Just down the river (shoo lie loo)

I’m really enjoying the song “Shoo Lie Loo” by Elizabeth Mitchell. It came to me as a gift just this week in the form of her cd Sunny Day. I recommend it as part of your collection of music for children – joyful songs, great rhythms, real music that appeals to a child’s world. The whole cd feels like adults and children alike had fun making it. “Shoo Lie Loo” has everything my children love: a catchy tune that won’t drive you nuts, simple lyrics that can be adapted, a celebration of childhood. I promise you’ll love it. There’s a clip of it at the end of this post, showing the circle game that goes with it.

Autumn Leaf Fairy3My children and I adapted this song yesterday when we went down to the river – it just burst out when we started taking note of all the bird life we have down there. We live on a quiet part of the Nerang river – just about the point where the water turns brackish and is just a little tidal still. It is more like a creek where we are, with mostly low ankle-deep water running over smooth rocks and soft weeds.

It is an interesting environment with SO MANY interesting birds. It is a very exciting event when we spot the pelican that comes to visit every now and then! It is quite odd, seeing a pelican paddling upon our quiet creek. Once my husband watched an eagle fishing, and I’ve been delighted by the flash of brilliant blue from a kingfisher.

Once we started singing, we just kept thinking of more and more birds we have seen in our area and of course we started to make a list. Our next thought is to take a photo of each of the birds and make a poster or a guide-book of our own with them

Our song goes like this:

This cheeky little one landed in our backyard and lived with us for about a month before flying away again.

This cheeky little one landed in our backyard and lived with us for about a month before flying away again.

Just down the river (shoo lie loo)

To see who lives here (shoo lie loo)

Hey Cockatoo (shoo lie loo)

Fly away over yonder (shoo lie loo)

Our song went on and on with willy wagtail, swamp hen, eagle, magpie, butcher bird, galah, ibis, pelican …. the little ones and I danced in a circle, spinning around with our arms out as we flew away over yonder. So much fun.

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Lavendilly Story Time: The Ringing Bell

Little Garden FaerieThis is the story of my Little One’s caesarean birth. I wrote this to tell at her 4th birthday party, although I told a simplified version. My Little One sat on her birthday pillow, inside the silk rainbow circle, and I told this story with only a little bell as a prop in the story. At the end I put a rainbow necklace with a bell on it over her head. She felt so special.

THE RINGING BELL

Written by and Copyright to Jennifer McCormack, July 2014

In a little house by a creek there lived a family of fairies. There was Mumma and Daddy fairy, and Brother and Sister fairy. Mumma was a water fairy, Daddy was a wind fairy, Brother was a fire fairy and Sister was a song fairy. They were happy together, each one unique, each one interested in different things, but all living harmoniously together.

One day Mumma thought she heard the jingling of a little bell. It was only faint, but it jingled on and off all day. “Do you hear that?” she asked Daddy. Daddy couldn’t hear it at first, but after a while, if he listened carefully, he could make out the sweet faint jingling sound.

It wasn’t long before Brother and Sister could hear it too, and the sweet jingling, ringing sound grew louder every day. “I know what it is,” said Mumma Fairy, “a new little fairy is going to join our family!”

The whole family heard the jingling sound for many months. Some days it was strong, and some days it was soft. Sometimes they heard it at night, and at other times it woke them up in the morning. “Sweet Little One,” they would say, “when are you coming?”

Day after day the fairy family would make their home ready for their new Little One, and the ringing grew louder and louder! Everyone was very excited.

But one morning Mama Fairy woke up because the jingling sound wasn’t loud. It was very soft, and it didn’t ring very often. As the morning went on, the sound stopped all together. Mumma could feel her Little One in her heart, and deep inside her womb she knew her baby fairy would be coming today, but she couldn’t hear the clear ringing of her Little One’s bell at all! This worried her.

“Oh dear!” thought Mumma Fairy, “I need some help! It’s time for our baby fairy to come, but it seems to have gone away. Come little fairy, come! Wake up Little One!”

They all tried to use their talents to help their Little One come. Mumma the water fairy rocked and danced like the gentle waves of a river. Daddy the wind fairy spoke words of wisdom and bravery, encouraging Little One (and Mumma) to not be afraid. Brother the fire fairy used his fire talent to make their home warm and welcoming. Sister the song fairy sang to their Little One a song of love and joy, calling for the sound of the bell. But no bell could be heard. All was still and quiet.

They needed some more help. Daddy called a Healer Fairy to come and help them call their Little One in.

The Healer Fairy listened to Mumma’s story, and listened carefully for the bell. She put her hands on Mumma Fairy’s belly and gently called out to the Little One:

“Baby Fairy ring your bell, 

Jingle, tinkle, ring it well!

Your birthing day has begun

Come join your family, Little One”

All was still, even their house was quiet, as everyone listened carefully for the ringing, jingling sound. Still the baby fairy’s bell remained silent. The Healer Fairy told Mumma and Daddy that she would need some more help, and they would need to visit the Great Healing Hall because the magic was powerful there, where lots of healer fairies worked together.

Many fairies were already waiting at the Great Healing Hall. They were singing and chanting together, songs of love and birth and healing and the music entered the Healing Hall on sweet drifting strands. Mumma and Daddy Fairy heard their friends sing and felt strong, brave and loved. The many voices making music together was part of the healing magic. The healer fairies gathered around Mumma and Daddy and called to the Little One to ring her bell … and … after a while:

A faint, sweet jingling. There it was! They could all hear it!

The healing fairies rested their wands on Mumma Fairy’s brow and asked her “Are you ready for your Little One to come?” Mumma held Daddy’s hand. She was ready. They were all ready.  It was time and they could hardly wait.

The healing fairies rested their wands upon Mumma Fairy’s heart and asked her “Are you ready to receive your Little One with love and openness, however your Little One arrives?” Mumma Fairy was ready. Her heart was now bursting with the sound of her Little One’s bell. A soft feeling, almost like sleep swept over her as she relaxed, ready to receive.

The healing fairies rested their wands at Mumma Fairy’s womb and asked her “Are you ready to open the door, to help your Little One come through?” Mumma Fairy was ready. She put her hands on her womb and listened for the ringing, jingling bell. She could hear it and feel it growing stronger. She whispered the Healing Fairy’s special words to the Little One over and over:

“Baby Fairy ring your bell, 

Jingle, tinkle, ring it well!

Your birthing day has begun

Come join your family, Little One”

The fairies outside the Great Healing Hall kept singing and chanting. Daddy Fairy and Mumma Fairy held each other, and held their breath with anticipation. They could hardly wait to meet their Little One. The healing fairies drew a line with fairy magic across Mumma Fairy’s womb with their wands, and a door opened. From this door came a bridge of rainbow light – and a loud clear ringing sound filled the room as a little baby Rainbow fairy came through the door, lifted over the bridge of coloured light, helped by the healing fairies, landing snuggly in Mumma Fairy’s arms. Their Little One was perfectly well, perfect in every way, and slept in Mumma’s arms safe and sound, ringing gently as she breathed.

