Intuitive trainer and master Kathryn Harwig, noted in the Twin Cities and in many parts of the nation and world for her palmistry, her ability to teach law enforcement agents how to boost their natural intuitive skills, and for her many books on psychic ability, discovered something that few people have acknowledged in print or conversation: that after we reach the age 50, our priorities shift and a window of opportunity opens to allow a greater awareness of our innate psychic gifts.
We hear so often about Indigo children, Rainbow children and Crystal children – names given to describe the intuitive sensitivities of souls who have arrived onto the planet during the past couple of decades. But Kathryn is now heralding “the Violet generation,” Baby Boomers who are reconnecting with their wise inner selves as they mature. Her new book, The Return of Intuition: Awakening Psychic Gifts in the Second Half of Life (Llewellyn), is filled with true accounts of men and women who are realizing a new way of being at a time when psychic awareness was the least of their great expectations in life.
Kathryn Harwig took the time to speak with The Edge about her new findings and what she thinks it means for the huge Baby Boomer population.
What led you to write The Return of Intuition, Kathryn?
Kathryn Harwig: What led me to write it is that the people who were coming in to see me for readings, and the people who were coming to my classes, were sharing very similar stories, which is that as they started to age many of them had in some way or another a type of intuitive awakening. Generally, it seemed to show up around age 50. They discovered that their psychic skills became much more powerful, that their interest in spiritual and psychic things became much more powerful. I noticed that this was sort of a trend and I started looking into this. I found that nothing had been written about it, so I decided I should be the one that wrote about it.
Give us a case study of somebody you’ve worked with to demonstrate how this happened in their life.
KH: The book is just full of all different kind of case studies, but there was one in particular that struck me. It’s a sad story, but it has a wonderfully happy ending. Kim is a woman whose daughter was killed in a house fire. She was in college at the time and three of her young children were caught in the fire.
She came in to see me to talk to her daughter after her daughter had died. What resulted was a whole series of events – you couldn’t call them coincidences, miracles, really – in regard to her daughter’s death that not only comforted Kim in a way that I think nothing else could comfort her, but she knew that her daughter was alive, just in a different dimension. Kim also became an amazingly psychic person. Up until that point she had a bit of interest in metaphysical things but had not done anything related to it. But now it was as if the floodgates opened.
That could have happened, of course, earlier in life, but the circumstances of people’s lives seem to be that between the ages of 40 and 60, things come together that cause you to have that sort of awakening. It could be a death of a spouse, a death of a child, a physical illness, loss of a job, loss of a relationship, or it can just be just a sweet, gentle awakening. I think what keeps people from having this awakening earlier is that they’re just so busy.
Why do the difficult situations that happen in our lives spark this shift?
KH: Unfortunately, difficult situations get our attention and they take us out of our normal day-to-day routine. Oftentimes, even when you are grieving, you are also sitting quietly thinking about spiritual matters in some fashion or another, even if it’s only, “Why did this happen to me?” It’s a still time when you open yourself up. When you ask a question, like why, you may get answers.
It isn’t necessary to have a traumatic event to open up our spirituality and our psychic ability, but it oftentimes is a trigger. I had about 150 people respond to a questionnaire I sent out. About half of them were triggered by traumatic events, and the other half blossomed into it as they aged.
Will your book serve to inform people that intuition can be developed in the second half of their lives?
KH: It’s always there. There is a natural trigger that develops when we age. I believe that has always happened and it’s the reason that throughout history, the elders have been the shamans. They have been the wise people. Maybe it’s hormonal, I don’t know, but there’s this trigger that happens to people that causes almost a spontaneous awakening, if we let it. Of course, if we don’t let it, it is ignored like anything else.
Do you have a sense that people don’t think that that’s a time of their lives when that’s possible?
KH: I have a sense that people have been socialized out of believing that there are good things that come of aging. In our society, we focus on the negatives of aging, the loss of memory perhaps, or the loss of physical ability, or the loss of looks. We don’t focus on the natural positives that come of aging. The strongest ones, in my opinion, are an increased ability to be psychic and an increased wisdom. Historically, in the Asian cultures and the Native American culture, the elders have always been the people who did the psychic ability, who were the wise ones.
