10. FINALLY, TRUE INNER FREEDOM?
The 10th cycle ages 63 to 70
Life is a strange thing. The physical body is built up and then it breaks down. In between whatever consciousness a species has is directed towards survival of their kind. Humans are different. We have developed a consciousness that potentially can take in the whole world. And there are individuals who embrace this gift in myriad ways to make the world a better place for all, which is impressive. But through our consciousness all of us make missteps, yet we can learn. Every life is a school to take us closer to fulfilling our destiny as co-creators with spirit.
So we arrive at the 10th seven-year cycle from age 63 to 70. On an archetypal level it is this life’s final one. It mirrors the cycle from birth to 7 years when the physical body was being built up. And now it is being broken down. The life force, the etheric, loosens further in preparation for the transition to the spiritual worlds.
In reality this phase may extend for many more years. Our earth life ends at age 70 in the sense that this age responds to our physical birth. After 70 we are mirroring the soul’s time in the womb, and further back to before conception when the preparation is taking place in spirit. We will explore these ‘extension’ years in the next post. For now, we can be aware that we are looking at a clear indicator of the purpose of our latter years, however long they last.
The time of ‘old age’ is the cycle of true inner freedom.
Early in the first 7 years, a baby is often ‘somewhere else’. Have you noticed how a baby and even a toddler now and then turns their focus inward? They are in and out of the physical. Likewise, as this 10th stage progresses this characteristic increases.
Perception into the spiritual worlds is opening, and it has much the same qualities as a young child still not earth bound. Inner vision and dreaming may become vivid. It is as if the person can dwell with one foot in both worlds. This is clearly the body’s preparation for death and transition from the physical realm.
The older physical body will manifest the results of its building up in childhood. If there was over-stimulation too early; exposure to chemicals, bombardment of the senses – if the life forces have not been cultivated and attuned, then damage may well result. Memory and sense impression are linked. If as a child we developed the acute use of the senses, for example fine touch and a keen ear through playing a musical instrument, exploring movement, rhythm, balance and finding delight in art and nature’s forms and colours, these things will ensure that this bodily memory will be available to us as we age.
Many an artist is ‘born’ anew after age 60 with the releasing of the inner visions of memory. One successful English novelist wrote her first book at 70, a children’s novel with special insight into the mind of the child. Creativity need never die, even if you don’t produce art. Imagination after all is a spiritual faculty. And if childhood has not offered the creative impulses the soul needs, now is a good time to redress this because of the inner changes taking place.
Old people are often mocked and treated as idiots because of their forgetfulness and vagueness. But normal ageing is not an illness like dementia caused by a diseased or damaged brain. It is a gift given to us so we can connect again with our home in spirit – and make ready for our return. Elderly eccentricity should not be laughed at, but rather taken seriously. Important things may be conveyed through the imaginings of the older person now that the memory levels are freer to operate, the wisdom nature is in place, and inspiration can be grasped and understood. Our surroundings, our lives, our world, can be perceived from this higher level of detachment.
The planet Uranus rules this cycle. Uranus is the magician. Its image is lightning, bright flashes of insight. It is the first of what are called the transcendental planets. From their beginning as comets with eccentric paths, these planets came into orbit around the sun and joined the solar system. In this sense there is a certain freedom associated with them still. They symbolise what is ‘beyond’ the ties that bind, beyond the smallness of our ordinary lives.
Living the preparation for dying well
The focus in today’s world is heavily on the physical and it is sad that many older people are filled with regret and even resentment over what they cannot do anymore. Aches and pains and illnesses begin to increase and it is natural enough that they become a focus. It can be a limitation however, to dwell in a 'what's going wrong' consciousness regarding self or others.
Many people do remain naturally vigorous during these years and beyond. Medical advice is directed towards keeping the body active and strong well into old age, which can certainly be beneficial. But a question arises about the dominance given to keeping fit. What if a person's attention is not directed to the physical side of things? This is frequently perceived as being linked to low self-esteem, which is forgiven in certain circumstances. It is also condemned as laziness and ‘letting oneself go’. I do my ‘maintenance’ with yoga and Pilates and feel the benefits. But my personal response to the question concerns what room is made to explore other fields.
This period of life is a time when spirit can shine. We need to welcome the characteristics of this transition. Less attention should be focused on the loss of past abilities and more attention given to a true self-knowledge. Just as the young child is wide-eyed and open to experience and alive with the joy of discovery, so a person in these latter years can enjoy the new spiritual awakening, the promise of what is to come. Abstract thought is less important than exploration of memory and the inner pictures which can emerge through appreciation of the arts, through nature, through devotional practices and appreciating what has been given in the earlier stages of your life.
It is also a time to appreciate those stages in others. For example, if I am watching some young people dancing. There was a time when I loved to dance the night away fully and expressively. I can no longer dance like this and I could approach my ‘loss of ability’ in various ways. Watching those dancers might lead me to look back with regret and even feel resentful; I could jump up and try to compete (and probably tear some muscles) or I could enjoy the exciting prowess of youth. What occurs in that enjoyment is that I ‘drink in’ the beauty and grace of the dancers. Responding in an open-hearted way, rather than reacting, works on an inner level. A dance occurs within the soul, an enlivening of the inner being.
This happens in many situations. Older people are warmed by the energy of children. They are nourished by living creatures, enriched by noble action and by valuing kindness and goodness. These things enable a person to inwardly perceive, see and hear anew. True self-knowledge is a real possibility as we age. And as this occurs, we can give of ourselves from wisdom acquired over a lifetime of experience and learning. People in this age group are frequently generous volunteers of their time and energy to all kinds of causes.
The negative trait of this period is the bigot, the older person who becomes rebellious, narrow, bitter and self-absorbed. Yet the disruptive influence of Uranus can help us break away from unhelpful thinking and behaviour – even the habits of a lifetime if we open our minds and hearts.
As we entered this world and assumed our physical body, the rhythmic processes of metabolism and the forces of growth began a work of transformation. These same forces work in the light of our thinking, the colour of our feelings and the darkness of our will – and they continue to work throughout life. The rich transformations in our later years shine through as the higher gifts of wisdom, charisma and inner grace. We become able to live on a more universal level, which fosters humility, compassion and deep connection with all beings – a fragrance and blessing for the world.
The freedom gained in this cycle is our preparation for a new phase of existence in spirit. Around the age of 70 to 72 we reach what astrologers call the end of a cosmic day. This is the reason why it has long been understood as the natural and archetypal age of transition into the afterlife. The years beyond 70 are a gift from the universe. How and why that gift is given will be the subject of our final post.