January 22nd, 2009

Family: my girls

Children and Ceremony

This week's therealljidol topic was chosen by my f-list. Thanks, guys!

I'm a Christian, but I'm certainly not your mainstream Christian. When I went to church, I went to a Unity Church, although I now do my celebrating at home. My personal rituals are a mixture of many different techniques – my Christian background comes into play, as does Medicine Reiki, shamanism... Really anything I've picked up somewhere that has personally resonated, I use.

When we left our church, it became really important to me to include my daughters in my spiritual activities. I've tried to raise them with an understanding and respect for God and Universe. Kids get these things; they really do. Maybe not on deep philosophical levels, but Spirit resonates for children just as well as adults. My children are five and three, and we've been discussing God and life since (before) they were born.

At first, I tried introducing an altar to bring some conscious honoring into our daily lives. Moms, I'm sure you can guess what happened. Our little table (er, upside-down banana box), so lovingly set up with print, crystals, sticks from our faerie tree, and little bowls of rice and water, quickly became the hot spot for books, dirty clothes, tiny McDonald's toys, and extra crayons. Rather than lovingly taking our offerings out to the faerie tree each day, I found myself ritually picking rice out of my carpet and shooing the cat away to her own water.

The altar was cleared off, turned upside down, and became a giveaway box for all the extra toys that had previously been piled upon it.

I still haven't given up, though. For a while, I got slack about my own spirituality – our spirituality. Seeing my kids continue to struggle as badly as me after my momma's death really made me realize that I needed to get our family back on track.

We had our first “family ritual” on Winter Solstice. Josh doesn't often join me in such endeavors, but we planned this one together. It was a Healing Ceremony for the girls, and no mistake! One of the important things about creating your own ceremonies is that you really need to have a set intention. It's almost all about intention. With that one, I wanted to make sure it was something that would engage my children: we made a big fire outside, drew out all of our darkness that we wanted to release, and went out as a family to throw them to the flames together. Afterwards, we filled in that empty spot with the sweetness of roasted marshmallows.

My kids have been healthily happy ever since. It wasn't a miracle cure for grief, that's for sure, but even children are empowered by taking their healing into their own hands.

That ceremony was quite a success, and the girls have asked us to do them more often. I'm so glad that they're excited about it! And we homeschool, so I'm excited about the educational aspects as well as the spiritual and bonding aspects.

My youngest, Ivy, has been having some health issues lately. Tonight, we're holding a healing ceremony for her. I understand that ritual is also important, but I don't want our ceremonies to be the same every time. I like to ask them to check in with their hearts and determine what feels right and needed.

As mom, I get to do the same. For instance, I've explained why it's so important to me that we clean up the room before we ceremony in it. We must bless our house and clear the space for the energy to move. The girls pitch in, usually with minimum griping. (It really helps to call it “blessing the house” and not “cleaning the house”.)

We used purifying fire last time, so I thought we'd center around a different element this time. I want to make a healing oil to anoint her with. My kids love that sort of thing. I've caught them making potions with my bath salts and bubbles before. I plan on pouring a little oil into a bowl and letting them add whatever herbs they feel will give Ivy healing power.

When we're ready, I'm going to let Ivy smudge the room with Sweetgrass, and then Eden may smudge the people with Sage. Kids love smudging! We'll consecrate a blanket for the floor, to lay on. All of us will say a little prayer for Ivy and anoint her with oil, then she'll lay down and we'll do a nice family Reiki session for her.

If the kids are in the mood for anything else, we'll do that too. Ceremony is all about moving with the Spirit, after all!

I do have a more devious plot than marshmallows this time. The doctor told Ivy that she needs to work on drinking more water and eating more vegetables if she wants to be healthy. So after Ivy's healing portion is done, we'll move to the kitchen where the girls can smudge the squash I have in the fridge (it really needs to get eaten up), and I'll even teach them how to chop them. We'll pour the rest of the unused, health-imbued oil into a pan and saute up some veggies! I've learned that once children cook it themselves, they'll really eat anything.

The trick about including kids in ceremonies is that is needs to be fun, and it doesn't hurt for there to be an immediate reward of some sort. It doesn't have to be sweets – it's as easy as mom or dad saying, “Hey, your energy was awesome tonight!” Try it different ways. Let the children lead if they have ideas of their own.

It's fun. It should be fun. Still, before you begin, it's important to invoke Sacred Space in some way. Children will respect Sacred Space. In fact, I personally feel that it's quite important to teach them how to center into that still space while they're still young. Do it through breathing, saying a prayer, or simply standing together, holding hands.

Always close out and end with gratitude. Phrase it in a powerful way: “Thank you for Ivy's health and wholeness!” rather than “Thank you for helping our poor, sick girl.” If you've called in your guardian angels or guides, thank them for their support. Thank each other, especially if someone did something that really moved you.

Plan ahead of time, because children have notoriously short attention spans and will likely give up the ceremony idea if they're waiting around for you. At the same time, be willing to abandon your plans if your children take you in a different direction. If you're introducing a new concept, like anointing, explain how different religions have used this technique over the centuries. If you've just made something up and thrown it together, at least explain why you felt drawn to do it that way. Explain to them in simple terms what it means to “focus in your heart, and not your head” or to call in your guides.

Ceremonies don't need to last a long time, and they don't have to be 'just so' or they won't work. Let Spirit move through you and show how people can easily work with Spirit. If your candle won't stay lit, laugh and say, “Guess Universe wants us to use more air than fire, eh?” If your pet jumps in the middle of things, thank her for coming to lend her energies. Ceremonies at home are perfect places for giggles! It shouldn't be a sit-down-and-shush situation. Remember to always end on a happy note. And have those kids help you lovingly put everything away afterwards!

This is my week 17 entry for therealljidol. If you enjoyed it &/or found it helpful, please vote for me when the polls open tonight or tomorrow. Thank you!

My last post

For those of you who honor me by voting for my therealljidol entries, I should warn you that there will not be a vote this weekend. Mysterious folk called the Gatekeepers will be deciding our fate. 14 people are getting the boot this week.

I'd just like to say thank you for reading and commenting all the same. I really do hope that those of you who have NO interest in LJI still take the time to read those entries. I jump off of the topics (when they're given), but I do consider my readers when I write them.

Thanks again for all your support!