The Sacred Pilgrimage at Midlife with Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D.

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Midlife is a time when we question the course and meaning of our lives, often largely unexamined beforehand. It is a chance to feel the passage of time and seek out deeper connections to the world and human experience. Through the lens of her own pilgrimage to sacred European places, Bolen provides a guide for us to discover what midlife can offer and how to find it. She discusses the legend of the Grail, the “Grail questions” that each of us has to ask in our own quest, and shares her experiences of how sacred places “quicken the divine” in our spirits and even our bodies, bringing significance to what can be a difficult and discouraging time of life. “You cannot oppress a person,” Bolen says, “when there is a feeling that in them they are in touch with something that is sacred. You can’t oppress them at the soul level.”


Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D. is a psychiatrist, Jungian analyst, and an internationally known speaker. She is a former board member of the Ms. Foundation, an advocate for a 5th UN World Conference on Women, a convener of the Millionth Circle Initiative, as well as a permanent representative to the UN representing the NGO, Pathways to Peace. 

She's the author of many books, including:

To learn more about Jean Shinoda Bolen go to

Topics explored in this dialogue include: 

  • The symbolic meaning of the Grail legend for contemporary times
  • The most common midlife “wound” we develop
  • The purpose of pilgrimage
  • The personal questions to ask on any pilgrimage
  • The connection among Greek, Hopi and Tibetan cultures
  • Why the Grand Canyon is best experienced by land
  • How childbirthing changed her sense of being a woman
  • The greater comfort that happens when we comfort each other
  • How our culture can be enhanced by developing Goddess awareness

Host: Michael Toms            Interview Date: 6/30/1994           Program Number: 2471