Family Book of Shadows
The Cookie Baking Ritual
Earthwise: Cloth Diapers, by Ember
New to School
Monsters in the Closet, by Crystal
Requiem for a Hamster
Samhain Dumb Feast Ritual
Spiritual Cleansing 1: Posessions
Watchtowers, Candles and Children
The Birthday Ritual
Of course, in American society, we celebrate the anniversaries of birth. We have parties and invite friends and family, and especially for children, give them presents of toys, clothes, and treats. It seems that the fifth birthday is an important social occasion for the peer group, and parties with the daycare center group take place with a frightening regularity. It has become necessary to add birthday presents for our daughter's friends to the household budget.
But I am not here to talk about mundane birthday parties. I want to describe an esoteric ritual that I held for my daughter's 5th birthday that was so moving for her that she "outed" us to her entire daycare class (so be forewarned!).
When to have the birthday ritual
This ritual was held at the exact time of her birth (which for my child, was 2:45 AM). I felt that it would make it an extra-special event to synchronize it to her arrival into the world.
The altar: Our altar was decorated especially for this ritual.Every item on the altar had a special significance to both me and my daughter:
- A photograph of our daughter,
- Drawings and projects that she had recently done and declared to be her favorites at the time.
- Special candles - a heart candle that her father and I had made at Imbolc, and a handmade candle that she had insisted we buy for her while shopping.
The music box, for instance, was something I had recieved from my mother as a child. It is a very important birthday gift to me. In it are my childhood talismans: Brooches, baby teeth, and pearls. It plays "Born Free" and has a reproduction of "Girl in Pink" (the female version of "blue boy", whatever the name is)on the cover. The cover broke off around the time of one of my Adult passages, so it is old, wounded and fragile. It is one of the items that babies are NOT allowed to touch. But Careful Children MAY touch it. The fact that I made it a forbidden object with wonderful sounds and mysterious secrets inside made it irresistable to my daughter. And, magically, it is an object of power, charged over a lifetime, and not to be trifled with. She and I had made it a sacred object. We are teaching each other to find the sacred within the mundane, to find the magic that is in everything and everyone.
The Altar items were also chosen to represent the elements. The Music Box is for Air, the Sand Castle for Water, the Wooden Horse for Fire, and the Stone Dragon and Baby (whose edge you can see on the left-hand side of the picutre) for Earth.
In the center is arrayed the crystals and stones she gave me for my birthday, and a polished slice of a solid geode in the middle. On top of that is a tiny mussel shell, opened whith both halves attached, and a small yellow plastic pirates chest.
These were my personal gifts to my child. In the yellow plastic treasure chest was a small tooth and a plastic pearl. These were what my baby teeth came home in from the dentist. That tooth was once my own baby tooth. Making these connections enables me to remember myself at my daughter's age, really remember. And to play with her at times like the sister neither of us have.
I didn't know why I felt compelled to save these things from my life. But I am very glad I did.
Other items to add are cakes and ale (in our case homemade cookies and juice), music (ours was supplied by the music box), incense to add atmosphere and charge the air.
Once all the preparations have been made, start the ritual at the appointed hour.
The people who should attend the ritual should all be there. For us, it was just the immediate family (the 2:45AM start time kind of helped set the guest list). The child is brought in to the group and the circle is cast, the quarters invoked and the candles lit. A quick explanation of each of the items on the altar may be helpful to explain their significance to others. The person who chose the item can speak: "I saw how excited you were when you found this shell on the beach, and I was very touched when you gave it to me," for example.
Ask for the blessings of the God and Goddess, and tell the story of your child's birth (or how they came into your life), and any other appropriate things.
Share lots of hugs and kisses all around. Some dancing and chanting is also appropriate. You can make a chant (or a song) out of your child's name and their age.
Dismiss, Open the circle, and share cakes and ale.