“The Magickal Family: Pagan Living in Harmony with Nature” by Monica Crosson was published in early October 2017. It caught my eye, but I didn’t read it for a new months because I assumed there wasn’t much that I would be able to get from it. We have a teenager who is magick-curious, but that’s it. However, my coven mate will be having a witchling soon, so I decided to get her this book for Yule. Of course, book nerd that I am, I couldn’t just wrap it without looking through it first, and before you know it I had read the whole thing. Even though this book does have a lot to do with raising Pagan children, an opportunity that our magickal household has missed out on, I still found myself getting a lot out of this book. It’s an excellent read, both informative and extremely engaging, and full of good ideas. While a lot of it works for families with witchlings, this book could also easily be used by adult witches without children, since there are a lot of ceremonies and magick for adult life events too (handfasting, recipes, cottage witchery).
The book is organized into two parts and has a total of fourteen chapters. Part 1: “Family Magick” has six chapters and is more general, while Part 2: “Family Sabbat Celebrations” covers the eight Sabbats in the Wheel of the Year.
Crosson is a natural storyteller, which creates a book that is easy to get lost in. Chapter 1: “Growing Up Pagan,” is about Crosson’s own experience as a child, finding paganism, and decided to raise pagan children. Crosson discusses specific issues and responsibilities that you have when raising pagan children that are really important to keep in mind. These include bullying that the child will probably experience, and that you will represent what a pagan is to a lot of the parents you encounter. This chapter also covers coming-of-age rituals for children, which are excellent. The author is Wiccan, but the rituals aren’t specific to one path. A handfasting ritual is also included in this chapter. One of the things that I really appreciate about this book is that the stories are about the rituals, but then the full ritual is included as well, making it a great resource.
Personally, I believe that raising pagan children is extremely important; many pagan families let children choose their own beliefs without guidance. While that’s a valid choice, and one that a lot of other belief systems don’t adhere to, the children lose a lot in the process, as do the pagan parents. My partner has told me that one of his biggest regrets about raising his two sons is that he left them out of his own Druid pagan path. You can’t go back and raise them again; we now have two muggles, and one definitely had ‘the gift’. It’s a loss to us all. Anyway, that’s how I feel, back to the book.
There is absolutely no way for me to review every chapter of the book because it would make this review massive on an untenable scale. The book is an oversized paperback and weighs in at 336 pages, none of which are filler. It took me the better part of a month to read through it all. In Part 1 alone there are recipes for both food and house cleaning projects, faerie garden ideas, moon activities, and so much more.
As engaging as Part 1 is, however, my favorite part of the book is Part 2: “Family Sabbat Celebrations.” Part 2 goes over every Sabbat in the Wheel of the Year, starting with Samhain and ending at Mabon. All the basic crafts are covered here and include helpful illustrations, but experienced witches won’t find anything new. What is new is how engaging the stories are, you really feel like the seasons are passing by due to Crosson’s storytelling. You also get the sense, as you read, that while certain crafts are done in almost every pagan household, it’s inevitable that family versions of each will appear over time.
The ability to create new traditions and pass them on is invaluable, and is one of the best arguments for raising children pagan that I can make. Interestingly enough, the book never takes that up, it just paints such a lovely picture of pagan family life that you can’t help but want the same thing, too.
This is one of the best magickal books that I read in all of 2017. The writing is absolutely brilliant, and it’s accessible to many levels of pagans. This would be an excellent book for baby witches who have young children themselves, or intermediate witches who want a glimpse into a pagan family. While the book is about children, I don’t think young witches would get much out of it, since so much of it would be abstraction.