7. MEETING THE SPIRITUAL SELF
Ages 42 to 49
So we come to the seventh cycle, and a new development in the individual. If all has gone well the three soul aspects have come into play during the previous three cycles. Ideally the soul should be fully operative and developed on the levels of feeling, thinking and willing. From the age of 42 a vista of spiritual possibilities can open up. Life’s work can begin in earnest with the emergence of the spiritual self.
Mars, colloquially called ‘the red planet’, is known as the ruler of this cycle. Symbolically the colour red means dynamism. Mars ‘powers up’ and its energy can be constructive or destructive. If our ego has dominated in the previous stages (and it often has in our society) then we are likely to be filled with negative energy. If we have travelled well through the earlier cycles the result will be courage, self-reliance and decisiveness in deed and word.
Remember the mirroring effect; this cycle mirrors the first soul cycle, ages 21 to 28, the sentient soul stage. Here the soul started preparing its purpose by setting up certain feelings and longings. Did you tune in to these longings and interpret them correctly? What were your ideals? How did you deal with your ego, your desire nature, during these years? What did you desire in this 21-28 cycle? If it was mostly for material things and self-satisfaction alone, then the inner life will have been neglected. That means the soul may not be able to manifest its purpose later on in life; or if so it will only be able to at the cost of great pain and anguish – for example the ‘mid-life crisis’ so common in the forties.
One quite common occurrence in this Mars cycle is a late ‘wild’ stage, often after a marriage breakup or a redundancy. Why does this happen? It may be because in the corresponding earlier cycle you took on an all-consuming job that left you no space to freely explore. Or you settled down into the responsibilities of marriage and focused on acquiring material things, a home and so on. So when things change quite suddenly you find yourself doing all the exploring you missed. It is usually a short-lived stage, but I see it as a balancing.
On the other hand, having a family and raising children during those earlier years can be beneficial as a discipline for the ego and training of the soul. Children teach us patience, order, self-sacrifice, putting others first and dispassionate love. I think this can be excellent preparation for the emergence of the spiritual self. But that depends on whether there was also room to fruitfully express needs of the sentient soul cycle.
Many people are conscious of a physical decline that begins to show itself in the early forties. When it happens, either the spiritual self enters the picture or egotism increases. This makes the forties a fascinating and crucial period of development. The Greeks regarded forty as the peak of human development in terms of the full blossoming of abilities, a peak that can only be reached through conscious effort. We can experience the forties as a decline or the beginning of something new.
Interests may take a more consciously spiritual direction than previously as the idealism of the early twenties returns in a more tangible form. This can bring inner freedom and the ability to make choices that are guided by the spiritual self.
Temptations increase. The three irresistible forces in our lives are sex, money and power. In this cycle the urge for power raises its bullish head. We do have a certain protection from this desire in earlier life. For example, well-balanced young people in the teens and early twenties are mostly not attracted to power over others – they enjoy community far more. Unfortunately, there are many ways these innate protections are undermined causing much psychological damage.
But around 42 those protections begin to disappear and hopefully, through working against the lower impulses within us, we can overcome them when they make their presence felt. It’s known that the need for control and power over anything is mostly due to a deep-seated feeling of powerlessness. We have an example in the panic buying that began with toilet rolls and escalated. This was a herd reaction to a sense of powerlessness in the face of the new coronavirus Covid-19.
In our societies it’s possible to attain high office or run businesses without having overcome the ego and the selfish interests it promotes. Narcissists and sociopathic bosses are a staple in novels and movies, and they certainly exist in real life.
But if the will has been sufficiently developed in the previous cycle, then power comes from within one’s being, an inner surety and authority that can be used with discretion and self-discipline to further an ideal. Compassion rather than fear of what might happen becomes the motivation. In the forties oner major task is to come to the understanding that life represents more than the chance to create a personal empire whether domestically or in the wider world.
A new challenge is being able to look beyond what we have achieved thus far in terms of career or raising a family. The more we can empathise with the needs and concerns of others, the more likely we are to make spiritual progress.
The idealism usually expressed emotionally in the early twenties can now become tangible and focused. A concern for others, for humanity can come to the fore. An individual can become a teacher for younger people if the urge for power is transformed into the motivation to do good, minus ego. For example, in any profession it becomes possible to co-ordinate the work of your younger colleagues and feel satisfied when their abilities start to unfold.
In the forties a parent can see how their children are growing up and facilitate the process. And having children around enables us to re-experience the various stages we have passed through, stimulating our memories and keeping us fresh.
Let's be our own judge
There comes a strong push for self-judgment, measuring and reflecting on your life so far. You question, asking is this how I want the rest of life to be? Has what I have done so far in life been good enough? Who is really driving my bus?
The forties can be a time of change as these issues are addressed. You may be afraid of letting go of the familiar known things and avoid change. Or you follow a strong urge to make changes in lifestyle, career or relationships. It’s important to observe your motivation. Is it because of a recognition of the soul’s need? Or is it a desire to externally compensate for what is missing or no longer available, like youth? Only a conscious and deep reflection and an awareness of the spiritual dimension to life can answer this.
If it hasn’t been established already, it’s most important at this time to develop regular spiritual practices such as meditation, prayer and personal attunement rituals. Feelings can be spiritualised in this way.
As feelings are attuned to spirit, perception becomes clearer and a spiritual view of the world begins to emerge. Personal sacrifice is likely to be involved, but the possibility for sacrifice does not exist in a vacuum. It often comes in the form of an urgent need or great problem that we perceive in the world around us. By recognising this need and acting accordingly we can set about fulfilling our purpose as well as giving something of value to the world.
The ability to guide others on a spiritual level becomes possible as the years progress. By age 49 we have completed 7 cycles of 7 years, so this is a point of fulfilment. Spiritually it can be a positive time. The challenge lies in recognising the greater need. In many people this awareness brings an outward contribution to the wide community.
It’s about being able to lead in the true sense of the word, which is ‘moving something forward’, that is, encouragement. It may involve close family, with friends, in work or on a global level.
In esoteric circles turning 49 is marked (celebrated) as the end of karma. This doesn’t mean that karma is completed and dealt with. That can go on even if you have been consciously working on self. It does mean that because you have reached this stage when the spiritual self needs to be born, no new karma emerges for this life.
I’ll conclude this soul phase by mentioning another characteristic of the inner life. Do you think of your soul as being masculine or feminine? It contains impulses which reflect both. Part of the life blueprint is that we will assume a particular physical body – male or female. This is the soul externalising one aspect. The other aspect is therefore internalised – outwardly one, internally the other. If we are confused about gender identity this can become an opportunity when evolution’s thrust is to unify opposites. The body we have incarnated in is there to help us towards that goal. Karmically we have done it all before. We might have become too masculine or too feminine. The soul’s task is to restore the balance. If we look to our inner life, it holds keys to harmonising these opposites. The forties are a good time to transcend the modelling of society and release our inner resources. Then we are on the way to true Wisdom.
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash