Friday, August 21, 2009
William Penn and Quaker-Pagan Home Schooling
In Some Fruits of Solitude, William Penn wrote:
"It were Happy if we studied Nature more in natural Things; and acted according to Nature; whose rules are few, plain and most reasonable.
Let us begin where she begins, go her Pace, and close always where she ends, and we cannot miss of being good Naturalists.
The Creation would not be longer a Riddle to us: The Heavens, Earth, and Waters, with their respective, various, and numerous Inhabitants: Their Productions, Natures, Seasons, Sympathies and Antipathies; their Use, Benefit and Pleasure, would be better understood by us: And an eternal Wisdom, Power, Majesty, and Goodness, very conspicuous to us, thro' those sensible and passing Forms: The World wearing the Mark of its Maker, whose Stamp is everywhere visible, and the Characters very legible to the Children of Wisdom.
And it would go a great way to caution and direct People in their Use of the World, that they were better studied and known in the Creation of it.
For how could Man find the Confidence to abuse it, while they should see the Great Creator stare them in the Face, in all and every part thereof?"
I am educating my children at home as Pagan Quakers which means that in our household we emphasize our dependence on the natural world and our responsibilities to it. We teach a reverence for biological and cultural diversity, and a practical morality based on the Pagan belief that "Do what you will shall be the whole of the Law excepting that you harm none." We emphasize individual freedom and responsibility within the context of the matrix of life and the context of community. We encourage joyfulness in that which we know and contemplative humility in the face of that which we do not.
Practically, being a Pagan Quaker kid is not about gods and goddesses or magical rituals and divination; it is about a baby toad rescued from the road, fireflies and star light, the smell of good, rich earth after the rain, and the crayfish in the creek in the woods. It is the lessons of a litter of orphaned mice we could not save, a fallen tree, or a dried up creek. It is about a visit to see newborn babies and the need to be gentle around their great-grandmother's increasing frailty. Birth and Death. Pain and Joy. Need and Abundance. Hope and Nostalgia. Mother Earth and all her children are divinely en-souled. Each creature obeys its own calling as we humans must obey our own. Difference does not dissolve relationship. Kinship is not counted by genes. A tree's mute testimony can stand tall beside the wisdom of the ages and a child's tears over a fallen bird mark the pinnacle of civilization.