Children and Samhain

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The Halloween season for children and adults alike is a very sensory time of year. With costume parades, haunted hay rides, the thrill of wearing big comfy sweat shirts, the scuffing of feet on the way to school or work, the smell of autumn fires and my favorite the pumpkin spice coffee and treats popping up everywhere: all these things mean autumn and activate our senses in amazing ways. This time of year not only activates our muggle senses but our spiritual ones as well. We all know that this time of the year the veil becomes thinner, and it seems to be thinning earlier and earlier every year. I really believe this is due to ourselves, the Witch and non Witch collectively putting out it into the universe. With the department stores putting out decorations and supplies as early as Labor Day and with more and more emphasis on parties, costumes, and decorations growing each year we are bringing the underworld ever more closer. If you haven’t noticed, this holiday has become enormously popular, and even other related holidays, such as Mexico’s Dios de la Muerte (“The Day of the Dead”) are receiving more notice too. Television networks are showing horror films and Halloween sitcoms all month-long. All this unintentional intent is being put out in to the universe causing us to open the gates earlier for our beloved dead and wandering spirits to cross. If we are as adults experiencing this hyper-activity of spirits and spiritual occurrences, than children are definitely as well.

Since Samhain is the time when our ancestors may find it easiest to visit us, you can have your children ask for dreams about people they know who have passed on. If you think this will frighten your child, by all means don’t do it. But if your child has fond memories of a grandparent or other relative who has died, you can have them ask to be visited in their dreams. Tell them that their relative loves them very much and would like to see them and maybe give them advice. Suggest that they can tell their relative about any accomplishments or big events that have happened recently. As they lie in bed to fall asleep, help them say aloud that they would like to dream about a certain person. Have them focus on their memories of that person as they fall asleep.

If this is something that you or your child is uncomfortable with, there are many ways to celebrate the season. Remember that children often will not fully understand how you view this time of year especially when there is so much going on around them. I have found it best to separate the concepts of Halloween and Samhain. Although they are tied together in history and practice for children Halloween is Halloween; let them dress up and trick-or-treat. However, after they’ve collected all their candy, be sure that they leave a few pieces for the ancestors, as an offering.

Holding a family ritual is another great way for children to understand the spiritual aspects of the holiday. Keep it simple by doing the prep work ahead of time. You might want to create rituals about whatever you and your children might want to lett go of, be that a loved one, warm days, or a beloved summer shirt.

If your family doesn’t have an altar for Samhain, set one up before you begin. Better yet, let the kids help you put things on it. Feel free to raid your Halloween decorations for ghosts, Witches, skulls, and bats. Have fun with it.

One thing I have done in the past for a family Samhain ritual was to create a strand of dried apple slices to decorate an altar. We included a slice for all of our family or friends who have past. This became a great opportunity to talk about offerings.

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Other seasonal activities that can provide “teachable moments:

Make a besom, or Witch’s broom.

Make resolutions, write them on a small piece of paper and bury them. This is similar to New Year’s resolutions; as for many Samhain is seen as the Witches New Year.

Have a family dinner setting a chair and meal for the dead, a less complex dumb supper.

Pumpkin carving is a traditional good activity to do on Samhain with children, as carved gourds originated with our Celtic ancestors.

Samhain is a great time to spend time with our loved ones who are still alive, too. Visiting your elderly relatives is an especially good way to celebrate, as they can probably tell you all sorts of fun stories about their childhood and what their parents and grandparents were like. If you don’t have any family close by, consider visiting a nursing home, perhaps in costume. Most nursing home residents love seeing children, and would probably get a kick out of seeing their Halloween costumes.

Make a Witches’ cord as an expression of what you hope to manifest in the year ahead.

Introduce different forms of divination. Samhain is seen as the beginning of the Pagan year; divination was usually done to see the future of the coming year. One practice that was always done in my family was to give the gift of tarot. I received my first deck on Samhain 30 years ago.

The point is don’t just create seasonal memories but lay the foundation for spiritual growth as well.  Happy Samhain!!

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Don’t forget to check out The Hierophant – Opening This Samhain.

