|"Daddy we got a surprise for you!"
I jumped up, waving my hands in a hush-you gesture that was completely lost on my preschooler. Seeing my frantic signaling, he did the best he could to interpret and raised his hands in the air too. "TOUCHDOWN!"
"No no," I said, adding to his confusion. "What we got for Daddy today is a Christmas present! We dont tell people what we got them for Christmas; its more fun if they dont know what it is before they open it."
The child frowned. "You say always tell the truth."
I sighed, took him upon my knee (wow hes getting really heavy) and embarked upon the delicacy of secrets. How one secret is ok and another is not. Christmas presents are good secrets; sandwiches squirreled away under the bed are not. Doing something bad was not a good secret ("Tell the truth," he parroted again, finding comfort in the rote.)
There was one secret I didnt dare try to explain to him - my religion, hidden away from my parents and brothers like an illicit tattoo, or racy undies. I have recently come to grips with the reality that if I dont tell them, a miniature human possessing my genes is going to out me. I will go to pick up my son at my moms after an innocent excursion to the store. My mother will hold up a page with crudely drawn runes in crayon and calmly say "He says these are for protection against monsters and would like to hang it above the toilet. WTF?" Ok so she may leave off the last part. But I can so easily see the rest.
I dont want to tell him not to share our beliefs with others. I dont feel we have anything to be ashamed of, no real reason to hide away. So why havent I told them already? The biggest reason is habit. I dont want to rock the boat with my parents. (Who are both Leos, my regular readers might recall.) I have a good relationship with them now, though I didnt before I had kids. I considered telling them before, but I would always think to myself, what am I really gaining by sharing this part of my life with them? When I was a teenager, I didnt trust myself to articulate it well enough. In college I was not present so it hardly seemed worth it to tell them about it. After I got married and started having babies the universe looked at me and said "Well? You got more excuses? Why have you delayed this conversation this long?" Ive been so long in the habit of tucking my spirituality away in a dark corner that I dont know how to drag it out into the light.
This is where other paganish folk come in. I attended a cauldron workshop recently (yup, thats right, CAULDRON WORKSHOP. And it was as awesome as it sounds). I hadnt done any group work in a long time so it was really energizing to talk with other folk who get my drift in the spirituality department. One of the women there (pagannews.coms own Michelle, in fact) pointed out it didnt have to be a big deal. I didnt have to sit down and say "Mom ... Dad ... Im a solitary animistic pagan with totemic inclinations and a dash of Vodou." It could start with a discussion of intention. A little talk about the historical significance of the moon cycles in ancient cultures. Pointing out plants in her garden that had magical meanings attached to them. In all likelihood, in some way they probably already know.
Even if they dont, theyre going to have to find out, one way or another. With every new idea, every new vocabulary word my preschooler learns, my time to explain it to them in pieces grows shorter. It isnt good that Ive kept this from them for so long. Our kids, they keep us honest. Anything less just isnt good enough for my little sprouts.
Buckle your seat belts, kids. Mamas gotta own up to her secrets. Always tell the truth.
About the Author: Julie Cox is a new pagan writer and artist who lives with her two young children and husband in Texas. She carries degrees in both Art and Religion. To see more of Julie's artwork go to Shopping and Art gallery on our main menu.