As has been touched on before in previous articles, children, much like elders, are closer to the Ancestors than adults in their peak of life. Unlike elders though, they are newer to the physical realm where time and space matter more, and have yet to form themselves fully psychologically and physically. A soul does not have a brain the way that a physical body does. It is like a shard of the Consciousness. So it is vulnerable to spiritual and energetic influences that seek to affect its temporal home’s psyche.
Some of these may be very positive, and some what people call negative, but I prefer to think of as damaging. There is a difference between something unpleasant and something damaging. Negative is too broad a term. So I like to make a distinction.
Those of us who have been particularly sensitive since childhood remember visitors from other realms normally unseen. Some may have been quite frightening. If we had the good fortune of spiritually aware family and friends, this time of uncontrolled vision was made easier for us. We were taught how to tell who to welcome and who to banish, and were given and helped to make tools for protection.
Infancy and Early Childhood
First things first though, if you can, you should be an “attachment parent” as far as sleeping arrangements. Have a sleeping room where people sleep, and an intimacy room where you and your partner have privacy. It takes the same number of rooms to have your bedroom and a nursery, so space is not an issue. As the child grows out of infancy, you can spend more nights in the other room. Eventually, the sleeping room will become the child’s bedroom. Cleanse and mark the sleeping room with symbols of protection.
Eshu is a well known and well loved protector of children. So if you are already observant, you should go to him about this first. Just be aware that Eshu may aid your child in a fair bit of mischief, but this is just a part of their forming their own personal relationship with him. Be prepared for him to get them into a little trouble here and there, and do not coddle them when they do wrong, but be mindful of the lines between discipline and abuse of power. Part of what Eshu is doing is teaching them and teaching us, and preventing us from allowing ourselves to be negligent or overly harsh even when we are tired or frustrated. The same way he helps keep us adults in line, he helps to teach the child about Nature, boundaries, and self discipline.
If you can’t manage a sleeping room situation, then you should find a cat who would make a suitable guardian while the child is sleeping. Shop around your neighborhood and shelters, and make sure they have the right spirit for the job. You want the protective Bastet sort of cat who is very fit and very affectionate, but not overly lazy. They can be male or female, but I personally have found more guardian types among male cats. You must train them not to spray in the child’s room, but you will fail to catch them at least once, and this is okay. Don’t tell them it was okay, but understand for yourself that this is not the end of the world. Clean it so that there are no bad microbes or human-detectable smell, but understand this is just the cat’s way of saying this area is under his protection. Scroll down for how exactly to ensure your cat is aligned with Bastet, or how to attract this energy if allergies prevent you from having an actual cat in your home.
Since you are calling Bastet, you should also have Bes. Taueret is also a protector of children, and you can honor her as a general home protection Goddess as well. By the way, you are not limited to these. Many traditions have home and child protection deities. These are just examples, but exemplary of what sort of energy you want around.
While you are pregnant or in the process of adoption, the motherer should mark their belly with runes or symbols of protection. This can be done with consecrated water, if one does not wish them to be visible.
You can make fetishes from some of the child’s stuffed animals. Just make sure to sew them back together very securely, and only implant guardians who specifically look after children, and don’t mind their fetishes being “abused” a bit.
Dreamcatchers are good for children’s bedrooms, but take the time to get a real one. Though they are used by multiple tribes, they are not so universal as to have the same effectiveness no matter who makes them. Also, look into your own local and ancestral traditions for child and sleep time protection items. Every culture had them at one point.
Caraway seeds are a well known herb of protection for children. Make a pillow with them for your baby.
Try not to have electric things running in the room at night. Most spiritually sensitive people are also electromagnetically sensitive. A night light might seem like a good idea, but we really need darkness and clear air when we sleep. Our circadian rhythms are important in staying in sync with the natural world. Power off rather than putting things on standby. Unplug everything you can. If you need an alarm clock, use a mechanical one or put it well away from where your child’s head would be.
Remember though, that there is such a thing as over protection. You don’t want to make a spiritually unfriendly room, just a safe room where the child doesn’t feel alone, and can develop without becoming afraid of spirituality.
Early Childhood to the Teens
This is a time when the child is learning customs, traditions, and appropriate and inappropriate behavior. One should also be teaching them to be more proactive in protection and maintaining their own, as well as family and friends’ wellbeing.
Through crafts, you can teach them how to make basic protection amulets. They can be made from paper, play clay, felt, beads, and many other materials. Make it fun for them.
On the one hand, you don’t want to impose your beliefs on them, but on the other, you don’t want to leave them without defenses. It is important that they know to defend themselves spiritually and psychologically, not just physically.
By the teens, many begin to dabble in spellwork already. During this time in a person’s life, they need to begin to handle some adult situations. So they may need more protection for specific things. It is a time to not get too deep in their business, but make sure they have access to information, and that you are there for guidance.
Calling Bastet As a Protector
In ancient Kemet, there was a big organized religion to facilitate the worship of Bastet and Bes, but today, most of us are on our own. So please remember that if Bastet and Bes are part of your pantheon, they should be a part of your ritual schedule as well. To make a set of Bastet and Bes fetishes for child protection, you will need a statue of a cat and a statue of a dwarf. If you can’t find any representations of little people that aren’t overly ableist, have one crafted or use an image of a short person you admire. Many things were permitted in the past, but would be inappropriate today, so where a Bes statue would be empowering, too many representations of short people are disrespectful.
A side note before we begin, please do not take the respectful melding of Yoruba and Kemetic deities and practices as an endorsement of haphazard mixing of pantheons. This particular combination is allowable only because the origin of Odudua, considered the father of the Yoruba and many other west African nations, is Kemet. There were a few migrations from east to west Africa before, during, and after the pharonic dynasties, and Odudua’s family was in one of the first. This is where the 10,000 years unbroken line thing comes from. These ceremonies should be done respectfully with reverence. If you are bringing in a different set of deities, make sure they all match well. If you’re unsure, ask a traditional practitioner or the closest you can find in the deities’ cultures of origin.
If you are an adherent of a west or central African or diaspora belief system, you will need to make a packet of “organs” for your fetishes, with at least a brain and a heart since they are going to be physical realm bridged guardians. You will also need a cat food bowl for your Bastet, and a copper cup or bowl for wine or liquor for your Bes.
- Call Eshu or your Gatekeeper by another name, to open the way for your offerings and requests to be taken to Bastet and Bes, while giving him incense.
- Place a good portion of myrrh incense on the burner, and ask that Bastet and Bes protect your child, and imbue your fetishes with life of their kind to be guardians for your child.
- Pass the statues, and their organ packets through the smoke.
- Insert the packets, and pass them through again, saying what your tradition requires like, “Breathe, child of Bastet, and please protect my children.” It is important to say please.
- Place the guardians outside, and put the cat food bowl in front of Bastet, and the cup for wine in front of Bes. If you do not have a safe place to do this, place them at the nearest crossroads that is low traffic, but add an Eshu or Gatekeeper fetish to look after them. It is important that cats have access to your Bastet, and that the air or soil around be able to evaporate or suck up the wine in your Bes cup.
- Put some cat food in the bowl, and some wine in the cup. Ask that any creatures who come to eat there, renew the fetishes’ energy.
- Return to your altar or working area, and close the ritual by thanking the deities for their presence and protection.
- Give small offerings weekly or monthly, or a major offering in which you basically make a party for the neighborhood cats, and give a bottle of fine wine or liquor to Bes once a year.
Remember, traditions vary, but these are the basics. You can do this for your children until menarche or first emission. Then is is probably best for them to “graduate” to the care of Taueret.