*Fall Equinox For Children *
by Julia Phillips
A couple in our Morning Star Coven have four children, and at each of the Festivals, hold a special circle for them. Sometimes friends, and their parents, are invited along too. The children are aged between 10 months and 14 years, two boys, two girls.
At the Fall Equinox, our coven celebrated the transition of the God as he passed through the Gates of Death, to become Lord of the Otherworld. The children's festival included the same kinds of themes, but in a much lighter way. Here follows the basic text:
Mum and Dad cast circle, with the two eldest children carrying around the elements to bless the space. Each child lights a candle in his or her quarter, and says: "here we do bring light and life in at the East" (North, West, South). As the 10 month-old isn't quite up to that, Mum does hers for her :-) Mum then asks for the blessings of the Lord and Lady, and invites them to be present in the circle.
They then have a circle dance to John Barleycorn, to remind the children of what happened at Lammas.
Dad picks up a candle from the altar, and slowly makes his way towards the west, where a veil is hanging across the doorway. He leaves the circle, and stands behind the veil. The children can see the light behind the veil, which teaches them about the "death" of the sun as we pass into the dark times. Mum can say something appropriate as he leaves, if she likes.
Then Mum says: "spring, summer, autumn, winter; all things pass, all things fade, all things die." As she says this, the children each extinguish their quarter candle, until only a single candle is left alight on the altar. Mum places a wicker basket before the veil, and one by one, the children collect some food (fruit, bread, etc) from the altar, and then go and place
it in the basket. This is to give thanks for the good things that the earth gives us, and also to acknowledge that there is nothing to fear from the Underworld or the Dark Lord; that both have their place within the scheme of things. That death and dying are a part of life and living. They can ask the Lord of the Otherworld a question, if they like.
Then Mum blesses some cakes and orange juice, and everyone thanks the Lord
and Lady for their food and drink.
After the quarters have been thanked, and Mum says the blessing prayer, everyone leaves the circle. Then the food is brought in for the feast, and Dad rejoins them. (But the candle remains outside, to remind everyone of the fact that the Lord of the Underworld is in his kingdom). The basket of goodies was then gift-wrapped, and taken along to a close family friend; an elderly lady, who lives alone, and who takes a very great interest in the children. She is actually an ex-Nun, and has been along to quite a few of the children's circles, as well as the parents' handfasting.
What was really interesting about this year was the way in which images of death were constantly recurring. A couple of days before the ritual, the eldest boy (14 years) was walking to school, and quite literally fell over a dead body. A man who had died of natural causes, and was laying in some scrub land that the boys crossed on their way to school. Other similar (though less dramatic) images of death abounded. The parents did not try to
ignore, or diminish the deaths, but instead, tried to keep them in their proper perspective, and discussed them with the children within the context of the ritual and the time of year.
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