The healing fairies waved their wands again and as the door in Mumma’s womb was magically closed, the bridge of rainbow light disappeared. All was still, all was quiet, and cloaked in peace. Only the sound of singing from the fairies outside of the Great Healing Hall drifted in through the windows. Everyone smiled.

Brother and Sister Fairy were delighted to meet their sister, Little Rainbow Fairy , and they took turns holding her and talking to her. Brother Fairy warmed her and Sister Fairy sang to her.

“You silly little fairy,” crooned Mumma,” We were worried about you, and here you are, perfect in every way. If this is the way you come into our family, I can see that you will have plenty more adventures, and come out of them just fine every time.”

And do you know, that’s exactly what happened. Four years have passed, and the Little Rainbow Fairy still wakes up every day, ringing and jingling happily, finding adventure every where she looks.

* * *

She was a plannedLittle One's Birthday Ceremony. LH home birth, but it seems our Little One had something else in mind. In the end we went to hospital because our baby was very quiet and still, with a faint heart beat. It just so happened that on this same day many of my friends and community were outside the hospital attending a rally in support of the re-opening of the Gold Coast Hospital Birth Centre. They were singing and chanting together and I could hear them from my room. It gave me great comfort to know they were outside while I was inside with my husband and our two wonderful midwives, who were really looking after me. Caesarean was exactly what we were trying to avoid, but in this case I felt supported in the decision to go ahead.

In the end our Little One was perfectly fine, the little cheeky little thing. A picture of perfect baby health. We have just celebrated her fourth birthday and she has grown into a bright, cheery and chatty little thing – always ready for the adventure each day brings.

I thought that I had already processed her birth, and found myself ok with how it unfolded, despite our worry about her at the time, and my very ordinary recovery after surgery … but writing this story brought me more joy on another level, and I found a new kind of acceptance and peace with my experience. I hope, if you have experienced an unplanned cesarean, that you find some solace and beauty in my story too.

You may be interested to read more about my reflections of this experience:

A Mother Blessed – a poem about my unplanned caesarean birth (this one!)

Cold Birth: Reclaiming my Labour – my immediate reflections about this birth and my thoughts about what it was like to give birth without labour.

xx Jennifer

Story: The Mother, The Great Mother and The Stranger

Written by Jennifer McCormack – for Bronwyn, G, Zen, Lily and River

 xx with love xx

Once there was a home with a family in it. A mother with flowing hair, a father full of laughter and three children, each with wild hair and dark eyes. They belonged together. They always had and they always will. The mother in this home was born of the Great Mother and always knew she was loved.

Life wasn’t still in this home. It was ever growing and ever changing, just like everyone in it. It was a home that was filled with the busy life of a real family. They all loved to laugh and talk and play. They had their fights too but they belonged together (and always will). They knew that those moments would come and go. We all have our moments.

“We can only be ourselves”, the mother would say, “and we are all wonder-full even though we are different. We have to love who we are! We also have to love each other because life is full of surprises. We belong together – and always will!”

Their home was a welcoming one. It always felt open, and sometimes it wasn’t even locked. They felt safe there with one another. There always seemed to be people coming and going: friends, friends of friends … even strangers were welcomed at various times.

At times the mother would gather women together in the energy of this special home and they would talk. Children would play with one another, they’d tumble and explore and make a lot of noise. Women would meet and talk, share food and talk, nurse their babies and talk. “We can only be ourselves”, the mother would say to her friends, “We can’t be anyone else, and we are all wonderful although we are different!” They loved spending time together, celebrating themselves and their families and learning from each other. All was as it should be.

One day, while most of the family had gone out, and just the mother was at home, a stranger arrived and waited at the door. The mother did not know this stranger was there, for it stood there like a shadow, silent and still on the doorstep. It did not knock, and neither was it noticed until the mother opened the door to go out and there in front of her was a figure cloaked so that its face was hidden.

It wasn’t unusual for new people to turn up in this loving home from time to time. This time, though, the stranger came right on inside the home without an invitation and without a word and sat in the corner, dark and brooding. The mother was surprised and quite confused! Many people come and go in this loving home, but nobody goes past the door without a greeting.

“What is your name?” the mother asked, “Why are you here?” The stranger did not reply but continued to sit.

When the family came home and discovered the stranger, they didn’t quite know what to make of it either. The stranger was frightening. The mother and the family did try all kinds of things to engage the stranger, and to help the dark, cloaked figure to leave. They tried to make conversation, to find out more about the stranger and why it was there. They got angry at it, they pleaded with it, they tried pushing it, but it revealed nothing. It just remained there in the corner, silent and brooding and refused to leave. Friends came by, many friends, to try and coax the stranger from the home, but no one could help, although the mother was grateful that they tried.

Life went on in the home, but with the stranger there it wasn’t quite the same. The mother and father weren’t so quick to laugh, although they did try to, and the children didn’t really know what was going on. It was still a special home and it was still filled with people and all kinds of busy-ness, but with the stranger there it was difficult to be at ease. All the same, they tried to carry on because they belonged together (and always will).

Still the stranger sat. It even seemed to grow in the shadows of the corner it occupied. It was starting to make the mother feel really unwell. She wanted her home back. She wanted her family to be happy with each other like they were before. She wanted to stop worrying about the stranger, to stop feeling sick and to start feeling like herself again.

Finally, the mother had had enough, and decided to spend some time with the stranger alone. The family weren’t sure about that. They didn’t want to leave her alone with this cloaked, silent figure. “We belong together, and always will”, she reassured them. “I will be ok”.

She left the home, knowing the stranger would follow her. She went to a place in the mountains that made her feel happy, a place where she could try to talk to the Great Mother, to think about what to do with this stranger. When she ate, the stranger ate. When she walked the stranger walked. When she lay down, the stranger lay down with her. She sat with the stranger. She fasted and prayed and cleansed and still the stranger remained. She grew thin and pale and tired and the stranger appeared to grow stronger and its shadowy cloak grew darker. She sat in front of it, and looked at it. Still it said nothing. She sat in silence and realised that the stranger was never going to go. “You aren’t leaving me, are you?” she whispered.

The stranger moved for the first time. It shook its head, but still she could not see inside the cloak it wore. The gesture was enough. “Great Mother, WHY?” she asked. Still there was silence. Because there was no one else, she wrapped her arms around the stranger and sobbed. They embraced in the darkness, together.

“Ok,” she finally said, “Ok. So you aren’t leaving. If you stay, stay, but you have to do it my way. My home is a welcoming home, and those who are in it are all loved. So I will open my heart to you but you have to let me be me. We are both wonder-full, even if we are different. We’ll have to get on with each other until it is time for you to go.”

