Posts Tagged ‘Northern Rivers Protogrove’

There’s been some discussion on ADF’s Facebook page about how to include children in public rituals. Many people with more experience have already offered some excellent advice. I absolutely have to point you towards Rev. Melissa Hill’s article on the topic.  My daughter is now a toddler, and Northern Rivers is only a little older than her.  We were founded just before my pregnancy, and our protogrove has grown up with the intent to be family friendly.  Now we’re about four years old, and in addition to my tot, we have different members who have a six-year-old and a six-month-old.  We also have regulars with kids between nearly 2 and 10, with an occasional teenager.  We’ve actually gained regulars because of how family-friendly we are.  I won’t say that we are experts at including children in public rituals.  Plenty of other groves have been doing it for longer*, but it’s part of ADF’s fabric.  My tradition was founded with the intent to offer public rituals, and since much of the public includes children…well, there you go!  Considering that my job is in the educational sector, I also take it very seriously.  The Druids of old were teachers, after all, and including the next generation of tree-hugging dirt-worshipers is valuable, in my humble opinion.  Even if they do as I did, and convert to something else, I think providing a foundation is important.

Here is a humble list of suggestions given in the form of our Nine Virtues.

The fire from Northern Rivers’ first members-only Bonfire Night.  Kids were there, and nobody died in the process!  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.


    • Wisdom – First of all, please keep in mind that, once more, we are still learning ourselves.  Also remember that all children are different, so there is no  one-size-fits-all approach.  In addition, all parents and parental situations are different.  I come from a place of privilege in that my husband is always there to watch my daughter, allowing me to lead most of Northern Rivers rituals, and to engage in the headspace I need for spiritual activities.  Listen to your own wisdom.  What are you able to do as a guardian?  What does your child really need at this time?Aso, a discussion of wisdom would not be complete without mentioning safety.  Most ADF rituals involve active fire since it’s a central part of our cosmology.  Northern Rivers always includes a bit about fire safety in our pre-ritual briefings.  Whether it’s bonfires, candles, or incense, young children are supposed to stay with their parents and only approach fires while holding a hand.  We always warn before pouring spirits into a bonfire.  (Kids often get excited about this since it makes the fire go poof!)  Finally, as an adult, model your own wisdom as you engage with fire and other ritual elements.


    • Vision – A grove or protogrove must first strive towards being family-friendly in order to start that journey.  Even if you don’t have children but hope to one day, start thinking about what kind of environment you’d like to create for your own children.  Actively engage with the rest of your group when planning liturgy.  Plan your bylaws with kids in mind.  Encourage and support other parents in your group when they express needs or want to try something different that could engage kiddos.  Don’t forget the adults in the process, though.  Open rituals are for everyone, so take adult concerns seriously too.  Perhaps plan some adult-only events once in awhile for “deeper” work such as trance or group initiations.  (Hint: a group Pinterest board can be a great way to brainstorm activities for future events.  Here’s Northern Rivers’ group board.)


    • Courage – Related to vision, don’t be afraid to try new things.  Northern Rivers experimented with having potluck before ritual so that we did the bulk of our cleaning before, then we could leave a little earlier.  This meant kids could go to bed sooner.  While this worked for Bealtaine, which was a day-long event in conjunction with the Kripalu Yoga and Wellness Center’s Labyrinth Walk Day, a majority of the group (including parents of young children) decided that they would rather do potlucks after ritual.  Hey, we had to try it first!It’s also important for the group to have courage when dealing with behavioral issues.  Our work towards creating a family-friendly space has been largely successful, but there were a couple of stressful times when we had to put our collective feet down because of major behavioral issues.  The result was that the voting members created a policy on including children.  You can see it here.  I will be the first to admit that this meant a couple people could not return because they didn’t have baby sitters during rituals.  That made me sad, however we had to consider the needs of the many in the group.   Sometimes being a grove organizer is hard, but that’s a post for another time…


