**Hello Realm! Jax here. It’s good to be back! A HUGE thank you to Najla, Meagan, and Michelann, our guest Princesses while I was on hiatus. You ladies rock! As do you, Princess GG, for keeping things organized and running while I was gone. Finally, a huge thank you to all of you for your supportive comments–on site, in person, and unspoken. Despite my lack of responding this month, I read each one that was posted, and I deeply appreciate it. Now, back to your regularly scheduled Princessing…**

I don’t have problems keeping the faith, so to speak, when my life goes wonky. But I have always had a hard time keeping the practice. For those who might be brand new to The Realm, TheScott and I are fostering two adorable girls, ages four and seven, with the hopes of adopting them. It’s been a heart-wrenching, beautiful, amazing experience so far. And my regular spiritual practices have fallen off the horse almost completely.

The main reason I haven’t practiced consistently is because my foster daughters have been home ALL the time. And like many neglected children, they don’t handle “Go to your room and play” very well.Over summer vacation, the days have blurred together until I don’t remember which day it is, and I’ve been running so ragged I can barely remember my name anymore, much less that I need to spend time at my ancestor altar.

Warning: Viewing this image of a diapered devil will count as a black mark on your soul.

Of course, my foster children are not Heathen like I am. Based on things they’ve said, it appears a very specific type of Christianity has had the strongest influence on them, although, according to MySpace anyway, their bio-mother affiliates as Wiccan. (Yes, I asked The Oracle about their parents.) I get the impression most places they’ve been were secular, but they had one home out of the eight they’ve lived in over the last two years that was hardcore.* We’ve had a few strange incidents, like we took them to Torchy’s Tacos and they were afraid the mascot was evil. I had to reassure them that coloring the cartoon baby devil on the back of the children’s menu would not send them to Hell. I also felt obligated to correct them when they told me God made cars. I can handle, “God made the trees.” I cannot agree with, “God made eighteen-wheeler trucks.” The fact that there was something in existence that God didn’t make threw them for a loop at first, but we’re learning to distinguish between what is natural and what is man-made. And for some reason they thought rain meant God was angry. I assured them rain was a gift because the gods want the plants to grow. Happily, we’ve gotten to the point where instead of rain inducing mild panic attacks when it catches us as we drive down the road, the girls now call the raindrops on the windshield “kisses.”

We’ve let them take turns saying the prayer at family meals. They started with a different-than-I’m-used-to rendition of “God is great, God is good…” (they say, “God is good, God is great…” and every time in my head I finish, “Let us thank him for our plate” instead of “food” so I can keep the rhyme scheme. Apparently their way is also right, though). Once she got more comfortable, the elder started using a variation of the prayer her bio-mother said, which TheScott and I both think is sweet: “Thank you for this house, and thank you for this food, and thank you for this world, and thank you for this family.” When they first arrived, they asked about church. We told them we don’t go, but we’d be happy to take them if they wanted. They didn’t express a desire to attend. I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I’m Pagan, but that doesn’t seem to register with them as a term.

Because they don’t seem to affiliate religiously for a moral reason (other than fear) and because their bio-mom claims to be Pagan, I have felt alright introducing them to some of my rituals. They love candles, and so I have done some candle-work since they’ve been here. I dedicated a candle for their ancestors that we have lit the couple times I’ve lit incense for my own ancestors. I tried to explain what ancestors were. I don’t think they get it, but I’ll keep trying. We also have done candle wishes–we light a candle and they tell me something they want to work on. At first they used it like a birthday candle, each saying she wanted to “be a princess.” I’m not anti-princess, but I’d rather them not idolize passiveness. So we’ve worked it out where they name a specific princess and something about that princess that they want to be like–kind like Cinderella or self-reliant like Rapunzel. The night before school started, they each got a candle to light at the beginning of the meal to go over hopes and plans for the new school year. We let the candle burn as we ate, and then they blew it out.

I’m trying to figure out ways to celebrate Hlæfæst this year and include them. I’m thinking of doing a nice meal Monday night (Labor Day and a Harvest Festival seem to go hand in hand) and asking them to draw pictures displaying virtues that are related to the harvest. Maybe industry and perseverance? I’ve started surfing the Pagan web for family ideas. I’ve found a ton of great sites related to the Wheel of the Year, but not as much on Heathen parenting. But I shall keep looking (and if any Royal Readers have suggestions, I’d love to see them!)

But also I’d love to hear suggestions for getting myself back on the horse. With a book due at the end of the month, school just begun, and, well, two wonderful additions to the family, I seem to be adrift. What do you do to get back on track after a life-explosion? Or will I find my way back on my own if I just give it time?

* As I was putting her to sleep one night, the younger described to me in gory detail what happens when a person breaks their wrist. Thinking this was some abuse she witnessed that I should be reporting to the caseworker, I asked her where she found this out. When she told me she learned it at church, it took me a moment to realize she was relating an overly gruesome rendition of what happens inside a person’s wrist when he is nailed to a cross. I’d like to think somebody didn’t tell her that, that she overheard it. But holy crud, who even says that in the presence of a four-year-old??

+Featured Image: Candles in red votive holders in Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Savannah, GA by Janhatesmarcia