So she and the stranger came down from the mountain and she found her family. It felt so good to be together again, to be home and wrapped in each other’s love. They belonged together (and always will). The stranger was now a quiet part of the family, accepted, but not quite loved. The mother knew that she was the only one who really had to find love for the stranger, although from time to time she still got angry that it was there at all. She found some courage somewhere and decided to explore what life was going to be like with this shadowy stranger of hers.

She gathered her family and friends and asked them to accept the stranger as a part of her life for the moment, and to help her enjoy her life with her new companion. The stranger was dark and silent, but the mother didn’t have to be. They all planned some fun together and it was almost like before, perhaps sometimes even better, although the stranger still made the mother grow tried. They laughed and played like children, even held a wonderful party with all the mother’s friends. The mother felt so full of love and life that even she could forget about her shadowy companion for a little while. It was wonderful just to be herself again.

Soon though, she grew tired. Living a joyful and playful life was challenging with the stranger, who just wasn’t by nature either joyful or playful. The mother began to feel exhausted and unwell once more. It was time to rest and she took to her bed. She slept a lot, and she didn’t always feel well. Her children and her special friends spent time as much time with her as they could, and the father rarely left her. He sat on one side of her bed and held her hand, and the stranger sat on the other side, both her constant companions. She had everyone she needed, and she was comforted by that.

The mother slipped in and out of the dream world. While she slept she spoke with the stranger. “You became a part of my life”, she said, “and I tried my best to accept you so that I could feel like me again. I’ve learned to be with you, so will you now show me what you look like?” she asked.

The stranger finally nodded, and took off the shadowy cloak. The mother looked back at the face revealed before her and gazed at it for a long time. It was a kind, gentle face, not the ugly, fear-full face that she had imagined. It was a face she had seen before, from when she was born, and again when she went to the mountains. It was the face of the Great Mother.

“We can only be ourselves,” the Great Mother said, “We are all wonder-full, even though we are different. Our strange shadow sides are a part of us too, and sometimes when we can finally embrace them they can take us to beautiful places. You’ve been so brave. You’ve been so sick, and still so authentic. You never lost trust in me, even though you never loved the other side of me. Come with me, beautiful lady, it’s time to go.”

The mother came out of her dreaming and opened her eyes. She turned to look with love at the man who had shared life. She opened her heart to her children and wished them all her love, all of it. She was too tired to talk with words, but her heart did the talking for her.

“I love you but I’m going to go now.” whispered the words of her heart. “I’m going to be OK, and so will you. We belong together. We always will.”

She took hold of the Great Mother’s hand.

xxx

Once there was a home with a family in it. A mother with flowing hair, a father full of laughter and three children, each with wild hair and dark eyes. They belonged together. They always had and they always will. The mother in this home was born of the Great Mother and always knew she was loved.

** If you share this story please always acknowledge the source of the story and that this story was written for an amazing woman called Bronwyn who journeyed with cancer on her own terms. ** If you are interested in writing your own story to express and understand your experience, I am available for personal consultations to help you write it. For more information, have a look at Therapeutic Storytelling with Jennifer McCormack, at Create & Relate.**

Spontaneous Storytelling in a Group

I love ALL stories,  but I do from time to time like to vary from traditional fairy tales and our well-loved stories that we tell over and again. Sometimes though, I just don’t have any ideas of my own. Today was one of those days. It was glorious at playgroup today – this wonderful winter sunshine turned on a hint of summer today – we were all outside in our hats and singlet tops and bare feet really enjoying every moment of this magic day. I didn’t want to think about a story to tell the group today and I’d been so busy throughout the week that I hadn’t given any time to dreaming up some new stories.

So today we made one up on the spot as a group. It was fun! We sat outside under the shady trees on some picnic blankets together and picked an items from a variety of objects I had put in a pillow case. We sat with our item for a bit, thinking about its potential, looking at it with new eyes, stretching what we knew to be ‘true’ of this object, then we began to talk.

Our story today involved a knitted lady (wearing a sling), a needle felted figure with a cloak and a diamond, two tiny dolls (that just so happen to fit inside the knitted lady’s sling), a length of plaited wire with shiny beads threaded on, a long seed pod, a short seed pod and a doily.

What story would you make up with these objects? It’s best really not to think about it too much, just to open your mouth and the story come out. One person began the story with their item and then we took turns introducing the object we had and developing the story. Sharing a story with other adults is delightful because while you think you may know what is going to happen next, another person always has a wonderful idea that you hadn’t thought of!

Would you like to read our story?

I will write it down and post it soon 🙂

 

 

