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The Second Half of Life
Opening the Eight Gates of Wisdom

by Angeles Arrien

      There’s no question that we experience a shift in perspective and needs as we approach mid-life. Ask anyone who has survived four or five decades, and you’ll likely realize that these years are every bit as disorienting and angst-ridden as puberty.

Unfortunately, in our Western culture, the recognition of these important changes is over-shadowed by an emphasis on youth, material gain, and the tangible symbols of worldly success. Society’s arbitrary demands are no match for the human psyche, however; the natural transition will occur, and Angeles Arrien’s book, The Second Half of Life: Opening the Eight Gates of Wisdom, is a valuable guide through this emotionally turbulent journey.

Dr. Arrien has designed her guide around the "eight metaphorical gates of initiation through which we must pass in order to develop into wise people or elders." The gates, she explains, symbolize the transitions that we must experience and embrace in order to step gracefully through the second half of life and find not only our purpose but new sources of health, happiness, and understanding.

Using symbolism from a number of the world’s mythologies, Dr. Arrien takes us through the Silver Gate, representing the unknown; the White Picket Gate, where we attempt rediscovery of the true face; the Clay gate, which teaches us intimacy; the Black and White Gate, where relationships are examined; the Rustic Gate of renewed creativity; the Bone Gate, where character is developed; the Natural Gate, where we find satisfaction; and the Gold Gate, where we learn nonattachment.

With each gate, Arrien explains the tasks required by that particular transition, its challenge and gift, and she offers practices and questions to ponder as we travel. More than a simple feel-good collection of suggestions, The Second Half of Life asks the reader to ponder the questions that will lead each person to answers appropriate for her circumstances and lifestyle.

Author Angeles Arrien is a cultural anthropologist and a Fellow at the Institute of Noetic Sciences. Readers of her earlier books already know that they are based on the knowledge and skills she’s acquired in that field, and speak directly to the empty spaces in us that seek ancient ways of knowing. Arrien delivers substance and gentle guidance for a specific audience in this valuable and much-needed guide to The Second Half of Life.

The Book

Sounds True
September 2007
Spirituality, Aging
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The Reviewer

Deborah Adams
Reviewed 2007
NOTE: Reviewer Deborah Adams is the Flair and Macavity Award winning author of the Jesus Creek Mystery Series: All The Great Pretenders, All The Crazy Winters, All The Dark Disguises, All The Hungry Mothers, All The Deadly Beloved, All The Blood Relations, and All The Dirty Cowards. She was also an Agatha Award nominee for Best First Novel.
© 2007