A wounded child may have been under the influence of all sorts of unseen influences and the memories of trauma for which there are no words
Unseen Influences and Memories
I remember a mother bringing a 6 year old child to see me because she was concerned at why this child got hysterical every time it was taken into the vestry of the local Church. The religion doesn't matter because, as the stories come out, it is common with many .. but what I will say is that it was an old church.
It was a long process .. we even took the child to the church and with "official" permission took the child into the "offending room".
A Child's Images - Religious Trauma in the Stones
Now .. there is an "art" to hearing what children are trying to express. Sometimes this involves getting the child to draw images, express feelings, say whatever words come up .. even act out what the experience was like for them.
The church official was a little perplexed. He commented that this child's reaction to the specific room was not uncommon with male children who were brought to the room. Even babies in arms went hysterical in there yet, in other parts of the church, the same reaction was more subdued.
So, it would seem that, from this, whatever was in that room, the child who was brought to me and his mother were not alone in their concern.
The walls held memories
We got the story out .. eventually .. in amongst some gut-wrenching sobs .. an image of sodomy .. an image of the rape of a child - many children. The pain and anguish of the raped and the energy of priestly pedophilia were impregnated into the 200 year old stone walls of the room.
How long they had been there was hard to say, but we did get some very clear interpretations of colors, artifacts and clothing which enabled us to place an approximate date on the events that took place in that room. How could I explain this to a "church official" who was guardian of these "hallowed halls".
Here we have a child picking up on something that happened about 80 years ago .. being effected by it to the point of uncontrollable hysteria. Here we have a room into which new born infants are taken preparatory to baptism carrying the images and imprints - the vibration of child abuse. Here we have a room where bridal couples are interviewed prior to their nuptials. Here we have a room which is supposed to be a Holy Representation of what this religion and God are all about.
Yet .. in this room, the walls held the memories. No, the frankincense used as an incense would never clear the pain. The pain and the aggression came from the lowest and most earthy frequency of the human body. Frankincense is a "top note" .. sandalwood or something of a deeper note might help clear some of that .. so would a didgeridoo or the beating of a couple of base drums .. but a tinkling bell, never.
How many reading these words are (or have been) affected similarly .. ? Probably many. If you, or your ancestors spent time in a seminary or a convent, the memories are there in the stones.
Down the road from where I live, there is a very old building which is now used as an infant's school by a religious order. The history of the building, of which much is made, tells of its history as an orphanage and convent. There are memories of murdered babies buried under the stone floors. Several of the "lay" teachers picked up on this. Repair work carried out on the floors literally dug up infant skeletons.
But the past is dead and buried .. it doesn't matter. At least, that's what we are told to believe.
But, is it .. is it dead and buried .. or is it alive and well living and breathing in the stones that make the building in which we venerate and worship the forefathers - the so-called "saints" of the age when these memories were created .. bringing them to life with our emotions, our adoration .. and praise .. ?
What sort of an environmental influence does this place on a "right and proper religious education". What sort of effect does this have on the psyche of the child who could never talk about the ghosts it sees. What sort of an imprint of fear does this leave in the cells of the body of the developing child - especially if "mother insists" that the child follow a strict religious upbringing.
I'm not taking a judgmental position here .. most people have no idea of the interplay of consciousness, let alone how the mind and the unconscious work .. or even the nature of memory.
What I'm doing is bringing to the consciousness of words some of the experiences I've shared with many of the people that I have worked with .. including the memories that came out of people I have de-briefed after they "came-out" or religious orders.
If you insist that your child go to church, what are the memories that are imbued into the stones of the building - and what damage could these resurrected memories be doing to the child. Do you really care .. or is your fear so deep that you don't want to consider how your child may become your personal sacrifice in the name of what is right .. according to religion .. to appease your conscience ..?
Did your parents care .. ? If you can see how your childhood has influenced who you are now, would you demand that of your children .. ? Your parents were not really to blame .. but ..
If you are afraid of the ramifications of leaving the church or of taking your children away from the church, what is the image that you or your child has seen and imprinted as its association with the word "god" for which this building stands as a not so silent witness.
It is not my position to tell you what to do. This sort of thing has been going on for generations. However, all of those things that have been hidden down under the code of silence .. the sacred silence of the confessional ..
have you ever stopped to think what you "pick up" every time you .. or your children .. enter the box .. ?
One of the people on my own list (who comes from the deep South of America) tells the stories of his own experiences .. of the nightmares he suffered of the racial torture that went on in the basement of the building where his strictly religious parents sent him to Sunday School ..
I have known for a long time what memories were buried in my own body .. memories of the Catholic hospice and orphanage where I was born and lived my earliest days .. alone, after the death at birth of my twin brother and sister ..
So, let me ask the therapists reading this .. is everything that your client tells you exactly as it seems .. and are you clear enough within yourself to see the difference .. ?
Footnote: When I typed this and read it to my partner Fiona, she had a huge reaction from her own childhood. You can read her process here.