I worked in women's shelters and human services for many years. The training that was on offer for staff was mostly issue related -dealing with challenging behaviours, anger management and loss and grief.
Most workshops had power points, butchers paper and a predictable format . Creativity as a medium for training and relationship building was foreign to the concept of professional development. The absence of multi sensory engagement sat within a larger empty field where information in human services is delivered as participants sit still, hands motionless in the traditional class room format.
What happened to all that movement and activity, fun and music in the kindergarten space where rapid learning was accompanied to the soundtracks of rhythm, paint brushes, fresh air, movement and a sense of magic and possibility?
Did we out grow the enjoyment of play or was it taken away and replaced with the sit still, stop fidgeting, eyes to the front rigours of the western education system?
I originally wrote The Magical Child in Exile when I was working in homeless and domestic violence shelters and recognised that many of the young people who came to live at the shelter had lost their sense of wonder and creativity but when creative processes were offered to them, becoming hands on and imaginative seemed to ignite an old spark and reawaken a playful, risk taking aspect to their nature that we had not seen before.
The Magical Child in Exile
Once upon a time there was a Magical Child who loved to draw and dance and sing and paint and laugh and play. Some days the Magical Child just twirled and swirled in circles for the sheer pleasure of it all.
The Magical Child even had an invisible friend and all the grown ups thought that was very cute, just as cute as when the Magical Child played ‘make believe’ and “I can do and be any thing”.
When the Magical Child was sad, tears flowed.
When the Magical Child was happy, laughter cascaded.
When the Magical Child was angry there were big yells and sometimes a full-body splat onto the ground but as soon as the moment was processed the discordant energy left their body leaving the cells free to breathe and grow and remain in their healthy natural state.
But by and bye-bye something happened one day.
The Magical Child was in the midst of telling one of the grown up’s (the groan ups as she later called them) about a funny little make believe story when the grown up said, stop being silly! You can’t keep pretending like that! You are a big girl now! They had said the same thing to her brother not so long ago. You are a big boy now. Stop crying. You’re not a baby! STOP IT.”
The Magical Child was shocked and her shock was accompanied by an unpleasant feeling inside of her tummy that took a long time to go away. It was a shaming, a conforming, con-forming moment. A matter of fact moment that began to alter the course of the Magical Childs life forever.
A shaming moment that would seep into the recesses of the subconscious mind and like a noxious weed, eventually choke the fertile magic-making soil as surely as if a nuclear land scape had been dropped in the new’clear landscape of the Childs mind.
And so it began. The artist, the story teller, the dancer , the prophet , the mystic all living and breathing through the imagination - the I~ magi~nation- of the Magical Child was told to stop! Be quiet! Don’t dance on there you’ll fall! Sit down!! Don’t be silly!! Stop asking so many questions! STOP!
On and on the toxic commands continued. All the way through school where the Magical Child was now only permitted to create only between 10 am and 11 am (art lesson), to tell stories between 2 and 3 on Tuesdays..(English lesson). Creating whilst remaining as motionless as humanly impossible. Stop fidgeting! Stop day dreaming! Pay attention!
Facing the front board, bored inside of a square box they called a room, a box where whirling, twirling, playfulness no longer came through the door, banned from ever mentioning invisible friends lest you invite the horrors of medication and mislabeling before you have even learnt how to tie your shoes up properly, the Magical Children sought to become what was expected of them and learn about things beyond their Magical, creative realm.
The Magical Child quickly learnt not to show sadness, anger or confusion and to repress inappropriate eruptions of joy, fear or insecurity in the class room. Making sure instead to h~o~l~d~It~In!! Sit Still! Eyes to the front…STOP whispering, laughing, talking. Stop. Stop. Stop.
Of course eventually the Magical Child stopped completely.
A kind of who-I-Am-amnesia set in.
Forgetting about the art, the magic, the songs, the dances and the stories and instead replaced those Magical currents with learning the things that the teacher insisted was important to their current learning, competing with the other lost Magical Children in the sports yard, in the academic arena and eventually in the work place.
If they were able to still function that is.
Magical Children are resilient and they are able to forget if it means freedom from the shaming, the naming, the labeling and the ire of the grown ups.
But some succumbed to their true self in spite of them self and sometimes became known as disruptive, troubled learner, withdrawn or uncooperative and other such names that reveal an inability to conform to the lost-Magic around them.
So was born the latest generation of leaders, many of them Magical Children in Exile, who will perpetuate the disappearance of magic and creativity in the system rewards conformity and compliance. Some even called it the evil empire.
A system saturated with lost Magical Children, living unreal lives, not even realising – real~eyesing – that who they have become is not who they were meant to be.
Many of the Magical Children, now groan-ups themselves are still h-o-l-d-i-n-g—i-t—-i-n-
After all the word evil is just to live backwardly….
It is not surprising many of the once-magical-minds of the inhabitants of the evil empire became choked with the weeds of mental illness, alcoholism, drug dependency, neurosis, psychosis, anger, depression, boredom and frustration, competition and back biting and preoccupation with celebrity lives and drama!
Magical Children are full of pure, free flowing creative energy and energy can not be destroyed, it simply transforms, turning toxic, creating tragic from the magic.
Millions of grown up’s are lost Magical Children in varying degrees of exile though a few do escape and return to their natural state I hear.
This must be why a nation can be preoccupied reality television and obsessed with the lives of the stars, the gods and goddesses of magic and creativity. A preoccupation with intrigue and adoration, seeing the world of possibility in the magic-mirror of television.
The men and women who did not stop playing and imagining became some of the richest people on earth. What a reward for staying connected to the world of pretend and play!
No longer creating and producing their own stories and art and dance, the need for fantasy and magic nevertheless remains ever strong.
Indeed when Magical Children in exile see others leading a magical life, something within their own self may yearn to return to that place of Magic, creativity and infinite potential for love and connection.
How many people are sighing their day away, feeling that something is missing not realising that ‘Something’ is their free flowing creative Self…
Sadly though the lost story teller may now be churning out reams of tragic-magic, gossip, chaos and unhappy relation
ships, forever telling their wounded story teller tales to friends and family, occasionally plummeting into the deepest chasms of depression and despair, overwhelmed by the tragedy of an uninspired life.
Alas the lost artist may be obsessively cleaning a clean house or weeding a weed less garden seeking to create something of note in their world, processing those ever-flowing creative energies towards their small boxed in life. At its most insidious, the Magical-Child will succumb to the hyper-high, outrageously creative manic energies , ill-fated to become an uninitiated mystic or master creator of chaos and mayhem.
If it is true that in order to experience heaven one must become like a little child then it might well be that the Magical Children no-longer-in-exile, those who have recovered from the amnesia and remembered who I Am will be the ones to remind us all how to begin the wonderful journey back to our true self and to reclaim what was always within.
After all the word reclaim is simply the word Miracle in anagram disguise...