Bealtaine Ritual for ChildrenPreparation:Flower crowns
Make these in advance with the children. I’ve used everything from doubled-up silk flower leis I bought at a dollar store, to hand-made twisted grape vine wreaths. If the children are older they may create their own wreaths, however younger children will need some help. They can make the crowns their own by decorating them, either with paint or ribbon or flowers, or whatever else you might think of. I recommend against glitter however, as it is quite difficult to get out of the hair afterwards! And if you’re making quite a few create some way of labelling them in order to tell them apart.Maypole
This doesn’t have to be elaborate. If the children are small, find a tree that has enough of a trunk before it branches that will allow a winding up of ribbon as the children circle it. The branches also make the ideal places to tie the other ends of the ribbons. One year I stuck seasonal stickers to the bottom of each ribbon and once the dancing was finished I cut off a piece of ribbon with a sticker on it as a keepsake of the experience for each child to take home. You might write a message on the piece of ribbon as well, or have the children decorate it themselves. If working inside, you can find a ring that will attach to the ceiling or archway over a door and tie crepe paper ribbons to it. The children walk in a circle and the crepe paper wraps around itself to create a kind of pole once it is wound. Remind the children not to pull too tight or the paper will tear!Ritual:
Leave a bowl of water outside overnight in a place where it can be touched by the first rays of the dawning May Day sun. Ideally, bring the children to the water when the sunlight can be seen dancing on its surface in the bowl in the morning. Let each child witness the sunlight and their own reflections in the water. Then tap the side of the bowl gently to make the sunlight dance. Teach the children a little verse to say or song to sing, such as:(from Tenderly Rain, Bayla Greenspoon’s 'Rain Fall Down')Rain fall down on me, heal my body
Rain fall down on me, heal my soul
Rain fall down on all of creation
Rain fall down on me, make me whole
Rain fall down and feed all the creatures
Rain fall down, feed Mother Earth
Rain fall down on all the children
Telling them of life and rebirth
Or(from Circle of Women, not sure of exact author)Celebrate the rain coming down
Celebrate the green trees growing from the ground
Celebrate the new paradise we’ve found
Celebrate the rain coming down
Or(from John Denver’s 'Sunshine On My Shoulders')Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely
Sunshine almost always makes me high
Dip a small cup into the water and sprinkle each child with the blessed water, using your fingers or a little bunch of herbs of your choice tied together, while the children sing or speak in unison. In this way each child participates in blessing the others.
This is an ideal time to talk about the cycle of the water and why it is so important to the earth and the dwellers on the earth at this season of the year. Make this an interactive discussion rather than a speech. Engage them!
Any remaining water may be given as a gift in its entirety to the land where the ritual is taking place, or part may be saved for some future purpose. Each child should have the opportunity to sprinkle some of the water onto the earth with thanks. Encourage the children to speak from the heart rather than repeat a common phrase, or to just feel the thanks inside them if they do not wish to express it aloud. Each choice is valid and should be left up to the individual child.
Children love to dress up, so this is a great time for them to decorate themselves! They might don flower crowns, or you might paint their faces with a flower on one cheek and the sun on the other. Be creative, and let the children’s ideas guide you. The more they can participate in each step of the process from artistic vision to creation the deeper the experience will infuse them.
Now sing, play instruments, or both, and process in a dancing parade to your Maypole. Depending on the size / space you’re working within you may wish to divide the children into groups or allow everyone to join in at once. Give each child a ribbon and sing or play a song, or simply clap along as they dance their way around the Maypole until their ribbons are wound up.
You may choose to leave them there to decorate the tree, or have the children unwind them to blow in the wind. You may wish to wind them up in a specific pattern, but from my experience it is best to just let them wind the ribbons up as they wish and not get too worried about how it looks. It is the process not the product that matters most.
When you are finished, process back to a general meeting place where the children have the freedom to run around and spend some of their energy, and have refreshments that reflect the mood and season, full of health and vigour. Serve fruits and salads, green vegetables, and spring water if possible. Make the drinking of water a conscious experience as you give thanks together for the cycle that keeps us all alive.
Give thanks to the earth and the elements as you sit down to eat together. Ask the children about their plans for the summer, what they love about this season, if they remember what it was like when it was winter and what the land upon which you’re celebrating looked like then, how it has changed. Ask them about the sounds that they hear, the smells, the colours.
Encourage conversation by sharing your own observations and expressing your own joy. Modelling this will elicit the same depth of feeling from the children you are with, for when they see your fierce enjoyment of the moment they are empowered to explore themselves in a similar vein, to match your enthusiasm and creativity with their own. And if we are lucky, outstrip us altogether.