by Kathryn Harwig
(Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal.)
All children are intuitive when born, with a natural and inborn sense of who to trust and what is real. Watch a young child look at the world and you can almost see the knowledge and wonder of this gift sparkling in her eyes. Before they are taught to color inside of the lines, children automatically draw and color the world the way they see it...with auras around people and fantastic creatures walking right beside ordinary folk. But, around the age of seven (if not before), children are carefully, if not intentionally, taught to only see and pay attention to what the world considers "real." This teaching comes very early, and from parents, friends, teachers, and, of course, the media.
Children are socialized to acknowledge what society considers true, to focus attention solely upon what they are told to see and to disregard the rest. If society taught people to ignore other gifts, such as musical talent, in this fashion, we would all be tone deaf. Instead, musical senses are nurtured while intuitive ability is discounted, ridiculed, and ignored. By the time most of us have reached adulthood, our natural intuitive ability is completely shut down and disregarded.
There comes a time in life, however, when circumstances contrive to allow intuition to return. It has been there all the time, of course, ignored and unheeded, except, perhaps, in dire times as a warning. Then, right around the age of fifty, most people find that their still small voice of intuition gets louder and harder to ignore. Midlife and later is the era of the return of intuition.
There are many reasons why intuition returns in midlife. For one, most of us have far more time to sit, listen, and simply be as we age. The demanding and all-embracing times of child rearing and career development are slowing or reaching an end. During those rewarding and yet frantic times, it is almost impossible to listen to the quiet voice of intuition. As we age, though, we enter a period when we have more leisure and often more money, and we find ourselves doing some soul searching. We start reading books on spiritual topics, spend more time in prayer or meditation, or perhaps do yoga or simply sit quietly. What we find is that our intuition has been waiting patiently for us to pay attention to it.
Another cause for the return of intuition is that midlife is a time when many people experience traumatic events, such as the death of a spouse, significant illness, lay-offs and retirement, or divorce and life style changes. All these events, while unpleasant, can act as "wake-up calls" from the spirit realm. I have heard hundreds of stories from clients who have had their intuition triggered by such happenings. It is as if we are programmed to awaken our natural intuitive ability at this stage of our lives.
As we age, we only have two choices. We can embrace our natural human intuitive ability or we can deny it. In most cultures prior to the 20th century, the aged were revered as wise ones who could see beyond the veil. The shamans, crones, midwives, and medicine men of the past were generally aged persons who had lived long enough to master intuitive and mediumship skills. In a culture where living to old age was rare, those who were blessed in that fashion were honored and listened to for guidance. People who survived into their 50s and beyond became the nurturers of the community; the spiritual leaders; the guardians of traditions; and the teachers, mentors, and initiators of the young. They were the storytellers who helped their people remember enduring wisdom. They were looked to for advice and counsel and were cared for by those who were younger.
Native societies have traditionally always honored their elders. Elders were and are honored members of Native tribes and are looked to with respect and given deference due to their years of accumulated knowledge and wisdom. Some become the shamans for their people. They see visions and prophesy.
In ancient Celtic times, aged women were called crones and aged men called sages (though the term sage now refers to both genders). They also were revered as elders who embodied wisdom and earth knowledge. Crones cared for the dying and were spiritual midwives at the end of life, providing a link between this world and the next. They were teachers, healers, leaders, bearers of sacred power, knowers of mysteries, and walkers between the world of spirit and the world of substance. For thousands of years, older men and women were considered strong, powerful sources of wisdom and power. They were respected and honored in their communities and were sought out for advice and counsel.
But, in modern Western society at least, this has changed. With the advent of the industrial revolution and the dissolution of the extended family, older adults became invisible and unimportant. Gradually, the honor and respect given to the elders eroded. The energy and vigor and new ideas of youth became valued and the wisdom and vision of the elders was seen as irrelevant and out dated.
However, that is about to change. One reason is that we now have a huge aging population. The baby boomers have always been a force to be reckoned with; they have changed society. The oldest of the "boomers" turns age sixty-five in 2011. Interestingly enough, 2011 is a year that has been prophesied for centuries as being a time of major upheaval and change for our society.
Now, as the baby boomers' intuitive abilities blossom, they will once again rock the world. This segment of society has the potential to be a huge force in our society. As the population bulge of the baby boomers morphs into the Elder Generation, we do so with the hope for peace and love that we started with in the 1960s. This time, however, we have more tools. We have experience, wisdom, psychic ability, and yes, money.
We can make a difference.
How the elder generation makes the transition to take their rightful places as intuitive leaders is the subject of my book, The Return of Intuition: Awakening Psychic Gifts in the Second Half of Life. Through interviews with hundreds of people on the verge of awakening and those who have fully embraced their new gifts, many themes have arisen.
The themes are positive and life affirming. Elders who have embraced their psychic gifts live fearlessly. Death is seen as merely another transition while life is seen as an exciting challenge. Contrary to public belief, people actually become happier as they age. Several recent scientific studies have determined that aging brings a sense of peace and contentment not found in younger people.
Elders have learned to rejoice in solitude and to need fewer activities or possessions to bring them joy. They find their wealth in relationships and in quiet introspection rather than in financial or career success. They do not drop out of the world but they do watch it from a much different perspective.
By telling their stories, including those of psychic awakening, elders become courageous champions for a richer and freer style of life. As they claim their place in the this new movement of elders, they are drawn to different interests, people, and activities.
The stories I have gathered from elders on the brink of this new awakening of consciousness are stories of hope and heritage. As the elders reclaim their psychic gifts, they will be a new source of hope and power for a world That needs direction.
How do you know if you are entering this wonderful generation of elders? While everyone's journey is different, there are traits that many of us share. Have you noticed any of these things about yourself as you age?
- Do you have an increased desire to spend more time alone?
- Do you spend increased time in prayer, contemplation, or meditation?
- Have your sleep habits changed?
- Do you have less interest in day-to-day and monetary concerns?
- Have your friendships or interests changed?
- Do you have a desire for a new spiritual community, or perhaps are becoming interested in one for the first time?
- Are you reading the obituaries more often, not to find out who has died but rather to learn how they lived?
- Has your taste in books, magazines, and movies changed?
- Are your dreams more vivid?
- Do you have an inner knowing about when things will happen?
- Have you experienced a fear or dislike of certain people for no reason?
- Have you noticed a liking of certain people without knowing them well?
- Do you act on your "gut" instincts more often?
- Do you often feel isolated or different that others?
- Have you sensed disapproval from younger family or friends?
- Do you have a desire to learn more about mystical matters?
- Are you anxious or nervous for no apparent reason?
- Do you see signs (birds, coins, or other things) that seem to have messages for you?
- Do electronic things sometimes work strangely around you?
- Have you noticed things disappearing and reappearing with no explanation?
- Do you know who is calling before you pick up the phone?
- Do you have feelings of forgetfulness about unimportant things?
All these, and many others, are signs of an increased openness, awareness, and ability to become an intuitive elder.
As we age we have a choice. We can become the shamans, crones, and wise people for our world. Or, we can live in the shadow of fear of aging and death. We can fade into an invisible generation or we can step forward as a powerful, proud, intuitive generation. We can embrace our ability to see beyond the veil or we can live in fear of passing to a place we do not know and of which we are terrified. The choice is ours to make. I hope you join me in stepping forth proudly as an intuitive elder.
Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal. Copyright Llewellyn Worldwide, 2010. All rights reserved.