JUNO’s founding editors and early contributors reflect on two decades of JUNO and natural parenting
Patricia Patterson-Vanegas and Emma Jennings on the birth of JUNO and where they are now
The world is very different now to when JUNO was conceived and birthed. However, the editorial we wrote in our launch issue twenty years ago is as relevant today as it was then.
We parents can use a reassuring voice to help us create our path and value our intuition, while knowing that we are not alone. We also need, probably more than ever, the space to be able to bounce ideas without being judged or cancelled.
JUNO was Emma’s idea. I remember her telling me that she wanted to create a magazine that she herself would love to read, with the values that were important to her. She wanted people to share their stories and she had a vision of beauty and high-quality content. I was on my journey into parenting our 4-year-old daughter, reading all there was so that I could be a good enough parent, and the project made a lot of sense to me. We didn’t know each other well, but together we jumped in.
We both knew that parenting is as challenging as it is rewarding, and we chose to dig into the energy of Juno, the Roman goddess of birth, fertility, marriage and female genius. We were outside the mainstream, part of a community that dreamed of bringing up children with an ethos based on natural parenting, environmental sustainability, social justice, nonviolence and spiritual awareness.
It was not easy, but it was worthwhile. We became an incredible team. There were ups and downs, but we were always committed to being respectful and truthful to each other. We were supported by the Forest Row community where we lived, and by parents, writers, advertisers, artists, photographers, and readers all over the country (and the world) who believed in us.
Twenty years later, what started as an idea has become a place where community is forged, where difference is celebrated and a reassuring voice is provided for those who wish to explore natural parenting.
“To change the world is not your mission. To change yourself is not your duty. To awaken to your true nature is your opportunity.” Mooji
Having set out more than three decades ago to change the world, my most valued quest nowadays is my inner reflection and growth, combined with the example I can offer the world in all that I do: fulfilling work and meaningful moments. After JUNO, I continued giving time to family life, working as a freelance consultant, and I became a journey practitioner and an emotional coach. When our daughter left to go to university, my activism escalated and I was elected as a Green party district councillor. Is there meaningful change through politics? I guess I will have a clearer answer when I finish my second four-year term in 2027. JUNO helped me to be a better parent, and I felt part of a freethinking, kick-ass and courageous community of which I continue to be a proud part of. I read every issue, and my heart glows to know that we passed it to Saffia and her team, who have led JUNO through her later childhood, into her adolescence, and now into her second decade of life. Cheers, Saffia. You have done an amazing job!
Patricia (left) and Emma, then and now
I remain grateful for the opportunity we had to create JUNO. As editors, we were trusted to take people’s words, stories and images and craft them into articles to print. Today, I continue to work with people’s words and stories as a therapist. In both roles I look at what it means to be a human being; to be in relationship with ourselves, others and the natural world. I ask how we wish to navigate that world; how can we nurture hope and resilience in the face of immense challenge or loss and how to balance our need for belonging with our need to be true to ourselves.
In 2016, I left my ex-husband after years of unhappy marriage. Today, I am in a relationship with a beautiful woman, and I could not be happier. Looking back on JUNO, I regret that we did not do more to champion difference and diversity in the early years of the magazine and did not do more to challenge the structures of privilege within our society by openly looking at the importance of representation and who has a voice. I remain proud of the magazine that we birthed in 2003, and I respect the way Saffia has developed JUNO without losing sight of its original ethos.
JUNO was always, and continues to be, about our children, and believing that a more beautiful world is possible.
Lucy H. Pearce looks back on her work with JUNO
It’s hard to believe that JUNO magazine is turning twenty! I first got involved with JUNO back in 2007. My mother gifted me with a copy not long after my first child was born and I loved it so much I subscribed at once. This was a really big deal as we were pretty broke and shipping to Ireland wasn’t cheap.
I submitted my very first article to Patricia and Emma and was blown away by the enthusiastic response from the editors. I was so touched by the personal email I received and just how excited they were by my writing. I submitted a few more articles, and then when they put out a call for help around 2008 or 2009, I jumped in. At that stage I was pregnant with my second child. I worked remotely for JUNO for six years overall, becoming contributing editor and columnist, as well as running the food pages, reviewing books, proof reading and commissioning and editing articles. I was very, very busy for the magazine as my second and third children were born. In fact, as I was lying in bed having just given birth to my third child, the postman came with the issue that I had curated entirely. It had been a major labour of love.
I was lucky to interview many big names in the birth and alternative culture communities for JUNO, including Ina May Gaskin, Michel Odent and Sir Tim Smit (founder of the Eden Project in Cornwall), and I met many special people through JUNO, including Steve Biddulph and wonderful women submitting their articles or artwork, often their first time in print. Some of these folks I continue to be online friends with and have watched their work flourish and bloom over the years, as they too have published books and set up fabulous businesses.
I was lucky to attend several conferences with the JUNO stall, both in the UK and Ireland, and spent special days with Saffia meeting hundreds of readers. Perhaps the most memorable was at Embercombe in Devon, where JUNO was media sponsor. We hosted Hollie McNish in the JUNO tent when she was just starting out, having recently published one of her poems in an issue of the magazine. She and I went down to the orchard and ate wood-fired pizzas together – still hard to believe.
I self-published Moon Time and Reaching for the Moon while I was working at JUNO, and The Rainbow Way: Cultivating Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood found a publisher. I collated many of my JUNO articles, Dreaming Aloud columns and Dreaming Aloud blog posts in Moods of Motherhood: The Inner Journey of Mothering. It was after these four books that I moved on from JUNO and founded Womancraft Publishing.
I remember my JUNO years fondly. I learned a lot during them, about editing and publishing, and building community around a vision. Articles in JUNO taught me so much of what became my way of mothering. The magazine and the people who have collaborated to create its content have enriched my life in so many ways. I am so proud of Saffia and the whole team and what they’ve done with JUNO in the last decade and wish them all the best for the decades ahead.
Emma Jennings lives in a beautiful seaside flat in Worthing, swims in the sea as often as she can and loves running laughter yoga workshops and teaching improvised comedy. She could not be prouder of her three children (who often appeared in JUNO in the early days) and who are now all in their twenties.
Patricia Patterson-Vanegas represents her beloved Forest Row community at Wealden District Council and continues to learn about the challenges and joys of working with teams of people who dream of delivering a better world for generations ahead. She lives with her husband and loves to meet with their daughter, extended family and friends.
Lucy H. Pearce is the author of twelve life-changing non-fiction books for women, and the founder of Womancraft Publishing. A mother of three children, Lucy is a former contributing editor of JUNO. She lives in East Cork, Ireland. lucyhpearce.com
Accurate at the time issue 86 went to print.