There is a strong tradition within paganism of elders in the community passing down their skills and knowledge to the younger generations. In this respect, being a pagan grandparent is little different to being a grandparent of any other faith. The differences lie in the subtleties of how we behave and how we interact with our grandchildren.
As an individual can become a grandparent at a young age, the conventional image of a wizened crone or old man with flowing grey beard no longer applies to most grandparents. Step-children and blended families can mean grandparenting arrives sometimes when you least expect it. As a pagan, this can be seen as the natural order of things in modern times, and should be something to celebrate.
When faced with the prospect of begin a pagan grandparent, what are your responsibilities? Initially, they are just like any other grandparent has to decide upon: are you going to be a hands-on or hands-off grandparent? Are you going to be indulgent or influential? What are you going to be called by your grandchildren? Your paganism may bring some influence on these decisions, depending on what tradition within paganism you follow.
Those who practice hereditary witchcraft may feel the responsibilities of grandparenting more than most. This branch of paganism simply would not survive without the influence and instruction from the older generations to the younger. There may be rituals and equipment that will be handed on, and the grandparent’s knowledge and advice will be an intrinsic part of the family activities.
In other traditions, it is often the grandparents who have the time to devote to the children’s instruction. Grandparents are often informal daycare for many children, and this is a perfect way to explain the workings of nature and how our actions can impact others. Cause and effect is a basic principle within paganism, and can be taught very simply to grandchildren by using examples in the garden and kitchen.
Folklore and legends form a large part of paganism. Bedtime stories are a great way of passing on the tales of our ancestors. Grandparents lend a sense of authenticity to these tales, and in many respects they can validate their own children’s beliefs by repeating and expanding on what the child’s parent has already begun. The continuity of a belief system within a family gives a child a stronger sense of personal identity and can help develop self confidence. Many common fairy tales have their roots in pagan mythology, so as grandparents we can explain where these stories have come from and perhaps why they are still relevant today.
An alarming number of children today have no idea where beef comes from, or what a blackbird’s song sounds like, or why they leave cookies and milk out for Santa Clause. Pagan grandparents can fill that knowledge gap by spending time focusing on those things. Leave the formal teaching on algebra and comprehension to the schools, and the day to day discipline to your own children to decide on. Pagan grandparents have a responsibility to encourage their grandchildren to explore the world, find out how things work, and embrace the possibilities that science and other religions have dismissed.
Children grow up all too quickly in our modern world. Pagan grandparents can prolong the sense of wonder in their grandchildren, and have fun with them at the same time.