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                      TO WICCEN OR NOT TO WICCEN......
                              by 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  funda-
     mental 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

     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 ar 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  themself as a concerned, caring
     parent) is forcing their own belief-system and value-judgements  on
     someone who is too young and helpless to speak for themself.

     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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