BY: Deirdre R. Schwiesow
Circle Round: Raising Children in Goddess Traditions
by Starhawk, Diane Baker, and Anne Hill
Bantam Trade, $14.95
The paperback edition of "Circle Round: Raising Children in Goddess Traditions" should introduce this comprehensive guide to Earth-centered family rituals and activities, first published in hardcover in 1998, to a wider audience. Written primarily to aid Pagan parents, "Circle Round" is also a wonderful resource for parents of any religion who want to teach their children a reverence for nature. The authors show that the practice of Goddess/Earth-centered spirituality is not a once-a-week break from the rest of our lives, it is embodied--woven into our eating, sleeping, working, playing, and even breathing.
The book's three main sections cover the eight seasonal holidays of the Pagan calendar, the human life-cycle, and the elements. Each section contains activities and rituals, including stories and recipes, and covers the basics while weaving in many unexpected gems. Suggestions range from the widely-practiced (carving pumpkins on Samhain- - the Pagan New Year, a.k.a. Halloween) to ones that would seem 'out there' to all but the most open-minded of families (a community-wide 'first blood' ritual celebrating a girl's first period). Highlights include a recipe for Mexican Day of the Dead sugar skulls, Starhawk's delightful contemporary fable for Brigit (the holiday marking the beginning of Spring), and many beautiful ideas for celebrating pregnancy and birth.
If "Circle Round" has a flaw, it is that it risks overwhelming parents with its abundance. Many of the activities, while quite inexpensive, are labor- and time-intensive (baking bread, making candles, etc.), and even sorting out which ones to try and which to let go of on any given occasion could be a bit daunting. But any investment of time promises rich rewards in family happiness.