For the last 2.5 years, my co-authors and I have been working on a book of ceremonies for kids called “Shamanic Ceremonies for Children: A Guide.” Interestingly, each of us (Ann Dickie, Katherine Inksetter, and I) has a deep devotion to children; serving them is part of our pathway in life. Ann is a grandmother with five children of her own and three grandchildren. Katherine is a published children’s author and an aunt to two little girls. And I (Jen) am a teacher and an aunt to a boy and a girl. We each share a love of children and passion for their welfare and empowerment.
In many cultures in the world, rituals are built into daily life as a continual way of renewing the individual and community spirit, celebrating, giving gratitude, grieving, and letting go of that which no longer serves the health and wellbeing of the village. I personally believe that ritual is a kind of glue that helps us to remember who we are and how we are related to everything in the universe- something we humans tend to lose a sense of unless we build times to experience this connection consciously into our busy lives.
Each of us authors noticed a few years ago that many children we met wanted and needed ritual in their lives. The children were interested in what we were doing as shamanic practitioners and some children started asking us to work with them by creating healing ceremonies either with them or for them. This was particularly true of those brought up in the Western world without ties to ancestral traditions of their particular lineage.
With secularization of society in the 20th Century, mainstream Western culture gained more freedom of spiritual discovery and expression. Unfortunately, some of us also lost our conscious tie with the sacred both inside and outside of us. This has created a generation of kids who seem to feel a bit in limbo; many want ways to walk their spiritual paths and make a difference in the world but do not feel comfortable in either secularization or organized religions. We find that many kids have instinctively discovered a relationship with the cosmos in a consistent way through spending time out in nature.
Indeed, ritual seems to come naturally to many children already. For example, when a pet dies, kids intuitively give them a burial and a formal farewell. With this in mind, we have created all kinds of shamanic ceremonies for kids to do with their parents’ guidance that address healing in the areas of body, mind, spirit, heart, and the void (the part of us that is our essence and connects us to the energy of the entire universe). I asked Ann to write a little about her experience of doing ceremony with children. Here is what she had to say:
“I was fortunate, several years ago, to work with a group of children whose parents were also studying shamanism. These children and I played games, did ceremonies and had discussions about their joys, fears, hopes and dreams. We talked about how the ceremonies related to their lives in all aspects: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and life force energy. We discussed the natural world and our connections to the Earth. Doing ceremony together, I got to know the children’s needs and the gifts they brought to life. For a parent, grandparent or other caregiver this sharing can bring increased joy and deepen your connection and love for the child. That is a wonderful gift.”
The book will be finished in spring 2011. We have created an esthetically beautiful book, which will appeal to children and parents alike that includes ceremonies that are earth-based and inclusive of people of all faiths. It is our deepest wish that this book bring healing into the lives of children who engage with these ceremonies. In order to help us self-publish this book, we are asking for donations from interested people who want to support our project. If you would like to donate, please go to:
Jennifer Engracio is a BC-Certified teacher who has worked in public and alternative education for a decade. She now works with children and families through SelfDesign Learning Community www.selfdesign.org. She is a passionate learner herself with a wide range of interests she pursues in her life daily.