Nurturing our saplings: Inspiring a love of Nature in children
As a child aged around 4 I was once asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I remember quite clearly saying that I wanted to be with animals and nature. Now a mother myself that desire is stronger than ever and now is coupled with a fervent passion to protect nature for my daughter, her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren....
Prior to becoming a Tree Sister I already held a women's circle and attend other full moon, new moon and shamanic journey groups and so for my Grove I was called to create one which invited women and their children to be part of the magical unfolding of Treesisters. For the circle and be the nurturing in breath while involving children in the outbreath and the action.
My daughter now aged 4.5 has a gentle loving spirit and a natural affinity with animals – such as all children might with enough exposure. Their natural tendency to be open, accepting, curious and still feeling part of nature make it easy to engage them in activities that will foster a love and guardianship of our earth that will carry them through into adulthood.
I often feel like a more earth based existence is only possible if you are living a sustainable earth based kind of life, home schooling your children free from the constraints of the modern world however this isn't so. My husband and I work full time and my daughter attends a mainstream nursery.
We follow the four major quarters of the year: Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice, Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice and along the way we mark the other Celtic cross quarter festivals: Beltane, Lammas, Samhain and Imbolc. I usually tie these into her Nature Table display and then we read stories and maybe do a craft or two for each one of the above. For the four main quarters we might do something special like a ceremonial fire or make a mandala. We also mark the full moons: putting out "moon water" to charge from the energy of the moon that we enjoy drinking the next day. These are all really simple ways to incorporate the changing of the seasons and the moon cycles into daily life.
Throughout the year we attend bush craft sessions and woodland guided walks where we learn in a gentle way about which plants we can eat (last month we ate some Beech leaves!). We also (in England) sign up for the 30 Days Wild Challenge where we challenge ourselves to be in nature for every day for the month of June. It takes a little planning but it's surprising how you can manage to bring nature closer to you even when you work. We spend a lot of our weekends and holidays in the woods, at the stables, rivers, beaches and hills.
For my Grove which I run with a dear friend we mothers sit in circle with our children and welcome in the four directions, calling in spirit animals that represent Fire, Water, Earth and Air: the children really enjoy this. We smudge the grown ups with sage and if the children want a go with Palo Santo wood which is easier for them to manage. Then we do an activity, it might be making seed bombs, planting acorns, making tree faces, litter picking, making a fairy village or a group mandala. While the children are occupied we usually manage to have some time for reflection and to just be in nature, breathing in the trees and the mulch or the woody smoke from the fire. I might read a story, a nature one with some key messages about caring for the earth and then once snack is finished we close the circle. The pace is gentle, there is no rush, the in breath comes from the gentle unfolding that takes place, the accepting of all the different energies and the merging of something beautiful as we relax with one another and are held by Mother Earth.
My daughter fills me with wonder every day. I sometimes ask her where she came from... in disbelief really that she exists and she always answers me the same way "I came from you Mama". She is all that I long to be: patient, calm, kind, gentle, nurturing, pure: probably all that we all long to be and what we once were when we were children. The other day she put her hands on my shoulders (I was sitting down), looked into my eyes and said, listen to the birds, feel the wind on your face, hear the earth, mother nature is looking after you". I don't know if she is like this from her core nature or from the way that she has been raised but I am in awe of my Princess Rainbow of the Forest every single day.
What is in store for the future of my Saplings Grove Gathering? In time, moving with the ebb and flow of the changes that life brings I would like to turn this grove into a gathering for young girls as they approach their first menarche and give to my daughter what I never had growing up. A feeling of wonder and pride in her body as it approaches and blossoms into womanhood and to grow in her and others the feeling of guardianship for our planet and kinship with Tree sisters.
Blog and photos by Nadia Lupo
Nadia lives in England. She is a treasured part of the Heartwood volunteer team. She is most connected when she is with animals or in nature. She syas "I have had this deep calling forever. Treesisters speaks to me on many levels, heart, mind, body and soul. I am honoured to be part of this energetic rising of women to help heal the great mother. I'm currently assisting with the Inner Wise Woman Council and hope to be involved in the Groves when they launch."