Samhain is a big deal in our house. Our family plans its costumes (and cosplay) sometimes years in advance. We participate in a lot of the rituals common in the U.S. for Halloween, and we blend them with the traditional rites of Samhain. Whether you celebrate this holiday on October 31st (fixed date), November 6th (the cross-quarter date), or somewhere in between, there are a number of ways to get your children, both wee and tall to participate.
Visit a Farm
Since many of us have no gardens or only small ones, it is important to help our children connect our food during this time of harvest with the land from which it comes. Several farms hold special events and provide goods to families during this time of year (and some hold nearly year-round activities). From pumpkin patches to corn mazes to herbal labyrinths, it's possible to let your children see food at the end of the growing year. Sunflowers are drooping and have lost their petals, the largest corn has been picked, and all manner of squash have fattened and are ready for eating or carving.
I want to be La Llorona for Halloween, I told my grandmother after watching a Mexican movie.
Sacrilege, Abuela said, she is a murderess!
At eight, I was used to my grandmother's threats when I misbehaved: La Llorona will take you away.
The myth of La Llorona conjures up strange effects on Latinos. Most children scream after hearing her name. Many women cross themselves, saying "Ave Purisima," after mentioning her name. And yet, some women—like my grandmother—smile after summoning La Llorona. The Weeping Woman did not scare me; instead, she fascinated me. I suspected that La Llorona had a secret. Perhaps, if I dressed like her I could uncover her mystery.
Rufus, the shih tzu puppy, was so excited he could barely keep still. Even though he tried to stay calm, his tail seemed to have a mind of its own. It wagged furiously as he danced around and around Mama's legs.
“OK, little boy, settle down,” she said, as she read over again the piece of paper in her hand.
A recent household occasion presented an opportunity to implement a natural solution instead of using a chemical-laden product. My daughter Emily is eleven-going-on-20 and upon her happy discovery of my homemade concoction, she sat quietly for a while and then asked, “If you were a normal mom, what would you have done instead?” Huh. If I were a “normal” mom, what would I have done? This question has sat within for a few weeks now and it has led to a good chuckle more than a few times. Emily and I did talk about her question at that moment because I was curious to know what she defined as being a “normal” mom compared to being a mom (perhaps me) who is “not normal”. It generated a lot of laughs between the two of us and offered up great time to connect deeply.
If I had been asked this as an ungrounded new mom years ago, my psyche easily could have taken a backseat on the train toward the villages of Panic and Self-Doubt. I suppose there have been conscious choices which have been made through the years to define myself in her mind as being somewhat “not normal” as she places that language in her mind. Upon inquiry I learned that she sees me laughing. A lot. Singing, playfulness, prayerfulness, and random dance moves are busted out at random times of the day, often early in the morning in the kitchen while I "should be" packing her lunch for school. Dress-up consists of wrapping ourselves with big swatches of colorful fabric and then often these pieces are brought outside on windy, sunny days to watch how they shape-shift in the light and air.
I have wanted a Tree of Life pendant for a few years now. I look at them then think "I can make one of those." But it's finding the time to actually make one.
A couple weekends ago, my husband was going to go to work in Maryland (six hours from where we now live), so I decided it would be a good time to start, so I started the circle. The weekend was going to hold just my girls and I again and we didn't have any plans, great time to start crafting. They love it when I sit and craft. I love it as well, it calms me, grounds me and helps me remember who I am deep inside.
For many, the Summers Solstice is a time for Sun, Sea and Sand, the longest day and the official start of summer in the West--a good time to create a shadow box altar to honor this turn of the wheel.
Before we get started, I want to tell you why shadow boxes are important. They are not only seasonal reminders of our 8 holy days, but they take concentration and focus. By thinking about the elements that go into the box, you are also centered on the meaning of each box. What represents Beltain? Should I include a maypole? What can I use from my environment to honor the gods at Imbolc? (The image below is a Beltane altar--in miniature!--and made from clay, beads and found objects.)