This chapter looks at Pagan childhood as an idealized realm that is constructed, maintained, and sometimes exploited by Pagan adults. Pagans' appreciation for childhood as a protected temporal and ideological category that emerges from Romantic and New Age ideals of purity, magic, and innocence reflects adult Pagans' desires. The chapter questions whether these ideals also reflect Pagan children's experiences. The romanticized images of childhood that are built and maintained by Pagan adults often lead to an overvaluation of “childlike” or “innocent” qualities in adults. Pagan understandings of the role and nature of the idealized concept of the “child” influence the spiritual imaginations and religious worlds of both Pagan adults and Pagan children. Contemporary Paganism seems to encourage a childlike immaturity in adults and, in some ways, an overly precocious maturity in children.
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