    • Piety – Encourage the kids who attend to join the adults in keeping the old ways!  We don’t have an alternative play activity during our rituals.  They are meant for everyone who comes.  Many of the traditions are already kid-friendly.  For Imbolc, the kids carried in the Brighid doll while we sang.  Our protogrove tradition for the Spring Equinox is drumming to wake up the Nature Spirits; kids love it.  Maypole for Bealtaine, of course, but be prepared for chaos and imperfection.  Embrace it.My number one piece of advice for parents who want to bring their kids to our rituals is to start including their kids in their home practice.  In my twelve or so years of experience I’ve observed that children who are brought up Pagan are better-behaved at group rituals because they are used to it.  They know there are quiet times.  My toddler can do age-appropriate meditation (very short, focusing on breathing and using imagination).  It prepares kids for larger activities.  Depending on the age, they wont be able to engage in the same way as adults, but they start to understand what it means to give offerings.  Bee loves to give offerings to Nature Spirits, the Ancestors, and Brighid, for example.  She gets excited about it.  The six-year-old in our group loves to help her mother give offerings.  She pours while her mother speaks.  Older kids are ready for smaller ritual parts, and teens may be ready to take some major roles.  Include kids in your piety, show trust in the older kids, and they will get excited to attend ritual.


    • Integrity – Going back to the other virtues, you have to know what is best for everyone.  You must strike a balance, but it starts with you and your own values as a parent and/or group leader.  Look to the virtues.  What do you need?  What do the children need?  What does your own child need?  What do the adults in the group need?  Compromise must happen to meet those needs, but work to maintain that balance.  If something (or someone) makes you or the group uncomfortable or unable to engage with activities, have the integrity (and wisdom and courage) to speak up about it.  Sometimes it means making some very hard decisions.  If your child has special needs, then be honest with the group.  A couple regulars have been very up-front about their kids having autism, for example.  We have much to learn and I hope that we can continue to improve and meet their needs as best as we can, but we can’t start that journey until other parents are honest about it.  If you, as a guardian, decide that a group is not working for your child, please have the integrity to tell the group why.  You may not be able to return to the group, but they could learn from your perspective, at least.Though you can’t please everyone all the time, trust your instincts and do what works for the collective, young and old, most of the time.


    • Perseverance –
      When Northern Rivers first started, child attendance was sporadic.  Facebook RSVPs are not always accurate.  I would plan activities for kids, then those families wouldn’t come!  It’s totally frustrating, but I valued having the activities, so I kept planning them, though simplified.  Coloring pages may not be educationally valuable or creative, but it’s easy to have them and a pack of washable crayons on hand no matter what!  Now that members are parents, we always have something, even if it’s bringing a basket of dinosaurs for them to play with while we talk about a book.  Once you continually have children in attendance, don’t forget that kids will be kids.  Not every ritual or activity will engage all kids. I’ve planned what I thought were fun things only to have most decide they’d rather kick a soccer around instead.  I didn’t let that stop me from trying other things.  (And now my husband always brings a soccer during the green half of the year and is prepared to kick it with the kids so there is adult supervision.)  Keep trying, and stick to your vision.  Support other parents when they or their kids have a bad day.


Ring Around the Maypole. Photo by Weretoad, 2016.


    • Moderation – Returning to the idea of balance, remember the adults.  Perhaps a ritual totally directed to pre-schoolers is nice once in a blue-moon, but that will not appeal to most adults every High Day.  (I’ve heard of some larger groups having a pre-school appropriate ritual before or after the main ritual, but smaller groups will likely struggle with that due to the amount of prep required.)  Instead, approach your rituals the way good teachers approach lessons.  There should be variation.  Don’t rely on too much talking and listening.  Encourage group participation with chanting and “call and response” of important phrases (“Let the gates be open!”  “Nature Spirits, be with us!”).  Include movement, even simple gestures such as raising arms or  waving spirals over the Triple Hallows.  I’ve started to include movement in our Two Powers meditations.  Basically, I incorporate simple yoga moves but leave it really open-ended so people who prefer to sit can participate**.  We bring drums, sticks, and egg shakers to our circles so that everyone, young and old, can make music in addition to or instead of chanting.  In that way, we have small periods of quiet/listening, and then small periods of movement and noise.  We encourage everyone to make praise offerings at a certain time, and allow people to express themselves according to their own styles (as long as it’s respectful to everyone and the Earth). Before rituals, we try to mix up our workshops.  Sometimes we have social time, sometimes we have guided discussions about Druidic topics, sometimes we practice new chants, do seasonal arts and crafts…  This year, we did  an egg hunt for the Spring Equinox.   We play games and swim for Lughnasadh.  It does require planning, so delegate, delegate, delegate!  I could go on and on, but I hope you get the idea.  I’ve found that I get burnt out if I am planning the ritual and the activities before.  In the end, just strive so that everyone can engage with the ritual in some way.


