A reprint of this issue is available from Amazon for $10. Click on the image below for further information

From the editor...

Itineraries’ yearlong exploration of The Spirituality of Later Life concludes with this Fall 2011 issue whose focus is Rites of Passage into Elderhood. Randy Morris, who served as Guest Editor for the issue, provides an introduction to the issue below, after a tribute to the late Fred Lanphear, to whom the issue is dedicated. We hope you find the articles stimulating and illuminating!

— Bolton Anthony, Founder

Honoring our elders...

  The time is ripe for elders to reclaim their rightful role of speaking for Earth and future generations.

— Fred Lanphear

The first time I laid eyes on Fred Lanphear was a late summer morning at the Songaia Community. He passed by a large picture window, wearing a wool shirt against the morning chill and pushing a well-used wheelbarrow down a pathway lined with green plants. The bright morning light wreathed his head in a golden arc causing a glow to emanate from his tall, stooped shoulders. It could have been a Rembrandt painting, “Man with Wheelbarrow.” I thought to myself: “Now that is how an elder should look!”

When I inquired as to who it was that was fulfilling my archetypal fantasy of an elder, I was told “Oh, that’s Fred!” Fred’s reputation had preceded him. I had heard about his incredible life of international service, his role in the founding of the Songaia Community, and his many contributions to Rite of Passage Journeys. But I did not know at that time how he would become my own “revered elder” and the man to whom I would turn when I sought my elder initiation...

Fred Lanphear — friend, mentor, and Earth Elder — died on September 9, 2010. His life was a lesson in wisdom, generosity, and conscious wholeness. It is an honor to dedicate this issue of Itineraries to him.

As I face my mortality, I feel a sense of urgency in taking steps to help build the movement of Earth Elders now. This is not something we can put off to another time, as many of us are in or approaching the final time of our lives. It is urgent because of impending planetary shifts that may be irreversible, such as global warming and the accelerated extinction of species.

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How we might go about reviving rites of passage into Elderhood — and why we should do so — is the focus of this Fall 2011 issue of Itineraries.

Guest Editor Randy Morris

When asked to sum up what is most important to know about being alive at this time in history, Fred Lanphear (to whom this issue is dedicated) replied, “It’s all about Story!” At first I thought he meant the story we tell of our lives. That personal story, of course, changes throughout our lifetime, as we remythologize our biography on a regular basis. But then I remembered Fred's fascination and commitment to the “The Universe Story” which the work of Thomas Berry had inspired. Fred had often reminded me that the story of the evolution of the cosmos — from the Big Bang to the birth of our galaxy and solar system, to the emergence of life on earth — was “the greatest story ever told.” He believed it had the power to reconcile science and religion and lead humanity to a new awareness of its identity as a single whole, dedicated to the sacred task of maintaining the living systems of the earth in a new “ecozoic era.”

As the threat to our existence as a species begins to accelerate through global warming and overconsumption, Fred’s response reminded me of how important it is to tell a good story about what is happening to us. For example, we could tell ourselves that there is nothing wrong at all with how things are going. Science and a growth economy will see us through our current predicaments, so we can go about our lives as we always have. Nothing needs to change. Or perhaps we tell ourselves a different story. Confronted with the evidence of a deteriorating planet, we could tell ourselves that there is no hope for the future at all, that the human species is doomed to live out the dire consequences of its actions and will simply go extinct, like 99 percent of other life forms before us. In this story, a story of the “Great Unraveling,” all we need to do is to serve our time in a prison of fear while love and time fade around us.

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In this issue...

A Tribute to an Earth Elder

Jim Clark

Fred Lanphear’s remarkable life and his pioneering attempts to restore rites of passage to elderhood is recalled in the articles written by

Craig Ragland

Jim Clark and Craig Ragland. Jim elucidates Fred’s philosophy, while Craig gives an example of how Fred lived out that philosophy.

The Need for Initiated Elders

Darcy Ottey

Next, the issue turns to a call by a “younger” for elders to step up to their rightful place in culture. With the impatience of youth, Darcy Ottey demands that elders tell their stories and share their wisdom.

