To Wiccen Or Not To Wiccen

Vivienne West

Christians "christen" a child shortly after it comes into the world. Surely, then, it would make sense for Wiccans to "wiccen" a child at the same age - or even earlier.

I have an objection to the christening ceremony based on my fundamental belief in the right of the individual to make their own free choice. The christening ceremony, usually if not always performed on a person who is far too small to speak for themselves, condemns the child to at least nominal Christianity all their life. Their parents are sworn to raise the child as a Christian no matter how obviously unhappy that makes their offspring, and statements are made in ritual about the actual belief-system of the child. This is abhorrent to me: no one should ever make binding magical promises (and all rituals, even Christian ones, are magical) about someone who cannot speak for themselves and whose preferences are not known.

Now, I have read short articles in various Pagan magazines in the past (one in particular I remember, but Murphy has got to my mind, so I can remember neither the title nor the authors' names) in which people have laid out ritual events are scripts that do exactly the same thing, only in Wiccan terms instead of Christian ones. This, too, even as a Wiccan, I find distasteful. Once again, a person (even if they think of themselves as a concerned, caring parent) is forcing their own belief-system and value-judgments on someone who is too young and helpless to speak for themselves.

I do believe in celebrating the event of birth. Birth is a huge step: it is a statement about the individual's choice of environment and associates for up to the next hundred years or so. It marks the beginning of a period known as life, in which the individual is offered chances to grow and develop, as well as to experience pleasures and pain. Birth should be celebrated, and it is fitting to celebrate it in front of the Gods.

But even as a part of such celebration, do I have any right to insist that my infant child is going to grow up into being Wiccan? Obviously, as a Wiccan whose every aspect of life is influenced by my belief-system, I am going to teach my child about the Craft and try to instill a love of the Gods that I know and love. I am going to try to teach a love of the magical way of looking at the world, as opposed to the boring old way everyone else looks at things. Yet if my offspring, while knowing all they can about the Craft, decide it is not for them and some other path (or no path at all) is the only right and fitting way to live their life, then that is their decision. I have no right, even at this early stage, to condemn them to a lifetime of Wicca, no matter what.

On the other hand, though, as a caring parent I have every right and every emotional need to do whatever I can to protect and bless my child. I will definitely do a working when this infant I am carrying is born. This will be along the lines of an introduction or presentation of my child to the Old Ones, and an asking of their blessing and protection on him/her. It will not, however, be an ceremony formally inducting the child into Wicca. That can wait until such time as he/she expresses an interest in initiation.

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