As High Priestess, I arrived early to prep the space. I set up a working altar with some safe tools (I normally use my very sharp athame, but also have a blunt one made of jet, which was used today). Then we put a small elemental (earth, air, fire, water) representation in each direction (a bowl of water for the west, a bowl of dirt for the north, a blob of play-doh (how's that for kid-friendly improvisation when you cannot find an incense burner?) holding a stick of smoking incense for the east, and a lit candle for the south. Charmingly, one of the kids placed a bowl of goldfish crackers in the west as well.
|Getting mama love beforehand|
When everyone arrived, we went over the ritual outline to get everyone on the same page: We then assigned/asked kids to represent each quarter so that they could shout out the name of the element that they represented when it came time to cast circle. We had the oldest child be fire with the help of a parent, since that was the more dangerous element and the smaller children got to be water and earth and air, with the help of their parents or me (in the north).
Getting the kids to pay attention during the orientation was kind of like herding cats - some had just arrived, others had been there for 30 minutes already and were running around like the wild things that they are. I tried to get them to focus by asking direct questions to them, starting with their name: "Alden, would you like to be the north?" etc.
|Orin, as the element of fire.|
So I switched gears. We talked about how the wheat and how the god gets cut down this time of year, which is why we were making bread gods. I got the kids excited: "Everybody gets to play with the dough and make their own bread god! And when they are done- we get to EAT THEM!" With the kids sufficiently excited, we headed to the kitchen.
I also need to tell you that the bread god shown on the right is also a robot. Just so you know. Cuz that's important. Oddly enough, he also has a goldfish cracker in the center. I don't know why that was important, but it was.
While the kids ran around and played, the adults communed and had some fun feasting on the bread, leftover raisins, and banana bread. Eventually, we spread a blanket on the grass and exchanged songs that we sing to our kids. We were all wound down at that point, so I forwent the idea of the kids crazily running in a circle chanting a simple chant to raise a cone of power. At that point, I asked our two oldest kids to help me devoke and bring down the circle. I asked them to see the circle on the periphery of the yard, and on the count of three, we were gonna "pop the balloon we made". They were great at it, and the circle came down!
I captured some other photos that I would like to share:
|Avery, messy with plum|
|The Kunning family|
|Rowan explores the grass|
Things that I would do differently for next sabbat:
1. Storytime needs to be more engaging. We lost focus at some of these times, when they were supposed to act as a bridge to the next activity. We are thinking about using puppets next time.
2. We should start teaching our kids songs and dances now, so that we can engage them to join in easily. While four of our regular kids are pre-verbal, two can dance and clap to a remembered song at this point. I think having common touchpoints in the ritual may anchor and ground the ritual, making it easier for kids to follow.
3. We have some logistics to work out about timing and such. We all arrived very staggered, making the start time later than intended, thereby making the day longer than intended for some of the kids. This made several of the kids lose their naptimes (which at least in my case, led to a meltdown at the end of the day). This demonstrates that planning (good, bad or a lack of it) has a very real-world effect on our kids!
We all talked toward the end of the ritual about how we can get more organized as a group- calendars, a ning group, and much more. It's quite exciting to see us coming together for the kids.