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Parenting Is My Activism

An Interview with Tami Griffith

Tami Griffith is a Reclaiming teacher and priestess in Marin County, California. She and her partner Rick are co-parents of Rhiannon, who was born in 1996.

How do you share Paganism with Rhiannon?

The most important thing is teaching her about nature, about things I didn't know until I was an adult. It's not so much about understanding nature as about it being a joyous place to be.

The other day, we were driving to school. There's a lot where they had cleared the brush. Well, Rhiannon had a cow that they were messing with the lot where all these flowers had been growing.

I take her hiking regularly. We never go off trail so that the sacred wild can be preserved. At home, we garden. She has her own patch, growing tomatoes, flowers. We're growing our own food and eating it. I can't imagine what that gives a kid as far as long-term understanding.

I try to mirror happiness and joy to Rhiannon. I want to cultivate her ability to be close to the Divine. How exactly do you do that? I'll know in about fifteen years.

My goal was not to raise a priestess, but to have a child. Of course, I had no idea what that meant. Live and learn.

Do you do magic with her?

Presenting magic to Rhiannon is matter-of-fact. We sing chants together. Beverly Frederick's CDs are favorites.

Cooking is another way. In the Fall, we make jam. We talk about how blackberries suggest expansion and prosperity. I haven't yet tried to explain about putting my intentions into the jam. But that may come this year.

I talk about cooking as an alchemical process. It's magical whether you practice magic or not. Cooking is a combinatiuon of mathematics, chemistry, and magic.

What about rituals?

Last year at Samhain, I, Rhiannon, two other women and their daughters performed this ritual. First everyone shared pictures of their Beloved Dead and the food that their Beloved Dead liked. Then each mother talked with her child about ancestors, about the Beloved Dead, and how the Beloved Dead can be more than ancestors. They can be cats and dogs. They sang a song and then went out trick-or-treating.

Sometimes she sits in the garden and conducts her own rituals. This makes me very happy and proud. But if she didn't, I wouldn't be disappointed.

How does Rhiannon do at public rituals?

When she was two years old and wanted to get down on the floor, it was hard. She would want to be the focal point of whatever was going on. She would run around in the center of the ritual. It was a challenge for me.

Now, at five, she's more interested in watching the priestesses. Recently she was watching someone teach a song, and her eyes were glued to them. She still tests boundaries, and she has progressively gotten better at it.

What would make it work better?

I think about how people who attend churches can take their children — childcare is provided. Although Reclaimings' early rituals did provide childcare, most rituals currently do not. I have rather strong feelings about that, but I notice that Reclaiming's population is largely non-parents. Our lack of provision around childcare says something about our emphasis — it's not on children.

Changing the world begins in the household. A change in the microcosm might lead to change in the macrocosm. Reclaiming's focus is on activism. Well, parenting is my activism.

What has Rhiannon taught you about magic?

Rhiannon makes me aware of how I am in the world. Having my daughter was the most magical and growth-oriented experience that I ever hope to go through.

Interview by Kat Lilith and George Franklin