Maybe it was a New York Times Op-Ed piece at the time that pointed out six or more levels of maturity or psychological development in the adult population, and then saw hippies as falling into three of them. One may have been second from the bottom, that is, just going along for the ride, while the other two were closer to the top, probably reflecting the appeal the movement had for many college students and graduates and/or social activists (think antiwar/anti-draft, for starters). I found it interesting there was a gap in the middle.

I suspect this is one of the reasons it’s difficult to define “hippie” clearly – we covered a wide spectrum of individuals and motivations. Just listen to the argument today over “hip,” “hipster,” and “hippie” for something similar. These days, I’m leaning more toward something along the lines of the “boho” term that would embrace beatnik and hippie as continuations of a stream of counterculture, but that’s still in embryo as far as my thinking.

What I am curious about today is how we’ve grown and matured along the way. On one hand, Robert Bly’s Iron John took aim at the “soft male,” the sensitive hippie guy, who now needed to gain some inner strength and responsibility. 

On another, I recall reading the singles ads back when I was searching and coming across more than one self-proclaimed mid-40s “flower child” who was still clueless and passive, and my reacting, “It’s time to grow up,” even as I intuitively backed away. And that was two decades ago.

But it does seem to me there’s a wide stream of individuals continuing in that Bohemian mode. In my case, I’m still a poet and writer who’s moved into the radical Christian tradition called Quaker. And I have a beard, not that it’s necessary.

As for the rest of you, ‘fess up. The comments section is open!



  1. Very interesting thoughts! I think that many people of my generation (in their twenties) like to claim ‘hippie culture’ (as I write this, I’m noticing that my purse, lunch bag, and rain boots are all covererd in peace signs!), but we don’t really know or want to know what that truly means. I think some of us like ‘watered-down’ versions, while others just like ‘the look’ or fashion aspect. If I had to label myself, I’d say I have some of that hippie spirit in me, but maybe it looks different because of my age and culture. Also, I’m very interested in learning more about the Quaker tradition – do you have posts focused on that? Thanks!

  2. For me in a small industrial town in the UK it was mostly about the aesthetics – sounds a bit shallow perhaps but hippie art inspired me.

  3. Love this post. I would whole heartedly label myself a hippie and you make an interesting point as how we are to define it. I don’t walk around with peace signs covering my clothing, nor do I wear flowers in my hair. But you’ll find my clothing is understatedly organic cotton, hemp or bamboo. I aim to live a sustainable lifestyle, both through my vegan organic diet and eco-friendly products I purchase. I see the lifestyle we choose as a political vote and thus the best form of activism. I think being a hippie, for me, is not only a rejection of modern and typical consumerism, which I suppose was the air of the 60s counterculture, but ALSO playing an active role in shaping consumerism into something more compassionate and sustainable. And, of course, I hug trees. Love. X

      • Interesting question to put out there Jnana, and interesting thoughts on it!

        Wanderlust Hippie, I love your kind of hippieness! It combines the “counter-culture” ideal, as a positive, and the “inner strength and responsibility” Jnana also talks about. A way of life to be proud of!

        Thanks to you both,

  4. I wasn’t really old enough to be a Hippie of the 60s, but my husband, being 10 years older, was. Lived alone on a beach for a year, living off the kindness of strangers. No tent, no phone, no worries. Today I’m more of a Hippie than he is–peace, love, meditation, yoga, tai chi, Buddhism, minimal possessions, and all that.

  5. Two quick thoughts on this really thought-provoking post. I love that the “spirit” of what it meant to be a hippie is alive today. One of my daughters is definitely an “old soul” and is striving for sustainable living. I noticed one of the commentors was also a woman in her twenties. Hooray!

    Second was to ask if you have read PJ O’Rourke’s newest book While most of his work is too political for me and I don’t get the satire, this is supposed to be more of an honest look at our generation. Being so well read, I would love to hear your opinion…have not read it myself yet but he is a neighbor, so I will get to it soon.

  6. Tree-hugging, war-protesting flower-child of the sixties here. I too have found a home in Quaker practice, growing and maturing among friends seeking truth.,. See you at Meeting. (:-) Meredith

  7. Maybe the “hippies” are/were significant and noticeable manifestations of the higher consciousness that has been developing and becoming more evident in “recent” years. As humans, we’ve evidenced leaps of collective consciousness at various times throughout our known history, in spite of continuing “evidence” to the contrary. How nice and blessed to be a part of that movement . . . . . . . . .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.