shortly before my best girlfriend, teresa, got married in 2009, i was invited to a spirituality circle of her mom's. the group had been meeting semi-regularly for years (maybe even decades?), and we young daughters were invited to join in as one of the women was celebrating her crone-ing ceremony. i was so inspired by the group's depth, connection, and divine power, that i decided then and there that i too was going to begin a spirituality circle of my own.
then we moved, and things just got away from me. unpacking three-years' worth of stuff that had previously been in storage in the usa, plus three-years' worth of stuff that we had accumulated while living in the netherlands, plus getting my husband and child settled in to their routines, plus trying to build a business of my own, plus getting to know my new town and make new friends... well, i just didn't have TIME! but i never forgot. i kept tossing it around in my brain and in my heart, quietly discerning what this group would look like, who i would invite, and what our focus was going to be.
all the while, i was making countless friends, most of them with children of their own, many of whom were girls nearly the same age as gracie. and that's when it occurred to me: start a group of mothers with daughters gracie's age. and meet as often as we want/can, to teach our daughters about the divine power within each of them, the power of intention, the importance of service, the importance of ritual.
we've only met a few times thus far:
we've only met a few times thus far:
the first time we met, we gathered on a playground outside the denton unitarian universalist fellowship to celebrate the fall equinox and to meet everyone else who had been invited to the circle (thus far). we introduced our daughters by telling the stories behind their names, and made a tea for the trees using acorns and herbs from our garden. then we offered these libations to the trees and earth, as a way to say thank you for all that they have provided to us in the past year. each daughter got to take home a small bit of tea, which they were encouraged to pour into their gardens, beneath the trees that protect their homes, or somewhere else spiritually significant to them.
the next time we met, it was at my house to celebrate a traditional halloween (samhain), the way that the ancient celts and druids (and many modern-day pagans) celebrate: a feast for the ancestors! we brought items to place on the altar (pictures of the dead, mementoes from our ancestors, keepsakes from our ancestral homelands, family heirlooms, pomegranates, apples sliced along the equator to display the 5-pointed star in the center, and a nice place-setting for the ancestors to eat at). everyone brought a little vegan-friendly potluck item (squash and mushroom soup, salad, gluten-free bread, nuts and seeds, fresh fruits and veggies, apple cider, etc), and then each child served the ancestors by placing a small amount of that particular food onto the ancestor-plate on the altar. then we all served ourselves and as we ate, we talked about our ancestors, and remembered especially those who have left us in the last year. the girls all got to decorate pumpkins and gourds with stickers and crayons, and we got out the face paint so our daughters could decorate our faces too!
the most recent gathering was at j's house, on the winter solstice, where we welcomed our newest member (w, a girl who was born at the beginning of november) and literally rang in the new year by welcoming the sun with bells. we were also fortunate that some of OUR mothers were there, so that even the grandmothers were able to partake in the events of the day. the daughters made sun bonnets out of yellow felt and way too much glitter, while we mothers sat and ate and drank coffee and just generally enjoyed the coziness of each other's company. before we left, everyone went outside into the cold, bright sunshine, and rang bells to welcome back the sun. (it gives me a new perspective when i hear an alarm clock now.) :-)
on monday we will gather once again to celebrate martin luther king day. i'm not sure what all it will entail, but it will be guaranteed to be a remarkable, powerful, and spiritually-uplifting event. and i look forward to many future gatherings: learning about other cultures (chinese new year, perhaps?), serving others (as the girls get older, maybe we can volunteer somewhere to give back to our community), becoming politically active (writing letters to amnesty international or taking part in the annual "take back the night" marches across the country), celebrating the seasons (let's dance around a maypole on the summer solstice!), connecting with the earth (camping trip, anyone?), and celebrating the cycles of life (significant birthdays, first menses, graduations, etc). as our daughters grow, i am hopeful that the connection we are building in this circle will grow as well. and as our daughters grow and eventually have daughters of their own, i pray that the lessons we learned together in this group will be passed on to their daughters, and their daughters' daughters, and so on, throughout all the generations.