Pagans prepare for preschool

By Harrison Baker
For the Tidings

Rowan Tree Director of Children’s Programs Selyna Faola’n plans to offer Rowan Academy, a preschool and kindergarten program for children ages 3 to 5, starting Sept. 22. The program can proceed if it meets an enrollment minimum of 10 students, but Faola’n said she could go ahead with as few as seven.

Rowan Tree Pagan Ministries is an organization that offers programs and resources for the Southern Oregon pagan community. The group received its nonprofit certificate this week. The Rowan Tree Pagan Art and Ritual Supply Shop, which serves as a community hub, is located in the Underground Marketplace downtown.

Faola’n has taught at the preschool level for 20 years. She designed her Rowan Academy curriculum to emphasize the general basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. Her classes will also include age-appropriate lessons in natural cycles, the planets and the elements.

“Our program is designed for everyone,” she said.

According to Rowan Tree administrator Aylah Hallel, many of the organization’s programs take off in their second year. Rowan Academy currently has two confirmed enrollees and two interested parties.

Other children’s programs include the Magic Wheel and the Senesha School of Magic. Faola’n described the year-round Magic Wheel as similar to Sunday school. The Magic Wheel program takes place at holidays and full moon celebrations, and provides children with arts and crafts activities while their parents participate in rituals.

The Senesha School of Magic kicks off Sept. 8 and functions as an afternoon school program for all grade levels. The Senesha School requires parent permission and has a registration deadline of Aug. 8.

Faola’n has narrowed down the future Rowan Academy location to a few properties in Ashland. She wants a facility that offers safety, security and plenty of outdoor space.

“I need a yard to let the little guys go play,” she said.

Eventually, Faola’n wants to publish her Magic Wheel curriculum for home schooling use. She believes in encouraging creativity and responding to each child’s individual needs.

“Learning should be the funnest thing you ever do,” she said.

Rowan Tree also offers adult education programs. Hallel said it took her about 10 years to develop the four-year Magic School program, which went public last year. Before that, she taught classes out of her house.

Hallel designed the Magic School to help people achieve their own personal and spiritual goals, she said. The six-year Pagan Ministerial Program is designed to teach students how to manage and care for their own covens.

Hallel said she knows of only one other organization in the United States, Cherry Hill Seminary based out of South Carolina, that offers similar programs. With so little with which to compare Rowan Tree Ministries, Hallel said formal accreditation is not yet an option.

The membership of Rowan Tree Ministries encompasses a wide range of spiritual beliefs and practices. For example, some members follow the Norse Ásatrú religion, others are Wiccan and some follow their own paths.

According to Hallel, Rowan Tree has a mailing list of around 200 people and about 20 nonprofit memberships. Most rituals bring in between 25 and 30 participants.

Rowan Tree member Ingrid Edstrom took Hallel’s meditation class last year. Edstrom does not attend rituals, and said she feels more spiritually connected dancing in the woods than participating in a religious ceremony.

“If you ask 10 pagans what paganism is, you’ll get 100 different answers,” she said.

For Edstrom, the social interaction of the class proved to be as valuable as the formal instruction. She said meditation can bring up a lot of personal subjects, and she and her classmates were able to discuss their experiences freely.

“Confidence was the main thing that I gained from it,” she said.

Edstrom and her partner, Jeff Behrends, regularly attend the Rowan Tree meet-and-greet potluck, which takes place in the Underground Marketplace from 6 to 8 p.m. on the second Saturday of every month.

Tuition for the adult Magic School starts at $1,100 for the first year, or $1,000 if paid in full. Tuition for the proposed Rowan Academy preschool and kindergarten program is $200 per month.

For further information, visit the Rowan Tree Pagan Art and Ritual Supply Shop at 33 N. 3rd St. in the Underground Marketplace. The shop is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Morning Brief Newsletter
Sign up today for our daily newsletter, a quick overview of top local stories and Oregon breaking news delivered directly to your inbox
You can unsubscribe at any time
Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.