1. TRAILING CLOUDS OF GLORY
About the years 0 - 7
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting; The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star, Hath had elsewhere its setting And cometh from afar; Not in entire forgetfulness, And not in utter nakedness, But trailing clouds of glory do we come From God, who is our home.
Wordsworth the poet has captured it. That’s how we arrive on earth. And those clouds of glory open a mother’s heart in readiness, even while we are in the womb. There our brain is being imprinted with the potential we need for our spiritual development, based on the spiritual blueprint our spirit gave to our soul. It’s important that we are loved.
Our dramatic birth into the physical world involves the first experience of taking in air, abrupt, sharp noises, light, unexpected faces and strange objects. It’s a shock after the intimate relationship with the mother during our womb life, held close and bathed in the warm amniotic fluid, communicating through our mother’s rhythmic heartbeat which is the foundation of language.
Today there has been a return to understanding the impact of a baby’s first intense earthly encounter. It has become a healthy practice to place the newborn on the mother’s chest, rather than whisking baby away. In the first three months it’s important to keep this new being as close as possible to a familiar enfolding adult, generally the mother. Cuddling, rhythmic rocking, a human voice softly singing will assist the transition into this unfamiliar world.
Much of this kind of information about the life journey is practical, wise and self-evident. The inclusion of our soul-spirit connection adds a potent dimension.
Look into the eyes of a new baby. There’s a fathomless gaze still directed to the heavens the soul has just left. My teacher Mario Schoenmaker observed stars in the newborn’s aura through his clairvoyant perception. The real reason behind infant baptism is to make sure these ‘stars’ are retained longer. For they reveal a baby’s connection with the spiritual realms.
It takes time for the soul to settle in the body and we can observe a change in the baby’s eyes when it happens. This is when the soul brings forth a life of its own. And this soul must grow into the physical body it has chosen. Gradually our individual human spirit that belongs in the spiritual world becomes accustomed to this material realm and the newly acquired physical body.
How the moon governs this cycle
The first seven-year period is known as the moon cycle. The feminine and the home are ruled by the moon, hence the importance of these factors for the child. The feminine archetype represents the nurturing, receptive attributes of both males and females. It is good for all those surrounding the small child to let these flow.
We can learn much of what the child needs in this stage by looking at the qualities of the moon. It reflects and the child also is a reflector. Little ones take on board all that occurs around them. They are like sponges and learn mainly by imitation. This is especially the case in the early part of this 0-7 cycle when there is no ability to discern or choose. Adults around youngsters need to be watchful about what the children are imitating!
The moon forces are the formative forces, those of growth. In the first seven years of a child’s life the physical body is being built up and the child is learning to function in the physical world.
What we call ‘childhood illnesses’ are often followed by a growth spurt or developmental jump. These are formative influences and represent the soul’s need to impress itself upon the body. As long as they are not life threatening, it’s fine to let them run their course.
The physical body changes radically during these years. At birth the head is proportionally the largest part of the body. The activity of the life forces is focused there. Then gradually this life in the head extends to take control in areas such body functions, temperature, energy control, and use of the limbs. Once for fun I lay beside my three-month-old son and copied his kicks and thrusts. What a lot of energy it took! He was ‘working’ so hard. After I’d had enough, he was still going strong. Especially during the first three years, children typically learn much of what is needed to function physically, dealing with gravity, gaining the strength and balance to sit, crawl, stand, walk and run. As well they learn to feed and wash and handle bodily excretions.
The metabolic system, the circulatory system, the heart, the lungs and breathing are also being built up. These internal functions are rhythmic in nature. In this context rhythmic activities like bouncing, repetitive rhymes and songs continue to be beneficial and assist organ development. You may have observed how toddlers respond to rhythmic music. Some rhythms are beneficial; others are not. A heavy base downward beat (nicknamed ‘doof-doof’) can disturb those sensitive inner functions. A light, bouncy ‘up’ rhythm, such as waltzes or Abba, invigorate the metabolism. My daughter’s favourite as a toddler was a mandolin concerto by Vivaldi.
