Tag Archives: Harry Potter books

Harry Potter and the Joyful Child, Part 3: A midlife paradox

To read the first two parts of the Joyful Child series, CLICK below:

The Sun, the Saturn Cycle, Harry Potter – and the Joyful Child

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Part Three

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The Sun God  - spark of immortality

The Sun God – spark of immortality

http://www.maverickscience.com/saturn.htm

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Point of entry

From the Saturn return at 29-30 onwards, the major underlying task changes: from discovering the overall shape of who you are in relation to your own life, to beginning to use the platform you have built as support in offering your unique contribution to the wider world.

By this stage, the balance achieved between necessary realism and the joyous, inspirational, creative aspects of life is crucial to how the next 15 years unfold. The poet Dylan Thomas senses and honours the presence of the child he was,  in his marvellous

“Poem in October”, written on his thirtieth birthday:

“ And I saw in the turning so clearly a child’s forgotten mornings……where a boy…..whispered the truth of his joy

To the trees and the stones and the fish in the tide.”

 

In the poem’s last verse, he writes

“And the true

Joy of the long dead child sang burning

In the sun.”   (iv)

For Dylan Thomas, as for many poets and even more of us ordinary citizens, being in nature can powerfully evoke that within us which never ages, which rejoices in being alive, and is powerfully connected to the endless cycle of birth, maturation, decline, death and return.

The thirties and forties are decades where a major challenge lies in the grinding process of reality testing our hopes, wishes, dreams and ambitions against the world as it is. Most of us eventually get to the Saturn opposition of the mid-forties: we are still here,  we may still be functioning tolerably well, but we’re not young any more.

Midlife

From the mid-forties on, we only have to look in the mirror, or realise that our idea of a good Friday night  is increasingly of going to bed early, not with a hot lover,  but with a good book, to be aware of the relentless advance of mortality

It becomes harder at this stage for most people to keep in touch with the Joyful Child, keep its energies flowing. For many people, brutalities of  an environmental, political, social or personal nature have borne down so hard that the vital spark of life borne by the Joyful Child can now fuel only the dogged survival instinct.

I have found that one of the compensations of middle age is deeply paradoxical, and was first alerted to it a few years ago by a comment made by my late mother-in-law, then approaching eighty. The way she dealt with an old age full of physical infirmity was inspiring. She had a lively sense of fun and humour, maintained great interest in the wider world as well as that of her own family and friends, and kept up a prodigious correspondence right up to the end of her life.

The Joyful Child in her  was alive right to the end, sustained in her case by a strong, ecumenical religious faith. “You know”, she said,“occasionally when I’m not thinking about anything in particular, I catch sight of my face in the mirror and get an awful shock. I see an old woman’s face looking out at me – but inside I don’t feel old at all – I feel just the same as I did when I was young.

The paradox is this. The body ages to the point where you are faced with increasing physical evidence of the passage of time; but an opportunity can also slowly arise to perceive, with a clarity not possible in youth, that this aging body has been carrying something else through life which is different, ageless, separate from the physical – that spark of immortality which comes in sometime before birth, flying free at physical death.

Thus, as mortality’s approach becomes more and more difficult to ignore, a major compensation can be offered by that  which is clearly immortal becoming more and more evident by contrast.

Midlife can be a depressing time. Vitality declines, children have either flown the nest and you miss them, or have their own problems which can bring yet more responsibility to you at a stage in life where you are tired of being responsible. Careers can pall. Dear friends die. You realise how fleeting life is, and how little of it you have left. But as always, there are choices. The paradox noted above brings a great opportunity for reorientation and renewal.

Increasing trust in the immortal spark within, that Joyful Child which has survived the batterings of life and still retains a sense of the importance of making a creative response, can strengthen existing belief that life continues in some form when the body dies – or help that belief to grow.

Conclusion

I would like to conclude this essay by returning to what I have called the Otherworld, that magical domain which is the natural habitat of the Joyful Child. Its importance was highlighted in the 18 March (2000 – AW) copy of the magazine The Week, where Jolyon Connell was writing about  a current  “golden age for children’s fiction” with reference to an article by S.F. Said. (v). The success of current children’s authors led by Roald Dahl and J.K. Rowling, “owes much to the way they appeal to grown-ups as well as children – and not just for nostalgic reasons.” .

Connell’s observation a decade ago is still very much relevant now. He observed that in those writers one finds good old-fashioned storytelling, strong plots, and that quality which is present in all the best children’s books, but often missing in adult ones, ie a sense of wonder, of  “being alive to the world.”

He concluded by putting forward Said’s view that  many adult readers to their own children are discovering afresh, through the works of  Dahl and Rowling, what great writers have always known: children’s stories can touch “those parts of us that haven’t yet become bored, damaged or embarrassed by existence – and can help those parts that have.”

A prescription for  helping to keep the Joyful  Child alive ? Go and read the Harry Potter books…….. ! Then go check out the latest of the movie series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” –  currently breaking box office records across the world.

References

(iv) “ Poem in October “ from Dylan Thomas Collected Poems 1934-52, Aldine Press, 1972 Edition, pp 96-7

(v) in  The Daily Telegraph, week beginning 13 March 2000. Quoted in The Week, 18 March 2000, p 3.

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To read the first two parts of the Joyful Child series, CLICK below:

The Sun, the Saturn Cycle, Harry Potter – and the Joyful Child

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1100 words copyright Anne Whitaker  2010
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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Harry Potter and the Joyful Child, Part 2: Growing Up

“……..A prescription for helping to keep the Joyful Child alive ? Go and read the Harry Potter books…….. !……”

To read the first part of the Joyful Child series, CLICK below:

The Sun, the Saturn Cycle, Harry Potter – and the Joyful Child

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Part Two

Saturn - welcome to the Real World!

