willow myst wrote:Hi All
I understand that during times when there are meditations or grade work then having children present is not practical but over the last few years I have come accross various negative attitudes from you can bring children but they must be kept silent, to they can attend the seasonal ritual but must sit outside the circle, to rituals are not suitable for children at all and should be left at home. If we celebrate the turning of the wheel and the changing seasons, if we mark the 8 festivals a year then shouldn't we include our children and teach them our path (along with an understanding of other spiritualalities)?
Oops having read that back, some of that sounded like a moan but thanks for listening anyway and I really would welcome your opinions.
I am not a parent, but I am a co-organizer of a festival in my locale. Just this past month, we held our annual Druid Gathering and we had our usual *one* ritual done by a guest that we had brought in. The ritual was very complicated, long and was partly done in a language that not many people know. It was well done, but I have always been an advocate for hospitality to all and I found out later that some people who had children were told that they could not bring their children to the ritual because it had to be *just so*.
This bothered me because the whole point of our Gathering is to be hospitable and open to all. We try and ensure that we have lots of activities for children and accommodate any allergies that they might have when it comes to meals. The fact that people were told they couldn't bring their children to our seasonal ritual violates that very principle, IMO.
As someone who often leads seasonal rituals, I have always ensured that those rituals I conduct are not too long, celebratory (fun) and family-friendly, while still providing a meaningful spiritual experience. (At least, that's what I am trying to do) I believe strongly in a Path of Service that involves Service to the Community... meaning all of the people in that community, especially the children who are learning our spirituality.
One thing I seem to find in almost every neo-Pagan tradition is that there is a huge focus on the theatrics of a seasonal ritual and not so much on the people attending. Seasonal rituals for some folks must be long, complex, full of theatrics and kids would just "get in the way". Why do they *all* need to be that way? What is wrong with hosting a seasonal ritual that can be enjoyed by the whole family? I understand that certain traditions require levels of secrecy and intensity in their rituals. Most of the modern Druid traditions that I belong to and have encountered believe that seasonal rituals (at the very least) should be open to all.
I believe that as ritual leaders, particularly as Druid ritual leaders, we are providing a service to the people as well as to the Divine (however one might see that), the Spirit and Nature. At festivals and such, we should be tailoring our seasonal or general rituals in a manner that includes everyone by using what I call my magic foruma for family-friendly rituals: short, celebratory and meaningful.
That said, I do believe that there are also approriate times and places for the family friendly rituals and the ones that are more complex and intense (journeying, initiations or healing rituals). Some rituals are just not meant for everyone and I get that. Seasonal rituals, in my opinion, should be enjoyed by all, since they are times that affect all people and they are times to celebrate life.
I'm looking forward to next year's gathering when our grove performs the seasonal ritual. It will be fun and I hope to involve the kids as much as possible!