The ages of 42- 63 are about building spiritual maturity.
- Much of what happens in this time period depends upon if you hit the crisis described in Part 2 of this series in the cycles of ages 35-42. If you already experienced crisis, this period after crisis could be a time of productivity, innovation, imagination, new strength. A time where careers are reshaped and where you really know what you want to do in life.
- It can also be a time of greater patience, new friendships, new-found confidence.
- Increased flexibility and humor than in the past.
- A time to remember the past as we gain perspective.
- Wisdom prevails.
- Another new burst of energy, with many earlier conflicts now resolved.
- Enjoyment of respect and confidence.
- Living from within our own maturity, out of the depth of our own experience.
- In this phase, we go inward for insight.
Ages 63 and Beyond
- Betty Staley writes that this is “a continuation of previous phases. The processes of development which began at 35 continue and mature.”
We will be taking a closer look at each one of the seven-year cycles from age 21-63 in the coming weeks.
Looking forward to delving further into the notion of human biography with you all,
The ages from 21-42 are for the development of soul maturity, psychological maturity.
- The “I’” incarnates more fully.
- Strong emotional life, excitement, impulsivity, sociability, adventure, sensuality.
- Memory reaches its peak.
- A time to prepare for a career and to gather experiences.
- Betty Staley also writes about marriage when both partners are in their early 20s and how this often works but can be a difficult road as both partners do not have a bank of life experiences to draw on.
- Men during this time period are often focused on work, marriage and family and trying to set and achieve goals “he thinks he deserves by the time he is 35.”
- The “I” begins to enter the soul-life more deeply and penetrates thinking. We begin to experience life through our thoughts and our thinking.
- We feel the need to organize our lives.
- We regard things more objectively than before, but at times our objective thinking can also separate us from life – if we judge everything around us, we can become cold, distant, critical, self-righteous.
- In this phase we tend to think that thinking can solve all of our problems.
Ages 35-42 – Going into consciousness
- A time of strength, ambition; but also of emptiness and loneliness.
- Life taken in through our senses, through our bodies, does not excite us the same way it used to.
- Our natural spirituality fades and we can feel overwhelmed by life
- Life takes on a routine quality, and yet we can experience more and more problems than before.
- Much of what used to bring contentment no longer does.
- We become critical of causes, philosophies, religion that used to appeal to us.
Whew! I think when we are in the 35-42 year phase, we have to be particularly careful to NOT pass on our adult baggage and criticism to our small children. I have seen over and over parents of this age frame to have difficulty working within the Waldorf framework with the spiritual elements because they themselves are going through a period of disillusionment with spirituality. Please make sure to not shove your 8-year old into the 35-42 year old phase by putting your “adult stuff” on them!
We will talk in detail about each of these seven-year cycles, but next we will look at the last part of this overview of the seven-year cycles that covers ages 42- 63 (and beyond), a time of developing spiritual maturity.
Till next time,
Here is a summary of each of the seven-year cycles, and then in future posts we will be delving into each cycle more deeply:
Ages Birth – 21 is seen as a PHYSICAL time.
Birth – Age 7
- The birth of the physical body is paramount
- Children of this age are one big sense organ, an eye, that deeply perceives all the sensory impression received. Betty Staley writes, “These impressions influence the physical body: if they are quiet and soft, the child can breathe more rhythmically and relax; but when children’s immature nervous system try to process startling noises, flickering lights, and quick visual impressions, it is too much for them. They can become exhausted, tense and afraid.” (page 61)
- Children of this age learn through imitation
- Children in this cycle learn to be upright, to walk, to understand and speak ‘their mother tongue”.
- This cycle is divided into thirds; around the third year children experience their own being and start referring to themselves as “I”
- Children in this cycle are still rather “asleep”; sensory impressions experienced now are more inward and form the basis for conscious ideas later on
- Children enter the world through their will and the movement of the physical body. This movement forms the basis for what they will FEEL in the next stage
- The organs and the physical body is being completed, which culminates in the loss of the primary dentition.
