Spiritual identity

The overlap of spirituality and identity has received considerable attention in the last several decades and is rooted in much
of Erikson’s work on identity development (Kiesling, Sorell,
Montgomery, & Colwell, 2006). In Erikson’s pursuit of understanding how people know and understand themselves, he
ascertained that as individuals mature, they transition through
the lifecourse, while balancing their faith with doubt and nurturing their spiritual tendencies (Atchley, 2009; Erikson, 1980).
Erikson (1980) suggested that although ego identity formation
during adolescence and young adulthood provides an initial psychosocial structure for continuity in adult life, a person’s
sense of identity is revised and transformed through ongoing experience and shifting contextual and historical realities. These
ongoing experiences are witnessed by the spiritual self and are
important to consider when investigating the spiritual lives of
individuals as they age.
Sinnott encourages scholars to more thoroughly examine spiritual development in late life asking,
“How do the spiritual aspects of an individual’s life relate to
his or her development during maturity and old age?” This
question is useful in guiding the research on spirituality,
particularly the research offered here. Kiesling et al encourage researchers to consider carefully how
contextualized narratives, or the voices and experiences of
older adults, “reveal how key aspects of adult development
— meaning making and personhood” can be aided by the exploration of one’s spirituality or of one’s spiritual sense of self.
This research explores the way in which these women make
sense of their aging and personhood. Although the women in
this study are not “old” in gerontological terms, they are
aging and are crafting a spiritual identify rooted in becoming
an old woman or a Crone. Their experiences add the understanding of social and psychological aging outside the confines of mainstream aging and spirituality.

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