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English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Midweek Magic: Seeing in the Spring

Many of us are looking for ways to feel more connected.  Having left organised religion behind, and living in ways that aren't really community-focused, it can be hard to add meaning to the daily routine.  That said, routine can be just the thing to refresh our spirits and regain that connection to the earth.  In these posts tagged 'parenting with spirit', I'll share some ideas for using old traditions to awaken our families' spirits.

OK, so we're not here yet - but it's coming!

Last week, it was Imbolc: the earliest Spring festival in the pagan year.  In the Christian calendar, it's Candlemas or St Brigit's Day (derived from Bride or Brigid, a maiden goddess of poetry and blacksmithing, amongst other things).  Imbolc is variously rendered as deriving from 'ewe's milk' and 'in the belly', and is the quiet time before Spring really begins.  The first little flowers may be out (we've spotted snowdrops) and the days are beginning to noticeably lengthen.

Things we've done to mark this turning of the wheel include:

making or decorating candles
Yellow Moon sell brilliant candle pens, although we had more success with decorating big pillar candles than the little votive ones they stock for this.  Obviously, making beeswax candles is more in keeping, but that isn't always easy for the littlest ones.

spring-focused crafts
Again, Yellow Moon's range is excellent.  We discovered last Hallowe'en that tissue paper and silhouette decorations are great fun to make and it's fairly straightforward to cut out flower shapes from dark paper and stick tissue paper over to make the petals.  Ideally, use folded-over dark paper, so that you can hide the tissue in between.

other spring creations
My kids like writing (such a proud Mummy :-) ), so spring-themed poems and stories are good.  Prayers or songs to the earth, celebrating the shift from dark to light also go down well.  It's also traditional to make St Brigid's crosses at this time (a folded cornstalk equal-armed cross).  We've made them out of art straws in the past pretty effectively.

spring-focused walks
Just drawing kids' attention to the signs of the earth on a woodland or park walk is valuable and enjoyable.  They might look for signs of life on the ground or in the trees, or listen and look for bird life.  An old tradition has people (especially kids) stomping to wake the ground up after the worst of the winter, but you need to be careful where you do this.

Have you been celebrating the changing of the seasons?

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