    • Hospitality- When advertising your events, emphasize that you strive to be family-friendly.  Make sure that your rituals are in safe locations.  Some groups feel able to offer open rites at their homes, and that can be nice if the home is already childproof.  However, our group has decided that we don’t want strangers in our homes out of safety concerns, hence why we rent space at the Yoga Center.  We’ve found that many people are comfortable attending a public place that also has some privacy, and it gives us a neutral area in which to meet with prospective members who may one day come to our private gatherings at our homes.  In the meantime, the yoga center is mostly accessible (their stone circle is not easy to get to with a wheel chair), is heated in the winter, has a kitchen, and a bathroom.  In our pre-ritual briefings, I always make sure parents know that they can come and go from the ritual space as they or their children need.  In the winter months, we have our rituals inside because it’s just easier (and safer) for the little ones and their parents. It can get downright bitter in Northern NY.  We also make sure everyone knows our events are pro-breastfeeding as we are also pro-good health, pro-the Earth, pro-positive sexuality, and pro-positive body image.  It just makes sense and is part of our collective integrity.  If, for some reason, your group is not comfortable with open breastfeeding, at least make sure you have a quiet room for mothers that is not a bathroom.Also make sure that everyone looks out for the group to maintain the safe space.  I don’t know about you, but Northern Rivers Protogrove is a spiritual family.  I definitely don’t want to leave my kids with a stranger, and we don’t have a babysitting area during our rituals so everyone is included, but we all keep watch.  Other adults will step up if a kid approaches the fire and the parent isn’t close or looking.  We will intervene if a guest acts inappropriately around children. Many of us who are full members are such close friends, that we will hold babies for bathroom breaks, or lead an alternative activity during workshops that is near enough for comfort.  As I mentioned, we have a policy for children and the behaviors we do and do not accept.  Reciprocity is a two-way street.  If kids and parents can’t return our kindness (not to mention the hospitality of the property we rent), they have to stay home until they are mature enough to celebrate with us.Oh, and don’t forget that kids love to snack.  Having healthy munchies around in addition to potluck fare for later can go a long way towards improved behavior!  Hungry kids are cranky kids.  (Works for adults too!)


    • Fertility- No, I’m not going to tell you to start making babies to populate your groves.  I am going to encourage creativity (fertility of the mind) to engage with the children who will inevitably find their way into your groves.  Returning to vision, don’t be afraid to try new things.  Sometimes the best ideas come out of perceived failures (such as our ever “imperfect” Maypoles that are laugh-out-loud fun for everyone in attendance all the same).  Sometimes they just happen, like my spontaneous but fun “ring-around-the-Maypole” dance which is sure to become a tradition.  Hold true to your virtues, and your family friendly protogrove will grow!


Best of luck in making your own groups family-friendly.  If you have any other ideas, please share them in the comments.

* The first grove I belonged to, Muin Mound Grove, always had children in attendance.  Seeing their successful inclusion showed me that it could be done long before I was ready to have kids myself.

** Yet another post for another time!


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I just want to take a moment and share how proud I am of my protogrove, Northern Rivers, of ADF. We are small, but we have grown into a strong group giving service to the Kindreds, each other, and our community. We’ve offered public rituals, welcoming many people in the wider community to join in our seasonal celebrations. Our rituals continue to improve in that we are growing in our skills, making them more family-friendly, and most people leave feeling satisfied and at peace. We’ve helped with the local Pagan Pride event – the FAE Fest. At our last Winter Solstice gathering, we raised money for a local wildlife rehab center. Most recently, we raised over $200 American for one of our Canadian members who has fallen on some difficult times. I am so proud of Northern Rivers, and I’m proud to be part of ADF.
There’s always room for improvement, both for Northern Rivers and ADF the org, but I hope that other ADFers will join me in sharing their pride. The positives will keep us working together to grow and improve in service to the Kindred and each other.
So be it!

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Here are some highlights from Northern Rivers Protogrove’s recent Bealtaine celebration. It was magical!


