Directions in Research: 63 & Beyond


In 2012, a small group of biography workers gathered for a second time to discuss human development during the years beyond 63. Originally, initiated by Gloria Zahka in 2011, many of us returned with information, insights, even surprises gleaned from interviews with friends and family members who are of this age. Interest in our later years is not unique to biography workers, of course. The topic is popular across the US, because we are living longer and because of the sheer numbers now entering and negotiating life’s last phases.


As biography workers steeped in the teachings of Rudolf Steiner, we may have something special to contribute to the discussion. As a starting point, we are interested in experiences that rise above the individual and speak, rather, to the universal or archetypal. We hope to gain insight into qualities of consciousness beyond 63 (as is found in anthroposophical literature addressing earlier phases). Perceiving and articulating nuances of inner change experienced later in life might illuminate and complement seemingly well-understood outer changes (e.g. retirement).

While our personal interviews served to bring us closer to the subject—and we acknowledge the deep familial value in such conversations and shared time—we recognize, too, that there is no shortage of anecdotal and statistical data available from other sources. We feel our approach itself, being phenomenological, offers something needed: an objectivity and openness that allows meaningful aspects of life beyond age 63 to arise and speak for themselves. This is a gift of biography work.

Possible questions to pursue include:

  • How was earlier research, within anthroposophy, conducted on the phases up to 63 years of age?
  • What characterizes each of the seven-year phases beyond 63?
  • What do we understand about how consciousness changes later in life?
  • How can we understand, encourage, and support a life that has its own quality, one that is right for the phases beyond 63?
  • Given a particular interest in the later phases, what is the value and application of information gathered about childhood and young adulthood?
  • Can we draw comparisons/relationships between/among the seven-year phases beyond 63 and those prior to 63?
  • Do we wish to explore ideas suggested by other researchers?

* Might Christopher Bee’s work with the constellations offer insight?
* Would Norbert Glas’ work with the senses—the waning of the outer senses and the     need to develop “inner senses” –assist our exploration?
* Does Betty Staley’s book Tapestries offer something useful?

  • Would a focus on the twelve senses provide direction?
  • What is there to understand about thresholds later in life?
  • How might we conduct an enhanced exploration of the inner life beyond 63?
  • How is freedom from one’s karma experienced in the years beyond 63?

Submit a Comment