JAMES HILLMAN on PUER AND SENEX: ARCHETYPES OF YOUTH AND AGE
$45 for members; $60 for non-members
Video & Discussion with Susan C. Roberts, MSW at Boulder Center For Conscious Community (BC3)
James Hillman gave his tour-de-force lecture “Senex and Puer: An Aspect of the Historical Present” at the Eranos conference in 1967. It was the “Summer of Love,” and a generation of young people was rising up to challenge the old guard in societies across the world. The paper was Hillman’s challenge to a Jungian establishment he felt had grown too rigid, repressing new ideas and creative possibilities. In particular he took aim at the Jungian condemnation of the puer as a mother-bound young man unwilling to adapt to the demands of real life, a view he found insulting to his own fiery puer spirit. To redeem the puer, he “revisioned” it in an archetypal constellation not with the Great Mother as in the Jungian canon, but with the Father – specifically, the senex, or old man. The puer is the high-flying spirit who disregards practical considerations in pursuit of his creative vision and ideals. The senex, on the other hand, values tradition and structure and possesses the discipline and grounding necessary to bring ideas into reality. Together, they form the polarity of youth and age, new and old, past and future, which is present within the psyche of an individual at every stage of life and which plays out as well in our personal relationships and on the historical stage in the conflict between generations.
Hillman was to return again and again to the subject of senex and puer. Indeed, it became one of his foundational themes, an essential backdrop to his writings on individuation, soul-making, and pathologizing up to and through such important late works as The Soul’s Code and The Force of Character and the Lasting Life.
This afternoon workshop will serve as an introduction to this important archetypal complex, with Hillman himself taking the role of lead teacher. Half of our time will be spent watching video clips from a workshop Hillman gave on the subject in 2010, a year before his death at age 85. A senex now, having lived half a lifetime since writing his puer manifesto, he is a remarkable embodiment of what it means to live out both sides of the polarity and bring one’s daimon down to earth.
Through group discussion and reflective exercises, we will cultivate an appreciation for the archetypes of puer and senex within ourselves. We will meditate on how both sides of this archetype can be honored and lived thoughout a lifetime so that there may be age in our youth and youth in our age, and we may discover the timeless and universal within the everyday world.
Susan C. Roberts, MSW, first encountered the work of James Hillman thirty years ago when, as a young woman suffering a bad case of New Age spiritual-bypass, she came upon his essay "Peaks and Vales." The essay, along with Hillman's other writings, were to change her life, leading her on a psychological journey down from the mountain-top of spiritual transcendence into the deeper vales of soul-making via ordinary life. Over the years she attended many lectures and workshops with Hillman; she has also taught seminars on Archetypal Psychology and published several articles on the subject for national publications. She is currently a clinical social worker and Jungian analyst in private practice in Boulder, Colorado.