When we decided to try having a baby, my husband and I were well aware of the fact that doing so would mean putting some of ourselves aside (at least for a little while). We must re-prioritize how we spend our excess money and time. Traveling will be a little difficult for a few years. Spontaneous nights out at the movies will stop until the little one is old enough to come along (here’s hoping there are some good children’s movies in the making!). I’d like to think I’ll still be able to do the crafting I like, but even now my energy levels aren’t what they usually were. Any sewing or fiber work I’ve done has been for the baby or my future niece (although I did take time to make my friend Corinne a pair of owl earrings). I don’t see that changing any time soon. My desire to vend has vanished for the time being. I’m planning to “close” my certificate of authority allowing me to sell at craft fairs. I will probably make more pieces to put in the ADF store or other local shops in the area, but I’m no longer taking consignments. Any free time I have to craft, I intend to spend it expressing myself just how I want, making things for the protogrove, or for my baby.
A fellow blogger, Octopusdance, wrote about “Pagan Monasticism” the other day and it got me thinking. I remember a younger me wishing I could just go away from the rest of society and focus intently on my spiritual path. I would spend my time in a self-sufficient community of like-minded individuals. We would grow and prepare our own food, tend a garden sanctuary to the Nature Spirits, make our own tools, teach each other our specialties, commune with the Spirit World, meditate, and study. And of course, nights would be spent around the fire telling stories, singing songs, and drinking our own homemade meads, ales, and wines.
What a dream, right? Now, initially I was thinking of such places as child and spouse-free because, let’s face it, family creates distraction. Monastic life couldn’t be for me, at least not in this life.
Then something dawned on me. I was thinking of a deeply spiritual life through the lens of Christianity and Buddhism. I suddenly recalled reading about the ancient Druids’ ability to marry and have children (Ellis, 82). Indeed, Irish stories are full of Druids having liaisons and children, and the Gods themselves were constantly trysting and marrying. Why would the Druids limit themselves if they didn’t want to? Now, of course, we know the ancient Druids held a high place in society. Fosterage was probably a common practice among them just as it was with other high ranking families. There’s evidence that Medieval Irish children were given to foster parents around the age of seven (Bitel, 86). Did this practice exist among the ancient Druids? If it did, seven year olds are far more independent than infants. If a female Druid had a baby, did she take a break? Were her duties lessened? Did the community help her? We may never know.
And yet, perhaps we modern Druids can continue to be (or at least try to be) deeply spiritual while acting as parents. It’s not monastic life, but then again, we modern Druids have embraced an idea of reveling in all of life’s blessings (within moderation) rather than denying them to ourselves. Parenthood is just another joy to be experienced, another lesson to be learned, and another way of experiencing the Kindreds.
So, no, I don’t see myself sacrificing my spiritual life.
Northern Rivers Protogrove remains a priority to me. It doesn’t rank as high as the baby, of course, but I set this whole thing in motion last year with the study group and I don’t intend to see it fall on its face. Thankfully, everyone involved is also very dedicated and very supportive of my pregnancy. My protogrove sisters are excited to help plan a Mother Blessing ceremony for me, and I am hoping to having a baby saining ritual later in the year. I have confidence in them that if I ever need to be absent from a rite, they will perform beautifully! I’ve even had offers from nearby ADFers to come and help with a summer High Day should I not feel up to it as I approach delivery. Even after the baby is born, we plan our rites ahead of time. I’m sure a family member will be able to babysit for a few hours while we celebrate. Bringing baby to workshops, study sessions, and business meetings won’t deter me. I’m hoping to carry baby close, and my husband can easily take a fussy babe away for a moment if needed. Thank goodness for Weretoad! Thus I intend to remain a facilitator and “priestess type figure” for my little community. I do not, however, intend to become clergy anytime soon. I will continue to work on my Initiate Study Program to better serve my community and deepen my spiritual practices, but the clergy training program, and the demands of clergy responsibility, are a bit beyond me right now. Those are goals for later in life.
But what about my personal practices? I guess I won’t really know until the baby arrives. I’ve read and heard that the first few weeks are the hardest. My world will revolve around the baby and recovering. I imagine any energy I have left could go towards a prayer before my altar or a lit candle on Brighid’s shrine. Seems appropriate. After that, I may just set aside some time each week, like a Saturday morning, for meditation and ritual. I am hopeful that I can continue my daily devotionals. Things may be a bit touch and go for the first year or so, but I imagine it will settle out eventually and I’ll be able to have a routine again. It will be a new routine, but it will exist.
My life as I knew it is going to change – already is changing – and some things must be sacrificed for the new life I’m bringing into the world – at least for a little while. Yet I don’t intend for my spirituality to be one of them. If anything, I can see the baby strengthening my Druidism.
I guess only time will tell!
Bitel, Lisa M. Land of Women: Tales of Sex and Gender from Early Ireland. Cornell University Press: Ithaca, NY. 1998.
Ellis, Peter B. A Brief History of the Druids. Carroll & Graf Publishers: New York, NY. 2002.