Many Pagan parents feel it is important to teach their children the beliefs and traditions of various faiths. For some this is vital because they do not want their children to feel stifled or forced into one faith as they may have been as children. For others they just want their children to have the choice and understand what other faiths and spiritual systems have to offer.
Having something in common
Religion comes in every shape, size and color you can imagine but regardless of which path calls to you we all have basic beliefs in common. All religion speaks of living the best life you can, of keeping your family and community safe, of helping others and facing our challenges and obstacles in life head on. The names may be different, the ritual or ceremony a bit different but it all speaks to the same end.
Our faith guides us in living our best life through its stories, mythologies, scriptures and other teachings. Some belief systems see their stories as literal history, Pagan's in general do not. We see the various stories and mythologies as metaphor's for life. As such, this can allow us to see the message within the mythologies of other faiths as a way of enriching our own lives and experiences without prejudice. This is something that many Pagan parents want to pass on to their children.
The Jewish holiday of Passover is an 8 day holiday from April 15 -22 which commemorates and celebrates the biblical story of the Israelites freedom from slavery in Egypt. This follows the story of Moses going to Pharaoh and demanding his people be released from their slavery. When Pharaoh refuses God is said to send the 10 deadly plagues to Egypt. The last of which is the plague that kills only the first born of every family in Egypt 'passing over' the Jewish families. After Pharaoh's first born son dies he releases the Jews. They flee Egypt in such a hurry that they are unable to allow their bread to rise that they would take with them as food, this accounts for their custom of eating unleavened bread during this holiday. Pharaoh then chases them all the way to the Red Sea where Moses asks God to help and he is able to part the Red Sea and lead the Jews to freedom. They of course do not find their 'promised land' as expected but face may new challenges and adjustments in the years to come.
This is obviously an extremely condensed version of the story which is very colorful and dramatic in its telling. Some do believe that this story is historical fact but many Jews now see this story as a spiritual metaphor which guides them in overcoming challenges in their own lives today.
The Spiritual Metaphor
The lesson that each of us can take from this story, whether we are Jewish, Pagan or anything in between is that major life changes always come with new challenges and we must expect an adjustment period for ourselves and those around us. When ever we make a change that we know is for the best because we feel a sense of unfulfillment, oppression, abuse or that our time to move on is upon us we feel elation and relief in the beginning. This elation can however, lead to a sense of confusion because our 'promised land' has in fact not been reached. Whether your life change involves divorce, a new job or immigration to name a few, we find that our dreams have not been fulfilled. There are new challenges in front of us, new adjustments to make. For some of us we realize that the grass isn't always greener on the other side.
This is to be expected. We need to experience these adjustments and growing pains because it is a part of the process. It adds valuable knowledge and experience to our soul's growth and evolution. We realize how strong and resilient we really are, that we can recreate ourselves and work towards building our own 'promised land'. We can see our mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow without beating ourselves up about a past that is done and gone. We are supported through this process by our connection to our Source, in what ever name(s) you choose to use. This sacred story is a comfort to the Jewish people because it points the way for freedom for all.
Teaching this to our Children
Maybe you've moved or are going through a divorce, maybe a friend or other family member is having these life changes. This is an opportunity to help guide our children into an understanding of change. It can feel really good at first but sometimes it can make us sad. Sometimes change isn't comfortable but that's alright. We were born with the strength and love of our God/Goddess which means that even if change makes us sad or angry we will be able to adjust and find our happiness again.
You can take this time to have an open and honest discussion with your children about the changes they have had in their lives and how it has made them feel. Be honest (but age appropriate) about the larger reasons for the changes and how you hope it will be better for everyone in time. Let them express their feelings openly without judgment so they can begin working through this process.
If they've experienced a hard change in the past and were able to adjust well to the experience bring this up in the conversation. Have them remember how confusing or sad the change may have felt afterwards and how they were able to adjust and be happy once again.
These are important life skills that you won't find in any classroom. It's up to us as parents to prepare our children for these challenges and this holiday gives us a perfect opportunity.
Here are some ideas for sharing this holiday experience with your children:
Find a children's version and read them the story, then ask them questions about how they may have felt if they had gone through something like that. Then ask them about changes in their own lives that may have felt similarly.
If you have Jewish friends or live near a Synagogue ask if you could talk to someone about the holiday and what the story means to them. Maybe you'll even be invited to be a part of their celebration.
Compare the Jewish story of Passover with your own traditions mythologies. Use this as an example of how we all face life changes and we all have the ability to survive and find our 'promised land'.
The holiday of Passover is one of celebrating our life changes, our capacity to survive and thrive and a reminder to show compassion and understanding to those in our lives who are in the midst of one of these major life changes. We all have the ability to survive these major departures in our lives and live with the freedom it brings.