Updated: May 10, 2022
In my late 30’s a medium would tell me that she sees a little girl standing in a field after a significant event, and even though she is surrounded by people, she is completely and utterly alone: she feels that no one can see her, or hear her, or understand her anymore.
My age is significant in the story of the fire. In Waldorf Education, the education system in which I teach, we speak of the child’s nine-year change. It is a deeply significant time in each person’s life when childhood paradise is left behind, and we begin to perceive that we and the world are separate. Many startling realizations come at this age; our parents do not always understand us, and they might die someday; we could very well be on our own, and finally, we realize we will also die someday.
In many lives, the nine-year change happens over the year; fears come and can be transmuted with the compassionate understanding of teachers and parents. In Waldorf education, we consider this year an inevitable and important crisis year – a necessary gate on the path toward individual freedom. First, we journey into separation, and then we ascend toward union again.
We support this process by teaching practical arts; third graders learn to garden, farm, card and spin wool, knit, sew, cook, and build shelters. The intention is to comfort the soul that perceives itself as alone and separate by giving it self-assurance. The opposing force to the fear that creeps in is courage. Essentially the child is led to feel, “I can care for myself.” They are led through the practical arts to see that the plants, animals, elements, and the human being are all interconnected. This induces a feeling of abundance in the child and the feeling that she is an integral part of the earth. In this way, she learns not only, “I can care for myself,” but perhaps more importantly, “I am cared for.”
There is an interesting link, I think, between the nine-year change and A Course in Miracles. In ACIM, there is a chapter about Self-Concept vs. Self. Essentially, the course teaches that the Ego mind crafts a self-concept for himself based on the learning of the world. The world’s curriculum is fear-based, and all it seeks to teach us is separation and guilt. The self-concept is constantly changing, demands that others play the part it wants them to play, and seeks to hide the essential nature of the human being from her awareness…that she is not the self-concept but an extension of God itself. An extension of the Source of all love, compassion, and wisdom. The ego-self cannot exist in this understanding.
The self-concept of a person begins at the age of nine when she starts to see herself as separate. It is very important, therefore, that the nine-year-old be educated by sensitive individuals who understand the nature of the mind, the self, and the truth about sin and guilt. If she is, for instance, educated in a way that makes her believe she is guilty, sin is real, and that the rules of the world have a bearing on the sate of her soul, she will begin to die even as she is growing. Her spirit will go to sleep, and she will build her concept based on the ego’s entirely insane teachings.
She must be educated in such a way that she is taught courage, self-reliance, the nature of her emotional guidance system, and the truth about sin and guilt, which is simply that they do not exist. This is the time to empower the child that she may step forward in her life with the tools she needs and the reassurance that she is not alone. She will still build a self-concept (She must for we are here on earth where we have Ego’s), but it will be one of forgiveness and love. She can be given a thought system based on love from the start. The parent can step aside when the child is empowered thus, demonstrating the trust in her child she wishes the child to feel in herself.
I was very aware of awakening to a world that seemed to have a very strange set of rules that I must follow to be worthy of love, and try as I might, I simply could not learn the rules. No one can. They do not exist. My nine-year change happened abruptly and without supports to help me cope. I do not say this to victimize myself. I firmly believe that in the time between death and rebirth, I chose to be here for this incident…that I chose to experience my ninth year in this way…an abrupt change which would cause in me a schism that I would spend the next 25 years trying to heal. Parts of my soul flew away from me at that moment, parts that I would need, courage and self-assurance. Perhaps my courage flew away, perhaps it drained out my feet and soaked into that grassy lawn; perhaps it burned in the fire before me. In any case, it would be the first to be called back home, though many years later. Self-assurance will wait until my mid-thirties, but my God has it been worth the wait.
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