Meditating about Yagil Qan, the divine spirit of the month of May who transmits the vital soul to children, the question I ask myself is: how can a society facilitate the expression of the innate talents of our youth? Perhaps if we were to imagine that there is a divine spirit that infuses their soul and makes them messengers of spiritual planes, we would be more respectful of their personalities, characteristics and inclinations.

On the contrary, the dominant Western educational system seems to be purposefully created in order to prevent the development of creative and human potential.

There are different pedagogical models which stimulate the imagination more, and I believe that human beings should be free to pursue their talents and their mission from an early age, instead of being indoctrinated to adapt to pre-established structures based on what society needs.

It is a fact that our society is largely dysfunctional, and the model cannot help but to create dysfunctional individuals who will most likely be unhappy, not completely realized, and often ill as a consequence of their dissatisfaction and stress.

From nursery school to high school and then university, the prototype of the person that wants to be created is someone who thinks – and feels – very little. Someone trained to follow the ideas of others; someone unable to be empathic and loving toward others unless they are in their closest circle. Numerous alternative educational approaches show us that it is possible to create happier and more fulfilled human beings. Steiner pedagogy, that of Montessori, the contemporary one of Shalva Amonashvili, a Russian pedagogue who recently visited Damanhur, and many others. These are all examples that demonstrate how educating children does not mean forcing them to adapt to a predefined mould.

I have been interested in this topic for some time, and for a period of my life, I worked as a psychologist in a hospital for children in difficulty in Zagreb. They were victims of physical, sexual and emotional abuse, and they came to the day clinic. When possible, therapy also included the parents or adult caretakers of the youth. This difficult and delicate work has helped me to realize how important family is in the development of an individual. At the end of the day after having therapy with us, the children were doing better, but when I saw them again a week later, they were traumatized again because their life setting was unable to sustain their mental health.

I also saw how devastating it was when children were taken away from abusive parents and entrusted to adults who were unable to embrace their past experience with compassion and true acceptance. This negation deepened the wound, even though the circumstances of abuse were no longer present.

With the passing of time and my new experiences – first of all my life here in Damanhur – I have come to understand that the development of human beings begins even before birth, and the influences are much broader than just the family and school environment. In Damanhur, I have found a truly holistic approach that I really believe can be an inspiration for the world, a first brick to build an educational path that fosters free, complete and awakened beings.

The future begins before conception

In the Damanhurian philosophy, the development of a future being and consequently the building of his or her lifeline, ideally begins long before conception when a couple begins to think about having children. Welcoming a newborn is a sacred event, and the parents and the community prepare for it well. Choosing to become parents with awareness, sharing their decision with others, this attention creates a strong and directed energy field. Starting to imagine a new life with a conscious choice, I believe it can benefit the life of the child who will be born on all levels, spiritual, emotional and physical. To enrich the mother’s emotions and the first experiences of the baby in the womb, future mothers do specific meditations in the Temples of Humankind and dynamics to contact the plant world in the Sacred Woods. These possibilities are available for women around the world who would like to experience this approach.

A sacred act

Birth is a sacred, delicate act where the profound doors of life and even those of death are touched, where a woman draws on energies and experiences as ancient as the human race. I have also worked as a psychologist in preparation for childbirth, and I have observed what a difference it makes if the mother considers birth as a magical act of great transformation, instead of just a “technical” moment.

Damanhurian midwives support pregnant women physically and practically, as well as from a psychological, energetic and spiritual perspective.

When conditions allow for it, our children are born at home so their birth is a sacred moment shared by the entire community. I personally have witnessed a birth, and the welcoming of this new life was one of the most beautiful and touching moments of my life. There are 15 adults in the Damanhurian family where Innana arrived. All together, we created a white star made of small pebbles in front of the house, to offer a subtle signal for the coming soul. As requested by the mother, the labor was accompanied by drums, music and singing to give her energy and help her feel the loving presence of others. When the baby was born, we all cried and laughed with joy, feeling as if we were part of a miracle that was very much beyond just us. Later on, to welcome Inanna, in addition to the welcoming rituals, we held a collective party with music and dance, inviting all the citizens of Damanhur.

What are your experiences of education and growth that have helped the living soul that animates you to come out and blossom? And the experiences where you, as a parent, family member or educator, have helped other children to flourish?

Bertuccia Bietola