My baby is here!
Baby has actually been here for a week, but adjusting to caring for a newborn has thrown me for a loop.
For background, my baby’s father and I have been trying to have a child for a decade. After three years of trying, we sought medical intervention. After five years of medical intervention, we were still without success. We eventually chose surrogacy, which, mercifully, we could afford. In some ways, the process has a lot in common with adoption. Neither my partner nor I gave birth. Even with hormones, breastfeeding was a no-go. The biological aspects of becoming a parent are not a part of my experience. Nonetheless, here baby is! And I couldn’t be happier.
Baby Name and Gender?
I’m giving my baby a Greek ceremonial name. They will be called Alexis in the context of this blog and my local Polytheist community. It is an ancient Greek name that was unisex. I will be using they/them pronouns for baby in that community. If you happen to know baby’s legal name or assigned gender, please try to keep it to yourself.
Baby and Artemis
Parents: have you ever been peed on while changing a diaper at 4am, or been subjected to two hours of crying with no discernible cause, and just thought to yourself, “Oh my god how am I even going to even right now?”
Lately, I have been thinking, “Oh my very specific childhood-related goddess!”
Artemis is, of course, a protector of children. She is also a goddess of the wild. On the subject of the needs of children and the long-neglected wildness of humans, she has spoken a great deal.
In practical terms, Artemis has been super, super helpful. Today was a great example. I’d been in the hotel room we’re staying in all day long, and I decided to step out into the lobby for a whole fifteen minutes to call my lover on the other coast. I get a panicked text from baby’s Daddy, who had tried literally everything to calm them, and nothing was working.
Me: Artemis, can I borrow you for a moment?
Her: Yeah, sure, what’s up?
Me: Eh… Daddy nat 1’ed his role to settle the baby down for sleep. I think I’m going to need some advice when I arrive on the scene.
I get up to the room, and the baby is sleeping peacefully. Daddy sheepishly explains that between when I texted him that I was heading to the room and when I arrived, baby had just decided that everything was fine and dozed off.
If that isn’t magic, I dunno what is.
Her advice has been on point. Her support has been valuable beyond description. And seeing her with Apollon has actually helped me to understand him better. So, that.
In her honor, I am doing a woodland creatures theme for my babycare area.
A magical upbringing
I plan to teach my babe magic cum lacte.
I know that some people are terrified of what their practice will do to their child. They are afraid of what their gods will do to their children. They are afraid of what their spirits will do to their children.
I’m afraid that, without explicit training, my child will do exactly what I did and simply do all kinds of dangerous magical experiments on their own. Their natal charts screams “occultist.”
One time, I got into one of my mother’s books and tried to use a magic square and kitchen herbs to turn myself into a raven. I was 7. My mother thought the book was well hidden. I was a tiny ninja bandit with aspirations of becoming a ninja-bandit-wizard.
Today, even if I put all of my private reference grimoires in cipher, the internet is a thing. I need to teach my child what’s safe and what’s dangerous, what’s effective and what’s not.
Because of the nature of the entities I work with and the sort of practice I have, baby-wearing is not out of the question during 80% of the magical and mystical rituals I do. I plan to commission a nice set of plushie magical tools for Alexis. We will speak of magic often, and hopefully, if they have some foolish notion of what they should use magic to do, they will run it by me first.
Being Born as a Parent
I know an initiation when I see one. Becoming a parent is definitely an initiation.
That thing that happens when your friends finally get you to join their secret order, you have the ceremony, and the very next thing is that everyone cannot stop sharing all the secrets they had to hold back from you for years? That was how every parent I knew was suddenly behaving once I had my baby in arms.
This time, too, is a transformative ordeal. Not “ordeal” like some people mean it. Some people talk about ordeal work, and they seem to have this idea that suffering inherently purifies, and so no one really needs to put any great thought into what sort of suffering should be inflicted, or if the “ordeal” in any way relates to any specific learning goals.
Indeed, too many people use the word “learn” not as a verb in reference to acquisition of any specific understanding of any kind, but as a sort of general humbling of the spirit, which they see, for reasons beyond my ability to understand, as inherently good.
In this case, the ordeal is learning the ropes of a very demanding position. It’s an ordeal because I have been thrown in the deep end. I am set to a task and I must simply rise to the occasion. No book, no class, no mentor could have prepared me for it — though they all tried. And now, here I am. And I am learning very specific, very practical things as a result of the ordeal: how to know when baby is hungry, sick, or in need of a change. How to comfort baby. And perhaps most importantly, how to navigate parental instinct which has all but changed me into a wild animal.
Things are different. I am different. I feel like I have lost my mind and grown a heart. Before, I simply philosophically, in an abstract way, thought that the idea of a path that included spirits that were dangerous to children was very foolish. After all, no one wants to put their children in danger, and most people looking to have children will choose a faith that they can raise their children in. A tradition that is a pack of edgelords worshipping malevolent spirits can have no real future. Almost no one will ever be raised in that tradition. Even Satanism, which is all about the violation of taboos, defines children as pure, perfect, and worthy of protection.
That understanding is very, very different from the visceral desire to tear apart with my bare hands anything which dares to endanger or harass my child. It is the ordeal of learning to care for this tiny, defenseless creature which has transformed me, and having glimpsed this within myself, I will never be the same again.
Nothing is more vicious than an animal defending their offspring.
Preoccupation with baby, sleep deprivation, and being repeatedly spit up on and peed upon may have left me less mentally sharp (and certainly less ritually pure) than I usually am, but they certainly have not dulled my psychic senses.
To the contrary. My psychic senses are jacked opened — probably out of a primal interest in detecting any possible danger toward baby. My dreams are more numerous and vivid.
I had the exquisite privilege of watching my child’s soul settle into their body about five days after their birth. It’s a fierce, feral, night-wandering soul that longs to drink in the light of the stars. When I finally bless this baby, I want it to be at midnight.
But the extraneous deities, spirits, and powers are gone now. Completely. I’m chalking this up to my deities saying, “Baby time. Fuck off for a decade or two.” It’s just me, those deities to whom I am closest, and that one goddess who is a deity of the very specific thing that’s happening in my life right now.
As I close, I will share with you her words, which struck me. I plan to hold then close to my heart throughout this journey:
“Never are beings purer or more feral than when they are born or when they newly become parents. Right now, you are drenched in primal instincts: to love, to protect with ferocity, to nurture. Trust those instincts. Do not allow yourself to become polluted with the words of wisdom your culture will try to impart to you now.
“‘Training’ distances the parent and child from the wild love that should flourish between them. Do not put your child down when your heart says to hold them close because of the words of some fusty old codger. Listen to your body and know that what you feel is not a mistake. You know what your child needs. Give it to them.”