In the area of physical signifiers, we sometimes see forced development at odds with the impulses of spirit. Sleep patterns, feeding patterns, growth rate, learning to stand, walk and talk are an unfolding, rather than prescribed formulae and shouldn’t be pushed. The child must be free to master their physical skills without interference, although parents’ delight at their child’s accomplishments will provide encouragement and confidence.
Here I am!
The development of speech is perhaps the most significant aspect of this cycle. It is the first obvious sign distinguishing the human being. Children learn to speak in different ways. Some experiment, coming up with much childhood ‘babble’ until words form. That was my daughter. I worried that my son didn’t do the same, until he surprised us with clear connected sentences at nearly two years. Speech comes when the child is ready. No need to force it. Parents can encourage their child, communicating by chatting, naming, active word games and stories.
Young children, if allowed, reach a very definite stage before they use the word ‘I’. They identify as ‘me’ or by their name – ‘me play outside’, ‘Annie’s doll’. It’s best to let them be. Correcting their phrases with ‘I’ before they are ready is one cause of lifelong wilfulness. Between the ages of two and three most children begin to get a real sense of ‘I’. The spirit is active as we see the first clear recognition of self in relation to others. Expect some stubbornness and obstinacy. This is natural as the little child comes to terms with this amazing fact that they are unique and separate.
With a young child we should keep all the energies directed towards physical development. Leave conceptualisation until later. Using formal processes to make children learn to read, write and do mathematics before school age brings on pressure to activate thinking/mind forces that are not yet available. This redirection of energies will emerge later as illness because those energies have not been available to complete the physical requirements in the child.
To explore the foundations of such learning wise pre-school and prep teachers make sure it is playful through challenges involving ‘doing’. In the first six or seven years, education happens best through play, ‘hands on’ – lots of movement, sense exploration, dancing, music, painting, dressing up, story-making, fantasy, props to stimulate imagination.
We can add to this exploration by encouraging wonder, awe, appreciation and reverence through our example and in stories we tell our children, stories that inspire and encourage their relationship with the numinous. Have we allowed them a sense that they have a guardian angel? Do we need to explain away their imaginary friends? Or fairies hiding in the flowers? Physical experience and worldliness come at the cost of heavenly insight so it is of great value to allow children to retain what they can of the heavens.
Children need to be out in nature as much as possible. They need to be surrounded by beauty because they still exist in the hazy world of the heavens and their pliable souls will absorb the higher gifts of that living world. These will bear fruit in the future. For this reason, we must be careful what we expose children to.
About going online
One of today’s most worrying issues for everyone is the constant stimulus of online media. Experts advise no online access at all before two years and after that very little. Unfortunately, TV and online games can be appealing baby-sitters for busy or exhausted carers.
The purpose of this first cycle is to build up and strengthen the physical, to balance all the experiences in this area. But observe a baby or child glued to their screens. Watch what happens. Certain senses become over-stimulated while everything else, including the rhythmic systems, go into a dormant mode. It’s hard to drag a fixated child away. It’s often why adults resort to bullying and anger, which doesn’t help the child’s development at all.
Souls have chosen to be born into this technological age. The task of adults is to be the guardians of balance, aware that over stimulating in the head and nervous systems will lead to weaknesses in the limbs and the body’s rhythmic functions. Moderate online exposure with other kinds of stimulation and this will eventually teach children their own control.
Parenting is a powerful educational and spiritual challenge that should be fully valued. That will happen if awareness of body, soul and spirit grows along with the inner needs of the child. In these first seven years the child is waking up to the world and at the same time losing touch with another reality. It’s their first awakening with more to follow.
This is a spiritual being who is emerging into but not yet fully equipped to handle the world. By the time the milk teeth are lost the soul has impressed its stamp on the body it needed via its parents. A new phase, a new birth takes place which will work yet further into this physical existence.