Deep in the background of our psychic being lies the archetype of Puer Aeternus, literally translated, eternal youth. Archetypes are the skeletal underpinnings of our psychic life. Puer is the archetype of Spring, of redemption, of new life freely flowing and flourishing. This archetype is the adolescence of our lives, young energy seeking to expand its wings into deep and meaningful life, but it also instigates the breakdown and dissolution of old attitudes that must be released to allow new life to take root.
On the shadow side, the Puer archetype can refuse to grow up, to embody. This is the man or woman who can never commit—always seeking someone or something new that captures the eternity of youth and, once it has captured it, escapes, refusing to get old, insisting always on staying open to new, fresh possibility.
Dionysus is a Puer god; wine, women, and dance are his elements. On the one hand, wine opens a direct channel to communion with God in the Catholic mass. On the other hand, remaining immersed in this magical solution prevents ever planting one’s feet solidly in an embodied life in this world. Icarus, though not a god, was a Puer who insisted on flying higher and higher toward the sun, ignoring his wax wings, thereby melting them and falling to his death. Here the Puer inflates so far above earthly reality that his only salvation lies in the death of his hubris, the seed of his redemption.
We live in Puer times because our world desperately seeks renewal. At the same time, we have gone out of balance and tipped over into the dark side of this archetype now. We have regressed into an infantile Puer, failing to promote new life, even proper care of the planet that provides and sustains life. This Puer partakes greedily of life, to the detriment of all of life.
In our times, we see the Puer in the high times of addiction. Like Icarus, the addict seeks the highest transcendence beyond embodiment in search of the key to earthly failure. Unfortunately for many addicts, they share the fate of Icarus, falling hopelessly to their deaths, redeeming neither themselves nor the world.
Beyond the addiction to substance, the world seeks transcendence in fantasy—Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens to the highest movie reception ever. Political races are now MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) competitions where we root, like Romans in the Coliseum, for our favorite gladiator to score and finish off the opponents.
We are all in search of the redeemer. What hero will emerge to save the world?
As we pass through the Solstice now—nature’s promise of new light and life, and the Christian myth with the birth of its Redeemer having sprung from this deeper archetype of new life—we are asked to face the time of darkness with deep patience. As I suggested last week, we, all of us, are in Gaia’s womb now, as the world undergoes massive transformation.
Would that we could forestall the destruction that befalls us, but humankind’s power of decision making outpaced its respect for its true origins, Nature itself. Nature birthed consciousness to better and more efficiently advance the course of evolution. We have taken the reins but treated Nature as a disposable slave. And so Nature is calling in her experiment, and reshaping its ways. It’s the only way.
The Puer, that in actuality is our immature world ego, is suffering its own death and resurrection as Nature moves us toward a renewal of life. We, all of us, are the redeemers who, shaken from our hubris, will embody new mature life that furthers the true needs of survival and evolution.
I celebrate the acceleration of change in the times we live in. We are indeed on a cosmic ride of deliverance. I celebrate love as the energy and guiding motif of our renewed world.
Learn to relax on the roller coaster, it’s just a ride.