The Ages of the Soul


by Jose Stevens, Ph.D.
(Who is a long time observer and reader of the Edgar Cayce Readings.)

The following is a brief description of the characteristics of five basic soul levels. Each level has many lifetimes of lessons to teach us wisdom through trial and error.


INFANT SOULS choose lessons of physical survival. They live in simple situations that include intense experiences - famine, plagues, floods, wars, oppression, etc. They don’t know the difference between right and wrong, though they can be taught to be decent human beings. They don’t usually seek higher education and often don’t seek employment, as such. Infant souls don’t question authority and willingly adopt the religion of their parents
as is.


BABY SOULS display less fear than infant souls and are more sophisticated. But they tend to over apply rules. Black is black as far as they’re concerned. Their strong early beliefs remain fixed in their minds, regardless of a lack of their wisdom or tolerance. Baby souls love to become big fish in their little puddles...but hate being opposed. Because of this they may spend much time in litigation. Baby souls don’t spend time navel-gazing into their own lives. They’re often “good students” that learn ”proper subjects”, and are attracted to fundamentalist religions.


YOUNG SOULS are the “Donald Trumps” of the world...the movers and shakers. They usually set the bar too high for themselves. Achievement is paramount. They chase after what they believe will bring success without ever stopping to think why - because they’re so limited in their perception. They fear death and must have all the toys, experiences, fame and money they can possibly accumulate before they die. They are designers of civilization.
Young souls usually seek higher education and graduate-level degrees. Their views of orthodoxy are at one end of the spectrum or the other. Monks and nuns are at one end and a belief in total sexual freedom, the other. They have difficulty with insight into other people’s behaviour.


MATURE SOULS challenge the young soul’s desire to “have it all”. It is a hard cycle that demands seeking answers to life’s tough questions. They are attracted to gentler faiths, such as Quaker, Unitarian, or Buddhist. Mature souls are not as open to the occult as old souls. They look for and question the motivation for all of life’s actions. They often continue with inappropriate relationships - perhaps believing that through self-sacrifice, or tough lessons they will ultimately prevail. Often they can’t shake their sense of duty. Mature souls suffer from stress related illness that sometimes results in schizophrenia, psychosis and a higher suicide rate than other souls. [Cayce emphasized the role that “stress” plays in not only physical illnesses but also mental illnesses; he believed it was “stress” that wrecked havoc on the brain's chemistry/balance]. But they’re smart enough to seek professional help without urging. Mature souls often make huge contributions to knowledge - particularly philosophical and scientific. But although they don’t necessarily have the drive for fame, many still achieve it. They’re emotionally high maintenance.


OLD SOULS live and let live. They seek the route of least resistance; they’re individualistic and usually easy going. They have an inner knowing of the waste of time in pursuing fame and fortune and therefore create the appearance of being “laid back”. Old souls are highly competent - even in roles they don’t particularly like. They tend to choose work that is pleasant and undemanding, leaving them free to pursue their desired goals easily...unless the job adds to the spiritual search. They may or may not seek higher education...but definitely will seek it if they sense it’s needed for their chosen path. Old souls create confidence in animals. And their choice of medical care tends to be alternative and holistic. Old souls are here to teach others their spiritual understandings. Their philosophies and writings are simple and easy to read. Old souls religion is far reaching and has no label. A grove of trees is a sacred place to them. They seldom cling to dogma and prefer personal spiritual practices. However, old souls are wise enough to be discreet in their religious practices and know how to pass in public undetected. They focus on searching for the spiritual truth and have a finer sense of knowing what is true than any other souls level. Old souls all over the world share the experience of emptiness and a longing for that feeling of home.

You may start noticing these characteristics in people around you - and perhaps better understand why they think and act the way they do.


By Joya Pope

On deep inner levels, Old Souls perceive the interrelatedness existing among all people. Intuitively they sense they are part of an integral whole.

