A Little Oaks Samhain

Our Grove has recently started kicking it up into full gear with the children’s programming.  We probably have somewhere around 15 kids associated with our grove, not to mention any others who happen to show up to public high days.  Our Little Oaks programming is geared towards the kids who are direct members of the Grove, rather than the public stuff we do for the kids at High Days.

Those of us who are trading around leading the meetings right now are working on getting a good routine in place so the kids start to get comfortable.  I’ve got it set up in a basic outline that has an Opening, Story, Craft, Ritual, Closing.  It keeps things moving and allows each thing to build right into the next.

This was our first time trying out this routine, and I think it went really well.  It was structured enough to keep the kids engaged.  We were done with the whole meet up in 45-60 minutes.  Which is plenty long for preschool aged kids, and remarkable that they stayed relatively sane the whole time.

So, what did we do?

For the babies (under 1 year old) we set up some sensory play for them.  We had a whole bunch of different textured gourds for them to feel.  We had small drums for banging on.  We had a baby pool ball pit.

For the rest of the kids we followed the loose outline I mentioned earlier.  For our opening song we sang a version of “My Roots Go Down” that I had modified for our Little Oaks Druidry.  It was a great way for the more shy toddlers to warm up to what we were doing, to get everyone comfortable and moving, and to set a clear beginning for our meet up.

We then moved into the story.   I told it as an interactive, cooperative story.  They had parts where they joined in with certain words and hand motions.  The preschoolers and early elementary kids stayed pretty well engaged and into the story.  They enjoyed shouting “Trick or Treat” and pretending to lift a lantern up.  The toddlers were a little harder, but with some parental redirecting they stayed in the same general area and didn’t go running off.  I got a video of me telling the story that I’ll post when I get it off the camera.

Since the story was about Jack-o’-Lanterns it flowed very nicely into the craft portion.  All the kids were able to get into this part.  The first craft was to draw a Jack-o’-Lantern on a piece of orange paper.  Since the story was about using Jack-o’-Lanterns to keep the fairies away, the kids were invited to make a Jack-o’-Lantern they could hang up at their house for Trick-or-Treating to make sure that only humans came to their door, and no fairies.  They seemed to have a really great time with it.

The second craft we did was to write letters or draw pictures for our Ancestors.  We started with a quick discussion of what and who the Ancestors are, and had the kids give examples.  It ranged from the beloved cat, to a grandfather, to a parent.  The younger kids were welcome to either draw pictures or dictate what they wanted to say to an adult who would write for them.  The older kids were able to write and/or draw as they desired.  It was explained to them that we were making these as presents for the Ancestors, and we’d be giving them to them at the party we were having in just a little bit.

That allowed the craft to flow nicely into the ritual portion of the meet up.  We started with a quick discussion with our listening ears on about what kinds of things make up an altar, and how we don’t touch them or play with them.  In the future I’d also like to start having a small fire for these so we can begin teaching fire safety a little more directly.

After the brief pre-ritual discussion we moved right on in to the ritual.  It draws very heavily from Rev. Kathleen Pezza’s work with the Children’s Programming for Charter Oak Grove, ADF with some modification for our specific group and age range.  In the future we have plans for other deviations from her work, but the basic idea of how to present ritual to kids as a birthday party is fantastic.  We were able to keep the ritual moving right along by having the parents (armed with song sheets) continuing right along with the pieces, each of which had a song (with a children’s song melody) to go along with it.

During the Key Offerings each of the kids brought their present (the letter/picture they made) up to the offering bowl, said who it was for, and put it in.  For the Return Flow, after I drew an omen (Omicron, Mu, Khi) and explained it in kid-friendly language we put each of those gifts into our “goody bags”, represented by cookies and juice.  The kids were then able to take the blessings into themselves by eating them.  We then closed out the ritual by quickly saying thank you to everyone that we invited, and hanging up our Cosmic Telephone.

Finally, after the ritual was over, we congratulated all the kids on doing so well, and sang our goodbye song, which I had my daughter teach me from her preschool class.   All in all, it was a very good day and meet up for our Little Oaks.  There are still things we want to do, and revisit, and modify.  But this was a good day.

Kid’s Samhain Rite

This craft and ritual script borrows very heavily from Rev. Kathleen Pezza of Charter Oak Grove, ADF.

Craft: Cards for the Ancestors

Today we are going to have a party for the the Ancestors. The Ancestors are important to us because they taught our parents all kinds of things to help us grow big and strong. The Ancestors love us very much, and so we’re going to throw a party for them.

When we have a party what do people sometimes bring us? (Presents!!) Just like we get presents at our parties, we are going give the Ancestors presents and sing them songs at this one.

Each of you needs a present for an Ancestor that is special to you. I am going to give each of you a piece of paper and some markers so you can make them one. You can either draw a picture or write a short letter to give them about what you remember about them.