The Airmed banner I made for our ritual.  I’m very proud of how she turned out!  I really enjoy making appliqué flags.  Photo by Annette, 2016.

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First, I want to thank @swampdruid for bringing the latest Wild Hunt post to my attention.  Sometimes, life gets busy and I miss some of their fantastic content.  With a busy toddler, work, and managing a protogrove, I rely on my connections to filter the good stuff my way.  More on that in a bit.

The Pagan community is incredibly diverse, and that’s a beautiful thing in many ways – the sign of a healthy ecosystem, some would say.  There are many who argue that Pagan clergy is antithetical to who we are, or that we are each our own priests and priestesses. People are certainly entitled to their opinions, but I feel that such strongly held beliefs, often passed down from authors who were just reviving Paganism in a very conservative West, can act as blinders to what history shows us, how the times have changed, and to our community’s needs.  In the end, to such individuals, all I can really say is “to each his or her own.”

For myself, I embrace a tradition rooted in community.  The Druids were the erudite spiritual leaders of their tribes.  They were the advisors, the judges, and the teachers in addition to the priestly class.  The lone “hedgedruids” came later as the times changed…  The pendulum started to swing the other way, and indeed we’re still in that slow motion back to a time when we actually have educated, trained spiritual leaders in our Pagan communities again.  Less of us are in hiding these days, so the very practical and inevitable past belief that we all had to be our own priests is not as necessary these days. Indeed, we should all strive to have our own personal relationships with the spirits we work with, lead our own household rites, and study for our own benefit – but we should embrace that we no longer have to work in isolation out of fear (although that fear certainly persists in some corners – we must not forget that).

Yes, part of why I joined ADF is because I loved the emphasis on studying the lore and improving our knowledge and practice with history.  The other big reason is the community.  In the US, at least, ADF is one of the biggest, most active Druid organizations.  We are connected to each other, and our clergy training program, in my opinion, is one of the best out there.  There’s certainly room for improvement, but places like Cherry Hill Seminary are out there to help fill in some blanks in the meantime!

If I believe that I am perfectly capable of communing with the spirits, why do I still need clergy? Why do I feel compelled to seek training to take on that title?  My first teacher in the Druidic path, Rev. Skip Ellison, taught me more than he probably realizes.  I watched him and the other Senior Druids of Muin Mound Grove; I watched and learned how to lead Druid rituals.  He gave me pointers and encouragement.  Liturgists for public ritual have different experiences and insights; they require related but diverse skills.  In my opinion, someone used to solitary ritual needs to see good public ritual in order to learn how to facilitate such events for others.  Just like good school teachers need mentors, so do ritual leaders. To continue the analogy with school teachers, anyone can learn themselves, but we turn to others for guidance.  Good teachers guide their students to be better learners independently.  I feel that modern clergy play a similar role.

Serving the community, teaching others, and helping others on their spiritual path as I improve myself, even without the official designation of clergy, has been an exhausting but fulfilling calling.  I’ve brought people together and created something.  The gratitude others show me for that is incredibly humbling.  I’m constantly reminding the group that we are creating it together, that I simply cannot do this alone.  I am striving to become clergy in ADF, to improve my own skills and knowledge, in order to benefit my community.  Someone has to do it.  Somehow has to step up and organize.  There weren’t any open, active polytheist Druid groups in my new home until I decided to do something about it.  People called to the roll of clergy give their time, energy, and money to bring people together so that others don’t have to feel so alone and isolated.

This latest column from the Wild Hunt, “Where is Community When Illness Strikes,” by Cara Schultz, struck close to home.  It’s a moving account of the author’s struggle with colon cancer and what the experience is like as someone in a minority Pagan faith.  One of my grovemates has been struggling with serious health issues for awhile, and as the group leader, I often find myself mulling over what I can do about that.  What can I do about that?  I continue to pray to Brighid, light candles, and reach out to my friend as often as possible.  I sent her a card after her surgery, maintained contact with her husband, trying to encourage him.  All this across an international border, too!  That border… how easy it would be to bring a casserole to a grovie on this side of the river…  Meanwhile, my job and family keep me very busy.  My education in pedagogy has helped me lead, organize, and teach.  My experience talking and working with others to create engaging experiences has strengthened my ritual skills.  My talents at sewing have helped me make ritual tools to enhance and brighten our celebrations.  I’ve had no training for helping others through difficult times.

