Sharing and Learning Mabon

This morning the children and I prepared for our Mabon ritual.
It was one of those really lovely, flowing mornings in which we shared our interest and one thing flowed to the next.

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I started writing down notes for our ritual; (inspired by a Mabon ritual from an issue of Pooka Pages, an online magazine for pagan families) Anusha helping me, and Elki asking about pagan gods, goddesses, and magick.
Anusha discovered she could download the magazine on her tablet and copied a picture of a Mabon pentacle and wrote her name in runes.

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Elki also downloaded an issue, writing his name in runes, and creating some runes with some of his beach rocks. He then downloaded an issue of Pagan Moonbeams; another online magazine with a section for teenagers.
We started talking about altars and making a portable one each for travelling,

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and then Elki began making a temporary altar using his drawing book. Anusha also made one, and then we continued with our preparations.
Elki and I talked more about magick, runes, and crystals. He asked if I knew of a crystal for protection and after I encouraged him to look it up, he found the quartz to be of help and made a simple pouch to hang a rose quartz around his neck.

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Anusha found a twig needed for a wand and headed into the tent to decorate it, and then after lunch we painted symbols for the directions and elements together.

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Anusha created our Mabon pentacle and symbol using coloured pencils, and we collected the last things needed for our altar.

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Our Mabon feast was to be pumpkin and almond tortellini, followed by apple pudding. Scott prepared the pumpkin filling, and then the children and I made the pasta dough,

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and folded the tortellini.

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In the early evening we set up our altar and practised the ritual whilst Scott prepared dessert.

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We then came together for our Mabon feast; some delicious apple pan fried cakes an extra delight made with left over pudding mixture!
To share my love of Earth and paganism with the children, and for them to respond with such interest, curiosity, and eagerness to be involved was such a natural and flowing way for us all to learn, and incorporated many different ways and opportunities for Elki and Anusha to follow what captured their imaginations the most.
Mabon blessings to all πŸ„πŸ‚πŸŽπŸ‡

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Beltane at Blackheath

This year we acknowledged the new growth, fertility, beauty and love of this time of year in Spring by celebrating Beltane in the Blue Mountains. We are currently camped at a luscious free camp, Blackheath Glen Reserve, not far from the town of Blackheath. On Beltane eve we decided to head into a park in Blackheath for a picnic lunch, but first Anusha and I made Beltane baskets….

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Our baskets all ready for collecting flowers.

We used a simple cone design made by cutting a ‘D’ shape from a piece of A4 paper, decorated them, added handles made from tree fern stems, and stuffed our baskets with the stripped fern leaves.

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Once at the park we settled in, enjoyed our surrounds and relaxed.

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The children explored the play equipment,

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and after lunch, Anusha and I headed off for a flower walk.

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The Memorial park in Blackheath has many varieties of Rhododendrons that flower during October and November.

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It wasn’t hard to fill our baskets and hands with beautiful colour.

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Then, it was back to the playground.

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We enjoyed the sunshine and cool air, lucky that the approaching thunderstorm held off until later than predicted.

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Zubi was doted on by his big sister while we talked about Elki’s ideas for a clan based computer game. He’s super interested in creating computer games for a living, he certainly won’t be held back by his imagination!

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When we arrived back at camp Anusha and I made a lantern tipi for her candle.

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We collected strips of bark for the poles, attatched them to a circular base (made by a strip of sword grass) with cotton, tied the bark strips together at the top, and decorated the tipi with tissue paper.

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We had to hurry inside mid-crafting as it started to rain, but once the lantern was finished we headed back outside. Scott had a warm fire lit, and the children played for a while in the rain. We had planned to spend the evening outside by the fire (a symbol of the sun’s growing strength) but it was too wet.

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We weren’t very prepared for a Beltane dinner, but Scott created some golden sun fritters, and super delicious apricot filled crepes with custard, which we ate by candlelight in the tent.