Ritual: 

Pre-ritual Briefing
Is everyone ready to have our party for the Ancestors?

If you know the words to the songs we are singing today, sing along with me. If you don’t know the words, can you all clap along with the song or play your instrument? (make sure parents have the song sheets)

We are going to walk over to where we are having the party and we are going to sing a song as we are walking and sitting down.

Procession:
“Marching to the Grove” (The Ants go Marching) – modified by Rev. Avende

Let’s go marching to the grove, hurrah, hurrah
Let’s go marching to the grove, hurrah, hurrah
Let’s go marching to the grove,
Let’s bring along our treasure trove
And we all go marching Down. To the Grove.
To have a party now!

Purification:

Before we start our party for the Ancestors, we want to make sure that we can pay attention. I want you to think off all the things that might keep you from paying attention.

(Give the child/children a minute or so to think)

Now we’re going to shake all those distractions off of us. Imagine them all falling off you and running away. Ready?

“Shake Your Sillies Out” – Raffi

Gotta shake, shake, shake my sillies out
Shake, shake, shake my sillies out
Shake, shake, shake my sillies out
And wiggle my waggles away

I gotta clap, clap, clap my crazies out
Clap, clap, clap my crazies out
Clap, clap, clap my crazies out
And wiggle my waggles away

I gotta jump, jump, jump my jiggles out
Jump, jump, jump my jiggles out
Jump, jump, jump my jiggles out
And wiggle my waggles away

Gotta shake, shake, shake my sillies out
Shake, shake, shake my sillies out
Shake, shake, shake my sillies out
And wiggle my waggles away

Repeat as needed until everyone has gotten rid of all of their sillies.

Now that everyone’s sillies are all gone, we are all able to pay attention. Is everyone ready to pay attention and have a party for our Ancestors?

Honoring the Earth Mother:
Parties are very exciting for boys and girls but it is important to remember the parents who have worked so hard taking care of us. Before we start the party for our Ancestors, we are going to sing a song for their mommy, the Earth Mother, who is such a great mommy.

“She’s Got the Whole World in Her Hands” – modified by Rev. Pezza

She’s got the whole world in her hands,
She’s got the rivers and the mountains in her hands,
She’s got the oceans and the seas in her hands,
She’s got the whole world in her hands.

She’s got everybody here in her hands,
She’s got everybody there in her hands,
She’s got you and she’s got me in her hands,
She’s got the whole world in her hands.

We are going to give the Ancestors mommy, who is also our mommy, the Earth Mother, a present. Who wants to come up and put the Earth Mother’s present into the Offering Bowl for us?

Statement of Purpose:
Today we are celebrating Samhain. It is starting to get colder and darker out. Lots of spirits are getting ready to pack up and move to new homes. Since it’s getting colder and and getting dark earlier, we like to tell more stories. It’s a good time to tell stories and remember our Ancestors.

So, we are going to throw our Ancestors a party and bring them presents to remind them that we love them a lot and to ask them to keep teaching us new things.

(Re)Creating the Cosmos:
The Ancestors live far, far away. We want them to be able to see their party and their presents and hear the songs we sing for them. How can we talk to someone if they live far, far away?

(Hopefully a child will come up with the answer “a telephone.” If they respond with computer based technology (e-mail, instant messaging, skype, etc.) you can either redirect them to the phone metaphor, or you can change the metaphor to a computer based one.)

We have a way of talking to gods and goddesses who live far, far away but we need water, fire and a special tree. If we sing to them and give them gifts, they act like a telephone and help us talk to not only to gods and goddesses who live far, far away, but also people we loved who have died and plants and animals too!

To create this special telephone, first we are going to sing to the Well and give it a gift.

“There’s Water in the Well” (The Farmer in the Dell) – modified by Rev. Pezza

There’s water in the Well
There’s water in the Well
Hi-ho, the derry-o
There’s water in the Well

The water’s cold and dark
The water’s cold and dark
Hi-ho, the derry-o
The water’s cold and dark

Who would like to put our gift for the Well in the Offering Bowl?

Next, we are going to sing to the fire and give it a gift so it will help us make our special telephone.

“Twinkle, Twinkle Little Fire” (Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star) – modified by Rev. Pezza

Twinkle, twinkle little Fire
As we sing you rise up higher
Little flame, warm and bright
A tiny piece of holy light
Twinkle, twinkle little Fire
As we sing you rise up higher

Who would like to put our gift for the Fire in the Offering Bowl?

Finally, we are going to sing to the tree and give it a gift so that we can make our special telephone.

