Starhawk, Diane Baker
& Anne Hill,
Circle Round: Raising
Children in Goddess Traditions

(Bantam, 2000)

Despite not being a parent (yet!) I was drawn to the concept of Circle Round and was eager to learn what these women had to say. I was not disappointed -- far from it! Circle Round was written by women who live in goddess traditions and share them with their families. This is an excellent idea book and workbook for those who want to live their spirituality every day, rather than relegating it to special occasions and holidays.

The first section is titled "Welcome to the Circle" and has very clear explanations of concepts that often are felt, but are not always easy to explain. Anyone who has attempted to explain paganism to a non-pagan without sounding flaky will welcome the concise and clear answers to questions often asked by well-meaning relatives, friends and yes, the children in your life. Basic ritual work is also described, along with dealing with a child who doesn't want to participate, crafts and cooking, meditations and organizing ritual circles with children in mind.

"Cycles of the Moon and Sun" gets down to the nuts and bolts of celebratory times, including the eight major holidays from Samhain (a.k.a. Halloween) to Mabon (the fall equinox). The moon cycles are also discussed in detail. Each holiday and the moon section have stories, activity and craft ideas, recipes, rituals and ideas for bringing aspects of each season and holiday throughout the household. Despite being designed for children, I'm looking forward to trying some of the crafts and activities on my own! The recipes are well thought out, with ingredients listed in sidebars for ease.

Part three is "The Life Cycle" and deals with all of the unscheduled life occurrences we all can encounter. With warmth and tact, the authors confront the varied aspects of life through both rituals and discussion. "Beginnings" is primarily about birth, but also includes adoption and miscarriages. "Growth" takes into account the small steps that children take, from "no more diapers" to pre-teen age. "Adolescence" and "Rites of Passage" follow, with discussions of coming of age, sexuality, leaving childhood behind and physical self-esteem. The "Life Transitions" chapter rounds out the section, with rites involving divorce, moving into a new home, and death. The authors sensitively write about issues that can be uncomfortable, putting the reader at ease.

Part four, "Circle of Elements," consists of exercises and activities involving each of the four elements plus spirit, which is considered by many to be the fifth element. The elements are an important part of many pagan traditions, and these meditations will work for anyone, though they are geared towards different age groups.

In closing, this book provides an interesting and enjoyable framework of spirituality for families of all sorts, whether or not they involve children. Anyone interested in earth religions or goddess traditions will find Circle Round a useful addition to their library.

[ by Beth Derochea ]

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