The Rite of Wiccaning welcomes a new baby into the community to which its parents belong. Sometimes also known as a Paganing Ceremony, Naming Ceremony, or Dedication, this ritual does not bind the child to the Wiccan religion. Instead, its purpose is to seek the Lady’s protection for and blessings upon the child, confers the parents’ chosen legal and/or secret name for the child, and introduces the child to the community through a joyous celebration.
In this respect, the Rite of Wiccaning is similar to a ‘Christening’ in the Catholic Church; however, it is not the same as ‘baptism.’ Wiccans feel very strongly towards freedom of choice, especially religious choice and this freedom extends even to their children.
Pagan children will often be reared according to their parents’ tradition, but will also be familiarized with other Paths as part of their religious instruction. At puberty or shortly thereafter, the child will usually be given a choice of dedicating herself to the God and the Goddess, choosing another religious path to follow, or declaring herself unready to make a decision at that time. The child is still welcomed into the childrens circles if she so desires, but may not participate in adult circles until she has made a decision regarding her chosen Path.
In ideal situations, the community as a whole, and the Guardian Parents (should the parents so choose to name these) in particular, form a protective circle of love, support, and guidance around the child. The child is taught that she may turn to anyone within the community for assistance, and the Guardian Parents stand ready to assume parental responsibility if anything should happen to the natural parents. In this way, the child grows up with the security of love and support all around him.
This is, as previously stated, in an ideal situation. It is an ideal to which many Pagan parents aspire. But reality being what it is we are not often able to achieve the ideal. Many are fearful to openly practice their chosen religion with their children or to even teach their children about Wicca, for fear the children will say something to the wrong person and the next knock on the door would be from Social Services.