Do you think there is a connection between that natural process of gaining wisdom in life and increased intuitive ability?
KH: Yes, I think the connection is that we have the time to be able to do it and we have the inclination and we have the interest. People become more introspective as they age. They become more happy being alone. We crave solitude. We are not constantly distracted by children and jobs and money. If we are lucky, we have gotten to a place where we have time.
So, as I understand what you are saying, this experience is not just a gift, but like something that flows in our lives like a current.
KH: Ooooh, good way to put it.
And when we are distracted by the things that we do as we are in our twenties and thirties and forties, we are not aware of that current.
KH: Exactly. It’s always there. When I talk about the return of intuition, it makes it sound like it went away. It doesn’t really go away, but we don’t pay attention to it. It’s like a phone we don’t answer for 20 to 30 years.
It might be on vibrate, but we aren’t sensing it.
KH: We don’t sense it because we are so distracted. If you watch any typical 30- or 40-year-old person, there is no time in their life to even stop to see if they are getting a psychic hit, unless they are very unusual. Certainly there are exceptions to this.
We know it’s common for young children to be highly intuitive, and as they try to fit in with their friends they sometimes block that receptivity. For those people who at a young age were attuned to that, for them it is a return to that awakening as they get older.
KH: One of the questions that I asked in doing research for my book was, “When did you first become aware of your psychic ability?” and most of them said, “When I was a young child.” And then almost all of them said pretty much what you just said, which is, “Then about age 7, maybe 12, it went away” or “people started making fun of me” or “people discounted it,” all those kind of things, “and so it just went away, and now it’s come back.” For many people, awareness of psychic gifts does return to people.
A number of the people I have interviewed who are psychic readers say that this process you describe happened in their lives.
KH: If you go to a psychic fair or an expo, probably 50 percent of the people there are over age 50. It’s not because that’s the only time you can be psychic, but it’s when you have that whole configuration of things coming together, fewer distractions in your life and the time to be still and listen.
What are the benefits for people in the second half of their life who expand their awareness in this way?
KH: I really hope that my book is a call to action for older people. By claiming our intuition, enhancing it and then using it, perhaps we can teach or perhaps aid society in some fashion, or just step into our roles as elders. The advantage is really to take our rightful place in society. Many times elder people are simply stuck away in a corner in some fashion. We’re not considered to be important and we’re not listened to, even though we control money and we control a lot of things. We don’t claim our power. It’s not about someone handing you your power. It’s about you saying, “Hey, I’m going to claim my power and I’m going to step into my role as an elder.”
Is the connection to that channel of intuition more than just being able to pick up on something psychically?
KH: That’s certainly part of it, because your life will get better if you use your psychic information, no matter how old you are. But the difference in the elder generation is that it’s time for us to step up to the plate and say, “We have wisdom. We have knowledge. We have access to intuitive ability, and we want to use it to change the world.” That’s a pretty big challenge, but it’s not a bad challenge. With all the things that are happening in the next couple of years, if the elders of this society would just step forward and say, “We want to help,” that would make a huge difference.
What would it look like in our society if that happened?
KH: Baby boomers are a huge segment of the population. I don’t think we’re going to be quiet. I don’t think we’re going to just quietly go off and play shuffleboard or the typical things of past generations. I think we’re going to continue to be movers and shakers, and we’re going to look at aging from a very different viewpoint than our culture has in the past. I think it’s going to be less about money and more about experiences. We could form wisdom circles and be available to people as mentors – not just intuitive mentors, but life mentors. And, if we got together and actually pooled our power – money, knowledge, experience – we certainly could become a political force.
I quote some really wonderful studies in my book, surveys of people about how happy they are. They show that people are far happier when they are 60 years old than when they were 20 years old. There’s no question about it. An interesting brain study was done on a number of young people and older people who were shown a number of photographs. It showed that the older people remembered the happy events. The younger people remembered the traumatic events. The subjects were all seeing the same photographs, but looking at them completely differently.
