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Bringing Up the Next Generation of Witches

July 1st, 2018

As a child, I led such a weird childhood. I was known for seeing things that weren’t there and knowing things before they happened. I felt like a sin in my parent’s household as I was being raised in a Christian church. As I aged, I found solace in Wicca. Life and the things going on finally made sense.

When I was pregnant with my son (Little Bear), I made the decision to raise him in a Pagan household and support him, no matter what religion he decided on. Little Bear is now 4 years old and this has proven to be the best decision. He has shown signs of experiencing the same things that I went through as a child. Little Bear is a natural born healer, empath, and animal lover. He has to sleep with a light on because the dark brings weird things with it. While I cannot confirm it yet, it sounds like he is seeing people that have crossed over.

One of the major things that Little Bear and I have started doing is celebrating the Sabbats. Any reason to celebrate, right?

June 21st was Litha or the Summer Solstice. This is the longest day of the year and Little Bear and I took full advantage.

Every Sabbat, we discuss the Wheel of the Year. This helps remind us where we are on the Wheel and where we are headed. Because this follows the seasons, it is easy for Little Bear to understand. We discussed how Litha falls in the summer and some of our favorite summer activities. Little Bear loves grilling out, riding his bike and playing in the water.

The day started before sunrise. I poured out orange juice and we headed to the porch to watch the sun. It was a warm, quiet morning. I explained to Little Bear that we should be grateful for everything we have. I asked him what he was happy to have. “My bike, my mom, my bed, my dog” and the list went on and on. I smiled at his innocence and gave my own thanks internally. As the sun rose above the horizon, the world started coming alive. The birds started singing, the neighborhood stray cat came to visit, and we watched a herd of deer in the field across the street. We ended the morning with a barefoot walk around the property. We stopped at the outside altar and poured orange juice into the fairy dish as an offering. This is one of Little Bear’s favorite parts. We actually had to make a fairy altar closer to the house so he could easily access it without supervision.

After work, I had Little Bear help with dinner. We were preparing Grilled Chicken Salads. As we pulled the vegetables out, we talked about each one. Where they came from, how they grow, what the health benefits are, and what kind of super powers the vegetables might give us (This was Little Bears idea). I feel that knowing the health benefits of each vegetable will help Little Bear develop his Kitchen Witch side as he grows.

While making the salad, I noticed Little Bear had made a pile that contained a piece of each vegetable that went into the salad. It was his offering for the fairies.

We ended the night with a bonfire and watching the sunset. The longest day of the year had officially ended.

It may seem like I do a LOT of talking with Little Bear and I do. Little Bear is at the age where he is like a little sponge. He is asking tons of questions and curious about everything.

The next Sabbat is Lammas and I’m excited about it. This has always been a personal favorite because I love to bake bread. Lammas is the start of the harvest season. So breads, wheats, grains, grapes, apples, corn and wild berries are great foods. While I don’t have recipes pulled together yet, corn dollies and bonfires are part of the ritual for sure!

Some ideas to do with children are:

-Corn Dollies

-Magical Picnics (Make sure to leave an offering!)

-Collect berries for jams or jellies

-Time to harvest the garden

-Create a Witches Bottle (smaller children will need help with this since you will be working with sharp objects!)

-Time to redecorate the altar

-Visit an apple orchard (bring some home if the apples are ready!)

-Collect rain or storm water

-Bake bread, cakes, or muffins (cookies could be substituted so the little ones can decorate)

The biggest thing to remember, “It’s not about the action you are doing but the intent you are putting into it”.

What are some fun ways you are celebrating the Sabbats with your child/ren?

Blessed Be!

Many people are under the impression that faeries are largely a Victorian invention, but as most people with even a passing interest in them will tell you,- earth spirits have been encountered since the dawn of mankind. They are mentioned by various names in most, if not all, cultures. The faeries are a large part of my life, and are constant,- though usually invisible, companions. Yet I would not describe myself as a member of the “Faery Faith”

I dislike the term “Faery faith”,- for me it is not a matter of faith but of personal experience. For myself, and many others the existence of faeries is not a matter for dispute. We know they exist and we are not in the slightest bit concerned that some people might think that we are delusional. I have seen and experienced them in several forms. They are not necessarily the tiny winged creatures depicted in the “Cottingly Fairy” photographs,- although I have seen them in this form too! They are powerful earth spirits and often associated with the dead and with the ancestors. They are often helpful,- but also capricious. I have learned this to my cost,- and only ask for their help in the direst of needs. The results can be very unpredictable! These days I feel the needs to include such Proviso’s as: “…and without setting anyone’s trousers on fire” etc… etc…

A Trip to Richmond Park

I am sure my chaperone was sitting on a bench, when I last looked around.

