How to Choose a Pagan Godparent

A tradition that is picking up popularity among Pagan families is choosing godparents. While godparents are usually only chosen among Christians, specifically Catholic, families, the idea of having a person to guard over the child's spiritual well being is one that any faith can appreciate.

In the Catholic faith, godparents make profession of faith for the child when they are being baptized. These adults assume an obligation to serve as proxies for the parents if the parents are unable or negligent in providing for the religious training for the child. For the Catholics, this usually means making sure the child attends church, goes to catechism class, has their communion, etc. For Pagans, just like when adopting any other tradition from another religion, the responsibilities of godparents can be as varied as the families that choose them. However, as this is a borrowed tradition that is being made their own, many Pagan parents are confused about how to choose one and what the requirements and responsibilities should be.

1. Decide what a godparent is.
Is this a person who will be responsible for making sure the child is taught spirituality or a specific faith? Will this person be a literal teacher for the child in the family's practice? Are they a priestess who takes on young people in the coven to teach them or someone in the family tradition who can pass down the family beliefs?

Will this person hold a spiritually-based symbolic position or will this person also be legally appointed guardian of the child should anything happen to his or her parents? While most families do not want to consider tragedies that could befall and leave their child or children orphaned, but it does happen and deciding beforehand who will care for their children will ease some stress and confusion at the time much like having life insurance and a will does.

2. Decide how many godparents the child will have.
Some traditions indicate a godmother and a godfather. The two do not need to be related and, in many cases, the father of the child chooses the godmother and the mother of the child chooses the godfather. That being said, just like the role of the godparent being up to the family, so too is the number of godparents. Parents could choose as few as one or, take a leaf out of a fairy tale, and choose as many as twelve fairy godparents. The name godparent is also up for choosing as many Pagans, feeling "god" parent is too Christian in nature, choose to use the word Guardian or another similar term instead.

3. Decide on people that would be a good fit with the family.
Once a family knows what it is they are looking for, they can then consider the people in their lives that would be good candidates for the position. Some qualities that a godparent should have across the board, no matter the faith or family are:

  • The godparent should have the same beliefs as the parents. Choosing someone to be a spiritual guardian for the child who is not of the same belief system as the parents may cause conflict later on, especially if the Pagan parents choose a godparent who is part of a belief system that is traditionally against witchcraft, believes in after-life punishment that the parents don't agree with, etc. The parents want to make sure that the godparents will be teaching or encouraging the child to learn spiritual practices that are at the very least open to the parents' practices.
  • Godparents should be responsible adults. This might seem like a given, however, this person needs to be as reliable as the parents are as far as being someone the child can count on in the future. The godparents should not be flaky, continuously missing out on important events in the child's life such as birthdays, or constantly have poor behavior. The parents should also think twice about choosing a godparent who has poor ethical habits such as drug addiction or being lecherous. This should be a person that the child can look up to.
  • Lastly, a godparent should be someone that the child can see on a regular basis. For some this means choosing a family member as they will be seen at family gatherings such as holidays and birthdays. The godparent should live close by or, if not, then travel to the child's home regularly. A child who barely sees their godparent cannot be expected to rely on them for spiritual advice and teaching later on.

4. If the parents have more than one or two people that fit into the basic criteria of beliefs and responsibilities, then there are a few tools they can use to help them make the decision.

  • One tool that will help in the process of choosing a godparent is a list of the positive and negative qualities of the person you're considering. Creating a pro-con list will help the parents of the child lay out and weigh in as to if this person will be the best fit for their child and family.
  • Astrology charts are used in many places across the globe to see if a person is compatible with friends, romantic partners, and can even be used to see if a child will be a good fit with a guardian or godparent. If the child's chart hold a lot of water signs then a godparent who is also predominantly water could either be a good fit or enable some of the negative qualities of water while a godparent who is predominantly fire could be a balance or too different from the child for them to get along later in life. Looking at the Chinese zodiac could also give insight to compatibility as well as the child and godparent's numerology.
  • Get a professional reading. Having a tarot or rune reading done for the child regarding a choice of godparent could give the parents insight on what sort of guidance the child will need in life. A past life reading could give clues as to who the child might already have connections and karma with.

Choosing godparents for a child should be a beautiful expression of love for a newborn by their family. This is a time of planning ahead as well as being grateful for the blessing that is a new life in this world.

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