Stories of Motherhood: Soulful Mama

I love stories of Motherhood. Every mother has a story – and you know every child would love to hear their mama’s story. I love seeing how wide my children’s eyes become when I tell them bits of my “other life” before they joined me here. My journey into motherhood has been interesting too and  one day I’ll share it with my children but now is not the time. I’ll tell you about it sometime though. Here is a letter from a mama that I adore. She is passionate about women living a life that is beauty-full and truth-full and soul-full, and I believe she will never stop working to connect women and their spirits. This mama does a pretty thorough job of introducing herself to you and so I will just let you read on.
soulfulmamas-300x300
Dear Soulful Mamas,
This is a letter from my heart, to share with You who I am, and why I’ve started this page.  I am Hollie B. and I come from a long story of Women’s Magick and Circling. I hold Space for Women’s Ceremony, Red Tent and other such awesomes in the Canberra region, which is the capital city of Australia. You can look me up via Lunation on Google or Facebook.
I am Mama to 2 children aged 9 & 7. I also have 3 children of my heart, aged 16, 17 & 19, my step-children, the children of my husband Bolj. We live a very happy, carefree life on our bush forest property where we are building a small homestead and spiritual retreat centre. We wake up to the sounds of kookaburras and cockatoos everyday, we watch wombats meandering and kangaroos chewing. My children are Out of School – home educated – and they spend more of their day riding bikes and exploring the forest than they do sitting at a desk. We eat organic food, make as much as we can by hand, drive a HOT car, love to exercise and are known to drop everything in the moment in order to do something more fun.
As a Soulful Mama my life really is Perfect. But it hasn’t always been like this.
My 2 babes have different fathers, neither of whom are my husband, and I’m telling You this because I want You to know, that I have known what it is to feel unsupported and unsure and fearful and to ask yourSelf ‘how the fuck did I get here?’ Their fathers do stupid shit all the time, like drop them home when there’s nobody here, or leave them in front of a TV screen for hours at a time, or feed them food they are sensitive to. When my children return home after a weekend at dads there is invariably a meltdown within 24 hours – from the over stimulation and stress and exhaustion. It has happened like this since both of my children were one year old – that is when I left each father, and when I had to let my child go away at night. You see, dear Soulful Mama, I know all about that.
There are times when I’ve made decisions that didn’t  honour me into the future, for whatever reason, and I’ve had to learn to forgive mySelf, in order to find a Space for love. That’s how I found my True Love, my Divine Twin Flame, my Sacred Beloved and I married him and we live happily in a bush forest with the People we lovely nearby. We are living our dreams and being Soulful parents and we are showing our kids how to dream big, face our fears and Be everything  we came here to Be.
But it wasn’t easy. It was painful and scary and I had to face many parts of my Self and my old stories  in order to make this all happen. I had to get vulnerable and raw and open mySelf. I had to surrender all the unconscious parts of my Self that played out over and over, and step up to Be the Real, authentic me.
I had to learn to accept what is and lean into the things that hurt the most, to allow mySelf to be curious about my feeling, and to eventually surrender it in order to heal. There have been so many times I thought ‘I cannot do this again’ but somehow I do, every time. I want to be All the Mama I can Be, so my children are my inspiration, again and again.
My children have seen me at my best and my worst. I’ve sat on the bed of my two year old, with my newborn in my arms and cried for their forgiveness for us being where we are. They’ve loved me when I’ve hated myself most.
All the while I circled with Women. I held Sacred Spaces and went into other Sacred Spaces. I’ve actively studied and Worked in frameworks of the Goddess, on feminist spirituality, Magick and SpellCraft, in natural healing and conscious, alternative living and all of it has helped me step into my Infinite, Whole, Cosmic Self.
Through my own deep stirrings and in working in the Circle where Women find empowerment within, I’ve identified something important missing from our connections and communications. As Mamas, I believe that it is our responsibility to heal the ‘missing’ within ourSelf and give to our children a world where they can live as Wholehearted individuals. I believe in generational wounding and healing, and I know that what I heal in mySelf heals down my line, through my sons and daughters and their sons and daughters… It also heals up the line, through my mother and her mother. I’ve done so much of this Work and I know it is Real. When we do this our relationships change. We learn to forgive in its ultimate meaning of giving over and surrendering to the essence of vulnerability rather than the story we have carried. It’s hard work but its worth it.
My own research has reminded me that Being the ‘housewife’ – the ‘Woman who belongs to the house’ and therefore the Woman to who the house belongs, was once an incredibly Sacred position. While men were out hunting and protecting the land physically, Women were in the house, literally weaving the Space with Magick and energy to ensure that the family was nurtured, nourished and protected. The housewife was a power-full weaver of magick and healing. It was Women of Power who could do this, not the weak subservient woman we have been led to think of with that term ‘housewife’. She was a Space Holder, a Woman of power-full Magick and knowledge and she was a She-bear Mama raising babes to continue this same Work as they grew into adults. Along the way the Woman of Power has been battled down. She has been judged, abused, wounded and hated out of the system. But now we are bringing her back. We are healing her wounds. We are repositioning her in her rightful place as Woman of Power. As my friend Jane Hardwicke Collings says, WE HAVE BEEN DISBANDED FOR TOO LONG.
I believe it is time for Women to re-empower the Work of Being Mama and Housewife. There is nothing more important, no greater contribution in my eyes than holding the Space for a family while they grow into the unlimited Cosmic Beings they are here to Be. And to do this means learning just how power-full we are as Women.
It is time for Women to reclaim the Magick. It is time for Mamas to trust their instincts and grow the unlimited children they want to raise. It is time to question EVERYTHING because so much of what we’ve been told and what we do is not ours! We’ve picked up stories from the past, from our own parents and teachers and everyone who told us ‘that’s just how it’s done’. It’s time for us to respond ‘that’s not how I do it’ and to reshape the foundations of the way we want to Mother – from our Soul. It is time reshape what it means to be a housewife – a Woman of Power who commands the energy and feeling in her house, who leads with compassion and beauty and who is an example to all those she meets.
That’s why I started this page, the Soulful Mamas. It’s an invitation to Women to Be the Mamas they really want to Be. No more excuses or stories about the past. We are standing for what we believe in right now! We are making it happen right now. And we’re not waiting for anyone else to give us permission.
I want You to know Soulful Mama that You are exactly who and what You are meant to Be. There’s no text book for Soulful Mama-ing. The only way to go about it is to trust the voice inside that says ‘this is the world I want for my children’ and then follow your feeling to make it happen.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Mama of adult kids, whether you’re a single Mama, whether You co-parent, whether your beloved is male or female, whether You are still waiting to get pregnant, whether You have a shitty relationship with your own mother, whether You’ve never held a baby in your arms, whether You have 10 kids…. Your journey to Soulful Mama-ing  is about opening your heart, listening to where the vulnerable is and expressing it in a way that sets You free!
If you’re reading this and you’re thinking ‘I wish I was one of those Mamas’ don’t wish anymore. Give birth to the Mama You want to Be by stepping up, stepping in and expressing the True You inside. That’s all You have to do! You are powerful beyond all measure! Now is the time.
It is the time of the Soulful Mama. Our world is calling us! But we don’t need to venture out to the great abyss to prove a point. We just need to focus our most Sacred commodity : our Attention, on the one thing that we already have the most impact on – our Self. Be the Mama You wish You had. Be the Mama You wish the world had! And then our children won’t have to try so hard. Because for them, parenting from the heart will not be something they have to work at, it will simply be what they do. What a gift Soulful Mama-ing is to everyone it touches!
They, our children, learn from us. You can go out and protest all You want to the big companies about the way they are destroying the world. Or You can make Real choices at home, and teach your children the right way to live and honour the Self and the Earth. You can treat them as You want the world to be treated. Let us raise ethical consumers and wholehearted individuals who know no limits – then they will change the world, just by who they are.
If this is the world You wish to live in, I invite You to join me on the new Facebook page Soulful Mamas. Tell your Mama friends. We are building a community of like minds. There are many possibilities in the pipeline for this Soulful Mama Vision but it all starts with the coming together of many hearts. The Wholeheart. Will You open yours?

Story: Gramma Sun and the Summer Solstice

This story was written as a shared progressive story on my Lavendilly House Facebook page. It was a lot of fun – I began the story and a few friends dropped by to keep it going. Occasionally I got a bit excited and kept it going all by myself … I was very surprised with the direction the story went in (it wasn’t the story I had in my head!!) This is what happens in community – sometimes the story you have in your head is a part of something bigger, and shared ideas offered in the spirit of openness can lead to an even better scenario than was originally conceived. Synergy 🙂 It was very exciting to be a part of an unfolding story, as if it were alive on its own (which is often how I feel about stories) and I am grateful to the contributors for helping to write a very magical Creation Story to explain the Summer Solstice. I have edited it a teeny tiny bit, just to help it flow in story form.Fire Altar Mat (2)

Gramma Sun and the Summer Solstice

Written by Jennifer McCormack, Hollie-B Lunation, Lorrie-Corrie Clemato, Victoria Edmond and Elizabeth Murray.