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Before bed Anusha and I went back outside to leave an offering for the fairies in this little fairy house she had made in the morning to protect the fairies from the thunderstorm. Then we climbed into bed and I read some stories from a couple of Beltane issues of the newsletter from Pooka Pages (this is a great website for pagan children or for anyone who celebrates the pagan festivals with their children), and a few chapters from Little Fur by Isobel Carmody (we are a bit obsessed with this series).

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On Beltane day Anusha and I did some more crafting. I actuallly had several ideas for activities but at the moment we have to be a lot more paced with our time, as Zubi fills up most of our days!

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We made these ‘light catchers’, something Anusha and I came up with to catch the shining Beltane sunlight.

During the rest of the week we will hopefully get around to making fairy houses (or a fortress for Elki), and nature Mandalas, but we’ll see how we go πŸ™‚

Loving Beltane wishes to you all xx

A Simple Beltane

With the veil between the spiritual world and our’s at it’s thinnest, Anusha and I left offerings for the fairies on Beltane eve.

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On the day of celebrating Earth’s abundance, fertility, love, and vibrance we shared some simple activities. Whilst cooking lunch I gathered some household supplies (a straw, votive candle holder, sand, tissue paper, glue, scissors, and a pipe cleaner) and Anusha made a mini-maypole for our flower fairies.

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She then headed outside to pick flowers to decorate our lunchtime table.

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In the afternoon we made heart paper chains, writing or drawing something we loved on each heart and decorating them with paint and pencils.

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I had a go at making a tissue paper fairy, inspired by a sweet fairy bought at a local market. (A simple and really effective activity to share in the future!)

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Afterwards I read the story Thomas the Rhymer to the children and we talked about Queen Maeve of Elfland and the Green Man. Then I pulled out all my scraps and bits and bobs and we each made a goddess or god figure using straws, rubber bands, fabric, ribbon and anything else on hand.

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Elki originally started making the Green Man but then decided his figure was a scarecrow, Anusha and I both made our own versions of a fairy queen.

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We added all our goodies to our nature shelf and enjoyed the rest of a very wet, cold, and windy Beltane by the fire πŸ™‚

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Imbolc & Eostar – Spring’s Awakening & Arrival

We celebrated Imbolc at the beginning of August as the first signs of Spring’s awakening were burgeoning around us. We noticed our bulbs; first snowdrops, slowy theΒ  jonquils, and then daffodils beginning to bloom, we started to see new lambs and calves in the fields on our drives into town, and blossoms adding colour to roadsides everywhere. The weather was beginning to shift (there was certainly still some cold and even snowy days!) and my thoughts were drawn to our vegetable garden. We went out and bought some new Raspberry canes, strawberry and blueberry plants, and started to prepare the beds and plant the first seeds of the season.
At Imbolc we also honoured Brigit, the goddess of fire and the sacred well.
Prior to the day of celebration we made some rainsticks to encourage the refreshing spring rains (Spring is usually a very wet time of the year here in Tasmania).

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When they were dry we did some rain dances with our lovely sounding sticks, and I think it worked!

On the day of Imbolc we shared two rituals together, a light garden and a fire ritual. These beautiful ideas are from Celebrating the Great Mother by Cait Johnson and Maura D. Shaw and are really lovely rituals to share with children. We prepared our light garden early in the day. We placed soil in a pan and Anusha decorated it with some fresh flowers, we then planted paper seeds with our hopes and plans for the new year written and drawn on them, and placed a candle over each seed. Elki’s hopes included saving up for a tablet and finishing reading Lord of the Rings, Anusha’s were to learn to chop wood better with her axe, learn to read, grow a healthy vegetable garden, and learn to make doll’s clothes, and mine were to learn to knit more complicated knitting patterns, grow an abundant and healthy vegetable garden, see more of Tasmania and do lots of camping, learn to dye with native Tasmanian plants, become a better recorder player, and create more balance in my home life.

