Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Paganism in Public Schools: A Teacher's Guide, Part One

 Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," public school teachers! Perhaps you have noticed that things have changed overnight in the ol' US of A. And while none of us like it, well, there you are. Personally I am heartsick, because separation of church and state has always been important to me. But pish tosh! We've all got to suck up and live by the new rules.

If you are a Pagan public school teacher, chances are that you have been entirely closeted about it in your classroom. Me too! However, I have always had a feeling that some of my students could benefit from some basic Wiccan/Druidic/Santeria influence. Over this summer break, I will be offering helpful tips on how to conduct Pagan practices in a way that is not coercive but is true to your personal faith.

First you need to spruce up that drab desk of yours!

Calling the Quarters is an important part of my practice. In years past, I have marked the Four Directions on a discreet sticky note that I stuck to my desk. This year I plan to mark my teacher desk in a more prominent way: a bright green paper taped to the desk for East, a bright orange or yellow paper taped to the desk for South, a bright blue paper taped to my desk for West, and a bright violet piece of paper taped to my desk for North.

I will feel free to talk about the Directions to my students if they ask. I'll also be sure to take some photos of my desk when it's all done up!

Ancestor Veneration is also an important aspect of my practice. This is the easy one. Nobody is going to look twice if you load your teacher desk with photos of the ancestors you admire. I've never taken pictures of my family in to school before, but wow. What a great idea! 

Deities. We all have Deities that support our work as teachers. But I'll bet you never had a picture of your Goddess on your teacher desk! I guess I am a bit ahead of you there, because since the pandemic started I have had a beautiful work by Thalia Took right behind my desk, discreetly looking outward. Here is my school Goddess:

EXHIBIT A: Artemis Brauronia

I have this photo in an ornate frame. A few students have asked me about Her in passing, and I have given vague answers. Now I will be more detailed, including how Artemis and I found each other.

(Aside, Artemis is not necessarily the Goddess for you. Check out Thalia's gallery: She has a lot of Goddesses!)

Herbs and crystals are something I haven't placed openly on my desk before. I have kept them in a small portable altar box. I'm actually really excited about getting some nice crystal geode to use as a paperweight. It really will soothe me to have an actual crystal on my desk! Take a crystal that speaks to you and use it! I wouldn't take one from your supply already, because things do disappear from teacher desks. Buy a new one specifically for your classroom and charge it yourself.

Instructive reading material. In my school district, which serves minority urban students, we teachers are encouraged to have compelling classroom libraries. I have a really good one, liberally supplied by readers of this blog. One thing I haven't had before, but will have now, are books about Witchcraft. I know some of my students are interested in this topic, and I also know that the secretary who runs our school library is a Christian zealot and Trump supporter.

There is actually a really nice introductory book about Witchcraft specifically for teens, and I have done the Amazon link here just because it's easiest. The best thing about Amazon is that they will have similar titles underneath the listing. I'll be adding this book and at least one book about astrology to my classroom library in the upcoming school year. Do some research! I'm going to try to find books about ancient religious practices of the Caribbean, because many of my students are from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Here at "The Gods Are Bored" we like to do series posts, so please check back for future installments about creating a Pagan classroom and modeling your religious faith for your students. It's a new dawn. It's a new day. None of us are rejoicing, but we must be heard and seen. It's in the Constitution.

Blessed be!


Jenny said...

Great ideas! When I was in the classroom - as an art teacher - I was pretty closeted. But because of my subject matter I could introduce diety and cultural awareness via art history. Ancient Egypt? Yes. The Greek pantheon? Absolutely. And my relationship to Nature was woven through it all.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Thalia Took is always a great source for Goddess and God art!

Anti Kate said...

Can we contribute again to your in class room library? I'd love to be able to help.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, yes!!! I will be making a shameless plea later in the summer. —Anne J.

Anonymous said...

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Found my first book on divination in my 4th grade teacher's classroom library! 💖