She is such a troubled, worried soul and tires so easily from all her ague.

Her little book of poetry was nestled in her lap, and she was sleeping safe and sound.

Her childhood spent in India has left her rather poorly, and her mind’s a little vague.

A cousin of my mothers from the Dorset family line, I think they said.

Whose father went to India to manage a plantation or some such.

It’s whispered that the poor man got a fever and became a little bit unsettled in the head.

They had to bring him home and send his younger brother out to oversee, instead.

Neither, in the distance, can I see the coach and four that brought us here.

It’s sleek black panels and the burly servants, who assured a sense of safety and ease.

It seemed a lovely morning for a drive out to the park, to have a picnic and to see the deer.

But now I’m feeling very much alone, and everything around me seems so queer.

Tiny child-like figures seem to flit around. I see them from the corners of my eyes.

I sit and I pretend to read my book, for surely, when I next look up,- the park will be just as it was before.

But now I hear them singing,- all their tiny voices ringing out like pretty silver bells.

“Come play with us, sweet maiden. Come and dance with us around our faerie dell”.

Are they faeries?,- surely not! Perhaps the sunshine on my head has shone a little hot?

But peeking shyly round my book, I see, a pretty bunch of tiny creatures peering back at me!

Rainbow wings like oriental butterflies and cheeky faces with such marble skin and charming eyes.

They seemed to offer such delightful company, my feet began to dance!,- to my surprise.

Round and round we twirl until my head gets in a spin, and every time I try to stop my feet begin again.

I can no longer feel the ground, I’m spinning in the air. The fun has stopped and now I start to feel a little fear.

Opening my purse,- I throw my rosary upon the ground. The songs and laughter fade away like morning dew.

In the distance I can hear dreadful, moaning sound. I open up my eyes to find myself alone and lying on a faery mound.

Patrick W Kavanagh 26/03 2015

PaganWay

Art by Bill Oliver { boysoblue.com }

 

I have seen them in their deeper, and darker aspects and I fully understand the reluctance of previous generations to disturb faery forts and burial mounds. To me, they will always the Tuatha De Danaan,- The clan of the Goddess Danu. They were a powerful ancient Irish race with great magical skills. They were defeated in battle by the Milesians, and the great bard, Amergin White Knee, allotted to them, all of the island that was underneath the earth. As the centuries passed and their fame diminished they almost shrank into oblivion. They stayed close to their underground realms and only came up on certain occasions and on feast days. Even fifty years ago, there were many in the west of Ireland who have seen the Gentry as they are called.. but few have the openness of mind that would allow them to see the little people these days.

Do You Remember

Do you remember when, so long ago, we felt the flowers grow?

We watched them all awaken underneath the sunlit snow.

Snowdrops and daffodils, and violas of purple hue,

Spring would quickly follow with a host of things to do.

I remember flying underneath the red-streaked, summer skies,

Every flutter of our silken wings was spurred by endless joy.

Listening to the singing of the blackbird, at the dawning of the night.

The rising moon brought tears of longing, mixed with inexpressible delight.

There were feasts a plenty, with bread and cheese upon the hawthorn fair.

Hazelnuts and haws, with nettle soup, while marigolds and roses blessed the summer air.

Blackberries so sweet, that hung from every roadside hedge.

Elderberry wine to slake our thirst, went quickly to our heads.

We gentle folk were welcome in those days, with bread and milk at every cottage door.

And we would bless the farm to make the crops grow strong, where we found kindness for the poor.

Then we would ramble home, through portals scattered far and wide across the land.

Back to the Land of Sidhe, in cheerful song, with all the Faerie band.

Patrick W Kavanagh.

12/03/2014

paganway1

Art by Bill Oliver { boysoblue.com }

Un-Seelie’s Playground

 

Finding

Photo by Vivienne Moss

The beauty of Faery and Avalon can be found in the most unlikely of places. What one may find disrespectful and horrid, another will find unexpected charm. When I discover places like the picture above, I always wonder what kind of Fae lives there. I imagine some of the Un-Seelie Court inhabit this wild habitat. Rebels and misfits will feel right at home here. Those who don’t fit in with typical society will find the uncanny nature of this place welcoming.