What we do is perceive life differently. I’m turning 60 in May and want to do so on the mountains of Machu Picchu. I know my mother wouldn’t have done that. It’s not about adventures, it’s about being. I don’t think this group of elders are going away. We’re not going to become a silent generation.
What practices can be done by those in the second half of their life to expand intuition?
KH: I talk a lot about that in the book. Some of the practices that I think are most critical are things like spending more time alone, which is something you want to do naturally as you age. It’s important to have a place of your own, some place that you can go and be silent. It’s also important for groups of elders to form so that you can discuss what’s happening to you, so you don’t feel like you’re a freak, which a lot of people do. And, of course, it’s important to ask good questions, to step forward and really be a mentor to people – having people say, “What do you think about this?” and then give them an intuitive answer.
In terms of feeling different or an outcast because of this intuitive ability, do you sense that might be shifting with this new generation compared to the past one?
KH: If we claim it. That’s the challenge I put forth to people. People don’t give us respect. We pretty much have to claim that respect. It’s vital that so-called “regular” people, people who haven’t been involved in the spiritual world all of their lives, come forward and say, “Yes, after my husband died he came to see me” or “Yes, I got this intuitive information when I was ill and then it’s continued to come to me.” Quit being in the closet. Courage is the one trait that differentiates a successful psychic from a non-successful psychic, in my opinion. For elder people, it can be courageous just to get out of bed sometimes when you ache.
In our society we connect intuition more with women than with men. For the men who are in the second half of their lives who have spent their lives doing things, fixing things, being exclusively in that masculine energy, do you have any specific tips for them on how to connect to their intuition?
KH: I ought to go on record as saying I don’t think women are any more intuitive than men, but what I do think is that women have not had the cultural pressure to deny it.
This sounds a little sexist to say, but I don’t think men are as brave as women are about showing weakness. Women are used to being perceived as weak, and so we can look foolish. Men are very afraid of looking foolish. So if I had advice for men, I would say don’t be afraid of looking foolish. Who cares anymore? I was on a radio show for aging people down in Florida a couple weeks ago and I heard, “Oh, you know there are so many skeptics.” Well, you know what, being skeptical really doesn’t aid anybody. At least have an open mind about this.
I would say men need, probably more than women, to have an open mind and be brave. Try things you have never tried before.
In reality, what another person thinks about you doesn’t matter. It means nothing at all.
KH: No, and you know most people don’t think about you at all. That’s one of the things that has aided me in my life since I’ve gotten older is knowing that most people don’t spend any time thinking about me. They are thinking about themselves. So that sets me free to do whatever I please. As long as I don’t hurt them in some fashion, most people don’t care.
What about your life? How has this re-awakening of psychic gifts manifested in your life?
KH: I have been in some fashion a psychic ever since I was a little girl. I never completely lost that ability, but what happened for me as I aged was pretty much exactly what we have talked about. I feel much freer to speak the truth as I see it, to speak my mind. I’m not so worried about how this is going to affect my reputation, how this is going to affect how people perceive me.
That’s why I say congratulations when you turn 50, or 60. I think these decades are the freest time of a person’s life. The key is claiming that feeling. That’s how it’s affected me. I just feel very free to do things.
A few years ago I decided – and I’m still working on this decision – not to do personal readings for people anymore. It was a big chunk of my income, so to cut that out was frightening, but I felt like I needed to do it. This year, I’ve pretty much decided I’m not going to teach classes anymore. Well, that’s another huge chunk of my income. Eliminating the things that no longer fit for me gives me time for the things that do fit to come into my life. I’m now courageous enough to get rid of things before I know what is going to come in.
What overall message do you want to leave with the reader?
KH: I want to leave a message of hope, because we’re all aging – no matter how old you are. It’s a very rich, exciting and spiritual time of freedom. I really believe that the shift that we are going toward is a freedom shift. If we can just let go of how we have done things in the past so that we are able to step into that freedom without fear, it’s going to be a beautiful time. But if we’re still clinging and thinking, “I can’t give up my house. I can’t give up my job. I can’t give up my dog,” then I think our society is going to be in for some wild rides.
For more information on Kathryn Harwig, visit Harwig.com.