"Ritual": the established form for a ceremony, specifically
order of words prescribed for a religious ceremony (taken from
New Collegiate Dictionary).
This is the definition that most Pagans, or anyone in
the magickal community, tend to adhere to when describing ritual.
Perhaps, though, as Pagan parents we need to expand upon
this definition. So many young children are not capable of, or interested
in, participating in long, drawn-out religious rites. Any Pagan parent
who has brought children to a festival, or to any type of Pagan event or
ceremony, is made painfully aware of this.
So how do we allow our children to participate in ritual,
without causing undue disruption? And how do we teach our children to appreciate
First of all, let me give you my definition
of ritual: any action or series of actions, undergone with deliberate and
conscious thought and/or intent. A mouthful as written here ~ I'm normally
not that formal *grin.*
Most families, Pagan or not, have their own personal
rituals that they enjoy and stick to. For instance, the ritual many parents
have of saying goodnight. How can you incorporate Paganism into this? There
are any number of choices. To give you an example, I always draw protection
circles around our daughters when tucking them into bed, to keep bad dreams
away. This gives a nightly boost to their dreamcatchers, and makes them
feel just a bit more secure. Of course, I now have to give a protection
circle to Firecracker, the hamster that belongs to Silverwing, but that
is okay too. *smile*
There are so many actions that we do every single day,
that can be changed from just habit to ritual by simply "thinking" about
what we are doing, and why. The simple act of fixing meals becomes a labor
of love when the food is blessed while it is cooking. I've been teaching
Silverwing and Willow my "rule of 3" with salt, and to always stir deosil
in the pot or pan, to blend in positive energy.
Most Christian families enjoy a meal blessing, and I
think that this is something that would be good for Pagan families to share
as well. It doesn't have to be elaborate. One of the most common blessings
Oak uses is "blessed be this food, and the hands that prepared it." (By
the way, for all you Pagan spouses out there who are not cooking the meals,
this is a lovely way to acknowledge the efforts of the partner who is ~
subtle hint there *grin*.)
Daily showers or baths can serve as mini cleansing rituals.
One of my favorite techniques, which I've told the girls about, is to imagine
negative emotions or thoughts rising to the surface of the skin, in icky,
ugly colors. Then see the water wash them away. A very simple technique,
but very effective. And it is a ritual that children can enjoy, and understand.
Special rituals can be devised for children who are sick.
When the girls are sick, they know they have to stay in bed or on the couch
if they are running a fever. But they also know that they get cold orange
juice, hot chicken soup, and pretty much almost any food that they can
keep down when they are sick. What they don't realize (or at least have
not commented on) is that I charge their medicine with extra healing energy.
And, wherever they are resting, I try to make sure that a charged healing
candle is burning within sight of them.
Okay, so your kids aren't sick ... lucky you! Maybe you
can charge their vitamins instead. In such a case, it probably wouldn't
be a bad idea. It makes the vitamins work more effectively and, most importantly,
it lets the children know that you care.
Another "ritual" that we enjoy almost every morning is
when I brush each girl's hair. They both have beautiful, golden hair and
I really enjoy brushing it. I try to use those few minutes in the morning
to tell them positive things about themselves, even if it is simply how
beautiful they are and how much I love them.
Another favorite ritual, on weekends, is vacating the
kitchen to let Oak fix his famous "Daddy's Big Breakfasts." These breakfasts
range from biscuits and gravy, to cheese eggs, to almost anything (depending
on what we have in the fridge). The girls love these breakfasts and, to
be honest, I love the break on the weekends.
One ritual that the girls themselves have started is
bringing me home flowers almost every day after school. I treasure these
daisies and clumps of clover just as much as if they were huge bouquets
of roses. Usually they grace the kitchen table, until they die back.
Don't get me wrong ... ritual in sacred space is a wonderful
experience. We try to emphasize to the girls that ritual is a very special
time, a time to be close to the Lord and Lady. Even if they don't understand
the full significance of the ceremony, they can at least appreciate the
occasion, and respect its importance to others. But I think that the everyday
rituals that make up our lives have far more impact, overall.
So perhaps tomorrow, when you make your first cup of
coffee or tea, you'll charge it with energy to face the day. As you prepare
dinner, you might take a moment to bless the food and drink, and to honor
the sacrifices made for it. As you tuck your children in, you might spare
a couple of minutes to create sweeter dreams for them.
Now, if I could just find a ritual or spell that would
actually do the housework, I would be complete! LOL
Amberflame ~ 5/2/99
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