In this new series, I hope to unearth (pun intended) insights and exercises that help parents to witchlets everywhere explore the elements and their world in an age-appropriate manner. Religious traditions originating from other continents often have similar systems, but are different in their execution- for example: many polytheistic religions from Asia or indigenous religions from the Americas use Wind instead of Air and do not use Spirit as an element.)
Elements, working in conjunction with a witch's will, can create magick (as well as put the practitioner in touch with nature and create balance.) Thus, teaching the elements is foundational to a pagan education.
I hope to share with all of you things that I think are excellent ways of exploring pagan belief with small children, element by element, concept by concept. And I hope that you will share with me things that you did with your small children, to start them on the Path. And today, we start with the element of Earth.
For my son, who can sit up unattended only for short periods and is starting to crawl but not quite adept at it yet - Earth seems like an appropriate place to start. He is "grounded" so to speak! So getting him out off of the living room rug and into the out-of-doors where he can experience soil, rocks, grass, trees, and plants is important for his early concepts of Earth.
Now that the weather is so gorgeous, it's easy to do. I try and remember when we are hustling about from place to place to literally stop and smell the flowers (and feel the leaves!). I point them out to the baby. Rowan loves flowers and is fascinated by their colors and shapes. He wants to eat them, and who can blame him, really?
While I have been tempted to spread a blanket down wherever I placed him outside in the past, I am going to stop that because of this great article I read. Dirt, quite literally is GOOD for babies. Makes sense to me! I am going to start placing him in the grass and letting him feel those blades and explore that micro-terrain.
I remember, as a small child, spending countless hours on my belly, with my hands propping up my head, watching with great fascination the plants and insects that are so easy for bigger humans to ignore. There are vast civilizations at our feet that most of us hardly notice- except as children. I spent an entire recess once communing with a praying mantis. I found her fascinating, and perhaps she thought the same of me- a child who could lower her energy and sit still for so long, observing the small world with wonder.
As he gets a little older and can sit up for longer (pretty soon now!), I will be taking him to the beach to show him a different kind of earth, where it meets water. And he can learn by making castles and digging trenches and burying his mommy and toys. And on Labor Day weekend, he is going up to Sacred Land to join mommy and daddy at a magick camp, and will see forested land and land set aside for altars and magick-making and feel how energetically different it is from the everyday land feeling of Oakland which is used by so many for so much.
Once he is even older still, I will talk to him of the properties of Earth (like manifestation and silence) and where we, as Feri Witches, acknowledge the earth in our rites and temples and altars (north). We will do simple spells for him to understand these concepts. We will bake bread and learn where all the ingredients come from and why Earth sustains us all. We will incorporate biological sciences into our lessons- showing how in our tradition, science and religion overlap and do not conflict. (We've got quite a few scientists in our trad, we do!)
I will revisit each element as he grows older in this blog and will share our introductions and lessons and activities each step of the way.
So... what have you done with children to introduce them to Earth- the element, the physical manifestation of it, and its correspondences?