We completed the ritual in the evening after the fire ritual. The fire ritual was in contrast to the light garden, in that we wrote or drew anything that we wish we’d done differently during the previous year. We then threw these and some saltΒ  into our hearth fire to be clear of our misgivings and create fresh energy for the new year. Following this we all sat around our light garden, lit the candles to bless our hopes, and enjoyed the warmth…..

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In the afternoon we thought on Brigit’s inspirational fire and healing waters as we followed a baking meditation, making sweet, sacred serpent bread.

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It was much more difficult to hold a peaceful state of mind whilst baking but it was really fun and the children loved the idea of making serpents, they were also really delicious!

Then for our dinner celebration we made vege parcels including delicious toasted seeds to remind us of the awakening seeds in mother earth.Β  Apart from this we also read some Imbolc inspired stories and I learnt a song on the recorder in honour of Brigit, to share with the children (this is as much for me as for them!)

As the year cycled along Spring well and truly arrived and reminded us of the beauty and energy of mother earth. We worked in our garden and began to see new growth emerging, we began to spend more time outdoors enjoying the warming sunshine,Β  more and more colourful flowers bloomed around us, birds sang their joyful tunes, and we were delighted to see the return of our family of Welcome Swallows that migrate north each winter. It is very exciting to notice their return and amazing to think of the long flight they have made and how they always make it back to our little place in Tasmania!

In honour of our Tasmanian winged and animal friends, in the lead up to Eostar we modelled birds, eggs, rabbits, and a lamb from air dry clay (oh, and also some little Pokemon critters :)).

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We then wove some nests for our birds from reeds,

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painted our modelled figures, and decorated our nature shelf with them.

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Eostar morning is one of the children’s favourite of the year. We woke to a beautiful day and headed outside for our Eostar hunt and ritual. We held the same ritual as last year, casting a circle around our hunt site, welcoming each direction, and calling in the Spring goddess, god, and Eostar rabbit. Then the hunt began, and the children headed straight for Eostar’s altar where they knew they would find offerings to take in return for an offering of one of their found treasures.

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Then after closing our circle we headed inside to prepare for our celebratory lunch down at the river, while the children ate way too much sugar! At lunch time we set off with our picnic to enjoy the sunny equinox afternoon.

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For lunch we shared Eostar inspired salad nests with tofu fritters,

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and coconut and raspberry sandwiches, in honour of eggs with their hard outer shell and treasure inside!

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We then basked in the sunshine, Elki actually braved the water (which was still freezing!), toasted vegan marshmallows on a fire (the children’s first ever try of vegan marshmallows gifted by the Eostar rabbit), and the children rock hopped up the river.

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After returning home we spent the rest of the afternoon outside. The children played, we recalled our Imbolc hopes for the year, and poured the earth and seeds from our light garden into our vege garden. In the evening we snuggled on the lounge by the fire and I read the story of Ishtar’s Decent Into the Underworld as the light of this day of balance was enveloped by darkness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yuletide 2014

We began our preparations with paper craft.

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Revisiting snowflakes,

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getting messy with glitter,

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tearing, cutting, glueing,

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and expressing our love of winter, and the rebirth of the sun.

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We strung popcorn necklaces for ourselves and to dress our Yule tree, and then late into the night before Yule I finished knitting warm winter gifts,

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and wrapped all the children’s goodies.

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The children woke us early on Yule morning, urging us out of bed, and so began the day of celebration!

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After lighting a candle, sharing a poem and reading the tale Mother Holle, the children unwrapped their gifts and were busily lost to enjoyment.

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Then after breakfast and saying goodbye to their dad who was off to work, we slathered pine cones in peanut butter,

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rolled them in bird seed,

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and hung our newly made bird feeders in the trees.

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Later in the day we gathered rocks and bark, and made a cave for Mother Earth and the newly born sun in our garden.

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A place of honour awaiting the darkness……….

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With Dad back home we shared a candlelit dinner of root veg and bean soup, with sourdough toast. Then with torches and careful steps, carried figures we had formed out of modelling wax (Mother earth, baby father sun, a rock giant, and a little elf), animals, incense, and candles, out to the cave to bless the rebirth of the sun after the longest night.