  Gramma Sun stretched out her arms, her embrace was hot and warm. She rose high in the sky and looked down at all her grandchildren on the earth and smiled. In her children she saw the potential of everything that could be on the Earth. She had deep gratitude for the many possibilities her children could achieve. Her eye was caught by a little girl with pig tails who was sitting in the branches of a shady tree.
  This tree had low branches that could be easily climbed and invited you to come up. The little girl often came to sit there and sing to herself. When she sang her heart would lift and sometimes it felt as if the very tree was listening to her. Today, however her song broke off because she heard a tiny voice from below.
   “Why is it so hot?” this tiny voice cried. She looked around to find where the tiny voice was coming from and to her surprise she spied a wee man, dressed in brown, orange and bright green leaves.  On top of his head sat a very large nut, it appeared as though he wore it as a hat!
  The little girl with pig tails reached down her hand and invited the wee man to climb on and up into the tree with him. She leaned against the trunk of the tree and placed the man on a branch above, in the shade. “Hello. My mum told me it is so hot because it is the summer solstice and Gramma Sun is dancing.”
  “Oh dear child” said the wee man, bowing before the little girl with the pigtails. ” your mother must be absolutely correct! Gramma Sun is so hot because she is dancing!  Do you know why she is dancing?”
  “I don’t, but would you like to find out together?” She replied to the little wee man.
  “Well I suppose we could,” replied the wee man, “Just let me rest a while in this shade. Its going to get hot before long!” He took his seed pod hat off and inside it was a small flask which he drank deeply from. “Ah, that’s better!” He said, “I think you should have some too, it will help you stay cool where we are going. We have to go high and visit the Giant Catfish that lives in the Crystal Pool on top of the mountain.  It is said that the Giant Catfish will answer truthfully one question for those who pay their gift. When it cools down we will first climb the mountain and then we must find a special boat. I have been told that it is moored to the Grandfather Willow Tree, but before we board the boat we must first eat a mushroom, 2 pieces of apple and 13 grapes.”
 “Why ever should we eat those?” giggled the little girl with the pigtails, thinking that a mushroom and a few pieces of fruit would not be enough food to help them climb a mountain.
  “Because the mushroom is magic and will make you small like me, the apple has a star inside that will help us speak the star language and the grapes are just so refreshing, and it is quite a hot day you know!”
  The little girl thought it would be very fun to be small like the wee man, but it might also be difficult to eat the 13 grapes when she was so small … so she ate those first. Feeling refreshed she shared the apple with the wee man and immediately she could hear a faint singing. It was an ethereal music that filled the space around her and yet did not appear to come from anywhere at all. It was above her and below her and all around her. It was as if this music, which felt like a kind of singing was breathing through every living thing. It felt as if her own heart was keeping time to this divine song. Her skin tingled with goosebumps. “Oh my goodness!” she exclaimed, “Who is singing?”
  The wee small man nodded his head so enthusiastically his seed pod hat nearly fell off, “Yes! Yes! You can hear it! I knew you were special. It is the stars. You can hear the language of the stars, who only speak in song. They are sure to help us talk to Gramma Sun. She is too hot to get too close to but she dances to the songs of the stars, just like every living thing does, so they will be able to help us ask her questions, now eat your mushroom and let’s be off!”
  The little girl with pigtails nibbled on the mushroom and immediately began to shrink. Her pigtails and her clothes shrank with her until she was so tiny she was no bigger than a willy wagtail, and also smaller than the wee man, who was not very tall to begin with. He nibbled on the mushroom too and the little girl with the pigtails watched as he and his seed pod hat shrunk to match her size.
  “Let’s go!” said the wee man with the seed pod hat, “The Grandfather Willow Tree is at the top of the mountain by the lake, to get there we must break off this leaf, hop on and hold on tightly, then call for the hot wind to blow us to the top of the mountain.”
  This they did, and a warm gust picked up the leaf and before they knew it they were spinning away, riding the wind. Below them they could see the stream they must follow, and that clever wee man held his hat up and steered them with the seed pod! They flew low, they flew high, and once the breeze nearly stopped!! Before too long though, they floated to the top of the mountain, and it was there that they saw a sight so magical, it took their breath away!
  Beneath them they saw the crystal pool with water so still it reflected the light in the sky and the trees all around. Grasses on the banks of the pool leaned over the edge and looked at themselves in the mirrored surface. It was as if everything was spellbound by the breathtaking beauty of the crystal waters. Above the pool, in the sky, Gramma Sun danced and danced to the music of the stars and her movements reflected on the waters as sparkling sun sparks. Little fire fairies from Gramma Sun’s golden dress danced with her, moving too fast and hot to be caught, flitting across the water and over the trees. Beneath the water the only thing that moved was the Giant Catfish, dancing as smooth and slow as Gramma Sun danced furiously and fast. “As above, so below” whispered the wee man, “they dance together.”
  The wee man used his seed pod hat to guide the leaf down the edge of the Crystal Pool, right at the feet of the Grandfather Willow Tree: an ancient tree that grew with his roots deep in the earth and over the bank of the Crystal Pool. His branches hung low and graceful, some dropping gently into the still water of the Crystal Pool. Grandfather Willow Tree had stood connected between sky, water and earth for an eternity and all who lived in him and about him felt his peace with the world. As the little girl with the pigtails and the wee man with the seed pod hat stepped out of their leaf they felt their breath soften and they became aware of the stillness all about them. Here the music of the stars was clear and bright and it felt as if every living thing swayed with joy to the melody.
  Among the roots of the Grandfather Willow Tree which were growing down the banks of the Crystal Pool and into the water, there was a little boat moored. It was so so tiny that if the little girl and the wee man were not so small themselves they may never have come across it.
  The little girl with the pigtails and the wee man with the seed pod hat untied the boat from its moorings, climbed inside and pushed away from the bank. They used a long leaf each to row with and they made barely a ripple as they rowed to the centre of the Crystal Pool.  The water was like glass and as the little girl with the pigtails leaned carefully over the side of the leaf she could see the Giant Catfish’s entrancing underwater dance. She felt that she ought to feel a little afraid, for the Giant Catfish was an awesome sight: an enormous fish gliding rhythmically to and fro to the music of the stars as if he were performing a spell upon all who watched. He could have swallowed them in one bite and not even noticed, but like everything else in and around the Crystal Pool he moved beautifully and gracefully to the star music and she felt very safe.
“What do we do now?” she whispered to the wee man, because it felt somehow wrong to talk loudly and disturb the peace. All the same, the wee man with the seed pod hat jumped a little when she spoke, for he was also so awestruck by the magical place that he had forgotten she was in the boat with him. The leaf boat rocked upon the surface of the Crystal Pool and made ripples that also began to dance up and down to the music of the stars as they spread out over the Crystal Pool. “We have to give the Giant Catfish a gift, and he will grant us the answer to one question”, replied the wee man.
   “What do we have to give the Giant Catfish? I have nothing with me to offer him as a gift,” the little girl with the pigtails began to feel worried they had come this long way and would not be able to ask their question.
   “Hmm, let me think,” said the wee man with the seed pod hat, ” I don’t think he wants presents. The Crystal Pool has all he needs and he doesn’t look like the sort of fellow who wants treasure. I would think that he would want us to do something for him instead.”
   “But we are so small!” cried the little girl, “Whatever would we be able to do for a Giant Catfish?”
” Give him a gift of ourselves!” said the wee man with the seed pod hat, “what are you good at? What can you share? What do you do that makes you feel happiest? I like to dance,” and he did a little jig in the boat that made his seed pod hat wobble and nearly fall off. He fell backwards, giggling, into the little boat and the ripples on the surface of the Crystal Pool splashed and danced around them joyfully once again.
  The little girl with the pigtails thought about when she was happiest: sitting in the shady tree singing her songs, and she began to sing the one she was humming when she met the wee man with the seed pod hat, before she began this adventure. As she sang, the wee man got up to dance again, jiggling the boat with his steps and soon they began to have such a good time jigging and singing, with the water about them rippling and splashing, that just for a moment they forgot about the Giant Catfish who had glided closer to their little boat to listen.
  “Little People,” said the Giant Catfish, in a surprisingly gentle voice, “why are you here, breaking the peace of the Crystal Pool?”
  The wee man with the seed pod hat and the little girl with the pigtails fell backwards into the boat in surprise. They quickly righted themselves and peered over the edge of the boat at the Giant Catfish, whose face was right up next to their boat and just under the surface of the Crystal Pool.
  “We didn’t mean to break the peace,” said the wee man.
  “No,” said the little girl, “we wanted to give you a gift so that you could answer a question for us.”
   “You have given me a gift,” replied the Giant Catfish. Travellers come creeping here in silence and throw coins and treasure into the pool, and what use are those for me? Nobody has given me such entertainment, and forgotten themselves in the joy of their gift. When you do something you love then you are making the music of the stars, and when this happens all the hearts of all the living things in the world beat to the same rhythm, and just for a moment you were making the music for Gramma Sun.”
   “That is why we came!” cried the little girl, eagerly, “we want to know why Gramma Sun is dancing so fast and so low and so long and so hot! Our days are so much hotter and brighter and longer than ever before, what is she doing? My mum says it is the summer solstice and we want to ask Gramma Sun what is happening.”
  “Gramma Sun cannot speak to you child, but with her warmth she can hug you and help you grow. She watches you all the time and loves to dance while you sing your heart’s song. Sing again, and see what happens.”
  So the little girl with the pigtails thought about how happy she felt when she sat in the shady tree and sang to herself, and she began to sing again. The wee man began to dance again, the ripples of water from the boat began to splash again, the Giant Catfish began to glide around the Crystal Pool again and even the Grandfather Willow Tree looked as if he were swaying his drooping branches while she sang. The little girl with the pigtails sang of climbing trees and drawing pictures, of picking flowers and playing with her friends. She sang of her favourite foods and hugs with her family. She sang of books and bikes and beautiful things that made her heart beat with joy … and then a wonderful thing happened …
  She felt warm all over, and light dazzled her eyes. She felt lifted up as though she had wings and she thought she saw the swish and the sparkle of the sun sparks from Gramma Sun’s golden dress. She was singing for Gramma Sun and Gramma Sun was dancing with her and the stars accompanied them with their celestial orchestra. She saw the wee man dancing in the boat, and the boat dancing on the water, and the Giant Catfish dancing under the Crystal Pool, and it seemed as though all living things danced in sheer joy together.
  She saw the Earth beneath her turn as if it too were dancing with them, and she saw plants and animals and whole landscapes change as the seasons came and went, and sometimes the Earth swung close to Gramma Sun and at others they spun away in their circular, spiral dance. She saw her tree burst into bright green leaves and flowers when the Earth danced close, and then as the Earth moved away the tree began to bare its branches and the light faded, only for the greenness and flowers to return as the Earth and Gramma Sun danced together once more. Sometimes it was as though, even in their dance, that time stood still for a moment, a slight pause when the light was brightest and air was warmest, as though all were taking a rest …  and then the Earth would begin to spin and dance away again.
   Then she understood.
   Gramma Sun danced for the beauty of the Earth and all the Universe. She danced to the music of the stars and the star music expressed the wonder and the magic of creation just perfectly, and while she sung her heart beat in rhythm with all living things. She danced to keep the Earth turning, to keep it alive with wonder and beauty and change.
   It felt as though her song must never end, but once she understood why Gramma Sun danced she had no more words and she danced for a while too, until she and Gramma Sun danced and spun together so furiously and fast that everything about her spun and swirled in a haze …
  Gramma Sun stretched out her arms, her embrace was hot and warm. She rose high in the sky and looked down at all her grandchildren on the earth and smiled. In her children she saw the potential of everything that could be on the Earth. She had deep gratitude for the many possibilities her children could achieve. Her eye was caught by a little girl with pig tails who was sitting in the branches of a shady tree, smiling and singing softly to herself and playing with a little seed pod in her hands.
 

Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere: Resources for Celebrations

linden garland 3I believe that our celebrations should be given thought – there should be an understanding of what we are celebrating – and why – and then we should consider how to celebrate it according to where we live. It has always felt strange to me to celebrate winter festivities at Christmas time when it is summer in Australia … and Australia is a country with great variety in landscapes so each celebration for each family would be strengthened with an inclusion of local foods, plants, animals, landscapes and people.

The following posts are my journey into understanding Christmas and Advent, and making it real for us according to where we live. I hope you enjoy them, and I would love to hear your ideas too.

ADVENT POSTS

Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere: Advent

Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere: The Four Kingdoms

Advent Week One: The Mineral Kingdom

Advent Week Two: The Plant Kingdom

Advent Week Two: The Plant Kingdom Story

Advent Week Three: The Animal Kingdom

Advent Week Three: The Animal Kingdom Story

Advent Week Four: The Human Kingdom

The Twelfth Day of Christmas: Epiphany

CHRISTMAS IN THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE POSTS

Finding Meaning In the Festive Season

What to Do About Santa Claus?

The Christmas Tree

The Jesse Tree

The Summer Solstice

CHRISTMAS RECIPES

Raw Gingerbread

Christmas Spice Muesli

Raw Chocolate Cherry Christmas Stars

CHRISTMAS CRAFT

Handmade Fabric Christmas Garlandslinden garland 3

OTHER CHRISTMAS ARTICLES AND RESOURCES

Christmas in the Middle Ages Part 1

Advent Week Two: The Plant Kingdom Story

This story continues from Advent Week One – when Mary and Joseph begin their journey with their donkey. In the first week they found reason to be grateful for the gifts of the Mineral Kingdom, and this week they continue to travel:

