As we approach Mabon, or autumn equinox, we always consult our favorite book for earth-centered celebrations called Celebrating the Great Mother. It is just a lovely book with guided meditations for children and crafts around the seasonal changes and pagan holidays. It has recipes for your feasts, and ideas for decorating your altar.
Mabon is next week, and we have begun preparing by creating our autumn table, which will be added to on the equinox. But for now, we have the staples.
We have recently moved our altar to an old Shaker table next to our fireplace. I'm not sure how long it will be there, but at least until we light our first fire on Mabon. We always have Lucy's candle, local wildflowers in a ceramic vase, salt, sage, a bowl of water, a meditation gong, the Buddha, a mizko jizo, a crystal and a piece of amethyst, incense and for autumn, we like to cut apples width-wise which creates a beautiful star right in the center of the apple. If anyone is interested, I can share the meaning of these items, but otherwise, I will assume you know what each piece is on there for. The other rather large thing in the middle is not a wand, but a talking stick.
As a family, we sit in circle most evenings after dinner. We light the candle and talk about our day, or read stories, or just wrestle. We drink tea. Thor bounces up and down demanding tea after dinner. (peppermint or chamomile tea harvested from our tea garden with a little sugar and lots of milk.) So does Beatrice for that matter. The talking stick is introduced on certain days, like Mabon, or a birthday. But some nights, like tonight, just when we are feeling gratitude. I thought I should write about it, because it has become a wonderful part of our family time.
Usually we smudge our space with some sage, and bless each person with the smoke. To bless each person, a parent takes the lit and blown our sage stick with a bowl under it to each person. Each person, big or little, takes the smoke from the sage and washes it over themselves. Sometimes I say to each person as they bring the smoke over themselves, "Sacred smoke, cleanse my spirit and make me ready to accept love." We say a prayer of love and gratitude that we are together, and then each person takes a turn holding the stick. When it is your turn holding the talking stick, you get to speak. Only you. No one is allowed to interrupt you, or comment. We all must listen and sit in circle. Thor usually sits on my lap. Because Beezus is so young, she usually talks about what she is thankful for, or what she is upset about (her brother stealing her polar bear Umi). Thomas kisses the talking stick, usually. But it is a great way to start the tradition of talking as a family and having time where everyone is listened to and heard.
If there is a problem, we use the ceremony to hear the issues, then afterward, we sit and talk about solutions. Hope this gave someone an idea for an evening ritual and way of connecting. This evening, I felt so much peace and love after our circle that I realized I had never really wrote about the talking stick and the way it has become part of our daily lives.