Many ceremonies in “The Magic Circle” are done outdoors. Often the child is directed to work with a tree, rock, leaf, feather or other natural object. They will be instructed to draw or write what they learned from nature, from the birds and animals they observed. Why all this emphasis on the natural world? In shamanism, we use the wisdom and energy of the earth for understanding and healing. Naturalist Stephen Moss states that in nature, children experience themselves. They learn about their inner selves.
Sadly, in today’s society kids spend a lot of time indoors. More children than ever have high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, asthma, allergies, stomach ulcers or irritable bowel. It’s hard to believe that kids have so many stress-related illnesses. Richard Louv, journalist and author of “The Last Child in the Woods”, calls this lack of outdoor time, “nature deficit disorder”. On his website, childrenandnature.org, Louv lists several scientific studies showing time spent in the world of nature can alleviate many of these problems.
In one of the kid’s quotes from “The Magic Circle”, a boy who did the Sensing Tree Energy Ceremony said “Jen! The tree really talked to me! I asked if it knew my friend Mateo and it said it did! It also told me that all the green trees (this tree had green bark) communicate with each other!” That is magical!
According to a recent study at the University of Essex, only five minutes of “green exercise” can bring about rapid improvements to mental well-being and self-esteem, especially for young people. In a study published by The American Medical Association: “Children will be smarter, better able to get along with others, healthier and happier when they have regular opportunities for free and unstructured play in the out-of-doors”.
Walking in the woods one day, I met two mothers with their toddlers. Moms were chatting by the side of the trail while their children touched and hugged the trees. One little guy was humming to the tree. Those moms were wise to give their children the time to connect with nature. I love hugging trees – yes, actually putting my arms around a tree, resting my cheek against the bark to feel its roughness or smoothness, listening to its sounds. Those tree hugging babies knew the joy of hugging a tree.
If you and your family aren’t accustomed to spending time outside, how and where do you start? Imagine going out where the kids can wade in shallow water, lie on the ground and gaze up at the sky, clouds, moon, and stars. The David Suzuki Foundation has given families a challenge to go out in nature together. The Collins family takes their young children on nature adventures. Mom (Jill) writes “Nature is the greatest classroom you and your child will ever experience.” To discover how this family makes these adventures fun for the kids, google David Suzuki Fall Challenge, click on blog and scroll down to Cedar, B.C. Lots of other suggestions for making the outdoors fun can be found on the Internet.
What have you experienced and learned from being in nature? Put in a comment. We’d love to hear from you!
-by Grandmother Ann Dickie