It’s easy to forget that we are more than our current selves. Underneath the layers of obligation, experience, work, relationships, education, and the flow of time, exist all the versions of Self we have ever been. When we react to the world around us, it’s more than our current selves doing the reacting. When we nurture or heal or build, it’s more than our current selves offering strength. We are, each of us, a chorus of selves.
When the world we live in is challenging, we place our Survivor selves at the wheel. We focus on just getting through the next hour, day, or week. Most of us have been in survivor mode for the past year and the strain is starting to show.
Much of Pagan spirituality is about finding balance – balance between humans and the natural world, balance between the mystical and practical, and, of course, balance within ourselves. I know that I’ve been so focused on just making it through this pandemic, the political upheaval in the United States, and the personal challenges of my own life that I’ve swung the pendulum too far toward Being Serious All The Time. I’m guessing I’m not the only one.
In our chorus of Self, we also are kids and teenagers. We’re the ones who collected Star Wars action figures, hoarded Legos, made mud pies, built forts, finger painted, sculpted our hair into mohawks with shampoo, giggled at jokes about underwear, and got lost in the worlds of our imagination. Those selves are still there. We groan at bad puns but our inner 12-year-old is delighted. We look at the elaborate toys now with a mix of envy and scoffing. We half-joke about wanting to install a bouncy house at our place of work. The impulse is still there because our kid-selves are, too.
And you know what?
They should be. Laughter and play are some of the most healing activities we can engage in. And as the saying goes, ‘it’s never too late to have a good childhood.’ But how do we get started? How do we free the Survivor from its death grip on our steering wheel? How do we access the Kid self when we’ve been serious for so long?
Ritual is a beautiful container for holding different experiences. Within ritual, we can embody different aspects of Self. Sometimes we are the Priestx, the Dedicant, the Spellcaster, or the Seer. What if we created a ritual space in which to be the Kid? The seeds of our paganism were present in us as children. The safe, protected space of ritual allows for experimentation. If we bring those threads together, we can use our magick and ritual skills to open us up to the sacred, healing energy of play.
The supplies and ritual flow suggested below are simply guidelines. As always, feel free to take this idea and make it your own.
Divine Play: A Ritual for Accessing Silliness
- The normal materials of safe ritual for you – whatever you use to create protected space and any offerings for guardians, guides, deities, or ancestors you customarily call on.
- A brand-spankin’-new toy or activity you loved as a kid.Think back. Was it Legos? Play Doh? Finger paints? Order a new set. This is a gift to your Kid Self. What would they most love? Or, what toy did you always want but never get? Scratch that itch.
- Snacks and drinks!When I was a tweeny, I would save up my allowance and walk to 7-Eleven to buy the sugary cereal I wasn’t allowed to have. I kept a box of Lucky Charms hidden under my bed. What was your favorite snack that you weren’t allowed to have? Or were only allowed to have in moderation? Purchase or make that as well. It doesn’t matter if it’s terrible for you nutritionally – one snack does no more harm than one helping of broccoli does good.
- A device that will play music and a playlist or channel of songs you listened to as a kid.Music is a powerful trigger and can help bring us back to who we were. Many of the streaming music services offer mixes from specific time periods. For me, that would be mid-80’s pop music. Think about what was on the radio when you were little.
- A couple hours where you will be undisturbed and free from Adulting.
The Ritual flow:
Prepare your space. Put your devices on airplane mode and if you work at home, set up away from that work area or cover your working space with sheets or blankets. Prep the area where you plan to do your ritual. Put down towels if you plan to get messy and gather all your supplies.
Begin by establishing ritual space. Create your container, cast your circle, and call your allies as fits your practice.
Then, hit ‘play’ on your playlist or channel. Sit down and close your eyes. Allow the music to begin drawing your Kid self closer to the surface. If your childhood was traumatic, begin repeating a mantra that you are safe, secure, and protected here. You can couple this with Havening touch (more information about that here) to help support safe embodiment of your kid self.
As you breathe deeply, visualize every breath drawing your kid self up from within. Feel your energy body begin to shift into that familiar form. Notice what you are wearing, what your hair is like, how it feels to smile as your kid self. When you feel firmly oriented to your kid self, gently open your eyes.
Look at the gift your adult self bought for you. Tear into that bad boy and PLAY. Sprawl out on the floor or make a big mess at the table. Eat snacks. Speak out loud, laugh, sing along with the playlist. Dance if a really good song comes along. Just play. If you find that a judgy adult self tries to interfere, notice and reconnect to your kid self once more.
When you feel like you’re ready to come back, sit down once more. To return, begin to visualize your kid self as sitting on the lap of your adult self. Allow your adult self to embrace your kid self. Rather than suppressing, begin to integrate them with who you are now. As you breathe, visualize that kid self spreading out into your entire energy body. Feel the way your adult self is a little lighter now, a little more balanced. When you feel fully integrated, gently open your eyes.
Ground and center, then hail and farewell any deities or spirit allies you welcomed in. Release your circle or sacred space, then clean up after the ritual.
One of the best things about this working? It can be done more than once, whenever you feel like you need it. Sometimes, what we most need is a little safe space to be silly.
So, what helps you connect to your kid self? How would you most like to play? Hit me up in the comments.