I have always believed more in nature and balance than any particular deity. This means that the four elements are often represented in any rituals I use. Being a person who used the elements and nature as the basis for my beliefs helps my practice take on the form of a conversation.
This makes it difficult to really get across my form of paganism to kids who are all about fancy tea parties and Percy Jackson style heroes. Some days there just isn’t enough pomp and ritual for them.
Then there is Gardening.
There is something about a garden that makes it okay to be less formal. Perhaps it is simply that you must have physical contact, you must BE involved for a garden to grow. Well, whatever the reason, we have had a wonderful time learning, celebrating, and worshiping together in our gardens.
“How does this inspire a love of gardening?” you might ask.
Some kids are lucky, they dive right in, their hands are dirty and in and feeling and getting familiar right away. Some kids are shy of the earth. My son is one of those, he REALLY doesn’t like to get his hands dirty. However… he does like apples and blueberries and strawberries.
So I gave my daughter and my son each their own little garden in the backyard. I had some iris that needed to be divided so I gave each of them some bulbs and showed them how to dig a hole and plant the bulb and at each step… I introduced them to the elements around them.
“Good morning Earth.” I would say, “S and I are so thankful that you are letting us dig in you today. I have this lovely iris that we’d like to plant here. We’re going to clear away some of these weeds too, if you don’t mind.”
To the weeds, we would also talk, “Hello Mr. Dandelion, I’m sorry we have to pull you out, we are planting this Iris here. You have tended the soil so nicely here, but now it’s time to come out.”
We are lucky that we have a little composter in our backyard so we are able to start those weeds on another journey, one that will create a nutritious soil for their gardens. As I talked with the plants and the watering can and the wind and even the little bugs, eventually the kids started talking to them too.
Soon I was able to step back a little and just answer their questions or help pull some weeds. Each year they have started caring a little more. They don’t really do much weeding or planting still, but they will go check on the vegetables and pull a weed now and then when they go by and I am always catching them saying a little something to those wonderful patches of soil.