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Then back inside to the warmth to make golden syrup dumplings,

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and fiery sun pom poms!

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Our Yule tree brought cheer to our home for a week or so, before it was undressed and returned to the elements in our home fire.

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Our Yuletide days have been blessed by busy days, warm fires, refreshing walks, wet puddles, cozy evenings on the lounge, and tinkling fairy bells blooming on our roadside, how about yours?

 

Samhain – the Old and New

Over the past few years, as we have come to this time of year, the time of the death of the old year, the rebirth of the new, I have tried to imbue the children with a deeper meaning of Samhain or Halloween, and express to them why we celebrate it, and it’s origins.
This year we continued with traditions we have created for our family over the past few years, some only last year, and dipped our fingers and imaginations into some new activities, craft, cooking, and experiences. I continued to gain inspiration from Circle Round by Starhawk, Diane Baker, and Anne Hill, and gathered some new wonderful ideas from a book I recently bought, Celebrating the Great Mother by Cait Johnson and Maura D. Shaw.
In the lead up we started preparing our Samhain Autumn nature shelf. We decorated it with a black cloth, Autumn leaves, pine cones, dried Fungi we found in our area, and symbols of Autumn’s harvest; pumpkins, apples etc. As Samhain is the time to remember our ancestors and dead family members we also added some treasured items that belonged to Scott and my grandfathers.
Like last year we made salt dough figures,

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there was grandfather and baby deer to represent the horned god, mother earth as the old crone, runes, and Elki’s inspired battling knight and American Indian. We also made paper chains of apples, berries, and cauldrons, wrote the names of our ancestors on the chains,

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and added these and the painted salt dough figures to the shelf.

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Something I didn’t quite get to last year but wanted to, was printing photos of some of our ancestors and family past, we ended up just looking at them on the computer. I did manage it this year though, and used them to create a border around an Ancestor tree that the children and I made together.

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It is certainly not exhaustive and there’s still more ancestors and information I want to find out to share with the children but all I really wanted was to spend some time with the children remembering and learning about our roots. I plan on framing some of the photos so they have a permanent place in our home.
I brought some new experiences to our Samhain this year, mostly garnered from Celebrating the Great Mother. We practised some visualisation and meditation for the children to find their Power animal and the Magical character they would dress up as on Samhain night. I felt that both the children got a lot from the meditation, and really want to incorporate more into our daily lives. Anusha discovered her power animal is a Wombat, and Elki a Wolf, and despite all ready having ideas for their dress up characters before meditating they both still wanted to do it anyway. And their characters? Elki a Water Elemental, and Anusha, wait for it, a Botanist! Still makes me giggle πŸ™‚

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Here they are dressed up on Samhain night just before going on our traditional little lantern walk before they trick or treat us πŸ™‚ We also each made our own set of runes in special bags.

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Scott cut small disks of wood for the runes for us, and we wrote on the symbols using gold and silver markers.

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Then we made the bags from my quite meagre material stash, the children choosing what they wanted and helping me to put them together, and sew them on my machine.

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On Samhain day the children made our traditional Jack-o-lantern with their dad, and then we also each made a spirit guide from turnips. This was really enjoyable and lovely to be able to each make our own little creation. I thought turnips would be really hard to hollow out but the flesh came out really easily with a blunt knife and spoon, and then we etched our designs into the skin using toothpicks and small, sharp knives.

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We ate our dinner of Autumn vegetable soup, garlic bread, and toasted hazelnuts by candlelight, setting a place for our ancestors, thanking them for giving us life, and inviting them to join our celebration. The children received vegan pumpkin cookies for their trick-or-treat sweets, with spiced hot chocolates that Scott made (now a new tradition for Samhain),

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and they also had a small slice (we were all getting very full by this point) of Bread of the Dead that we’d made together earlier in the day.