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Personal Power Rangers: Children and The Use of Magick and Spells

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A child’s imagination can take them to worlds we can only dream about, and for some adults that does not even happen. The possibilities are endless if we let a child play and allow them to take on the roles they choose. A perfect example of this, is after a child watches their favorite TV show or movie and for the week following that child will “be” and act out the scenes and characters they saw. As adults, we see the child flailing around or punching the air and think they really have lost it this time. But in the child’s mind they are creating wind with super powers or beating up a monster. The one thing we forget is they are actually seeing this happen. Sound familiar? If you are well versed in spell craft and Witchcraft, this is exactly what we as Witches do. What the children are actually doing is tapping into their personal power without even knowing it. Children are full of magick and they actually know how to use it. They just lack the information behind the magick. It’s up to adults to teach them this information and how to wield this power properly. Some may argue that a child does not have the will to create change because they are missing the intent. Bull dinkies!  When the child is making a pretend dinner for you, they are not only imagining the ingredients and items they are “using”. They are preparing it with love and envisioning the ways that you will enjoy it. Though it is in its most basic element, this is intent. When children have a pre-notion of an idea or outcome and combine it with the unconditional love that children possess, this is intent at its purest form.

Role-playing is an excellent opportunity for introducing the fundamentals of person power, magickal theory, and meditation. It can take children to places they are unlikely to visit such as the moon or under the sea where they can meet dragons, animals or even Batman. The possibilities are endless to the child’s imagination and for parents to find magickal “teaching moments”.

A few months ago, my “spiritual” nephew was having some trouble with another child in his class. What made it even worse for him, was that him and his teacher clashed in personality, so there was no support in what he was going through with his classmate. It had gotten so bad for him, emotionally that he didn’t care about his studies. Now, before you go into “TAKE ACTION” mode, from an adult point of view, this was more of an everyday normal social interaction that all children go through and not an aggressive bullying situation. However, my nephew can sometimes put his emotions forward and let certain things have a deeper meaning than others. The fact that I live with my “spiritual” sister and her children in our own little “Witchy” commune as we like to call it, magick is a part of everyone’s life in the household. So, we decided what better than to use this opportunity as a magickal teaching moment and together we would write a spell to help him with his situation. This of course would not only help him with his current situation, both by adding a little needed magickal push and to give emotional support to himself, but it would also help in his magickal studies.

We elected to perform his spell during a full moon ritual, in that way he can harness the power of strength and emotion, rather than using the current times waxing moon of growth. Although, the spell was written as a group effort, he would have the chance to perform the spell all on his own.

If you plan to do this spell with your child, allow them to do as much as possible, of course, this all depends how far they are in their magickal studies.

Sweet Water Bottle Spell for Children

Items Needed: Paper, Pen, A Small Bottle filled with water w/ tight fitting lid, Sugar

Have the child write down the names of people bothering your child, explain to them to picture in their mind these people leaving them alone and to see themselves have a good day at school or another place involved. Have them keep writing the names over and over until the paper is filled. Do this on both sides of the paper. When the paper is completely full.

Say:

“_____names___, your words cannot hurt me,

Your thoughts can not harm me.

You cannot harm me!!!”

Next, have them add the sugar to the water and say:

“From now on ____names___,

Will say nothing but sweet words about me.”

 

Lastly, fold the paper 3 times (you may seal it with wax) and say:

“With the energy of the moon I fix this spell,

For the good of all and with harm to none.”

“So, mote it be!”

Drop it in the water, close the bottle tightly, and shake it.  The child may shake it whenever they feel that they need to have these people who names are written be sweeter to them. Keep the bottle until the paper has completely dissolved.

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Who Wants Ice Cream? Teaching Children about Pagan Traditions and Pantheons

It has been a while since I have posted on my blog, much of my time lately has been focused on classes, promotion, and private facilitated ceremonies. After being asked to join the staff of The Witches Daily Cauldron as writer for parenting articles, I thought I should get back to writing. So, I thought it would be a perfect time to post another “Little Witch” article.

During my own “Little Witch” years, I was not given the choice in my spiritual beliefs or information of the other traditions that were out there. Consequentially, this type of uninformative spiritual education had left me with unanswered questions and a lack of commitment to my spirituality.

I was first introduced to Wicca by a family member around the age of eleven, a year later I started training in the Gardnerian tradition. Although, I am grateful for what I did learn, this experience also hindered my path and spiritual growth. Most of my teachings were mainly coven based, and I had only learned what the tradition of the coven held in its practice. There was no room for alternatives or personal study of my own heritage and spirituality. This left me with a feeling of disappointment and indifference to the Wiccan traditions. It was not until many years later that I was shown that there was other ways and other beliefs then what I had been taught.