Schultz reminds readers why clergy are truly important. It’s not simply that they teach us and help us improve our own skills.  It’s not just that they are good at organizing events and public rituals.  It’s that we need trained people who know how to deal with difficult situations, know how to help people navigate the spiritual implications of divorce, disease, war, death, and environmental destruction.  We need people to schedule rituals for joy, but also to raise the alarm and bring in the best of the best for the most intense rituals of healing, mourning, and transformation.  Official clergy status or not, we need people to delegate to others, figuring out who will make meals and provide childcare for those struggling in our community.  We need people with official clergy status to navigate hoops and red tape to assist our brothers and sisters in the army, in prisons, in hospitals…

The modern Pagan community is maturing, and we need trained clergy.  I’m proud to be a part of an organization working to make that happen.

I feel called to serve my people, and my lack of training in these difficult areas scares the heck out of me, yet I move forward, heeding the call. I can’t specialize in everything, of course, but I’m ready to learn and try to help people like me when they feel like they can’t help themselves. I often feel that I can’t do enough because of work or family obligations, but small steps in the right direction are better than hoping someone else will do it. I hope someone will be there for me in times of spiritual distress.

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An experimental quilt and applique piece I made for a friend and grovie, April, while she was going through a difficult time.  She had lost access to her altars, and I made this to represent the Three Hallows until she regained access.  Craft and Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

I sometimes fret that I’m not as prolific as I used to be. My Druid studies have slowed down, for sure, but my crafting has as well! I often lament how I don’t get to flex my artisan muscles the way I used to now that I’m so often occupied with a little one. I used to sell my one of a kind art dolls at local shows. I never made a ton of money, but it was enough to keep up with my hobby. The positive feedback from customers really raised my spirits and kept me going, pushing me to work harder at expressing my vision of the Three Kindreds.

I recently vented about just that, more or less, to another talented mama.  When I got home, after having dinner, I got to work on a going-away gift for a grovie.  It was a simple craft, one that would not take days to complete.  Most of my work is like that these days, with the exception of the quilt I made for the recent baby saining.  I realized that most of my work these days become gifts to family members, ritual objects for myself or my protogrove, or gifts for grovies – my spiritual family.  The later is just another way that I give of myself to uplift my community.  My grovies give so much of themselves to help our protogrove flourish – I love to give back to them.  Until I started to think about this topic, I didn’t realize how much effort I put into perfecting my crafts to benefit my spiritual family.  Here are some of the recent pieces I’ve made for my tribe.



A needlepoint experiment that came out very well!  I made this for Tan to remind her that she has the strength of a battle Goddess!  Photo and craft by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.



My latest needlepoint – a gift for a grovie moving away after he retires from the army.  That’s honestly the hardest part of having a Pagan group near a military base… Jacob will be missed!  I included a very meaningful quote from one of our favorite chants.  I’m happy with the needlework but I think I could have done a better job gluing it into the frame.  I hope he doesn’t mind!  Photo and craft by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.




A felt Goddess ornament I made for our last Winter Solstice gift exchange.  She went home with Andrew.  She was a first foray into needlepoint.  Craft and Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016



Although I haven’t had a chance to make the more complex dolls I used to sell at craft shows, I continue to make smaller, simpler versions for altars or children.  I made this girl gnome as a baby shower gift for Cassandra’s little one.  Very simple, mostly because she needed to be free of choking hazards, but also very satisfying!  Photo and craft by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

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The beautiful silver charm and box created by our talented Tan.  Also pictured is the beeswax candle used in the blessing.  Photo by Cassandra, 2016.

About six months ago, I performed my first Mother Blessing for my friend and grovemate Cassandra.  During my protogrove’s Spring Equinox rite, I had the honor and pleasure of leading a baby blessing, or saining, for the bundle of joy who arrived around Imbolc.  I performed the blessing as one of our magical workings.  It was largely inspired and informed by the saining Rev. Skip Ellison performed for my daughter.

