Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Teaching Children the Craft: Seasonal Altar for Fall

Back in February, I talked about how Rowan is learning about the seasons and their sabbats through a seasonal altar. Right now, as an extreme novice to Witchcraft, he has no altar tools or devotional practice. But he is gaining an appreciation for nature and its cycles partly by having a place for his collections. See, is part magpie, like his mama. He sees a pretty, and he must have it. He collects leaves, flowers, shiny pieces of trash, rocks (especially rocks!) and more. And they all make their way (through mama's careful facilitation) to his altar.

It's not fancy- after all, he is a force of destruction as a toddler. I place (and replace and replace!) his items on the play table so he can enjoy them and commune with them long after the original meeting. He knows the words for lots of the things he collects: rocks ("ocks"), flowers ("fowerr"), leaves ("eef!"), bees ("beee!"- Yes, he has found a dead bee on the sidewalk and I got it from him before he ate it. Eew- now it's a glass jar.), and more.

Now that fall is upon us, he is interested in the dead leaves in our driveway daily en route to our car. He is seeing more eucalyptus nuts and is very interested in them. Once we move to Ohio, the seasons are much more pronounced and the seasonal altar less subtle. I am looking forward to having Rowan experience the four seasons as I did as a child, and showing him how to revel in each one.

I am also looking forward to introducing the sabbats in a ritualistic way- so he can look forward to each one and come to expect those touchstones that anchor us to time and place.

In addition to the altar, we are spending more time pausing to appreciate and name the things he sees and hears outside. He also is watching the birds a lot more. He does the sign for bird and says "birr?" everytime he hears a crow, robin, towhee, or house finch, whether he sees it or not. He wants to know the names of everything, and repeats and retains those names with amazing efficiency. We have started creating first and last names for him of sorts- all birds have the last name of "bird" but the first name is what kind it is. Same with flowers and trees. He already knows that our parrots are caiques and the crows outside are crows. He can tell a marigold from a rose. He is amazed that everything has a different name. There is so much to learn, Booper!

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