When I did the Dedicant Path the first time around, I wrote mostly about modern traditions here. Part of the reason for that is there just isn’t a good Hellenic equivalent of what we as neo-pagans consider to be the essential components of the season.Continue reading “All About Samhain – The Autumn Crossquarter”
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.
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. Continue reading “Kid’s Samhain Rite”
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
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.
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.
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.
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.