Edith Kusnic

Edith Kusnic then reviews the wisdom stream of the baby boomer generation, reminding her generation that — just by having lived through these times — you carry more wisdom than you know. You are already a wisdom-keeper, and the time is now for the boomers to finish their generational work.

What Are Elder Rites of Passage?

Ron Pevny

All this talk of rites of passage and initiation may spark readers' curiosity. How does one go about creating such rituals? Ron Pevny gives an excellent overview of the main principles of a rite of passage, and

Tom Pinkson

Tom Pinkson gives examples of ceremonies he has conducted for elders. Given these resources, perhaps you can begin to imagine your own initiation ceremony.

Dimensions of Rites of Passage

With this foundation in hand, then, four articles — by Harry R. Moody, Richard Rohr, Richard Leider, and John G. Sullivan — explore various dimensions of rites of passage into elderhood. See fuller descriptions and links below.

The Vision Quest — Two Personal Accounts

Larry Hobbs

The issue concludes with two first-person accounts of initiated elders. Larry Hobbs

Helen Kolff

and Helen Kolff, who have gone through a particular form of an initiatory rite of passage, the vision quest, share their wisdom by telling their vision quest tale.
Brief Notices...

“To come to life more fully
so as to serve life more wisely
and more nobly:
Sagely stillness, within;
Sovereign service, without."

Happy birthday,
John Sullivan

Second Journey's much loved Sage-In-Residence turns 75 on December 12.


January 5-February 16, 2012
Seymour Center in Chapel Hill

Co-hosts Bolton Anthony and Kay-Robert Volkwijn continue the popular film/ discussion series with four films about food and family, life and love. Alternate Thursday evenings at 6:30 beginning January 5.

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.”

— Albert Camus    




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Dreams and Elder Initiations

In “most shamanic traditions, refusal to follow the call will result in a terrible accident, a life-threatening sickness, or insanity.” Do we dismiss this warning as just an ancient superstition? Or is it an all-too-accurate description of what happens when an entire culture, a global civilization, ignores the invitations of the soul seeking actualization?...

Discharging Your Loyal Soldier

There is a deeper voice of God, which you must learn to hear and obey in the second half of life. It will sound an awful lot like the voices of risk, of trust, of surrender, of soul, of “common sense,” of destiny, of love, of an intimate stranger, of our deepest self, of soulful “Beatrice." The true faith journey only begins at this point. Up to now everything is mere preparation...

Markers in the Stream

Carl Jung speaks about a second initiation, calling it “The Night Sea Journey.” I think of it as going over the waterfall and descending like a drop of water moving ever deeper into the great sea. The Arc of Descent has begun. Less a matter of doing, more a matter of not doing–a matter of following the Watercourse Way, using its own gravitational arc. Receiving. Releasing. Returning. Remembering. Coming back to what was and is and ever shall be....

Keeping the Flame Alive

Since the dawn of civilization, elders have sat around fires discussing and debating the essential choices. There is an evolving elder within each of us, and there is a danger of losing contact with that core in ourselves. As Carl Jung warned, “Every human being has a two-million-year-old man within himself, and if he loses contact with that two-million-year-old self, he loses his real roots”...




Individual reprints of each of the four issues in the 2011 series on the Spirituality of Later Life are available from Amazon for $10 each. To access ordering information, click on the cover images below

Click for information on Second Journeys: The Dance of Spirit in Later Life Order Serving from Spirit from Amazon.com Order Rites of Passage into Elderhood from Amazon.com Order The Inner Work of Eldering from Amazon.com Order Writing as a Spiritual Practice from Amazon.com

Second Journeys: The Dance of Spirit in Later Life, published in 2013, is also available from Amazon for $20. Its essays along with the many poems scattered throughout the anthology — the contributions of 44 writers and poets — explore the “dance of spirit in later life.” New essays companion earlier essays from Second Journey’s 2011 exploration of The Spirituality of Later Life. All four sections contain a tribute to an elder whose life has been emblematic, each concludes with an Invitation to Practice. Interspersed throughout, authors who have been our virtual partners in the work of birthing a new vision of aging for our time offer reflections on the books from which they have drawn sustenance. Dip into this rich collection at any point and you will find yourself drawn to linger and reflect. For further about the anthology, click on the center cover.