If You Give a Mouse a Cookie: Teaching Children About Cause and Effect in Magick

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In the popular children’s book, “If you give a mouse a cookie” by Laura Numeroff, a little boy’s pet mouse asks for a cookie which starts a chain reaction of wanting more and more, until returning back to the start which suggests that it will begin over again from the cookie.

I use this book in one of my “Little Witch” workshops to highlight the principle of cause and effect in magickal practices.

For those who remember taking physics in High School you will probably remember this: “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction”. This idea of cause and effect in physics can also be seen in Magick as well. What is thought or done could possibly create a chain of events for yourself or someone else you have no connection too. This is completely different from the wiccan ideal of the three-fold law.

The BIG question is how do you teach this to children?

As an early childhood educator, teaching the laws of physics can be challenging and the thought of quantum physics is just asking for trouble. There are many things that have perplexed and prevented me from teaching it regularly. From the obvious complexity of the subject to religious and/or cautious parents that have kept me to just keep it to the basic fundamentals. Over the years, I have found that the best way to incorporate quantum physics was with experiments and teachable moments in everyday play. There is no mandate or standard that states that we need or must teach the subject, but I feel it is my duty as an educator to lay the ground work for our future possible mad scientists.

When it comes to Pagan education I feel there is more of an open mind in the teaching of this subject to children and how it could contribute to their spirituality. There are many sources of information in the pagan community that mention and focus on the science of magick and how it pertains to the laws of physics and quantum physics. However, many of them are too complex for a new Witch to understand.

Teaching children about cause and effect is actually easier than you think. Young children are already experimenting with cause and effect on a regular basis. They can cause a ball to roll by placing it on a slanted surface. Whereas, Infants learn that when they shake a rattle, they hear a sound. Children learn that they can “test” toys and people to see what reactions they can create. Through their exploration play, children learn that they can cause things to change or happen in their environment. This is no different on a magickal and spiritual level. However, as magickal teachers we just need to tweak the material to include more than just the five senses.

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Simple Domino Exercise

By using dominos, we can teach children about cause and effect through play. Line up the dominos either in a straight line or in a specific magickal pattern such as a crescent moon. The bigger the better.

Ask the child what will happen if you push the first domino. At this point you can explain that this is called “cause and effect” and it is what happens when we work with magick. How our intention is the first domino and our magick is the pushing of that domino, which can cause all the other dominos to change how they stand. Explain how everything in the universe as well as all magick works under this principle. You can give age appropriate examples to help further the understanding of the principle, for example: When you eat too much candy (cause) you will get a tummy ache(effect). For those in the wiccan traditions, I would consider using a circle pattern and at the point of return express the three-fold law. You and your child can experiment with different shapes and patterns.