The Mantle
What are we passing from each generation to the next?

For video discussions with Elders about "the Mantle" click on the links at the bottom of this page.

How do we build on the wisdom of those who have come before us? Who are our Elders and how do we honor them? Is there a mantle of wisdom and experience to be passed on?

And what is a “Mantle” anyway?

The “passing of the mantle” may seem like an arcane concept, but it bears a special archetypal significance. Though it may appear to be irrelevant to our contemporary culture, there is still a calling for it from the next-generation, even if we are not using the term: “the mantle”, there is a sense of void; of something lost between the next generation and our elders.
One of the earliest recorded references to this handing down of role and responsibility from one generation to the next, and the origin for the phrase “passing of the mantle” comes from the passing of Elijah’s cloak (i.e. mantle) to Elisha, in the Old Testament (Book 2, Kings 2:13).

The passing of the mantle, in whatever symbolic form it takes, is an exchange that is out of practice on a broad cultural level  though it is still represented in many of our cultural institutions; as stoles and sashes at graduation and in church, as the Tallit (Jewish prayer shawl) worn in Orthodox synagogues, and perhaps even as the corner office or chair at the head of the boardroom in corporations and governments around the world. This loss of inter-relationship is detrimental both to the next-generation and to the children to come and to the elders whose wisdom is being lost. Moreover, there is not a strong sense of “Elders” to receive a “Mantle” from. It feels like each new generation is forced to discover everything anew for itself, suffer the same trials and missteps, and re-create a notion of “us” again and again as a new, separate identity than the preceding generations.
Something has been lost in the passage of the generations. “The Mantle” serves the purposes of this exploration as a term and a concept to explore this loss. But what is it’s meaning? What does it mean to pass on a mantle, and what does it mean to receive it? What is its value, and what are the agreements, unspoken or assumed, in this exchange? What is a mantle? And how do we symbolize it? Is it important that the concept of “the mantle” has a symbolic counterpart, a physical object, to represent it? And is this a concept, a symbol, a relationship, that is still necessary in modern life? Or have we as a culture evolved beyond Elders and apprentices, beyond any need for relationship between the generations?

This page is a forum for discussions about the mantle; contemporary, historical, and mythological. As a pan-cultural project, it would be a great gift to learn some of the traditional stories about the mantle from all the people’s of the earth.

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