Introducing my baby to the elements part 2: more on working with earth

In part one I talked about how I introduced my baby to the element of Earth for the first time. Here I want to talk about some of the ways that we work with the concept of Earth on a day to day basis with a young baby.

One of the most important things I do with my baby is take her out virtually every day in my local area. There are a few places in particular that are important to us and which lend themselves to an ongoing study of the changes that occur in the natural environment. I want to instil in my daughter a sense of presence. By this I mean that I hope to encourage her to be present with what is happening in both her internal and external worlds. Through regularly checking in with the changes that are happening in our favourite local places we are working towards this. As we walk I talk to her about what has changed since we were last in that place. Right now the main changes are the budding of the trees, the herbs growing in the Abbey herb garden, the early spring flowers withering away, bulbs hidden in the earth until next spring.

There are certain spots that we often stop at and where we simply sit, more often than not without speaking using all of our senses to be present with what is happening in that place. Sometimes I talk a little to Berry about sounds, scents and so on. We stop to touch the bark of a tree or to feel the petals of a flower. We sit directly on the ground so that we can feel the earth beneath us and explore the world from this alternative perspective. I talk to her about earth spirits in a very simple way. So I read to her from classic Flower Fairy books and when we spot something we read about i tell her we might just meet the fairy there. We have a selection of these books. They have songs of all kinds of fairies, some seasonal so that we have just been reading the Songs of the Spring Fairies, others according to plant type such as the tree fairies or environment such as Songs of the Hedgerow Fairies. I thoroughly recommend these books to any family wanting to begin teaching about nature spirits. They are great for fostering a magical world view, are beautifully illustrated and also happen to contain a lot of wisdom about how the plants were used by our ancestors.

An awareness of her body is also an important part in understanding the concept of earth. After all, we generally understand our bodies to be physical, flesh and bone. We began doing baby yoga with Berry when she was just a few weeks old and we use songs to go along with actions. She knows the link between actions and song now and often expresses a sense of anticipation when we start singing a song she recognises. Her familiarity with our yoga practice means that she is aware of the body parts involved. We also sing songs such as Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes that involve physical actions. Through interacting with other people and with age appropriate toys she is learning how her body fits in with what is around her and is developing spatial awareness and physical coordination. She spends the little time in the day when she is not being carried or held mostly one floor. We have a number of daily practices that also address her inner world. I will write about these in separate posts but these include simple visualisation and meditation.

We also know that the bodies of our ancestors have been shown to carry an imprint of where we came from based upon what they ate, linking them to the earth of their locality in a very real sense. It seems unlikely that this will be true of us given our tendency to travel internationally and our disconnection from the source of our food. So in our family we base what we eat on whole foods, preparing meals from scratch from proper ingredients and avoiding processed goods. We eat organic and local where possible and this in turn means that we tend to eat what is seasonal. Berry at twelve weeks old isn’t yet eating but the food I eat reaches her via my breastmilk so eating well is so important to her health and development. We already involve her in mealtimes as much as possible so she sits in her chair in the kitchen while we prepare food, talking to her about what we are using and she sits around the table with us whilst we eat.

I will come back to the element of earth again in a few months and write about how we continue to explore this element as her developmental stage shifts from a babe in arms to a little explorer. Next time I will be sharing some of the ways we work with the element of water. You can follow me on Facebook at Barefoot Mama


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