Dear Fellow Pagans and Witches, Do you love your Guns, Gods, and Community?

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Nope, this is not a political post, well not in the sense of taking a particular side of recent tragic events. Kudos to those who caught the play on the title. Anyway, after a night of spending what should have been three-hours in a car, no thanks to a snow storm, I planned to use the day to catch up on writing and to relax. As I sat down to type a blog post that I had yet to finish, the previous day’s discussions had surfaced to the forefront of my mind.

At yesterday’s book signing, I spent much of my day talking with the customers and owner of The Cauldrons Flame in Connecticut. Although, the day was exciting and lucrative, it was also eye-opening.

As I drove the three hours to Connecticut my ears were flooded with news and commentaries on the Parkland shooting from the radio. Between this and Facebook I was tired of hearing about who and what was to blame. It’s not that I am insensitive to the event, I am just disgusted with how people chose to react. So, I chose to drive in silence instead. As I came upon just crossing the state line, I passed the exit for Sandy Hook, thinking to myself was this going to be the under tone of the day.

The bulk of the day was filled with normal conversations about my book and the usual Pagan topics. It wasn’t until the end of the event that I had gotten into an interesting conversation. Its topic brought me back to passing the Sandy Hook exit. What had started as just a chat about one’s son had turned into a discussion of the current state of the world we live in. Sadly, and repulsed I had learned that even after Sandy Hook, the state of Connecticut does nothing to help children who are struggling emotionally. This person’s son, who had been dealing with depression and anxiety due to constant bullying since elementary school had been pushed aside. Over the years, many things had happened and nothing was done for him or his family. The local school system and officials ignored and pushed aside every attempt to help this child. Luckily, he had a family that stood beside him along the way to keep him from going over the edge. The most shocking part of the whole story was that even after what had happened a few years before in Connecticut, nothing is still being done to help children and families who are in need of support. I learned that there is a lack of psychologists and therapists for children in the state due to the fear of liability that stemmed from Sandy Hook. I found it disturbing that even the school system would rather sweep things under the rug than have to deal with the fact that the children in their care may not be safe from social pressures and harm. I fear that this may be the norm across the county, in hindsight of the recent events. One question I have among many others is, where is the community involvement? It is very easy for the armchair activists (on both sides) to sit there complaining and posting their views and agendas. But what are we really doing in our community to make things better.

Anyone can post and say that they are “praying or sending love and light to the victims and families of this tragedy” But in all honesty, have they? And what, may I ask are you asking for from your Gods? Is it about your personal ideals on guns and government, and the awakening of the opposing party to these ideals or are you asking for a path to be shown on how you can make a difference in a troubling world, and the ways to get off your armchair and help someone who might be in need. We as Witches and Pagans should be a pillar in our community and not a pillow in front of a computer. As an early childhood educator, I see far too many children that are more in need of an honest, good hug than last year’s hot toy at Christmas time. My work doesn’t end when I walk out the school doors at the end of the day, nor will it end when I finish my teaching career. Many of the children I had when I first began teaching are now entering High School and I still talk to them and their families. Although it’s not directly, I am still a part of their life. I also check in with parents of certain children who I know are having a rough time, or they call me when they need help or just want that escape. This is the path I have chosen through the guidance of my own gods and goddesses.

One of the last conversations I had before I left for a five-hour drive was with Heidi, the owner of The Cauldrons Flame. We were casually discussing what she does for her community and how the store fits into it. She views her store not only as a place of business and resource for a local community, but a center of wellness and comfort for anyone seeking acceptance and knowledge. When she opens her doors daily she also opens her heart to a community in need. Heidi knows firsthand the hidden troubles in her community and she takes charge by providing a safe environment for not only Pagan and Witches but those who just may need a place to escape the outside world.

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This post was not meant to rant or finger point to any one side, but to get us thinking a little more about ourselves and our community in a such a crazy messed up world. When all is said and done with our current world, community maybe be our only resource for survival.

You Want a Time Out! Meditation and Children

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 A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be part of a social-emotional program designed for early education. Its main focus was to help children to be mindful of their own and others emotions through teacher guided activities and meditation. The children were encouraged to practice meditations of body awareness, patience, and relaxation. As teachers, we ourselves were taught not only how to meditate (I was one up on the others there) but also how to encourage children to want to meditate. By using modeling instead of actual lessons, the children were not forced into learning meditation techniques all at once. This method of “teaching” through example provides a stress free and positive outcome for the child and laid the groundwork for later incorporating actual meditation techniques into the classroom.

There are many benefits from meditation for children, not only in the magickal world, but in everyday living as well. Meditation helps reduce stress, anxiety, and aggression. It improves concentration, memory, and creativity. Children who meditate show a better sense of awareness, relaxation, and an overall healthier mind and body. It’s also been thought to strengthen the immune system and can lower the risk of future health problems. As an early childhood educator, I have seen these benefits manifest first hand.

When given the opportunity to observe the meditative practices of an adult, children will most likely want to sit alongside you and imitate what you are doing. By giving your little Witch this opportunity to sit with you during your own meditation practices, they will begin to learn themselves. If you do not have a regular meditation practice, this is a great way to grow and experience mindfulness together.

Below is a technique that I have used in the classroom and in my Little Witches workshops.

A Basic Relaxation Technique for Children

I recommend beginning on your own in a quiet setting, choose a time before a meal or before bed, soon after your child will follow. For older children you can explain to them why you are sitting in silence.

Begin by asking your child if they would like to play a relaxing game with you. Continue only if they show interest. If they show no interest one day they may the following day. I recommend doing the technique yourself, the child will become interested after some time.

Sitting in a chair, ask your child to sit with his or her feet flat on the floor and hands on his/her knees. Using a gentle, slow voice, saying or something similar:

“Look for a spot on the wall that you would like to look at.”

This can be any spot the child chooses. Explain to your child to keep their feet flat on the floor and their hands on your knees.

“Breathe in nice and slow and let it out nice and slow. When you feel your body wants to get wiggly, just say in your head, it’s okay that you’re feeling wiggly.”

“Try to keep your eyes on the spot as long as you can.”

Do this for only a minute or two the first time, and expand by one to two minutes each session. A good practice to maintain is to not exceed your child’s age in the number of minutes you spend in a session.

FYI: Having a good meditation practice can help encourage children with self-awareness, to be themselves, and have a greater belief in their own potential.