From Birth To Death: The Four Phases Of Life From An Ancestral Perspective

Posted by ash_stevens

The politicians and citizens of America proclaim that America is the greatest country in all the world. But take a look at our country’s rates of depression, drug abuse, disease, and incarceration and we see a side of America that isn’t so great.


Modern times have made life crazy. So, too, has our modern mentality. Today, some people live a dull life as an employee who works to pay off an ever-growing list of bills. But back in the day, people actually had a purpose for their life and they were valued for the things they had to offer the world.


We need to remember this. We’re all going to die one day, and the present system of thinking will only have us in an early grave that’s six feet deep in regret and dissatisfaction. What do we need to change? That’s hard to say. However, I do know that we are long overdue in understanding the flow of our natural life phases and the value they give us. Perhaps by seeing life from a more traditional and spiritual perspective we’ll be able to understand what we have to offer so we can fulfill our hungry souls.


We are born into this world completely dependent upon our caregivers, and slowly foster independence as we develop physical skills, cognitive abilities, and knowledge of the environment we live in. This is a time of discovery. We have much to learn, so everyday life involves approval, guidance, and regular instruction and information. But while a child has much to learn, their spirit and eagerness to discover and play makes them a cherished part of a community. They serve as a reminder of the attitude adults need to adopt to seize the opportunity of the moment and enjoy life the best we can.

Maiden and Youth

Transition from childhood to young adulthood, this is where the youth and maiden -- the archetypes of young males and females -- begin to discover and explore their creative potential. They are slowly assigned tasks and begin to take on new duties which prepare them for the responsibilities of adulthood. This is also when males and females begin to explore sexuality through jokes, conversations with friends and adults, and through their experiences in youthful relationships.


Famed psychologist Carl Jung spoke of four life stages in his psychological works. This phase of life aligns with his archetypal phase known as the Athlete Stage. After a childhood of requiring and seeking approval, we now look for the approval of society. We care about what others think of us, and our body is especially important in this. Our newly-awakened sexuality and our ideas of relationships and the opposite sex put even more stress on our body image.  


Nurturer and Protector

As new tasks are taken on, the youth transforms from a curious and creative young adult to a dedicated and responsible adult who is now able — and expected — to take care of themselves and to see to the well-being of others.


As a woman, this often involves taking on roles like caregiver, partner, mother, or warrioress standing for her community. Whether she is providing help and support to those in need or she is caring for her family, this phase of life is a time for her to go beyond herself. She makes use of her sacred and divine feminine traits of intuition, emotional intelligence, compassion, understanding, and unconditional love by embodying the archetypal images of warrioress, priestess, lover, or queen/mother. Of course, this is a time where a woman’s fertility and ability to conceive are most prized by her community. However, a woman has many strengths which allow her to serve the world around her in a multitude of ways.


For men, their ancient roles as protectors comes from their sacred masculine traits of strength, logic, calculation, and action. Shifting from youth to adult male may have a man embodying the archetype(s) of king/father, warrior, and/or lover. Here, a man is historically looked to as a warrior able to father strong and healthy children. However, men also have important roles as builders, advisors, providers, and scouts.


In Jungian Psychology, the young nurturing woman and the protective man are shifting from the Athlete State to the Warrior Stage. The Warrior Stage is a phase of life where we feel the need to prove ourselves, and we find ourselves comparing and competing with others. We also want to acquire the things we desire — however immature or shallow those desires may be — and we want to accomplish, conquer, and attain. As we turn the corner of young nurturers and protectors via additional responsibility and experience, we move into the Statement Stage. This phase marks a shift in desire and needs which go from being self-centered to life-centered. This is the time which men and women seek true fulfillment and discover that they best serve themselves by serving the needs of others and becoming something bigger than themselves.  

Crone and Sage

Now the nurturer and protector enter a phase of life in which their wisdom is the cherished gift they have to offer. In this phase, they can lead without physically leading. They have the knowledge of experience and the foresight of personal trial and error. Where before, the strength and fertility of bodies were valued, the elder woman serves her community with her wisdom and intellect -- something which no bikini body could ever compete with. These wise women serve the world as powerful priestesses, knowledgeable crones, storytelling wisdom keepers, and mothering aunties and grandmothers.


Men also have the experience and wisdom to serve as priests, slow but decisive advisors, and observant grandfathers and elders. Their bodies which once burned with fire at the chance to run and fight now smolder with the wisdom of understanding, resolution, and a deep value for peace. Once great action-takers, they now see that action can be taken quietly, softly, and without abrasive force or shows of strength.        


This is where we see Jung’s archetypal image “The Spirit.” Here, a man or woman goes from being an individual to realizing that they are a part of a whole. Their wisdom is not a natural product of age or experience, but comes from their ability to step out of their own mind. They can see a situation from various angles and utilize the foresight of a number of perspectives and possibilities. The crone and sage are no longer living life. They are life, and they see its patterns and flow with its tides. They are aging and the day will come where they die, but they aren’t a burden society. They serve as gold which makes the community shine in the wealth of knowledge and wisdom.   

What phase of life are you in? Are you ready for the next stage?

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