How To Be An Elder


“What makes an elder, a heartfelt spirit, a clear mind, a talented heart, one who is young while old and old while young, an activist for the Soul? Is it formulae, schemas, lexicons? It could be. But also, and often more so, I think it is very like the flowering of the trees in the forest, as we gather more years: we straggle and stride onward in our better learned ways to give out even more seeds for new life, and to blossom wildly in so doing for self and others … The old ones are yet traveling underground and overland toward us as we meet by the fireside one more time. La Vidente, the Seer. La Que Sabe, the Knowing Woman. La Levantadora, the Lifter of Curses—the Dangerous Old Woman in her many likenesses calls to you to ‘get down to business.’” 

—Clarissa Pinkola Estés, PhD

How to Be an Elder presents the culmination of Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés’ masterwork, inviting us to “come into our own as wiser and wild souls” through six sessions of teachings, stories, poetry, and blessings. In this fifth and final volume of Dr. Estés’ landmark series, we will explore how it is that through the gathering of our years we become a beautiful refuge for ourselves, our Souls, and for those who come after us.

“Did I mention, dear brave souls,” reminds Dr. Estés, “that you came with all the seedlings needed to do your work, to take your venerable places in life? Now is the just-right time, like Sleeping Beauty, to break the enchantment, to truly awaken and awaken others, as either a rookie Dangerous Old Woman, or a mid-career Dangerous Old Woman, or as Crone with Crown complete!”

Join in the unfolding of the great gifts and vast new life you were meant to share, with How to Be an Elder.

Session 1: Las Recordadoras, The Rememberers: The Wildest And Wisest Ones of All: They've Learned, That Is, Earned, Their Ways Through Life by Gathering their Years As Chapters in a Book

Session highlights:

  • Aunt Edna on Becoming a Venerable "Old Squinty Eye"
  • The Time for All to Live and Let Live
  • If You Were an Old Fairytale Crone, This Is What You Would Be About
  • Maps Through: Sacred Offerings Made More and More as One Gathers Years
  • Sharing Wisdom with Others Who Ask: Measuring Intent
  • Story: "La Arbol De La Vida: The Tree of Life: To Know What Lasts … Not What We Were Taught To Believe
  • Story: "Memoria, Stars Over the Forest"
  • Blasting Falsehood: Regard and Respect Earned by Growth in Consciousness, and Actions, Not by Years Lived
  • Teaching Self and Others: Attitude Is the Essence
  • List of "Matters That Matter" to Support Self and the Young Who Burgeon with Their Own Forms of Wisdom

Session 2: La Vieja, The Awakened Old One in Fairy Tales: Her Ways of Not Simply Knowing, But Her Actions That Follow the Soul's Path Faithfully

Session highlights:

  • Aunt Edna on Dummies vs. Demons (Unconsciousness and Consciousness)
  • Shadow and Light: Daily Practices of "Blessing-Consciousness": What Is Blessing-Consciousness?
  • "The Gritty Forest Path": The Truth About Opportunities in Age to See More Clearly, Act More Clearly, Love More Clearly, Set Limits More Clearly … For the First Time, or Again, or At Last
  • The Health of the Loving Consort, Your Body; This Blessing-Consciousness Is up to You
  • Story: "Sleeping Beauty"
  • Daily Practice of What Matters; This Blessing-Consciousness Is up to You
  • Creative Life As Oxygen; This Blessing-Consciousness Is up to You
  • The Aerial View: Relationships Based on Infinity Rather Than Mundane Circumstances Only. This Blessing-Consciousness Is up to You.
  • Strong Life Force in Age: Becoming Comadres (In Spanish this Means, "I Am Your Sister-Mother-Daughter-Friend … And You Are All These to Me Too)." This Blessing-Consciousness Is up to Us All.

Session 3: La Vidente, the Seer: The Old Woman as Seer of Other Realities

Session highlights:

  • Aunt Edna on "Being Spooky" As Only Old Women Can Be
  • Tree in Winter: First Frost, Last Frost
  • Hardening Off the Heartwood; Breaking the Heart Open
  • Poem line, "What Is Cold, Bursts, What Is Warmed, Blooms"
  • Story: "Rumpelstilskin"
  • Granting the Map: Teaching the Young to Name Names, to See Under and Around and Through
  • The Negative Complex of Narrowed Vision
  • Story: "The Loathly Bride"
  • Drawing Sovereignty Boundaries for and Against Others' Best Intentions
  • What Is Honoring, What Is Not: How to Bless Self and Others, and Why

Session 4: La Levantadora, The Lifter of Maldiciones, Curses: Reconciling the Shadows Which Sometimes Have Fallen Over Every Soul's Life

Session highlights:

  • On Mal Ojo, Aunt Edna on the Evil Eye
  • Forms of Shadow, Bidden and Unbidden
  • How Does Shadow Turn into a Curse, Psychically?
  • Story: "The Faithful Tree Seeds on the Trochimochi Wind"
  • Story: "Rapunzely: On the Lifting of Curses"
  • The Victim As a Stage of Healing
  • Introjects: Removing the Poison Darts
  • Practice for Rewriting Life's Endings (And the Past, via Aerial View and Mythic Context)
  • The Value of the Four Kinds of Forgiveness
  • Difficult and Devastating Twists of Fate: Serious Callings Made Visible by No Other Means
  • Storycito: "The Faithful Gardener"

Session 5: La Que Sabe, The Knowing Woman

Session highlights:

  • Aunt Edna on Strength: The Seed Buried Underground
  • The Tree, Even without Eyes, Can See Light
  • Story: "Stolen Mother Moon," The Hidden Wholeness
  • La Luna; The Aeternal Beacon of Silver Light
  • Story: "The Fire Seed"
  • Truths that Often Become Much More Apparent As One Gathers Years
  • No One Is Allowed to Be Innocent Forever
  • Part of the Great Cycle Is Sometimes to Be Lost
  • "The Old Cherry Tree": We Live Each Day in Hopes of Seeing the Beautiful World Anew … And One More Time
  • The Modern Rite of Passage Is the Same As the Ancient One
  • Story: "Old Man on the Train"
  • Story: "Acedia"

Session 6: Los Enamoratos, Lifelong Love: The Troth for Life and Afterlife, I Shall Ever Walk with You in Love

Session highlights:

  • Aunt Edna and Nagymama Viktoriá on What Makes a Good Lover
  • The Archetype of the Old Lover
  • The Seaworthy Heartwood
  • Terezia's Talk on "Perfect Love"
  • Story: "Baucis and Philemon"
  • On Choosing Resilience
  • The Ties of Life-Long Love
  • Story: "The Rebbe's Advice to the Heart of the Home"
  • An Odd and True Definition of "Soul Mate"
  • "I Belong to You, You Belong to Me: 10 Practices of Loving for Life."
  • The Lifelong Love of Creatures, of Creator, of Nature, of Justicia
  • Story: "The Mountain of Old Lovers"
  • "The 185 Last Words"


Available Formats

  1. Audio CD or Audio Download