Children are the ones who hold our future in their hands, as they will someday be the ones to lead the way. Though they will be taught about the workings of life by others and by their own experiences, it’s up to spiritually awake adults to help them come to know their spiritual Self. Parents, grandparents, and other significant adults can provide conscious guidance and teaching, not through dogmatic or coercive methods, but through their own example and gentle, welcoming invitation.
One dimension of spirituality that has been neglected in our western culture is that of the spirits of the natural world. We’ve tended to view the Earth as here mainly for our benefit rather than understanding that we’re simply a part of the web of life, intimately connected to all beings, both physically and spiritually.
This view has been gradually changing as new paradigms emerge across many fronts. We’re drawing from the wisdom of indigenous and ancient peoples, those who had a deep reverence and understanding of the natural world and our profound relationship to it. We are coming to deeply appreciate how Spirit moves in all things and learning to receive Spirit’s messages from any number of sources. It’s inherent in the emerging paradigm that we must reconcile our relationship with Spirit–and with our Earth Mother.
SPIRIT IN THE NATURAL WORLD
So how do we encourage our children’s spirituality and in particular, how to receive guidance from the many voices of Spirit? How do we influence our children’s familiarity and appreciation of the natural world and come to know the Life force that expresses not onlythrough but also as everything? It starts with overcoming the addiction to technological devices and getting outside as much as possible. From there we can teach our children by our own fascination with the magic that’s inherent in the Earth.
The degree of estrangement from the world around us has increased in direct proportion to our reliance on technology. With this explosion of electronic tools available to us, it’s easy for parents and children to succumb to the allure of the multitude of devices, from smartphones to computers to television. The downside is that it keeps children inside, close to electrical outlets or wireless routers, at the cost of the direct experience with the three-dimensional world. There is increasing evidence of the detrimental effects of this obsessive preoccupation. On the flip side, there’s also a growing awareness of the benefits of regular contact with the natural environment.
Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, coined the term “nature deficit disorder” in that book to describe the growing alienation that children–and many adults–are experiencing in this increasingly technologically-dominated world. In an article about this book Louv goes on to say:
“. . . new studies demonstrate just how important direct contact with the outdoors is to healthy human development. Most of the new evidence that connects nature to well-being and restoration has focused on adults, but during the past decade, scientists have begun to study the impact of nearby nature onchild development. Environmental psychologists reported in 2003 that that nature in or around the home, or simply a room with a view of a natural landscape, helped protect the psychological well-being of the children.
Researchers have found that children with disabilities gain enhanced body image and positive behavior changes through direct interaction with nature. Studies of outdoor- education programs geared toward troubled youth–especially those diagnosed with mental-health problems–show a clear therapeutic value. Some of the most intriguing studies are being done by the Human-Environment Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois, where researchers have discovered that children as young as five showed a significant reduction in the symptoms of Attention-Deficit Disorder when they engaged with nature. Could nature therapy be a new option for ADD treatment?”‘
ANIMALS AND ANIMAL SPIRIT GUIDES
There’s ample evidence of how animals are intertwined in our lives, from the shoes we wear to the food we eat (if you’re an omnivore). Our pets give us comfort and solace, while animals in the wild give us a glimpse into our own instinctual nature. With rare exceptions, children readily relate to animals, sometimes starting with their attachment to that stuffed animal figure that they fall to sleep with every night.
It’s a short step from their love of animals to eventually understanding that animals can also be teachers and guides. Children’s Spirit Animal Cards not only provide an easily accessible way to promote values that most parents would agree with, but also provide an ideal opportunity to receive clear and simple messages from Spirit in a fun and enjoyable way. With parental support and the use of these cards as a vehicle, children can learn to appreciate how spirit animals can teach and guide them throughout our entire lives.
Each of the twenty-four cards features a particular spirit animal that guides children in their personal growth with simple yet profound messages that focus on developing conscious awareness. They embody core ideas about the importance of self-love, kindness and respect for others and the natural world, how to appropriately use their voice for empowerment, how to trust their inner guidance, and how to channel their feelings toward the positive.
The accompanying guidebook explains how to use the cards and their messages and provides additional activities geared toward building relationships with family, friends, and the world around them. A section called “Guide for Parents” provides additional insight to help parents support their children in what they are learning.
It is my deepest hope and desire that Children’s Spirit Animal Cards will provide a bridge that can help parents and children to connect deeply with the natural and inner world to which we are all interwoven, the spirit nature of animals and ultimately with all forms of life through the lessons our animal teachers as their spirit essence provide us. In this way we can influence and help to shape the future generations toward a more conscious and thoughtful world.