Age 7- Age 14
- The physical body continues to develop, with the adult teeth starting to come through
- Consciousness further awakens from a state of sleep to a more dream-like condition
- The inner soul-life intensifes
- In the earlier period, the organs and physical body were being completed , but now attention is turned to “the soul as powers of imagination and thought, as image-forming activity.”
- Children’s thinking at this age is influenced by strong personal feelings, personal experiences and expressed through IMAGINATION.
If we divide this stage into thirds:
- We have the 7 year old where children have many of the same tendencies as the earlier stage where they learn by imitation and see nature as alive and connected to themselves.
- At around 8 and 1/3, imitation becomes less strong and the child’s need for almost constant movement can begin to be reigned in. There is a beginning of separation here, the nine-year old change, that shows itself through new feelings – uncertainty, fear, anger that things are unfair, feeling they are ugly or disliked or unwanted. The child does not feel connected with the world so much as distanced, separated, unhappy and restless. The period of 8 and 1/3 to 10 and 2/3 years of age is really the heart of childhood in many ways though, and the children of this stage have a strong sense of nature, love of wild places, a love of myths and legends, they play well, are well-coordinated, their imaginations are vivid and alive.
- Around 11 and 2/3 the body begins to change with signs of puberty appearing. The girls are about two years ahead of the boys. Children’s feelings at this stage become more connected with their individuality. Special friends are very important. A new capacity for understanding cause and effect develops and they are more objective about the world. They are better able to understand why and how things happen. Their strong physical resemblance to their parents starts to wane, and their individuality becomes more pronounced. The changes of puberty echo the change of teeth which occurred at the end of the first seven-year cycle.
- The forces released in puberty are now available for the next phase
Age 14- Age 21
- The physical body goes through great hormonal change as the adult body takes form.
- Feeling life is erratic, chaotic, with highs and lows
- The creative power which worked on the physical body from birth until age 7 and then worked on the feeling life of the soul from age 7 to 14 is now at work on THINKING. This is when young people become critical of everything, questioning everything, rejecting things
- The adolescent is learning how to use their thinking to control their feelings and will-impulses.
- Thinking becomes more inward, more conceptual and abstract
- Around the seventeenth year, there is a glimpse of the “higher self”, a sense of purpose and meaning in life
- Character is forming
If one understands the view of the seven-year life cycles, one can see how everything in Waldorf education is designed to match or meet where the child is developmentally. Waldorf education is also designed to preserve the health of the child for later seven-year cycles.
Next post we will talk about the age of 21-42, which is the development of the psychological or SOUL maturity.
I am here amidst the Caribbean blue sea and skies rapidly devouring a wonderful book I received from my sister-in-law for Christmas called “Tapestries: Weaving Life’s Journey” by Betty Staley. If you have ever been intrigued by the Waldorf notion of “biography” , this is a very accessible resource to look at seven-year-cycles across the continuum of life.
“Tapestries” was inspired by Betty Staley’s interviews with women and men in Latvia. The Forward to the book talks about how Betty Staley started this project, “As she listened to their life stories she realized that they illustrated the seven-year life phases and revealed universal patterns: a human tapestry which went beyond cultural, racial, gender and ethnic boundaries.”
Betty Staley writes in the Prologue, “We are born into a physical body with its magnificent design of skeletal structure, muscles, organs, hormones, senses, and nervous system. We are received into a family with complex interrelationships of sisters, brothers, mother and father. Our soul unfolds as we live in the world and meet other people. Our lives are embedded in a process of time, so that we undergo change from one phase to another, experience soul struggles.” She talks about how the human spirit can be our foundation to decide how we work to transform ourselves, and shape the opportunities we are given, how we change things about ourselves that we decide to change toward becoming the highest expression of ourselves.
This book looks at life cycles and human rhythms as influenced by the work of Rudolf Steiner and has eloquent and thought-provoking passages regarding relationships, aging, love and growth.
I will be sharing some thoughts with you over the next week or so as we explore the anthroposophical journey of the human being from ages 21 onward.
Please do join me,