Grasping this big picture, Old Souls then do their best to live by it and to not harm or judge others. There is a strong urge to be impeccable and to maintain personal integrity in all transactions. They detach from the emotional intensities of the Mature Soul period and get more objective about the ups and downs of life.

Having dozens of lifetimes in varieties of cultures and classes thoroughly blended into their essences, it is much more difficult for Old Souls to get embroiled in the right-and-wrong, us-and-them games people and countries both play. Seeing the whole picture in this way makes Old Souls calmer, more peaceful and centered. It can also make them appear passive or weak to the other soul ages.

While Old Souls do not tend to grow into their full soul perceptivity until about age thirty-five or so, they will, even before then, be accused of stepping to the beat of a different drummer. They are unusual - two steps away from the norm - in this Young Soul culture. Because they are inclined to individualistically follow their inner perceptions and desires, they may be seen as eccentric, though usually harmlessly so.

While there is great motivation for spiritual growth, motivation tends to be lacking when it comes to developing political or material punch. Seldom doing anything they don't want to and preferring their own unconventional pursuits, they often seek the path of least resistance as far as work, so that all energy can be poured into spiritual development. Because of the essence's richness gathered over many lifetimes, Old Souls tend to be extremely competent in a wide range of things - which often aren't pursued. They will try to find work that supports their personal growth: counseling, teaching, bodywork, gardening and carpentry being some favorites.

Many are magnetized by philosophy and art. If higher education proves necessary in order to teach, less orthodox schools allowing more opportunities for inner exploration will be favored.

A fancy house or car, or impressive clothes and jewelry aren't often too high on an Old Soul's real priority list. Neither is a nine-to-five job. Plain laziness on the physical plane sometimes creates difficulty paying the bills, but the material game just isn't what it used to be. However, Old Souls do have one advantage with the material world: as they begin to seek, understand and use the laws of the physical universe, goals can be attained with less effort. Thus, there is an outer, as well as an inner draw to understand the universal laws distilled in astrology, metaphysics, tarot and other ancient teachings.

Old Souls may explore many religions and teachings, being most drawn to those emphasizing love and to those they've resonated with closely in past lives.

But being rule-bound or as orthodox as some disciplines require does not usually last long. Unique, personal spiritual practices, like an oceanside ritual to mark a birthday, are often developed and used.

Old Souls are very capable of agape or unconditional love, and many consciously work on not ever judging other people. For this very reason, some Old Souls appear to be annoyingly remote. This is usually an essence who has previously handled many emotional issues and comes to the planet intent on examining intellectual, philosophical and spiritual issues, period.

In the television rendition of Shirley MacLaine's Out on a Limb, the character, David, who took her to Peru and never stopped playing pedant, was noticeably lacking in warmth. David appeared to function well with minimal feeling; he didn't seem to mind instructing and mentoring all the time. However, some people get uncomfortable once they are here with their aridity and lack of emotional warmth and set out to make up for what their personality seems to lack. But, the force of essence - which, in this case, is committed only to comprehending spiritual lessons - will not be behind creating the change. This does not mean the change can't be made, just that it is trickier to pull off because you and your essence agreed to work on spiritual lessons.

A similar situation arises after a person has had materially successful lifetimes. The essence has completed the lessons to be gained from having riches and does not have much impetus to recreate those situations except as it might peripherally help with other lessons. Your essence may be willing to let you be dirt poor for the duration of your lifetimes as long as it is gaining the desired spiritual and philosophic lessons. Sometimes an essence actually interferes with a person gaining money when it's clear that riches would distract attention from the real inner work.

Remember, you are your essence while you are astral; it is you who decides not to give yourself the wealthy Young Soul parents or the drive and ambition to go out and get powerfully rich. The problem is, of course, that when you arrive on the physical plane, the personality goes a little crazy without material goodies in a material world. The personality may push to make a comfortable living, and pull it off, but again without the added impetus of your essence insisting, "Make a bundle! You have got to be successful." As long as the essence is being fed what it really wants – philosophical and spiritual food – it won't hamper your goals of making money or creating warm emotional connections with people. But your essence still won't be giving you its added push toward prosperity or emotionally nourishing relationships.