I blessed the baby in the name of the Kindreds – by fire, well, and tree.  As I recited the prayer, I circled the child, held by her mother, with a beeswax candle.  Then placed some of our blessed water upon the baby with a silver charm handmade by one of our grove artisans, Tan.  Next, I placed my oaken wand against the child.  Finally, as I recited a translated charm from Carmina Gadelica (page 192 from the CJ Moore edition), I sprinkled the baby three times with “wavelets” from our holy well. This resulted in much squirming from the wee one, and chuckling from the circle of onlookers.

Next I presented the child and mother with a quilt the protogrove put together.  Secretly, I reached out to our members near and far, asking for bits of fabric representing the baby, her family, and protection.  I received such a variety, and some of the personality of the group came through.  I practiced using my growing needlepoint skills, Bee scribbled on some with fabric marker, there were fluffy foxes, whimsical owls, fireflies, spirals, a Goddess symbol, and several runes.  It was the biggest thing I’ve ever quilted, and although it challenged me, I’m quite pleased with how it turned out!  We passed it around the circle, touching in and putting our love into the blanket.  Charged with care and protection, it represents the safety, love, and guidance of the community.  Muin Mound presented a similar quilt to my daughter at her saining, and I loved the idea of a communal quilt as a sacred object – a child’s first magical tool.  When feeling sad or scared, the child can wrap up in the blanket and feel the support pour in.  As my protogrove grows, we develop our own special traditions.

After taking an omen for the child, I moved on to thank the Kindreds.  I don’t think I planned the end of the working all that well, but my grovemate seemed moved and very happy with the working.  Perhaps I should have some sort of musical signal, or a final exclamation?  I also wish I had thought to set aside a special chair ahead of time, as I had to awkwardly find one right before initiating the magical working.  As always, I’m growing and learning as I go along!  Serving my community is such an honor.  There’s definitely a pressure in that I want to do it to the best of my abilities, but it’s extremely fulfilling.

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The Brighid doll I made for my protogrove.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

Many of us associate Imbolc with milk in part because, as tradition has it, the holiday falls when the sheep in Ireland are lactating.  As a result, a favorite family activity in many Pagan households is making butter, and many of us offer cow, sheep, or goat milk to Brighid.

Since becoming a mother, I’ve found myself reflecting on the milk my body produces.  Brighid has connections to motherhood and midwifery, too, and as someone who already looked to Brighid with gratitude for inspiration and warmth, I naturally embraced this other side of her.  Every year since giving birth to Bee, Imbolc is a special time for me to reflect on my ability to produce nourishment for my little one*.

Meditating on the magic of lactation took a new direction this Imbolc as I readied my Hygeia breast pump for a friend, protogrove mate, and new mama to use!  I was so happy to share this pump.  I bought it in part because it’s one of the few in the market that is meant to be shared; one of the few that is FDA approved to be shared (provided each person using buy replacement flanges and such).  I realized that this same woman watched me openly breastfeed my daughter at every protogrove event.  Part of my ability to do that was the encouragement my previous grove gave me, and their openness in letting me nurse without covering up.  It also came from watching a coven-mate nurse her daughter back from my days in an eclectic circle.  I brought that behavior to my own protogrove, and everyone was very supportive, especially members who had had children before our founding. We worked to normalize the behavior in our group and emphasize that it was natural and beautiful.  The menfolk showed their support, too, and never showed any discomfort.  In fact, I know they would all stand up for me if someone tried to tell me I should cover up.

At our last Imbolc rite, I witnessed my friend breastfeed her little one.  My daughter saw it, as did the other children.  They will grow up knowing it’s normal.  In fact, as you can read in the article I linked below, part of why so many new mothers struggle with breastfeeding is that they’ve never seen it before!  Think about it.  As children, we learn so much through imitation.  Naturally, people are reluctant to try things they’ve never seen, and many are discouraged when first attempts don’t succeed.  This is why creating a positive, nurturing environment for families is so important, and that includes mothers, fathers, doulas, lactation consultants, and midwives.

Breastfeeding has become part of my grove’s culture, and seeing my friend nurse so openly as well made it feel very communal.  I truly feel that each time mothers nurse in front of others, especially women and girls, or each time we stand up for the rights of a mother to nurse, we take on the role of the midwife in some way, birthing a new generation of nurturing people.

For more info on breastfeeding: http://www.mothering.com/articles/natural-breastfeeding/

*Yes, I’m still breastfeeding!  Going for the natural weaning approach because it works for my family.

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