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Who Wants Ice Cream?

One of things I regularly come across in the Witch and Pagan community is the constant bickering of which and what is the best way to belief in something. Just as it is with ice cream, beliefs and traditions come in many flavors, but in the end, it is all just ice cream. Whereas, some people prefer chocolate while others enjoy strawberry, and yet others savor the taste of exotic flavors, such as turmeric. What it comes down to is personal choice and exploration in both ice cream flavors and in our spirituality. This is what creates our own unique path in Witchcraft as adults and also for our children. When we allow children to explore the various traditions of Witchcraft and magick, we open the doors to the true essence of spirituality.

Traditional Flavors

Many of the traditions found in modern Witchcraft that are based on historical evidence and from archaeological and anthropological discoveries throughout the world. Some have also been passed down through cultural practices, ceremonies and word of mouth. One of the more commonly known traditions of today is Wicca. There are as many Wiccan traditions as there are Alexandrian, Dianic, Gardnerian, and Seax Wicca are the most commonly practiced today.

Specialty/House Flavors

Witches like Raymond Buckland opened the doors for not only someone who did not have the means to work with a coven, but also for others to create and expand on their own traditions. Over the years, more and more Witches started to combine their own personal family heritage and folk medicine/lore with Wicca, thus creating new traditions focusing on specific ancestral cultures and practices. Eventually these Witches began teaching and sharing their traditions with the world. Vanilla is not just vanilla anymore. Some of the Wiccan and Wiccan-based traditions found in modern Witchcraft are Cabot, Celtic Wicca, Christian Wicca (Still a very controversial tradition, though the practice of combing Wiccan and Christian beliefs is growing amongst the Pagan community. Such combined practices have been done for generations in many other Witchcraft traditions, so why not Wicca.) Eclectic (I highly recommend starting with eclectic Witchcraft practices for children because of its freedom and non-traditional system. As long as they are given their own choice of pantheons.) Green/Kitchen, and Stregheria.

Exotic Flavors

Not all Pagan and Witchcraft traditions are Wiccan based, in fact many are either older or are reconstructed through ancient texts and anthropological studies. Although, others can be and are sometimes associated with the practice of Wicca and Witchcraft. When it comes to children I do not recommend introducing children to these practices until they ready and have an understanding of true spirituality and magick. These traditions and practices include: Asatru, Brujeria, Druidism, Kemetic, Santeria, Shamanism, and Voodoo/Hoodoo.

Adding Sprinkles, Whipped Cream and a Cherry

When you are at an ice cream parlor, choosing a flavor can sometimes be less overwhelming than the choosing of toppings. It’s this essential choice that creates a perfect sundae. The mixing of flavors of ice cream with the flavors of toppings is of a personal taste. What seems unconventional to some may work well for others. The same can be said with the choice of Deity we choose or in some cases has chosen us.

In many Wiccan and modern Witchcraft traditions the use of a specific pantheons is sometimes chosen based on either coven, heritage or regional influences. Many Witches who are eclectic or solitary may use a combination of pantheons chosen by personal interest, ethnicity or a calling.

This choice may be taken because of the attributes of a specific Deity within a pantheon or a personal connection to one Deity. Most modern Witches also have what’s known as a matron or patron, which is the Deities they work with on a regular basis. There is also, myself included, Witches whom do not hold to the idea of pantheons and the conventional concept of Deity. Whereas they see things having a polarity of male and female energies and others may use the titles of Goddess and God as distinction between them. For many this may also include aspects of the natural world such the sun, moon, sky and earth with their male/female connections. The most common pantheons are Celtic, Christian, Egyptian, Greek/Roman, Hindu, and Norse. By no means are these the only pantheons there are to choose from, however they are the most common and easiest to research.

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When it comes to children and spirituality there is no need to teach them about the all the different traditions and pantheons, just allow them to explore them. This will ensure that it will be less frustrating to both you and most importantly your child. Also remember that a child’s interest can change from week to week and from day-to-day. It takes time for them to find their path. Even as adults our paths are not set in stone, we grow, and sometimes even change directions.

And of course, if your tradition is based on an ancestral or hereditary or cultural tradition you may want to start with that and then move on the others. However, keep the information very basic as not to persuade your child’s true path. This can be very discouraging for some parents because they want to continue their teachings of a particular tradition. Keep in mind that just because they are choosing a different path that the knowledge is not absent from their minds.

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