A major challenge of the Old Soul period is mastering self-esteem. No one is complete until there is self-forgiveness and self-love. Self-esteem can be elusive when living in a Young Soul society that doesn't acknowledge the work or innate value of most older souls. And on top of that, Old Souls truly see what a small part they play in this grand, infinite universe. For this reason, working this issue through is often a very big deal, with lots of self-deprecation being used along the way.

Another major item on the Old Soul school-days agenda is loving being in a body, manifesting sufficient mastery that you have enough of what you want to make it pleasurably exciting to be on the planet. It is never your last life until you like it here; essence would never let you off the hook before then.

In order to even out your past life choices, as an Old Soul you are often in the body of the sex you least prefer. But having had both male and female bodies so many times before, you do begin to blend the different energies and may not be greatly identified with being either male or female. It becomes hard to work up a lather about someone's homosexuality or "lack of masculinity" or "femininity". Bisexual feelings are not uncommon; whether acted upon or not, they are allowed to rise to the surface, sometimes. Sex, which takes on a cosmic feeling by blending all charkas, becomes possible – and sought after.

Seeing an Old Soul as a baby is telling, for while the child is still acting the demanding infant or growing baby, another quality may be sensed. Because the soul has done all of this so many times, the child has a peace, ease, and wisdom about it--at least in its quieter moments--that can be sensed by the adults around it.

Many fewer Old Souls than Mature or Young ones become famous, and when they do it is usually to teach, for the Old Soul level is the teaching level.

None of us allow ourselves to complete the physical plane experience until everything we've learned is shared with at least one other person. Some musicians typifying this Old Soul need to teach are Joan Baez, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Sting, Judy Collins, Jerry Garcia, Bob Marley and children's hero and folksinger, Raffi. Paul Winter, George Winston, Kitaro and a burgeoning band of Old Soul; New Age musicians are intent on moving us into gorgeous inner spaces with their music.

Mark Twain, John Muir, and Albert Einstein were all Old Souls with a mission, as was Dr. Edward Bach. John Robbins is busy changing the way America looks at food and food production. Film director John Boorman (Emerald Forest, Hope and Glory), author Alice Walker (The Color Purple), goddess researcher Jean Shinoda Bolen, Shirley MacLaine, Robert Redford and Phil Donahue are some pretty active Old Souls currently doing work on our culture.

Directly on the spiritual front we find Don Juan Matus, Nostradamus, Gurdjieff, Guru Mayi, Carl Jung, Werner Erhard, Rajneesh, Ram Dass, Matthew Fox, the Dalai Lama, Sun Bear, Swamis Satchidananda and Muktananda and transpersonal psychologists, Christina and Stanislav Grof.

Jesse Jackson, Jerry Brown, Abraham Lincoln, Anwar Sadat, Iceland's president, Vigdis Finnbogadottir, and Brazil's Chico Mendes are six very affecting Old Souls who put their energy into the political arena. You'll notice these individuals teach from their being or essence in a unique fashion.

Countries currently containing predominantly Old Souls (but not always Old Soul leadership) are Iceland, Holland, and Czechoslovakia. Old Soul nations prefer neutrality in international conflicts, and when that's impossible, they prefer subjugation to violence and bloodshed. Being aware that freedom is first an inner experience, they teach their captors a great deal about harmony and humanity. Historically we see this in Alexander the Great's conquest of (then Old Soul) Persia and parts of what is now modern India.

Old Souls are everywhere, at least sprinkled thinly. Burma has many Old Souls, as do New Zealand, Finland and Norway. Most U.S. cities have Old Soul groupings in them whether coastal like Vancouver, Miami, Laguna and Boston or inland like Minneapolis, Chicago and Atlanta. However, the deepest United States pockets of Old Souls are so far primarily in Oregon, Washington, and Northern California. The Keys of Florida and Orcas Island, Washington are both magnets for Old Souls. Certain other cities, like Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico, and Boulder, Colorado have taken on a comfortable Old Soul flavor.