Saturn - welcome to the Real World!

http://www.wordsources.info/saturn.html

Leaving the Otherworld – and meeting Saturn

The advance through adulthood alters one’s perception of what it is to be young. Having been scarred by life as we all are, watching a pre-school child absorbed in play is delightful, but also poignant. Delightful because it demonstrates clearly that there is another world than the one we usually inhabit which is full of deadlines, duties and demands.

This Otherworld is full of goblins and fire engines, magic bubbles and imaginary friends, bright green tigers who speak, and amenable adults happy to give you the keys to the scary castle, where you can spend days of adventure without anyone telling you that it’s impossible for giants to keep a special pocket full of ice cream that never melts, just waiting for you to come and eat it.

Poignant because we  wonder, looking at this absorbed child, how s/he will cope with an adult world whose entry tariff is extracted from the struggle between the fantasy world of childhood where anything is possible, and the reality testing which takes place as we grow and confront the limits which life sets for us.

The 29-30 year Saturn Cycle offers a helpful containing context within which to explore how the Joyful Child within us fares as life’s journey unfolds. There is a case to be made for not starting children at school until the first square of the cycle, at 7-8 years. Five or six, the common age, seems too early to remove children from the Otherworld of play and unbounded imagination. Shakespeare vividly expressed the average child’s response to being dragged from the Otherworld :

“And then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel,
And shining morning face, creeping like a snail
Unwillingly to school.” (ii)

If we did start children at the later age of seven or eight, socially disruptive though that would be in many ways, perhaps it would give more time for the Joyful Child’s domain to become established. Thus  it might be easier for the growing person to retain contact with the Otherworld as a source of inspiration throughout life.

As we step across the boundary of family from the time of starting school at age five, through to the first Saturn square at 7/8 years of age, the Joyful Child begins to hide; its energy becomes redirected as we become more aware of ourselves in relation to what the outer world expects. By and large, that outer world is more interested in us being able to tie our shoelaces, read, tell the time, and be truthful, than it is in knowing what a wonderful chat we had in Chinese last night with the  bright green tiger who sleeps under our bed.

Early adulthood

The first Saturn opposition at 14/ 15 years is the point where we take bigger steps out of family, begin to challenge parental authority,  and move towards greater identification with the peer group. The need to play and daydream which is fundamental to the Joyful Child’s world, and the creative energy fuelling these activities, gets sublimated further at this point.

It channels into the pursuit of achievement of an academic or vocational nature, and exploration of the  exciting, troubling world of relationship and emerging sexuality  as bodily changes propel the young person towards physical adulthood. The Joyful Child’s impetus towards discovery and exploration of the new, engages in a complex dance with the tough realities also emerging. Too much time spent playing, not enough on taking responsibility, can have a high emotional cost, eg exam failure or unwanted pregnancy.

The waning square at 21/2  years brings with it the world’s expectation that we should begin to assume adult responsibility, get a job if we’ve been studying for years – get serious. Many people marry or enter into long-term partnerships at this stage, perhaps out of unconscious fear of facing the adult world and its responsibilities alone.

I have gained the impression from my varied professional work with people of differing ages over a  long period of time, that part of the vulnerability of this life stage comes from a realisation that childhood is, indeed, over.

Recently I came across a scrapbook of newspaper cuttings from a column I wrote in my early twenties. In it was a piece called “Thoughts on Childhood” which supports the view  just expressed :

“ I am close enough to childhood for my memories still to be clear and reasonably untainted by the rosy hues of nostalgia, although I realise now that as soon as we have ceased to be children, the world of childhood becomes a closed world to us, one which we can never recapture except through flashes of memory and watching our own children grow up. As adults, no matter how hard we wish to recapture the feeling of childhood, we must always remain

‘ watchers by the threshold.’ ” (iii)

This is a critical age. Engaging with the world as it actually is, challenges the emerging individual’s capacity to retain that spark of vital creative energy which ensures that the Joyful Child is not stifled: it has been curbed by now, knows that much of the time it’s not safe to be too overt.

But it is important that the rechannelled  energy continues to flow. It can express itself in passionate commitment to a career, as opposed to working purely to provide life’s necessities. It can manifest through joy in good friends, or absorbing hobbies and interests outwith work. For some people, early parenthood brings, along with responsibility, the opportunity to view the world again through the eyes of their growing children.

There is also a direct route for expression through the sheer animal vitality of youth, which all by itself can make life feel worth living. I recall a middle-aged male friend of mine’s recent comment on seeing a young man running effortlessly up several flights of stairs recently, not because he had to,  just because he could. “I can’t do that any more – my back’s too bad !” he remarked. “It made me feel wistful, reminded me of the youthful grace and energy  which I once had.”

References

(ii) “As You  Like It ”: (1599) act 2, sc 7, l 139, The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, 1999 Edition, p 658, par 26
(iii) “Thoughts on Childhood” from Personally Speaking column, Stornoway Gazette, September 1970

TO BE CONTINUED……Part Three follows shortly….

To read the first part of the Joyful Child series, CLICK below:

The Sun, the Saturn Cycle, Harry Potter – and the Joyful Child

 

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1000 words copyright Anne Whitaker  2010
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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Harry Potter and the Joyful Child, Part 1: the Sun – and Saturn

“……..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!

The Sun

The Sun

A Celebration of the Joyful Child

“…..he who kisses the joy as it flies

Lives in Eternity’s sunrise.”  (1)

Introduction

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?

Prometheus - the bringer of fire to humans

Prometheus - the bringer of fire to humans

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…….

References

(i) William Blake MS Note-Book, The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, 1999 Edition, p 120, par 8

TO BE CONTINUED……Part 2 follows shortly…..

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850 words copyright Anne Whitaker  2010
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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