In our increasingly tech driven world, a childhood interest in all things magical is a wonderful opportunity to encourage more time in nature and help kindle a passion and love for the natural world. Whether it’s an interest in plants and gardening, saving the environment or a sparking off a lifelong love of bush walking as a way to keep fit and healthy, encouraging nature play with your little witch or wizard is both rewarding and fun.
How magic has helped to shape our world
Magic isn’t just about Harry Potter, the gods of Asgard and Neil Gaiman books, it’s helped to shape and influence our lives in some very important ways.
The mysterious practices of alchemists may never have successfully transmuted lead into gold but they pretty much paved the way for modern chemistry by developing procedures and equipment for working with, experimenting and studying elements and compounds.
Ancient treatises on herbal medicine are some of the earliest books with information on botanical classification and plant identification. Many of the herbal remedies used by the wise women of Europe have been developed into modern life saving medicines such as aspirin.
If your child is going through a ‘magic’ phase, try not to discourage it by making it out to be silly or make believe. Turn it into a fun filled and fantastical journey exploring the magic and the mystery of the natural world instead.
Here are some ideas for bringing nature into focus for kids who are into witchcraft or magic inspired games, books and movies.
The knowledge tree
“Oh knowledge tree, both wise and old
Oh knowledge tree, may I be so bold
Whisper to me the secrets you hold
The mysteries your rings of bark foretold”
Organise a walk along a walking track through State Forrest or National Park in order to find the Knowledge Tree. The Knowledge Tree is a bit like a hard drive in that it stores all of the information and secrets that trees hear on the wind, feel within the earth amongst their roots or see with leaves and bark. Decide what type of tree the knowledge tree is most likely to be and do a little research online together about the tree before your walk. Is it a massive rainforest fig tree with its gnarled roots and branches or a tall, straight and magnificent gum?
When you find your Knowledge Tree, make up a magical spell in the form of a rhyme asking the tree to share its secrets with you. What things could the knowledge tree tell you? What has it seen change in the last hundred or even few hundred years? What is recorded within the rings of its trunk? You could take photos of your Knowledge Tree and start a knowledge scrap book.
Strawberry penicillin to save the fairy princess
Word in the garden is that the fairy princess is sick and the fairy queen must find some strawberry penicillin to cure her.
Can you help cure the fairy princess by making her some strawberry penicillin? Leave some strawberries to grow a nice coat of mould over them then leave the strawberry penicillin out in the garden with a note to the fairy queen that contains instructions on how to give the medicine to the fairy princess. You might like to create a ring of white stones around the plate so that fairies don’t miss it.
As part of this creative and fun exercise in helping the garden fairies you can also research with your child the history of life saving human penicillin.
Witches or apothecary garden
Visit your local plant nursery and buy a few pots of kitchen herbs such as rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage and lavender. Plant them in the garden or leave them in their pots on a sunny window sill.
Make a tea from each of the herbs to experience their unique scent and taste. What magical ailments could be cured with the herbal teas? Make some crazy cures up together or spend some time researching to see if you can use them for simple things like a headache, an upset tummy, creating happy dreams or as a tonic for when feeling a bit tired.
It’s important to emphasise with your child that they should never make teas from or eat the leaves of any plant unless they have received the OK from a knowledgeable adult.
A career path for little witches and wizards
Encouraging a love of magic and mystery not only helps to build active imaginations, it can also help create a lifelong love of nature and investigation into the natural world. And, you never know, the cure for cancer may very well come from a potent chemical extracted from a rare and mysterious plant found deep within the Amazon jungle, discovered by a chemist and adventurer who was raised on tales of magic. A career in chemistry, science, medicine, ecology, biology or natural medicine may await your little witch or wizard.