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We baked the Bread of the Dead in a camp oven on our fire place and it turned out even better than last year, spicy, sweet and delicious despite it’s grim appearance!
After our sweets the children and I sat around the fire and experimented with divination using our handmade runes and a set of tarot cards that I’ve had for many years. The children were very naturally drawn to the magical art of divination. In the future I’d like to see if I can find another tarot card set more aimed at little people. We were also going to spend some time scrying but I decided to leave that for another time.Β  Afterwards we shared a story, placed the food for our ancestors and an apple for grandfather deer outside, and settled the children in bed ready to awaken to the new year.

Harvesting Nature

Here in Tasmania, Autumn has certainly arrived, the days are growing shorter and we are once again sitting by a crackling fire in the evenings. As the arrival of winter creeps closer we have been spending time outside, drawn by the cool Autumn days, and wanting to make the most of being in nature before we are more confined to the indoors.
Walks and bike rides have been a regularity,

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and plans of last camping trips and bush walks before winter is upon us are being made.

We have been thankfully making the most of the Autumn fare that is blessing us with it’s presence, and recently celebrated Mabon and the equinox.
Blackberries have been enticing us from roadsides with their plump sweetness, and we have been bringing Autumn vegetables to the table.

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A blackberry picking celebratory tart made by Scott.

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A busy kitchen table as we all helped to prepare our Mabon meal; Pumpkin gnocchi, Blackberry crumble, and Apple and Rhubarb crumble.

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I served the Pumpkin gnocchi with a vegan creamy white sauce sprinkled with vegan parmesan (toasted sesame seeds mixed with nutritional yeast flakes),

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and we enjoyed our Mabon meal sitting around a candlelit table.

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I also shared an Animal celebration ritual with the children for Mabon. Anusha arranged our outside feast table in the shape of a flower with Maple popcorn, Strawberries, Pistachios, and slices of the crumbles.

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For the ritual we collected Autumn leaves and local nature treasures and made an Earth Wreath by laying them in a circle on the ground. We cast our circle by walking around our wreath, chanting a verse from Circle Round. We then called in the four directions by naming an animal for each direction and making their calls or sounds. We decided on a Dolphin for West (water), a Mole for North (earth), a Wedge-tailed Eagle for East (air), and a Frill-necked Lizard, because of their fiery frill that expands out to ward off predators and their need of the Sun for warmth, for South (fire).

We continued with the ritual, asking Mother Earth and the God, Mabon to join our circle, and then called in animals from all over the world, starting with the animals closest to us. We moved around our wreath like animals whilst calling out as many animal sounds as we could think of, then offered our blessings to all of earth’s creatures and asked for blessings from Mother Earth and Mabon. During this I drew attention to the animlas of our world in plight, those struggling with loss of habitat, those endangered, or those threatened by the effects humans are having on the environment, such as, climate change.

And, of course, we could not have an animal celebration and not honour the animal closest to us, our friend Laska. We brought him to our circle thanking him for being a part of our family and loving us unconditionally and then offered him a treat. After this we finished the ritual by closing the circle, and then enjoyed our celebratory feast!

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Laska gladly joined in the merriment.

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With the abundance of berries on offer at this time we have also spent time in the kitchen making jam. Naturally we used collected blackberries, and also some locally bought strawberries.

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The children were very eager to help with every step of the process. Preparing the strawberries,

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Weighing and pouring the berries and sugar (we used organic Rapadura),

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stirring the beautifully fragrant cooking jam and pouring it into the sterilised jars,

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and sealing the finished product!
The first taste test on pikelets was a great success, but we’ll certainly need to be making a lot more to last us the whole year!

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Over the next week I have plans of more berry picking, we’re hoping to camp for a night at our local waterhole, and treck up the Snowy mountains near to our home to reach Lake Skinner, a walk we have been wanting to make for years. Beyond that? More bushwalks, firewood collecting missions, winter vegetable planting…..Do you have plans of Autumnal harvesting of nature before winter sets in?