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Advent Week Two Story: The Plant Kingdom

written by Jennifer McCormack

And so the journey continues, with weary travelers three:
Joseph walking slowly, leading Mary and Donkey.
Mary was pregnant with a baby, a gift from God above.
She walked a bit, but Donkey mostly carried her with love.
Back to Bethlehem they walked, Joseph’s town of birth.
Across the rugged landscape, over the rocks and earth.
The path was rocky, the rivers deep, the hills and land were wild
But with love upon the travelers three, our Mother Earth smiled.
She smoothed the ground, sent crystal light, and rolled the rocks away,
So Joseph, Mary and Donkey could travel far each day.
When their food ran out, Mary cried for poor Donkey
“He has so far to go, and I am getting so heavy!
I hope that we can find some food to keep our Donkey strong,
and you dear Joseph need strength too, as you walk along”
That night they gave their thanks to God and Mother Earth so wise,
And when they woke upon the morn, they could not believe their eyes.
For overnight there had grown a pasture like a bright green sea,
and feasting upon its healthy goodness was Donkey, so happy.
Upon the trees they found their breakfast: nuts, seeds, berries and fruit,
And from the ground, for other meals, they found vegetables and roots.
Mary searched for fresh herbs, collected healing bark from wood.
They filled their tummies, filled their baskets, harvested all they could.
Now feeling nourished, feeling fresh, they rested in the shade.
Mary picked some flowers to celebrate this day.
That evening as they made their camp underneath the stars,
Mary and Joseph said “How fortunate we are,
To have the blessings of abundance from the plants around
Nourishment, shelter healing and beauty growing in the ground.
Thank you to the trees and bushes, for the shelter you provide.
For the beauty of the many flowers, growing alongside
Thank you to the fruits and berries ripening on the trees
Thank you for the gift of herbs and healing energy,
Thanks for vegetables, nuts and roots, for everything we need.
And best of all, the gift of life deep within your seeds.

Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere: The Christmas Tree

Advent Tree WMI am so enjoying this process of meaning-making at Christmas time. I’ve never given it much thought in previous years … just sat each year with the unsettling question of “Why do we do this?” and it feels so good to finally address this. As a result all our usual icons at Christmas are now revealing their stories to me and I’m gaining a greater appreciation for tradition, a greater understanding of humanity and using it all to create my own meaning at Christmas time, and making some new family traditions too.

Why a Tree?

I haven’t really found out where the idea of the Christmas Tree came from. I have read some very interesting stories though! Like Santa, the Christmas Tree has evolved over the centuries, and I was right about it being an enduring pre-Christian, pagan symbol of Nature. I read one story about the fir tree becoming the symbol of Christmas because a monk used its triangular shape to describe the relationship of the Holy Trinity. I am sure it is probable that explanation happened at some point but the tree as a symbol of Christmas is more likely to be because fir trees are evergreen and were a symbol of strength, continuity and hope through the winter. The reverence of evergreen trees has been a Germanic tradition for thousands of years before Christianity and I was horrified to read the story of Donar’s Oak, an ancient tree that was miraculously felled by St Boniface (with a bit of Divine assistance, apparently) who then built a Catholic church upon the site to celebrate the town’s ‘conversion’ to Christianity. Can you imagine?

There are many stories associated with the tree at this time of year: the Yule log, the Solstice Tree, the battle between the Oak King and the Holly King. Go and look them up, they are really interesting! It seems to me most festivals are in some way associated with birth and re-birth, with life and death and the mystery surrounding it that holds us all fascinated with how the world works. For me it comes back to the quality of the life I am living, the birthing of my own self as I move through this life journey on this Earth. We can make our own meanings in symbols, we can start new traditions, and I think it is important that we do.

The Tree Inside

Ever since I read the story “The Little Fir Tree” by Hans Christian Andersen I’ve been wondering about the reason we have trees inside our home at Christmas time. I often find Hans Christian Andersen’s stories more than a little melancholic … and this one is as sad as “The Little Match Girl” to me. This little tree was curious about the world, and had his wish for experience granted. He thought he would rejoice when it was his turn to go inside the houses in the winter like his fellow trees do each year. Instead he felt the pain and stinging cut of the axe, enjoyed a few brief moments of Christmas cheer and was then hacked to pieces for burning after Christmas. Hans! Must you?! I could never bear to use a real live tree branch after that – the whole story would shroud the tree in sadness rather than bright and cheery Christmas joy! The good news is, I have since re-written that story for myself and have also found another one about a fir tree, written so exquisitely, and called The Story of the Tree That Dreamt a Flower by Isabel Wyatt in “The Seven Year Old Wonder Book”, which also tells the story of how it came to be that we place stars on top of the tree. This book also has some really lovely stories about St Nicholas in it too. I recommend it as part of your Christmas reading to your children. We’ll be starting it tonight.

So one story heals the experience of another and, thanks to Isabel Wyatt, I’m recovered from yet another scarring Hans Christian Andersen experience (I am sure not all his fairy tales were intended for children). It still doesn’t sit right with me that we celebrate Nature in our living rooms each year by cutting trees down, and bringing them inside the house to die. I must still be missing something here. Christmas tree farms are big business now and they do provide habitat for animals year-round even though the trees are cut down or repotted to be used for one month of the year. The other side of this is that an artificial tree will last for a few years in your home but when you throw it away it will endure for centuries in a landfill. What to do? I’m not sure Christmas would be the same without the tree.

I grew up with a plastic tree. Part of our ritual each year was to take it out of its box from the garage, set it up in the garden and then spray it with the garden hose to wash off a year’s worth of dust. This was just as much fun as decorating it, I think. Christmas in summer in Queensland is hot and sweaty and any opportunity to play with water in the backyard is a delightful one. I also loved the sparkling water drops on the branches, like it was decorated already, and the contrast it made: a perfectly shaped plastic tree ‘growing’ out of the middle of our lawn.

Since having my own family we’ve swayed between real trees and plastic trees. We’ve gave our plastic tree away 2 years ago and have since been using potted trees,  however we’ve never had much luck with real trees in pots at Christmas, even native pines. I might as well have cut the tree down in the first place because my good intentions to replant it usually end up with it instead dying a longer, more drawn-out death in the pot, because nurturing pot plants is not one of my skills, and besides since leaving home I have always lived in rentals so planting a potentially enormous pine tree in someone else’s backyard isn’t really an option either. This year I thought we would buy a fruit tree instead. I think I am more likely to plant a fruit tree in our garden, and our landlords are more likely to appreciate this gift, and I am also more likely to want to take care of it. I also thought that planting the tree in a prepared hole might be part of the ritual of taking the tree down after Christmas. Our son can dig the hole, our daughter can sing the ceremony story, our toddler can get dirty, the tree will have a home, our garden will be blessed and we’ll all be happy.

Adorning the Treechristmas tree

I had no idea, before writing this, that I have more control issues surrounding the Christmas Tree than I did about Santa! Lucky I know how to laugh at myself and am getting better at letting things go! I love the idea of decorating a tree, and it is the part of Christmas I really gain a lot of enjoyment from – provided I can do the whole thing by myself with no input from ANYONE else!! Only I know where those ornaments have to be hung! Woe betide anyone who differs in opinion or who mucks around with my arrangement – that goes for toddlers too! In the past few years our Christmas Tree has been up on a shelf or a little table so little hands don’t disrupt it. I like to make it just so, and I think I don’t breathe properly around the tree until it is all packed away.