Russia also has large scale Old Soul pockets; the major one was, for a time, Siberia. It is said that these Old Souls incarnated in the U.S.S.R. to help push that country forward. They did not expect to end up in gulags, nor would they have chosen that way to work. Soviet Armenia was bulging with both Old and Mature Souls: even the best laid astral plans don't always pan out perfectly.

Many individual Old Souls are scattered about, resting in comfortable island places like Tahiti, or conversely, working spiritedly in places like Africa to help bring a country or continent forward. Old Souls incarnate in Infant Soul areas like the Amazon in order to protect, assist, foster, nourish and guide those that need it.

There is a tendency for older souls to have a greater understanding of what the younger soul perceptivities are like than vice-versa. Knowing about soul age perceptivity is exceedingly helpful in understanding the way other people think, the way they look at life and in understanding something about their life tasks.

Each soul age is trying to experience as much as possible within that particular level of perceptivity. It's absolutely to the point for an Infant Soul to be fearfully concerned about basic survival and for a Baby Soul to be requesting law and order. A Young Soul is appropriate when striving for great material wealth, power and acclaim, and a Mature Soul when beginning to feel intensely emotional and ask those deeper questions. It's appropriate for an Old Soul to not meet societal norms, to look and act mildly eccentric and to be teaching others, even when his own personal or material life isn't together.

To expect your Old Soul child to make a successful climb up a corporate ladder is unrealistic. Likewise, it's in error to count upon an aggressive Young Soul attorney turning her attention towards saving the environment, or to believe a Mature Soul embroiled in a major emotional drama would be able to calm down because you showed him the "big picture".

An Old Soul starts each lifetime being born as an infant who experiences Infant Soul consciousness and gradually grows into prior levels of consciousness. A baby is often perceiving through Baby Soul consciousness; think about a two year old shrieking because a parent offended her sense of right and wrong. People vary, but generally reach their competitive Young Soul consciousness sometime in grade school years. Mature Soul consciousness arrives for many during junior high school and is what your up-and-down, full-of-drama, teenager is experiencing.

Individuals don't come close to obtaining their true soul perceptivity roughly one-third of the time. They get stuck. They get lazy. Or the essence finds it easier to complete certain karmas at earlier more ambitious or more emotional soul levels. While most Old Souls (Mature Souls too) will be doing the intense Mature phase in their teens and early twenties, an Old Soul is often not consistently acting out of Old Soul awareness until about age thirty-five, and even then it may be only in some areas of life and not in others. When security buttons get pushed, for instance, it is often difficult to remain completely centered in your Old Soul consciousness. Old Souls will be able to successfully drop out some of the Baby Soul discipline, Young Soul ambition, and Mature Soul emotionality only if those qualities are integrated sufficiently into their personality so that they have access to them when necessary. It does not work to stick your nose in the air (or your head in the sand) in an attempt to avoid lessons and gifts from the other soul ages.

People who come into these teachings are usually relieved to find out why they are different from mainstream society; they knew they marched to a different drummer anyway. These explanations are useful, making it easier to understand why humans come in such varieties and why it is that some share global perspectives and others, no matter how intelligent and cultured, just aren't interested.

The purpose of the teaching is agape, not creating yourself to be one up.

Younger souls are not less intelligent, less appropriate or wrong. Their lessons are about survival, structure, ambition and success, while your lessons are about emotional and universal connections. Younger souls are a natural part of that whole you know is all connected, right? So, if you're indulging yourself by feeling superior, aim for mild tolerance as a way to begin clearing up that attitude, which ultimately is a painful, separatist one to carry around.

This article is meant - not as a way of "judging" people - but as a way of understanding the process of the soul's growth and evolvement, thereby referring to the old theosophical edict, "Know Thyself".