The Un-Seelie are those who make their own rules and break the ones they see as being ridiculously restricting. They are not all together bad, and most definitely not evil (in my interactions with them anyway), they just do what needs to be done to survive and thrive in the Seen and Unseen realms. The Un-Seelie are very protective of the lands they inhabit and fiercely combat those who do not respect their ways.

 

finding2

Photo by Vivienne Moss

The Un-Seelie, or Dark Fae, have been known to take on the form of dragons, gargoyles, and many other dreadful creatures. The photo above shows the Spirit of the Place fiercely guarding the land through a tree. Though the concrete fixture is covered in graffiti, I feel this is the way the Fae have “tagged” this patch of land as theirs. I can imagine the fun and mayhem the Dark Fae and rebel humans (children and young adults no doubt) have here. The chance to be free from the confinements of civilization, even for just a moment, in this untamed land must be delightfully uplifting for some. I know I enjoy the rare moments of freedom while out in nature, even when I stumble upon a place like this. I can appreciate the beauty of the radical artwork being displayed and can feel the intoxicating nature of the Un-Seelie as they roam about.

During this journey to discover Avalon, I have found many gateways and entrances to Faery. I love how some lead to the darker Shadow-Lands and others lead to the peaceful lands of Avalon. The adventure is spellbinding and eye-opening, and I hope it continues to surprise me. In the Finding of Avalon I am learning to find myself and the freedom to discover the hidden lands of Faery, both Seelie and Un-Seelie.

May I continue to be inspired by the raw beauty of nature and the unending gifts of Avalon and Faery, and may I learn to embrace my Fae-ness and relish the freedom of self-expression.

Before I had children people often said to me that children learn foreign languages by osmosis, they “pick up a foreign language as easily as adults pick up a common cold”. I am Dutch, married to a Swede but our family is living in London, UK. To my mind that meant three languages ready to be absorbed by osmosis!

The reality was different. Our eldest son had Dutch as his first language until age three (when he started nursery). By then his brother was 18 months old. Between them the boys never spoke another language than English, from day one. A third brother was born and he was slow walking and talking. Mum (that is to say I and I alone) had enthusiastically divided up the day into three parts: speak Dutch all morning, speak Swedish all afternoon and then speak English in the evening when Dad comes home… Our pediatrician said that my ambitious scheme was totally confusing the youngest one who was barely speaking by age two. He told us to choose one language and speak it consistently to all three children. I followed his advice. By the time that Son #3 spoke fluent English there was no way the older boys were going to return to speaking Dutch. I would still try and they would say: “Get off it Mum, speak English!”

 

 

It is hard to say whether my original intention could/or would have paid off eventually. At the time my dream of three children being fluent in three languages was “downsized” to our youngest son speaking one language fluently enough to cope in school. If my husband had been Dutch I guess there would have been a stronger home language. However, he has never spoken anything else than English to the boys, so teaching them Dutch and Swedish fell to me. I even went as far as being involved in starting a small children’s choir at the Swedish Church with two other Swedish mums. I wanted my sons to be able to sing all traditional songs in Swedish. For a time they did.

 

 

Today all three boys are teenagers. Once Son #3 (now 13) started secondary school he showed a remarkable appetite for learning foreign languages. He excelled in German in school (in year 7) and added Mandarin (in year 8). He didn’t sleep the night before his first Mandarin lesson – he was so excited about getting started! However, the language he wants to learn most of all is Russian. A few years ago I bought him a snow leopard (large cuddly toy) and we called him Piotr, We cooked up a complex story about him being from Moscow with a dacha (summer house) in Siberia. To make the story more authentic we make sure he speaks Russian as much as possible! We were soon reaching for my Russian dictionary and on-line vocabularies to expand our range of Russian words and phrases. Things reached a point where my son demands that I ask him about his day in Russian, when he comes home from school. The excitement lies in choosing a few new words to learn every day, usually related to what happens to be going on in our own family life.

 

With Russian “covered” I began to wonder if the same method might work for Swedish. We recently bought a house in Sweden and my husband is interviewing for a job in Stockholm. Our sons may just end up going to school in Sweden in the future.

