Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Building Bridges: A World Religions Program for 8th-9th Grades

Activity 4: Story - The Goddess and the God

Activity time: 30 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Read the story so you will be comfortable presenting it.
  • Print Leader Resource 3. Enlarge it to make a poster, or draw the wheel on a sheet of newsprint.
  • Copy Handout 2 for all participants.
  • Optional: Consider inviting a guest musician to teach Hymn 73 in Singing the Living Tradition, "Chant for the Seasons." This would be a simple way to involve congregational adults with the group.

Description of Activity

Youth learn about the Wheel of the Year.

Part One (10 minutes)

Hold up the Wheel of the Year poster or newsprint you made from Leader Resource 3. Say:

This is the Pagan Wheel of the Year. The holy days on the wheel are celebrated by most Wiccans and Neo-Pagans. They are part of the Celtic tradition. Each point on the wheel corresponds to a holy day, which corresponds to changes in the earth. You will see there is a holy day about every six weeks. Did you know that the holy days also correspond to a grand story, a story about a goddess and a god?

Tell or read the story. Ask participants for their initial reactions: What did they think of the story?

Lead a discussion with these questions:

  • Where have you heard of the Wheel of the Year before this story?
  • Let's name the eight holy days mentioned in the story. Do you celebrate any of the eight sacred days? Which ones, and how?
  • Some religions, particularly Christianity, set their holidays on the same days as pre-existing Pagan holy days. Can you identify any of those from the story?
  • What items or traditions in the story are in our culture today?

Part Two (10 minutes)

Distribute paper and writing implements. Ask participants to pick a day that appeals to them, out of the eight, write it across the top of their paper, and then list ways this holiday is or could be celebrated. Encourage them to be creative. What would they do at home? Publicly? With friends or family? Privately? What would they eat or drink that symbolizes the holiday? What music would be appropriate? Would they dress differently? Let participants work for five minutes. Invite them to share their ideas with the group.

Part Three (10 minutes)

Show the group our hymnbook, Singing the Living Tradition and the hymnbook supplement, Singing the Journey. Say there are several songs in our hymnbooks that celebrate earth-centered traditions, some based on Native American chants and prayers, for example, in Singing the Journey, Hymn 1069, "Ancient Mother " and Hymn 1070, "Mother I Feel You." Note that when we borrow from another culture, we need to be respectful. This means crediting the source and acknowledging that what a song means to you is not necessarily the same as what it may mean to someone from the original culture. You need to be careful to not pretend to be Native American, for example.

Hymn 73 in Singing the Living Tradition, "Chant for the Seasons," uses a Czech melody, but the words and arrangement are Unitarian Universalist. Teach the song or, if you have a guest musician, invite them to teach the song.