Senex and Puer


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The turn of the year is ruled by the senex/puer archetypal polarity. In the most popular allegorical depictions, the old man gives way to a young boy. This happens when the Sun is in Capricorn: the sign of the senex (father time, the reality principle), whose shadow, that which makes him complete, is puer. In a book Senex and Puer: James Hillman Uniform Edition vol. 3, we read: “As the senex is perfected through time, the puer is primordially perfect.” At this time we take stock of our individual story. Have we fulfilled the promise of the primordially perfect puer that we met at the beginning of the previous year? What substance did senex give to the dreams and visions of the puer in the last year?

“…the puer eternus figure is the vision of our own first nature, our primordial golden shadow, …, our angelic essence as messenger of the divine… From the puer we are given our sense of destiny and mission, of having a message and being meant as eternal cup-bearer to the divine, that our sap and overflow, our enthusiastic wetness of soul, is in service to the Gods, bringing eternal refreshment to the archetypal background of the universe…. A beginning is always meaningful and filled with the excitement of eros.”

James Hillman

May the puer call us to be true to ourselves this coming year. May the senex ripen and materialize our inner vision.

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22 Responses to Senex and Puer

  1. Hi Monika! Thanks for the inspiring quote. I hope you have a blessed new year and I look forward to reading more of your posts in 2014! Cheers. 🙂


  2. shoe1000 says:

    Thank you for such a wonder full gift to “end,” the year. I am grateful to have found your blog this year. It was one of the best gifts Ggod revealed to me.


  3. renatembell says:

    Thank you for making 2013 more enlightening and meaningful. Wishing you a new year rich with meaning and radiant with symbolic delight! Happy New Year Feel better soon!


  4. Dearest Monika,
    Thank you for this delightful post in the midst of the flu. May the healing gods and goddesses imbue your spirit with bright healing light. So glad you entered my orbit almost 1 year ago my friend!

    Have a Vibrant Wondrous 2014 filled with soul filled magic, elaborate mystery and heartfelt joy!



  5. Thanks for the fascinating post. I seem to meet these two with every fresh canvas. As you say, the challenge is to have the exuberant energy of the puer act in harmony with his counterpart-aged wisdom. This expanded view-that each artwork is another encounter with archetypal forces-helps to bring it to a happy resolution. Happy New Year. Get well.


  6. shreejacob says:

    Happy New Year, Monika!
    Here’s to a great year and looking forwards to reading your amazing posts!
    Thank you for them! 🙂


  7. Theresa says:

    Sending get well wishes, gratitude for a wonderful blog, and Blessings in the New Year…


  8. Soul Fields says:

    Great symbolism you´ve picked for the change of the year and more! Wishing you a delightful new year!


  9. ptero9 says:

    Sending warm wishes to you Monika! I’ve been offline for 6 days enjoying some time with friends at the coast. I hope you are feeling better. Add me to the list of those who feel very blessed and grateful for your insights into symbolism, and all things archetypal.

    I love the quote and that book of Hillman’s. It remains one of life’s biggest lessons for me to keep the seemingly opposite inclinations (such as puer and senex) in the same breath. Perhaps aging has helped me understand that both eternity and time call us and have a place in our understanding of the world. As you say:

    “May the puer call us to be true to ourselves this coming year. May the senex ripen and materialize our inner vision.”

    And, as Hillman reminds us – to honor the call:

    “Humans ever and again try to crack the soul’s code, to unlock the secrets of its nature. But what if its nature is not natural and not human? Suppose what we seek is not only something else, but somewhere else, in fact, having no “where” at all despite the call that beckons us to search. There is, therefore, nowhere to look beyond the fact of the call. It seems wiser to attend to the call than to avoid it by searching for its source.” James Hillman

    Happy New Year and best wishes for 2014.



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