Before I begin, I feel that perhaps some definitions are in order. When I refer to rituals, I refer to meaningful things done over and over. These are not necessarily ceremonies, they need not be flashy. Rituals can be as simple as a kiss before bedtime or picking up a coffee at your favorite shop at the way to work. Rather than setting things apart from the every day as ceremonies do, rituals make things normal. Rituals are familiar. They make things comfortable and safe.
Incorporating little rituals into your family life cements bonds between family members. It’s like an inside joke. This is especially important for children. If you are looking for a way to incorporate your faith into your parenting, adding a little spirituality to your little rituals is a great way to do it. You just identify your values and act according to them.
So what are your little rituals? I don’t know, but I can share mine.
Every morning I get up early and get dressed in the dark, start a load of laundry and then start coffee and breakfast. As the sun comes up, I take the ducks out and my wet laundry to hang it on the line. (assuming it’s not rainy). This is my morning ritual. This starts my day on the right foot. As I hang up the laundry I listen to the muttering of the ducks, the call of the neighbor’s rooster, the songs of the wild birds, the frogs and insects and I watch my Goddess, Eos brighten the Eastern sky. This is my solitary morning ritual.
It is soon broken by the sound of my preschooler declaring loudly what superhero he is today and my husband stumbling into the kitchen in search of coffee. Then we have breakfast.
Breakfast is our family ritual. How do we make breakfast Pagan? Well, first we eat like tree-huggers, seasonal foods, preferably home-grown. Next, we discuss things like Pagans. When my older children were small, when it was just us, we started the ritual of talking about our dreams over breakfast. My elder son used to go a little crazy with this and my daughter used to get really annoyed with him… But I believe that discussing dreams with children helps them when they are older with dream recall, lucid dreaming, dream walking or any other activity they choose to engage in related to dreaming.
Grace isn’t just for Christians. Gratitude is a basic value that any Witch can understand. The energy of gratitude is positive, magnetic. Appreciating what you have encourages more to manifest. So be grateful. There’s a lot to be grateful for. I suggest you choose a prayer that reflects your gratitude and then choose a time to say it. Will it be mealtime? Bedtime? Pick it and do it. My dinner time prayer is stored in my online Book of Shadows at Prayer]].
You can take things a step further and revive the old fashioned practice of writing thank you notes. Once a month, maybe on the Full Moon, discuss who has helped to bless your family this month and write them a thank you note together.
I hear often that family dinners are hugely important for cementing family bonds and having emotionally healthy children. Unfortunately, if we waited till everyone was around to have dinner we wouldn’t be getting the little one to bed till after 9, which means I wouldn’t get to bed by ten and that would ruin my night and the following day. So we do breakfast as a family and dad eats dinner alone after little man’s in bed.
You have to do what’s right for you, of course, and add your little Pagan rituals to your mealtime. Invite your hearth Goddess to your meal and light a candle in Her honor. Say a Pagan grace. But do it together.
Embrace the Wonder
Your world is full of wonder and magic. Point it out whenever it happens. Have a code word if you like, or a little chant. My mother used to always point out the first star we saw in the night and chant “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight…” And whenever a butterfly lands on your shoulder you say “Butterfly butterfly, fly in the sky…”
Our family is spread out pretty far geographically so road trips are pretty common and my oldest son has pretty reliably kept our road trip storytelling ritual alive over the years. The story of the Birth of Hermes, Rhiannon, Pwyll’s Descent into Annwn, Llew Llaw Gyffes, all have been told, over and over during road trips. The longer, the better… because road trips tend to be long. When will you tell stories?
Bed Time is Paramount
Having a good bedtime ritual is so important for a child. It helps ensure a good night’s sleep and gives your child a sense of security at the end of the day. The bedtime ritual should be simple and straightforward. Bath, pajamas, story, song, sleep. A spiritual parent may want to add a prayer. A magical parent may want to add a blessing of protection or a chant for good dreams.
Celebrate the Holidays
These rituals tend to be bigger than small. Many Pagans reject the holidays they grew up with and embrace new ones in strictly adult ways. Ceremony, altar setups, Circles under the moon. When kids show up on the scene we are left at a loss, but it’s not so hard. Just remember that kids don’t stand on ceremony, but love rituals. Food, music, games, gifts, all of these are the things that make the holidays great. Don’t completely reject what your parents did with you. These rituals developed over time because they work. Just tweak them a little.
Whatever you do, please share with me!