A Question of Ceremony with Childrensam
Ask Your Mama, The What, When, Where, Why, How, and Who of Ceremony & Spirituality
by Mama Donna Henes, Urban Shaman
Dear Mama Donna,
I am not a follower of the Goddess, but I was walking around in downtown Brooklyn with my six-year-old daughter, Beatrice, when she said to me, “Mommy, I don’t believe in God. I believe in Mother Nature and the fairies in the woods. That’s why I make circles with the rocks.” Clearly she is on a spiritual path and I would like to support her, but I really don’t have the background to show a six-year-old the path to the Goddess.
Ready and Willing, Brooklyn, NY
Dear Ready, Willing, and Able,
Ah, to have had a mom like you when I was six and building altars and shrines in nature! I am deeply impressed with your desire to help Beatrice pursue her own personal spiritual path, without coercion, indoctrination, judgment, or repression. Brava!
Children are natural ceremonialists. They are reverent, practical, organized, open, response-able, and utterly sincere. They are still linked with the infinite profound, and believe in the magical power of tranceformation. They are more than willing to suspend logic and take that crucial leap of faith. They believe.
My fairy goddess daughter and soul sister, Shameike, is my favorite ritual partner. Eleven now, she has spent summers and spring breaks with me ever since she was three. Over the past eight years, we have established quite a roster of rites for special occasions as well as for daily life.
Our most consistent and satisfying one has been “Doing Om” at bedtime. After we read stories or talk, we join our energy and chant together. I sit on her bed and we hold (all four) hands to create a complete circle of the two of us. We close our eyes, center ourselves, breathe deeply, and chant “Om.”
Every night it is different — sometimes our energy carries us longer, sometimes the chant is quite brief. Occasionally, a visiting friend will join our intimate circle. Once in a while, it gets silly and giggly, but more often, we tone until we feel relaxed and peaceful. She usually drifts off to sleep, while I feel revitalized for the rest of my night’s chores.
This has become sacred to us, and we never miss. On her first day back in Exotic Brooklyn last summer after our months-long separation, she asked, “Can we Do Om for a really long time tonight?” This ritual binds us in an unbreakable embrace, which is at once physical and spiritual. It cements our connection as family, and honors the divine union of our eternal soul-selves. We are bound by our breath.
Once we attended a wonderful Passover seder with the extended clan of the Living Theater. At one point during the ceremony, someone started to intone Om. Soon, everyone lent their attention and voice. Shameike slipped her hand into mine and squeezed it in silent affirmation of the years of our shared understanding and experience of Doing Om.
The moon is another great way to link to the Goddess. In most cultures, the moon represents the divine female principle. Luna is the Lady in the Moon. She is the Queen of the Subconscious, the Emotions, the Spirit, and Maternity. She rules creativity and invites our admiration and interaction. Women have always claimed a special relationship with La Madama Madonna Moon.
Kids, too, have a special affinity to the moon and identify it as a friend and companion. Remember the feeling that the moon was following you wherever you went? The first thing Shameike always wants to know when I pick her up in the summer, is when the full moon will be. When she was little, she called it the “whole moon.”
Keep track of the lunar cycles and do something really wonderful together to mark the full and new moons. Treat the new moon like a mini new year, a new beginning. Create an intention for the coming moonth. Make a resolution. Start a joint project. Plan to do something new. Make a wish on the first crescent.
Celebrate the full moon by walking, dancing, drumming, swimming, bathing, sleeping it its bright light. Turn off all your lights, raise the shades, and invite the moon light in. Make shadow puppets. Take a middle-of-the-night field trip to some beautiful place in nature. Get dressed up all in white and take family pictures. Don’t forget to bring snacks!
You might want to say some version of grace at meals, acknowledging the bountiful Earth Goddess for all of the fruits and vegetables from Her belly. Set a beautiful table, light candles, and make pretty food in honor of simply being alive and loving each other. Decorate your house, her room, the windows, the yard, for every holiday and seasonal change.
Since she already seems to be drawn to altars and shrines, you can encourage her to make a very special one for her room where she can “make offerings” to her own vision of the Goddess of Nature. She will certainly have her own very distinct idea of what that might mean.
Take your cues from your daughter. She still remembers.
xx Mama Donna
Dear Mama Donna.
Can we get together and make a Goddess circle or a Mother Nature Circle or a water circle or an earth circle or an air circle or a fire circle?
Yes. It would be my honor to do a circle together with you. But you know you can also do a circle whenever you want to all by yourself. Or you can invite your mom or a friend if you feel like sharing. You can sit down with a bowl of water and a bowl of earth. You can ask your mom to help you light some incense to make fire and sweet smelling air.
Keep on making your stone circles. Stones come from the earth. They are like the bones of the body of Mother Earth. Circles are powerful magic. The moon is a circle. The earth is a circle. The year is a circle. People all over the world have made circles out of stone to use like a church or temple for their ceremonies to the Great Goddess.
Why not have your own circle ceremony inside of one of the circles of stones that you have built? You made the circle. You can make the ceremony, too. You can make it any way you want!
Also you can talk to the Goddess any time you want to. You can ask Her for help, or you can just tell Her how you feel about Her. Of course, if She does help you, I’m sure that you will remember your best manners and say “Thank you!”
Whenever you have a question, please write to me and I will answer you.
I send circles of fire, water, earth and sky to bless you.
*Are you cyclically confused? In a ceremonial quandary? Completely clueless? Wonder no more. Send your questions about seasons, cycles, celebrations, ceremonies and spirit to Mama Donna at: CityShaman@aol.com