Performing rituals with your children is it’s own magical experience. Their sense of wonder and discovery can be infections, as well as their suspension of belief and their sense of play. The following ritual was written with all of this in mind and is aimed at providing parents a simple ritual that they can perform with their own children. Both The Witches Next Door (“Children and Pagan Rituals – Get Down On Your Knees and Play”) and Under the Ancient Oaks (“Welcoming Children in Pagan Circles“) have written about children in other circles. They create an interesting discussion that I’m not even going to attempt to join in at the moment.
This ritual was written (1) with older elementary school kids in mind – perhaps 3rd-5th grades. However, you know your children best, so please feel free to adapt it however you need to make it either simpler or my complex.
Some tips for creating your sacred space: When opening and closing the Circle, let your child help. Either walk the circle with your child or let them cast the circle themselves. They can either use a branch, wand, or their finger to “draw”. Explain that they should “see” the circle in their mind, envisioning a pretty blue light coming from their wand to form the circle. Children do better when they are actively involved.
Finally, remember to play it safe. Some of these rituals call for candles. If you don’t feel your children are mindful enough around candles, either substitute something else, tuck them inside those lovely hurricane, lamp-like covers you can find in many craft stores, or place them high enough to be safe. Always keep a container of water nearby, just in case. If those measures don’t seem to be enough, adapt the rituals as needed.
The main thing to remember, even when you aren’t involving the kids is that you can only plan so much, it doesn’t have to be perfect, and yes, the gods do have a sense of humor.
Lammas Harvest Ritual
Supplies Needed: North – grain such as corn, wheat, or oats; South – spicy incense; East – grape juice; West – airy flowers, such as daisies; hay or straw and some wheat; twine; small loaf of bread; deity representations; sparkling grape juice; branch to cast the circle; drums and other noisemakers. You might also want to have some butter (homemade?), apple butter, or jelly/jam on hand for the bread at the end.
Before the ritual construct a simple straw man from the hay or straw(2). Hide the loaf of bread in the body. Tuck some wheat in to connect to both the harvest and the bread hiding inside.
Cast the circle and then summon the quarters. Starting in the South, help your child light the incense and welcome the powers of Fire, which are still burning brightly upon the land. In the West, welcome the powers of Air, helping cool us in the still hot days. To the South welcome the powers of Earth, laboring to give us food to enjoy now and to save for wintry months ahead. In the East welcome the powers of Water, needed to nourish us all. After summoning the directions, invoke whatever deities you’ve chosen.
The main part of this ritual involves dancing and drumming around the straw man. Dance until energy is raised and you feel it start to lower(3), then ground a bit, explaining to your children how it is done. Now comes the fun part. Let your kids rip apart the straw man, explaining how Nature sacrifices her bounty (the harvest) to nourish the rest of her creation. From the grains, we get flour and from flour, we get bread. Enjoy the bread hidden within the straw man along with the sparkling grape juice, remembering to give offering to the Earth and deities. After the ritual, the remaining hay or straw can be sprinkled around plants to serve as mulch.
Perform a circle closing and it is done.
1 This ritual was part of a larger articles on simple children’s rituals published in the 2007 Llewellyn’s Magical Almanac.
2 You could also maybe use an inexpensive, pre-made scarecrow for this.
3 This is how I originally wrote it. Nowadays, I’d suggest releasing that energy into the Universe to aid the harvest, or to help a country or area in need of crops or suffering from drought. Maybe even something else that can aid Mama Earth and ties into the season. Anything but just letting it go to peak and then dissipate. However, as written, it could be a great way to show younger children how to raise energy with music and dance, and then how to safely ground that energy.
However you choose to perform the ritual, enjoy the celebration of the first harvests and the wonder of this season.