“Big, Green Tree” (Three Blind Mice) – modified by Rev. Pezza

Big, green tree
Big, green tree
You are so tall
You are so tall
You reach the sky with your branches high
Your roots dig into the ground nearby
You are the link between earth and sky
Big, green tree

Who would like to come up and put our gift to the tree into the Offering Bowl?

Opening the Gates:
We want to make sure that we reach our Ancestors and all of the guests we are going to invite to our party using our special phone. To do that, we need the help of someone named Garanus. He’s a crane who is going to make sure that we don’t dial any wrong numbers. As we sing his song and give him his gifts, he’s going to connect our phone to all of the people we want to talk to.

“Pop! Goes the Gate” (Pop! Goes the Weasel) – modified by Rev. Pezza

O Crane between the worlds come play
We need your help, please guide us
Keep us safe along the way
Pop! goes the Well gate.

O Crane between the worlds come play
We need your help, please guide us
Keep us safe along the way
Pop! goes the Fire gate.

O Crane between the worlds come play
We need your help, please guide us
Keep us safe along the way
Pop! goes the Tree gate.

(At each Pop! give an offering to Garanus and open the appropriate gate.)

Inviting the Kindreds:
Now that we can talk to everyone far, far away, we are going invite more guests to our party.

Nature Spirits:
The first guests that we are going to invite to our party are all of the animals and plants and rocks and stones and everything that lives outside.

“Nature Spirits” (Do Your Ears Hang Low) – modified by Rev. Pezza

Do your ears hang low?
Do you look like a crow?
Do you live in the snow?
Do you need sun to grow?
Can you fly? Can you run?
Do you swim? Weigh a ton?
Do your ears hang low?

Yes our ears hang low.
Yes we look like a crow.
Yes we live in the snow.
Yes we need sun to grow.
We can fly. We can run.
We can swim, weigh a ton.
Yes our ears hang low.

Who would like to come up and put our gift to the Nature Spirits into the Offering Bowl?

Shining Ones:
The next group of guests we are going to invite to our party are all of the gods and goddesses.

“Gods and Goddesses” (Frére Jacques) – modified by Rev. Pezza

Gods and Goddesses
Gods and Goddesses
Please come play
Please come play
Welcome to our party
Welcome to our party
We love you
We love you

Who would like to come up and put our gift to the gods and goddesses into the Offering Bowl?

Key Offerings: Ancestors
Now that we have all of the guests here, we have to invite our Ancestors, so that we can give them the presents we brought for them. So let’s ask all the people we know and love who have died to come to their party.

“Grandmas, Grandpas Come and Play” (London Bridge) – modified by Rev. Pezza

Grandmas, Grandpas
Come and play
Come and play
Come and play

Bring your parents
Don’t delay
It’s a party.

Now each of you needs to come up one at a time and give the present you made for your Ancestors to her by putting it in the Offering Bowl.

Prayer of Sacrifice:
Nature Spirits, Gods and Goddess, we hope that you liked our gifts and our party. Ancestors, we hope that you liked all of the pictures we drew for you and sentences we wrote for you. We hope that you will accept our gifts and keep teaching us new things.

Omen:
We have thrown such a nice party for our Ancestors and all of our guests that they are going to give us gifts that we can take home with us. I am going to reach into this goody bag and see what presents their sending home with us.

(Pull the omen and talk to the children about what it means and how they could use the gift.)

Blessings:
(Bring out the cupcakes and juice/milk and hold them up to the Fire, Well and Tree)

Ancestors, gods and goddess, plants and animals, ___________(fill in the omen). We know that when we eat these cupcakes that we will be able to use the gifts you have just given us.

Thank you for _______________. (Have all the children take a bite of their cupcakes.)
Thank you for _______________. (Have all the children take a bite of their cupcakes.)
Thank you for _______________. (Have all the children take a bite of their cupcakes.)
(Allow the children time to finish their cupcakes and juice/milk.)

Closing the Gates:
Our party for our Ancestors is almost over and we have to thank all of our guests for coming. Can you all help me thank everyone?

First we are going to say thank you to our Ancestors for coming. Ready? On the count of three. . . one . . . two . . . THREE!
THANK YOU ANCESTORS

Next we are going to thank the Nature Spirits for coming. Ready? One . . . two . . . THREE!
THANK YOU NATURE SPIRITS

Finally we are going so thank the gods and goddesses for coming. Ready? One . . . two . . . THREE!
THANK YOU GODS AND GODDESSES

Now it’s time to hang up the special phone we made that allowed to talk to all of our guests. To do that, we are going to clap after I say the word “close.” Is everyone ready?
Fire gate CLOSE! (clap)
Well gate CLOSE! (clap)
Tree gate CLOSE! (clap)

We’ve just hung up our telephone and now we have to say thank you to Garanus, who helped us dial it. Ready? One . . . two . . . THREE!
THANK YOU GARANUS

Now we have just one more thank you’s. Can everyone say thank you to the Earth Mother? Ready? One . . . two . . . THREE!
THANK YOU EARTH MOTHER

Closing the Rite:
GREAT JOB! Our party for our Ancestors is over and everyone did a fantastic job.