We expanded our (stuffed) animal family with a Wolf who promptly refused to live in London. And… you guessed right, he will only speak Swedish! We are spending all our school holidays in Sweden now and I am actively trying to get my son speaking Swedish following the same “method” we used for Russian. I cook up exciting stories and hide small treats but he can only unlock and access those by speaking Swedish.

I will admit that we have thrown some additional bargaining tools into the mix. In Sweden children traditionally eat sweets on Saturday. This is called “Lördagsgodis” or Saturday Sweets. Most supermarkets have a section where you can scoop sweets advertised as Lördagsgodis. Our son (and his brothers) quickly learned the names of the other days of the week. After all, it is worth a try asking for Tisdagsgodis (Tuesday Sweets) for instance, isn’t it?!

During our two week Easter break in Sweden my son earned a handful of sweets by extending his Swedish by a collection of new words and phrases. (Don’t tell our dentist!!) The Wolf is heavily involved in this, obviously! We still speak Russian as well but the reward is not needed. My son genuinely wants to add to his Russian vocabulary. So now we will have a conversation in Russian and then run the same conversation in Swedish. By evening my son asks if he has earned his sweets for the day…

 

 

Dutch has fallen by the wayside (for now), which is a shame, but I have a 13-year old on my hands who will converse happily in four languages: English, German, Mandarin and now Swedish. He uses on-line resources as well for three of those languages, self-directed (but he tells me his discoveries).

My eldest son (now 17) is going to do an internship in Amsterdam this Summer, so he’d better brush up on his Dutch (when he is not revising physics or further maths…) Before the exam period he and I made a point of speaking Dutch together for one hour every evening. I have also asked Middle Son about his progress in German. He says learning German is so easy that he secretly switches to the “teach yourself Swahili” option in class, as soon as his on-line German coursework is completed. So Middle Son too has branched out – without my help. He is a more solitary and self-sufficient character than Son #3, so (sadly?!) I am not learning Swahili along with him!

After years of feeling very disillusioned by comments that “children pick up foreign languages as easily as adults pick up a common cold” I am now feeling more optimistic again: did my enthusiasm for languages (and being a speaker of many languages myself) still plant a seed? Or did they end up with some ‘cool linguistic genes’ after all perhaps? Still, I will never say to any prospective parent that children pick up foreign languages by osmosis. There is way more to it than that.

And I just wondered if any other parents had stumbled across this technique of using stuffed animals that will only speak a foreign language?! Maybe I should patent it?!

Imelda Almqvist

Sweden, Monday 9 April 2017

***

About Imelda

Imelda Almqvist teaches shamanism, sacred art and internationally. 

Her book “Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life”, Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages was published by Moon in August 2016. 

http://www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk/

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/

 

Imelda is a presenter on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True

http://affiliate.soundstrue.com/aff_c?offer_id=124&aff_id=2260&url_id=86

 

And she will present on the Shamanism Global Summit with The Shift Network on July 25tth

http://shamanismsummit.com/program/132

 

(Apprentice of the Wind.  Original Piece by Imelda Almqvist)

Here is last night’s conversation in the Almqvist family (I wrote it down verbatim as it unfolded)

Youngest Son: “Mum, I know you fly around on your broomstick but I can’t see it anywhere!”

 

Me: “I have made my broomstick invisible – so no one borrows it without asking first. For instance Middle Son when he runs with elks in the Forest at midnight…

 

My husband: “I want a GPS on my broomstick so don’t end up having a full frontal collision with somebody else flying around in complete darkness…”

 

Middle Son: “I just want a normal broom for cleaning with no magical purposes…”

 

Eldest Son: “I want one that works!”

 

Youngest son: “And I want one with a special seat for a jaguar, my familiar!”

 

 

Middle Son: “And I want a secret locker on my broomstick for a special supply of crisps and treats!”

 

Maybe I should explain that Middle Son (15) really does go running in the Forest (here in remote rural Sweden) at midnight, often accompanied (or closely observed) by an elk or a herd of deer. After “women we run with wolves” it seems the next big thing is “teenagers who run with elks” – and never in the daytime. (His power animal is a wolf. I hope that those deer are safe!)

 

 

 

To me this is what it means to raise a family who keeps the innate gift for magic alive. Practising magic requires imagination and a good sense of humour!

 

Imelda Almqvist, Sweden, July 2017

 

***

 

About the author

Imelda Almqvist’s book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon Books in August 2016.  