Well, we all have our little vices. I’ve tried letting go of it all and last year I think I did rather well, letting the children decorate it (and the house) and resisting the urge to make things symmetrical/evenly spaced/balanced in colour, form and shape. One thing I do hate with a passion (and which my husband loves) is tinsel. Can’t explain why … it makes me wonder what we are celebrating by covering a tree – a symbol of Nature in our homes – with a completely synthetic product that doesn’t even try to mimic anything in nature, and that also sheds little bits of tinsel that stick to my feet and blow all over the house. Man’s dominance over the natural forces? Perhaps I’m taking it a bit too far here! I won’t go on about it. Let’s just agree to maximise household happiness by minimising tinsel in my home. This year I would like to make our own garlands from my expansive scrap fabric stash, and I have some lovely gold fabric to use that may satisfy the family’s urge for shiny, sparkly things.

I may not love tinsel but I do love sparkly things. In all this reflection and thinking about Christmas, the most joyful memory from my childhood is that of lying underneath the Christmas Tree at night, with all other lights in the house turned off, everyone else in bed … just me and the tree and the colourful twinkling lights. I find lights on a tree so mesmering and I was always drawn to the tree lights at night time, totally lost in the peace and beauty of the whole thing. I would lie with my head next to the wrapped up gifts and wonder about their contents. I’d look up through the branches and see the tree from underneath – a whole new perspective of layers and colour and shadows. I even still remember the smell of the dust.

Today is the first day of December and for many families it is tree-putting-up day. I think I grew up with the tradition of putting the tree up two weeks before Christmas and taking it down two weeks after. Other families have their tree up in November. This year I have to say I am rather excited about putting up a tree and making decorations for it, but I don’t think we’ll do it until we can give it proper attention, which for us means waiting until school is over for the year, a whole morning with nothing else to do, carols, holidays. Embracing the light and joy of ceremony, tradition, expression and creativity!

Advent Week One: The Mineral Kingdom

The first week of our Advent honours the Mineral Kingdom: the earth, rocks, stones, variety of landscapes, the essential minerals and elements that make up our land and our bodies. It honours the hard journeys we experience in our lives, which can be made softer and easier by cultivating reverence, forgiveness, joy and gratitude. the following ideas are ones we will use in our family, for other ideas you can go to MamaMoontime and have a read: http://www.mamamoontime.com/2009/11/week-one-of-advent-mineral-kingdom.html

Week One Activities

As the days of the first week of Advent roll by we will spend some time in nature exploring our environment, particularly the minerals. I’m going to be realistic and say that with three little children home full-time on holidays just before Christmas I won’t have much time for lots of crafts, so our activities will be nature-based – and kitchen-based. We will do a little clay craft for our community celebration though.

1) We will make rock towers down by the creek,

2) Scrape rocks with water to make paint, then paint our faces and bodies with it

3) Decorate some special rocks to represent the things that make us joyful and place them in our garden,

4) We’ll collect beautiful shells from the beach

5) We’ll play at our local creek, shifting rocks to channel the water

6) Spend time making forms in our landscape: tracing figures in the dust, making mud castles

7) Create a specially arranged collection of crystals and shells for our Seasonal Table.

I think the important thing is to get outside and enjoy the gifts of our local community. We may take photos and transform it into a little book to read each first week of Advent, along with some of the things we are grateful for given to us by the mineral kingdom.

Week One Carols

I love singing Christmas carols – but I am also so tired of all the usual carols that are sung this time of year. A month of “Jingle Bells” is too much for me! I love the wistfulness and romance of the wintery, snowy carols but they don’t speak to our experience here in Australia. I don’t think that’s a reason not to sing them … just not to immerse myself in them. Christmas to me largely involves a good dose of Bing Crosby and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

I had a good look around and finding carols relating to the Mineral Kingdom was a challenge! So I’ve put together a list of carols that tell the story of shelter, home, belonging, and that celebrate Mary and her beautiful baby. Ave Maria is sooooooo beautiful. It is quite a complicated song though, however I’m determined to learn it this year. Here are some carols you can enjoy together in the first week:

O, Little Town of Bethlehem – this is Sarah McLachlan

Ave Maria – this is Sarah Brightman’s performance

Gabriel’s Message – this is an interesting percussion and marimba arrangement! Or you might prefer Sting’s version, where the lyrics are a bit clearer.

Silver Bells – this song is a bit wintery and not very Southern Hemisphere but it does echo the sense of anticipation and joy, and the homeliness and warm community feeling that we like to feel when we begin inviting Christmas into our homes – and it is sung by the Master of Christmas Carols himself, Bing Crosby

Week One Story

In previous years I have read the children stories from Collette Leenman’s “Advent Sunday Stories”, which tell the Nativity tale through the Four Kingdoms each week of Advent. This year I wanted to write my own stories.  We’ll begin the week’s celebrations with this story, and each night of the first week we’ll light our first Advent Candle. This little story I wrote for my family, and to share with my community because it incorporates the beginning of the Nativity (to be continued as the weeks to Christmas pass) and it also honours my personal path of earth-based spirituality, while also being respectful to the Christian roots of the original Nativity story.

I haven’t yet prepared props for this story. I usually go very simple and use nature items for my storytelling, rather than making puppets. I love children to use their imaginations and  bring a natural object to life in their own minds. Perhaps some simple images could be painted on the rocks to represent the main characters and honour the mineral kingdom both at once. This time, however, I would LOVE to tell this story at twilight with a sequence of transparencies made with cardboard and tissue paper, lit with a candle behind. Each one a different scene from the story. We’ll see how I go! For my Seasonal Table, the scene will be simple: set with green, brown and blue cloths fashioned into a landscape. We will place rocks , shells and crystals that we have found in our nearby area along the path that Mary, Joseph and their donkey are on. There will also be the Archangel Gabriel there in the sky.

Week One Advent Story: The Mineral Kingdom

Written by Jennifer McCormack

An Angel came from Heaven and told Mary she’d be a mummy

That a very special baby was now growing in her tummy.

The Angel said that very soon people all around the Earth,

Would smile with joy and lift with hope, and celebrate this birth.

Mary, Joseph and their special secret set off on a long track,

All the way to Bethlehem, Mary on their donkey’s back.

The way was long and difficult, back to Joseph’s home,

Donkey carried pregnant Mary over the sharp stones.

They walked up mountains, into valleys, through rivers, over streams,

And though the land looked rough the way was easier than it seemed,

For Mother Earth knew Mary’s baby was a very special child,

And she made the journey gentle, though the landscape was wild.

Joseph, Mary and their donkey each night lay down to rest,

Sheltered by a warm cave, knowing they were blessed.

To Father Sky and Mother Earth the travellers said a prayer,

Grateful for the gifts of earth, water, fire and of air.

“Thank you for the mountains, the valleys and the plains.

For the rivers, lakes and oceans who give their water up for rain.

Thank you to the rocks and stones, for the ground beneath our feet,

for deep inside this wondrous Earth a warm heart will always beat.”