How Jack-o’-Lanterns Keep the Tricksy Spirits Away

Interactive Kids Story Parts:

  • When the child comes to the door, you pretend to knock on a door
  • When Jack opens the door, you shout “Trick or Treat!”
  • When Jack raises his lantern, you pretend to raise a lantern and look in their eyes

Story Script

This is the story of Jack of the Lanterns. He lived a long time ago and was able to tell the difference between good little children and tricksy little fairies.

Continue reading “How Jack-o’-Lanterns Keep the Tricksy Spirits Away”

Grove Attunement Samhain 2010

Children of Earth, take a moment to calm your mind and body. Breathe deep and close your eyes. Listen to the sound of your own breathing. Hear your heartbeat thrumming inside you. Pause for a second and just listen.

***Pause***

See in your mind’s eye where you stand now, and picture yourself walking away from where you are. You’re walking towards a deep and old forest. Feel the cool, damp earth on your feet. As you enter the forest feel the cool autumn breeze brush your cheek.

Notice the sounds around you. A gentle rustling of leaves, perhaps from the wind, perhaps made by a squirrel bounding by. Notice the sunlight dappling across your face. A last breath of summer caressing your face, heartening you for the colder days ahead.

As you are walking deeper and deeper into the forest you suddenly come upon a clearing. There is a small pond in the middle of the glade surrounded by trees around the water’s edge. One of these trees calls to you and you glide over to it. Place you hands on the trunk and feel the rough bark against your palm. Feel the ancient wisdom emanating from it.

Turn and place your back against the tree. Feel yourself sinking into it, becoming part of the tree. Feel your toes mix with the roots twinning down into the earth. Allow you mind to follow those roots and tendrils as they creep ever deeper, until suddenly they plunge into the cool deep waters far below the surface of the earth. Use the knowledge of the tree to pull those waters up through your roots. Feel them approaching you, up and up, until they reach your toes.

Feel the waters pulsing up through your toes and heels, moving up your legs and pooling in your groin. Feel them surging up into your chest and down your arms. Feel your branches swelling and cool waters seeping into your fingers, your leaves. Feel the waters rush up and fountain out the crown of your head, your uppermost branches and leaves, and come cascading back down into the earth to soak back down cooling your roots again. Having taken your fill, feeling replenished, allow those cool, dark waters to bleed back down into the earth.

Again feel the wind brush through your hair, your leaves. Feel as the sunlight shines down on you, brightening and invigorating you. Allow your leaves to take in that bright, golden light. Let it convert to pure energy and infuse your head and chest with light and energy. Let it saturate your branches and flow into your finger leaves. Feel as it washes down through your groin and flows down you legs and energizes you down to your roots. Having absorbed as much light as your body will hold, let the remainder reflect back off you, back into the sky.

Feel how the combination of the cool waters and the bright light mixes within your body. Feel how it mingles and brings a new awareness to every essence of yourself. Let your attention drift over yourself from your roots, to your trunk, and on up to your leaves.

Let a breath of wind catch one of your leaves and watch as it drifts downward to land fall lightly into the pond. Watch as the water ripples outward from this light touch. Allow your awareness to follow this ripple outward and see as it collides with other, similar ripples. As you follow those to their source you see that they also come from fallen leaves.

Now seeing all these leaves in the water creating ripples that touch and rebound off your own, you notice all the other trees surrounding the pond. Reach out your awareness and sense that these trees are all part of this grove. Reach out and feel that you are not alone in this glade, but rather you are surrounded by the warmth of your kin. You are all here together.

Take a moment and allow this feeling of togetherness and oneness to soak into your mind, your heart, your bones and your soul. Listen to the breathing of those around you. Your hearts beat as one now.

***Pause***

With this new realization that you are here among family, you begin to disconnect your self from the tree, just as all those around you do. Wiggle your toes and separate them from the roots. Wiggle your fingers and feel the leaves fall away. Roll you shoulders, allowing you to step out of the tree and once again become your own self.

As you now look around you see that while before you came to this glade alone, you now are leaving among friends. It is time now to turn away from the glade and walk back out of the forest. Listen, as before to the sounds around you. You can now hear the laughter of friends, and you feel now not just the warmth of the sun, but the warmth of companionship. As you break out of the forest and head back towards you body here keep that feeling that you are now one with the people around you.

Now, step back into your body and take deep breath to settle yourself back in. Wiggle your fingers and toes. Now begin moving your arms and legs just a little as you feel yourself come back to this place. Here, among kinfolk, we may now move on with the work we have for today.