“……..A prescription for helping to keep the Joyful Child alive ? Go and read the Harry Potter books…….. !……”
Last week saw a tidal wave of Pottermania sweeping across the Western world once again as “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” hit the silver screen on 19.11.2010. Coincidentally that week I came across Issue 5 of Apollon, the Journal of Psychological Astrology, in which an essay of mine, inspired by the Harry Potter books, was published ten years ago –not long before the first Harry Potter film sprinkled its magic over the world in November 2001.
I thought this would be good timing, therefore, for giving the slightly edited and updated essay another airing – just to keep Harry Potter and his friends company in the blogosphere!
A Celebration of the Joyful Child
“…..he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in Eternity’s sunrise.” (1)
Twice in the year, in February and July, I used to go on retreat for a week to the Orkneys, a storm-tossed scattering of green, fertile islands between the far North of Scotland and Scandinavia. It was an eagerly anticipated treat: hotel living and no domestic responsibility, surrounded by the sea and an ever-changing panorama of skies which are an artist’s dream.
An enjoyable evening during this February week ten years ago was spent visiting old friends: one a distinguished pillar of the local community, still vital in his eighties, the other an extremely witty, erudite Sheriff in his sixties. We had a splendid time – talking politics, learning about local history, indulging in that favourite island pastime of storytelling; having a good laugh.
Our stepping outside to return to the hotel revealed a magical night – thick snow floating down in the still, cold air, trees blanketed, ground covered. I couldn’t resist it. Making a few snowballs, I threw them at a tree at the far end of the garden. Pretty good aim still! The Sheriff and my husband joined in – three middle aged folk, happily hurling snowballs around like a bunch of six year olds. We strolled back to the hotel, feeling very cheerful. “That kid in you is still alive and well, isn’t she?!” my husband remarked. I realised that she was, and felt so grateful for it.
Defining the Child
A great deal has been written in recent years about the Inner Child, so much so that a whole branch of the therapy industry has grown out of it, along with inner child workbooks, weekend workshops, etc. The emphasis tends to be on the wounded, vulnerable Inner Child carried to a greater or lesser extent by all adults; the focus, on attempting to heal that injured aspect.
Having been asked to write about The Child, and having reflected on the topic for some weeks, I wanted to celebrate the spontaneous, resilient, Joyful Child within all of us, explore how it fares as we mature. If we are lucky, this part manages to survive the batterings, brutalities and tragedies of existence, continuing to provide inspiration and faith that life is worth living.
Who, exactly, is this Child?
The basic stuff of which s/he is made is the element of fire, that which the gods prized so much they wanted to keep to themselves. But Prometheus stole some, hidden in a fennel stalk, and gave it to us. He was savagely punished for his misdemeanor – but ever since, we humans have had at least one chip of that magical, divine substance lodged in us. Everyone has some: some people have too little, others have too much.
What is it?
It’s the spark of divine light, that which tells us we are special and immortal, that we’re here for a reason, that our lives have a purpose, that we have a future worth seeking out. It fuels wonder, injects the passion of inquiry into mere curiosity, causes learning and exploration to be a joyful end in themselves.
It gives the capacity to look out at the world with a fresh set of eyes, take pleasure at what’s there because it’s new, exciting. It brings spontaneity and the gift of laughter. It fuels play, which is at the core of a response to life which is fundamentally creative and imaginative.
It is highly protective and supportive of life, especially when the going is rough, giving the hope that things will get better. It enables tough times to be survived through the unquenchable belief that suffering may be awful, and protracted – but it means something, it is not just the random brutality of quixotic gods, or fate.
It brings the capacity in extremis to laugh at the sheer absurdity of life, and oneself. This capacity can drag one out from under the worst of times for just long enough to reaffirm that life, despite everything, is worth living.
The precious creature formed from such magical substance never grows up in the sense of assuming worldly responsibilities, and never gives up on life’s possibilities and delights. It cannot be ordered forth – just appears, then disappears: will o’the wisp…….
(i) William Blake MS Note-Book, The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, 1999 Edition, p 120, par 8
TO BE CONTINUED……Part 2 follows shortly…..
850 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2010
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