For those of you new to the blog, TheScott and I are currently fostering two girls, ages four and seven, with the hope of adopting them. I haven’t been doing much religious work with the girls, mostly because we’ve been trying to organize life as a new family and it hasn’t been an imperative. As I think I’ve stated before, religion is a very personal experience to me, and what my children choose to do with their religious lives is up to them. I will share with them what I do as they are interested, but after that it’s up to them.
This week my youngest daughter (I can’t legally put their names online, so we’ll call her TheDancer–she loves ballet) took an unprompted interest in my faith. There’s a forty minute gap between her school’s release and her sister’s, giving us a weird amount of time to spend–not enough to do much, but enough that we can’t arrive early at the elder’s school and wait there. On our route home, we passed Nature’s Treasures, a rock shop that I’d never been in. There were some cool looking boulders outside, and she pointed them out for the second time since school started. Looking for something more interesting to do than go home for ten minutes I asked if she wanted to go in. She did. We pulled into the lot.
Turns out the place is part rock shop, part metaphysical store. I had no idea I had one that close to my house. The place is enormous, too. Rocks and crystals, incense, Native American crafts, crystal balls, salt lamps, wind chimes, crystal wands, jewelry… all kinds of cool stuff in a clean, friendly environment where kiddos can touch without too much worry over breakage. TheDancer took one big look around and was enchanted. I followed her through the store as she studied rocks, clinked wind chimes, marveled over dream catchers, and, finally, fell in love with a purple leather gris-gris pouch with amethyst beads.* After I told her what a gris-gris pouch was for, she was even more excited and wanted to buy it. I told her we would go home and check her allowance balance (which would also give her time to think about it) and come back the next day to purchase it if she was still interested.
At home we talked about spell intention and the importance of combining magic with work ethic to be successful. She decided she wanted to cast a spell into the bag that would help her use the potty and not have accidents. I talked to TheScott about this, and he was totally fine with TheDancer and I doing a potty-charm (go figure). So the next day we got the bag and I did a little research as to how we might put a charm together. We picked a day when big sister (we’ll call her TheTumbler–she’s a gymnast) would be otherwise occupied for a while. That afternoon, in the weird fifteen minute gap between school times, I gave TheDancer a copy of four runes: Laguz (for water), Dagaz (for change), Nauthiz (for need) and Sowilo (for strength and success). We talked about what each of them meant and I reiterated (in four-year-old terms) that magic is to help us succeed, not to relieve us of responsibility. She then practiced drawing the runes on her own until she felt confident she could make them for our ritual.
The time came for us to do the spell. We dimmed the lights and she found the tall taper I let them use to let them light candles. (I won’t let either of them use matches yet, but I’ll light a taper and let them light another candle with it as long as I’m right there.) I got the candle I’ve previously designated for her ancestors** and another to use as a “joint ancestor” candle. (I figure if you go back in time far enough, we all have ancestors in common.) They came to us already praying by rote with some intense religious background from one of the foster families, but not with a personal connection to it yet. So, not wanting to push her into anything, I asked TheDancer if she’d rather have a male god or a female goddess to call on for our spell. She grinned and very excitedly said a goddess. I have to admit I got a kick out of giving a little girl the option to see divinity in her own gender and watching how that made her glow. I told her about Freyja, and how she is a strong goddess who loves deeply and knows magic, and asked TheDancer if she thought Freyja would be a good goddess to participate in our spell. TheDancer liked that as well, and together we picked out a thick red candle for Freyja.
At the beginning of the spell, TheDancer used the taper to light her ancestor candle, and I used it to light our joint candle. Then she lit the candle for Freyja and asked for the goddess’s help. Then TheDancer drew the runes with colored markers on a piece of paper. After each one, she said what it was for. I don’t remember her exact words, (and, her being four, it did require quite a bit of discussion between us each time), but the summary is: Laguz, the lake, to help her with potty training. Nauthiz because it was a necessary thing for her to learn. Dagaz because she was willing to change to be the kind of person who always uses the potty. Sowilo because it requires strength to change and because she was willing to work to be successful. After she drew the runes, she ripped each one out (and got upset when she ripped Sowilo in half. We made another one). Then I passed them over the smoke for her (I didn’t want her accidentally setting the paper on fire!) and she folded them up to put in her gris-gris bag. Finally I let her pass the full gris-gris bag over the candles (waaaay high over the candles) and we put it around her neck. We said our thanks and she blew out the candles. Her gris-gris bag is now hanging over her bed.
I’m not sure how much I believe in magic, or, let me rephrase that, I’m not sure how much I believe I can do magic. But regardless, through this experience TheDancer and I got to talk about responsibility and I hoped to empower her to take charge of her situation instead of thinking herself powerless against her body–which often seemed to be the case up to this point. That’s one of the things I like about spellcraft, that, done right, it forces us to think through a problem and dissect it for what’s going wrong, then plan and execute a psychological strategy. Plus it gave TheDancer and I something special to do together, and we both had fun.
What about you, Realm? Anybody have any stories about children and magic they’d like to share?
* I use the word gris-gris loosely to describe any little pouch that holds a spell. I know that within Voudon and Islam it has a more specific meaning, but my knowledge of those traditions doesn’t extend far enough to know the specifics. If anybody has a better word for a “spell-pouch” (and not the D&D kind where you hold you magical components, but one that holds a spell) I’d appreciate it!
** TheDancer still doesn’t understand the concept of an ancestor, but we’ll keep working on it. If anybody else has any experience with children and working with ancestors, I’d love advice!
+ Featured Image: TheDancer’s gris-gris bag (sorry for my craptastic image!)