 

 

She is based in London,UK and teaches shamanism and sacred art internationally.  She is a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit 2017 as well as on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True.

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/

http://shamanismsummit.com/

 

 

Lughnasadh (Loo-nas-ah)/Lammas

(Lughnasadh ‘s Pentacle – Harvest Magic – Lugh’s Protection handcrafted by YabYum from the shop PaganOdana on Etsy.)

 

Major Sabbat (High Holiday) – Fire Festival August 1, 2

Other Names: Lunasa (meaning August), Lughnasaad, Lughnasa (Celtic),First Harvest, August Eve, Feast of Cardenas, Feast of Bread, Tailltean Games(Irish), Teltain Cornucopia (Strega), Ceresalia (Ancient Roman) Harvest Home, Thingtide (Teutonic), Lammas (Christian). Laa Luanys, Elembious, Festival of Green Corn (Native American)

Animals and Mythical beings: Griffins, Basilisks, Roosters, Calves, Centaurs, Phoenix

Gemstones: aventurine, citrine, peridot, sardonyx, yellow diamonds, citrine

Incense and Oils: wood aloes, rose, rose hips, rosemary, chamomile, eucalyptus, safflower, corn, passionflower, frankincense, sandalwood

Colors: red, orange, golden yellow, green, light brown, gold, bronze, gray

Tools, Symbols, and Decorations: corn, cornucopias, red, yellow flowers, sheaves of grain (wheat, barley, oats), first fruits/vegetables of garden labor, corn dollies, baskets of bread, spear, cauldron, sickle, scythe, threshing tools, sacred loaf of bread, harvested herbs, bonfires, bilberries, God figures made of bread or cookie dough, phallic symbols

Goddesses: The Mother, Dana (Lugh&’s wife & queen ), Tailltiu (Welsh-Scottish), Demeter (Greek), Ceres (Roman grain goddess .. honored at Ceresalia), the Barley Mother, Seelu (Cherokee), Corn Mother, Isis (Her birthday is celebrated about this time), Luna (Roman Moon Goddess), other agricultural Goddesses, the waxing Goddess

Gods: Lugh (Celtic, one of the Tuatha De Danaan), John Barley Corn, Arianrhod’s golden haired son Lleu (Welsh God of the Sun & Corn where corn includes all grains, not just maize), Dagon (Phoenician Grain God), Tammuz/ Dummuzi (Sumerian), Dionysus, plus all sacrificial Gods who willingly shed
blood/give their life that their people/lands may prosper, all vegetation Gods & Tanus (Gaulish Thunder God), Taranis (Romano-Celtic Thunder God), Tina, (Etruscan-Thunder God), the waning God

Essence: fruitfulness, reaping, prosperity, reverence, purification, transformation, change, The Bread of Life, The Chalice of Plenty , The Ever-flowing Cup , the Groaning Board (Table of Plenty)

Meaning: Lugh’s wedding to Mother Earth, Birth of Lugh; Death of Lugh, Celtic Grain Festival

Purpose: Honoring the parent Deities, first harvest festival, first fruits grains & drink to the Goddess in appreciation of Her bounty, offering loaves of sacred bread in the form of the God (this is where the Gingerbread Man originated)

Rituals and Magicks: astrology, prosperity, generosity, continued success, good fortune, abundance, magickal picnic, meditate & visualize yourself completing a project you’ve started

Customs and Activities: games, the traditional riding of poles/staves, country fairs, breaking bread with friends, making corn dollys, harvesting herbs for charms/rituals, Lughnasadh fire with sacred wood & dried herbs, feasting, competitions, lammas towers (fire-building team competitions), spear tossing, gathering flowers for crowns, fencing/swordplay, games of skill, martial sports, chariot races, hand-fastings, trial marriages, dancing ’round a corn mother (doll)

Foods: loaves of homemade wheat, oat, & corn bread, barley cakes, corn, potatoes, summer squash, nuts, acorns, wild berries (any type), apples, rice, pears, berry pies, elderberry wine, crab apples, mead, crab, blackberries, meadowsweet tea, grapes, cider, beer

Herbs: grain, acacia, heather, ginseng, sloe, cornstalks, cyclamen, fenugreek, aloes, frankincense, sunflower, hollyhock, oak leaf, wheat, myrtle

Element: Fire

Gender: Female

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