9. A TIME FOR DEEP THOUGHTFULNESS
The years 56 to 63 – setting your gaze on higher things
This is the 9th Cycle: By the age of 56 the astral has a much looser connection with the physical. Sometimes you can observe a change in a person’s countenance. This isn’t about lines on the face or sagging skin but rather a tangible air that is somehow beyond their physical form. It is appropriate because we have moved into the cycle of detachment. Consciousness need not be bound up in the body.
Saturn is the planet ruling these years. In Greek mythology Saturn is the Titan Kronos who devours his children, a horrific picture of time eating away at youth. ‘Old Father Time’ is friendlier, yet inexorable. Saturn is also the planet of deep and profound thoughtfulness through which we can come to a real recognition that we are bounded by time as well as space in this earthly life.
This cycle is our opportunity to prepare with foresight for old age. In our souls we are becoming free of the body. And a question derived from worldly life arises. Will we keep our attention focused on the body and its condition or will we set our gaze further? So many people spend an inordinate amount of time discussing their own and others’ illnesses and aches and pains at this age, and into the next cycle even more so. It indicates a concentration on the body. The body is ours to nurture and this needs to be honoured, for example through healthy diet and exercise. But the challenge of these years is to accept who we are – with grace, and to focus on higher things. Many people dread and fight any sign of ageing. It's seen as an accumulation of inconvenience, whereas these years are our opportunity to embrace the dawning of spiritual growth. A whole new world of insight can open up.
Today in countries with better diet and wealth, physical youthfulness is maintained for longer than was once the case. However, the inner attitude is most important, and where the attention is focused. No matter what the physical situation, this is the time of spirit rather than the flesh.
As the etheric forces retreat
The corresponding cycle is the 7-14 one where the physical has developed and the etheric is activated – the etheric ‘birth’. Up until then the young child has been enveloped in the protective aura of the mother. In the years from 7 to 14 the child’s etheric must be built and strengthened.
In the 56 plus adult, the etheric begins to loosen and this brings changes to the physical body. We tend to become more sedentary in our social activities – a leisurely meal with friends rather than rock climbing. Physically we will not be able to keep up the same work we once did. This shifting may be gradual, especially if we have been well connected with etheric life forces, such as those found in nature. But changes are inevitable.
Yet there is a seeming contradiction. The loosening of the etheric can also result in new forces of vitality from a higher level. This in turn will have a reviving effect on our physical body. And for many people the soul still feels youthful, although in truth this is due to a greater spiritual consciousnes.
It can be a rich time for the soul. Memory levels can flow more freely – the memories of one’s own childhood and past life memories as well. Something of the child returns to you. Surely an ideal quality for a grandparent, or a wise older person among youngsters. Grandparents are often seen as more fun than parents, so conscious of their responsibilities. And the older adult can enjoy child-like enthusiasm again.
Taking place in the soul is a more encompassing view of existence expressed in compassion, generosity and breadth of vision. Perception into the spiritual worlds widens. Vivid dreams and visions may emerge.
Preparing for lives to come
Through the soul's inner activity new ideas can emerge and new freedoms, which may well be an inkling of the directions of the next life. And in truth we are now building for the future in lives to come. The preparation begins in this life, so be willing to explore new things.
Often a creativity free from ego emerges during these years. Another possibility is that we have more opportunity to pick up on and use a gift that has been latent within us. The older years can be a highly creative time. We need to explore ways to cultivate and capture these new gifts and apply them in our lives, so that our minds are alert to this soul activity.
The years between 56 and 63 are especially a time of coming to terms with what we have created. If this is not done, then we are not free to build anything for the future because unresolved issues cause the repetition of unproductive behaviour patterns.
Freedom or paralysis – our choice
In the last years of this cycle the traditional age of retirement is approaching, when we will be ‘free’ of our occupation as an expression of who we are. Yet retirement holds fears of an unfillable void for many people. This ninth cycle is for us to learn and prepare for these experiences of metamorphosis, to cultivate the richness of our inner being, so that by old age we have an inner store, not an inner emptiness.
Workaholics often have many problems at this time. The lesson for many of us in the modern world is not to invest all our energy in work. Throughout working life there is a need for a balanced focus. Interestingly the idea of a ‘job for life’ is disappearing. It has many financial challenges and difficulties. Yet there is also the potential for good inner outcomes. As our work becomes more changeable, we could become more flexible and less dependent on work for our identity.
If people were able to educate themselves for these changes, there would not be the tremendous paralysis of the soul and barrenness that is exhibited by so many. Nor would there be the dreadful neglect of the wisdom offered by older people. They would not be put on the junk heap and replaced by younger models. Every age has its unique value.
The second Saturn return
This powerful event takes place around 59 to 60. During the first Saturn return at 28-29, we took stock of our direction so far and turned towards the life we needed to live. If one has met the challenges of that first Saturn return, this time need not be stressful. But Saturn requires deep self-assessment. There may well be some crisis, perhaps on a physical or emotional level, or an external event such as a greater responsibility that needs to be undertaken.
We need to remember that the sun forces have entered our souls. It is wise to draw on these through devotion, love and an open, positive outlook. These are the gifts of the spiritual sun and if valued they serve us well and will continue to be a blessing for us.