Raising Ecologically Conscious Pagan Children

In this day and age, it is highly important to be aware of our impact on our environment. Buzzwords though like “eco-friendly” and “environmentally friendly” have seemingly become meaningless though with the grab for the environmental dollar. You must read carefully between the lines on packaging and products. Advertising is never clear cut and up front. We are left wondering what we are meant to teach our children. Even more so we are left wondering “How” we can possibly teach them to be ecologically “Conscious”.

The confusing advertising and labelling as well as the public awareness campaigns provide us with a mix of messages that we must wade through to find the truth. It is a truth that is vitally important to locate. To just be a consumer without asking questions is a risky business in this day and age.

Simple risks we run are when we take one highly influential line of thinking that states that Omega –3 is vitally important to our growing children’s developing brains. So we feed them fish, but what fish? Bass fillets seem like an inexpensive alternative? But have you noticed they are imported from Vietnam where the fish are raised in one of the most polluted river ways in the world? Or tuna might be a choice but is it Dolphin safe? The murky, twisted pathways we walk as parents are distracting us in every aisle of the grocery store.

Nappies are one of the first decisions we make with our children; it comes right after bottle or breast. I will not even enter that particular debate as everyone knows that although bottle fed options are nutritionally sound, breast is always best. The nappy debate takes up a lot of time though with the traditional question being cloth or disposable? But is it that simple anymore? Absolutely not! In these days of water-wise, eco-friendly and financially constrained deciders the debate is no longer so simple. There are organic options, recycled products, water wise nappy services, cheap products and more luxury items.

And then you have the baby food. Now we can purchase wholesome organic options for children that sometimes may be even better than we can cook ourselves but then are they financially viable options?

So how do we decide? We do our own research and make our own decisions based on our own ethics and our own needs, but we must not judge others for choosing other options as they do it from there own research and hopefully in what is the best interest of their family.

But how does this ecologically influenced consumerism rub of on our children? How can we help to influence their choices? I have found the only way is to openly discuss the options with them. Talk about the earth and the risks it is exposed to when we choose unwisely. Discuss our impact on them. Let them see the ads on Television that show our personal production of greenhouse gases as black balloons. This visually influences them to appreciate the world around them.

Expose them to a wide variety of foods, fresh and local and colourful foods to entice them. Emphasise the need to support local industry, especially when the product is better. Plant a garden with them and grow your own foods. And if space is limited plant herbs in a window box and add to their meals. Join a food cooperative where you can swap and buy healthy home grown options. Go for walks in the park or the botanic gardens, look at animals and birds

Watch news programs designed for children like BTN (Behind the News) on ABC (here in Australia) and answer their questions. Tell them about environmental disasters and positive things that are happening. Show them physically, how running a tap too long or leaving a tap on can waste the water they use. Teach them water saving behaviours like brushing their teeth in the bath, taking shorter showers and only putting dirty clothes to the wash.

Teach them to turn off lights when they leave a room, not leave televisions on, use environmentally efficient light globes, being aware that the modern low wattage globes contain chemicals that do not break down easily, consider more expensive LED globes. Our night-light costs 60 cents per year to run.

Ensure they hug a tree on a regular basis, this shows them a respect for trees and thus the environment that they can only learn by experiencing it first hand. Plant a tree on Tree Day with them.

Then again, another basic every day activity is recycling. In our house we recycle as much as is humanly possible. In South Australia we have a 5 cent return on bottles and cans that our government is increasing soon to 10 cents. Surprisingly though we still only recycle about 70 % of our bottles and cans for money in this state.

At our house we have three bins, Green waste, Recycling and general waste. We never put out our green waste as it is all processed through the goat. We also have some black bags for the 5 cent recycling. The children all know what goes where and why. They participate in the process and are enthusiastic protectors of the earth.

The saddest thing about the world today is that most of the western world’s children are growing up environmentally illiterate. They have no knowledge of the world around them and no understanding of or relationship with nature. David Suzuki discusses these concepts in interviews on the BBC and in many of his books. If this is what they face without our influence then we must surely teach them something about the natural world around them.

Once again, though the biggest key to raising the Pagan child is to make these activities a part of your every day life. If you want your child to be ecologically conscious then you must show them you are. They learn by example and they know when you are not serious. They learn to respect the earth when they see you doing it. They learn to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle when they see you do it. They learn to conserve water and electricity when they see you do it.

And they learn why it is important when you discuss it with them.

Include them in the process and life becomes more meaningful to them and by the same token more meaningful for you.

So relax, enjoy the ride and look forward to a better world when our Ecologically conscious Pagan children are in charge of it!

Other Ways to teach children to respect our Earths resources

Buy Second hand clothes, utilise Free-cycle and clothing swaps. The clothing industry produces a large amount of green house gases in the production of new fabrics, the new fashion dyes produce toxins to our skin and the environment suffers because the cloth is made from petrochemicals. Or, if you are after new clothing consider any of the increasingly large range of Organic clothing and Ethical Fabrics.

Recycle, collect cans and reward them with the money.

Plant trees. If you have the space you can even get money from large companies wanting to offset their carbon emissions.

Set up a weather station in the back yard and measure rainfall temperature and wind speed as well as air quality. Keep notes and compare year to year.

Go and swim with dolphins, watch whales, cuddle a koala (or other local wildlife) go bird watching or to a local aquarium. Let them see animals up close. In Monarto Zoo (in South Australia) about 20 km up the road form us we have an amazing zoo. They have giraffes, elephants and zebras all in what amounts to open plains zoo.

Buy Organic foods, grow fruit and vegetables organically. Buy only Ethical products and always buy local produce when you can and explain to your children why.

Use the bus when possible, or better yet walk or ride a bike to save petrol.

Experiences of Deity in Nature

I stated the importance of letting children hug a tree. This is the most basic way for them to embrace the sacredness of nature. They can feel the power flow through the tree. Ask them how the tree feels when they hug it? Is it happy? Speak about earth in terms of the mother. We must look after the earth as she is what keeps us alive. We breathe her air and drink her water and eat the food she grows on her surface. We depend entirely on her for our existence. This teaches them to revere the earth and often Gaia / Danu/ Mother Earth is the Pagan child’s first deity. My daughter was like this. My older son saw the personalities in the trees and thus is an animist. He meets each new tree and rock as a separate entity. My younger son looked up first and fell in love with his Moon Goddess and the rest don’t bother him so much.

But in simple lessons like “do not litter as you are showing a lack of respect for the Goddess and she can get sick if we all litter”

Go to the beach with them and let them stand in the water and feel the powerful ebb and flow of the water. The powerful pull of the arms of the God or Goddess (that you associate with water)

Let them lie on their back and look up at the stars and the moon, or better yet some amazing astral phenomenon. I still remember lying out the back with my older three watching the moon turn red. The vastness of the sky and the massive expanse of distance is beyond the adult mind but children seem to grasp the concept of infinity. This shows them the expanse of the universe and all the power and energy that it encompasses.



How precious is the bunch of flowers picked by little hands for mummy?

Plants help us mark the passing of the Seasons… we have daffodils growing in our front yard… a beautiful long yellow line of sunshine through the bleary wet days… a promise of spring just around the corner.

Home Garden Soup

Collect the seasonal vegetables available and chop into pieces roughly 1 cm cubed.

Add all vegetables to a pot of water and cook until soft.

Add fresh garden herbs like parsley to the pot

Either serve rough with crusty bread or puree and serve with a dollop of sour cream or yoghurt and croutons.

Option One

Add bacon bones to water before vegetables

Option Two

Add Soup Mix grains and beans prior to vegetables

Option Three

Add pasta 15 minutes before serving

Planting a Child Friendly Garden

First thing is to choose a mixture of plants, both fragrant and edible.

You want to have some seeds, some seedlings and some plants that will be ready in about 14 days…. Children have no real patience!

You need to have planned mulch and fertiliser and soil. I found the best soil is organic, the best fertiliser comes from worms, that the children of course also have a goat that makes an excellent fertiliser-producing pet. Ducks work well too and have the added bonus of laying beautiful fresh eggs.

It doesn’t matter how big the space is, window box or ¼ acre, as long as they are helping to tend it, watch it and harvest it.

The biggest rule with a garden for children is NO CHEMICALS!! At all… none are needed there is always a non chemical alternative!

Companion planting is the first step so that if you plant tomatoes stick in some marigolds and basil. These keep the pests away and complement them when cooked.

Plant in a cycle so that you have year round crops. As Pagans why not include seasonally significant plants like pumpkins to harvest at Samhaine and flowers to pick for Beltaine

Get them their own little tools so they can claim ownership of their work.

And enjoy the garden with them! Take photos so you have a record of the whole experience and show them your pride in them!

A Tribute to Colin