The Archetype of Puer-Kora (The Divine Child)

    “Puer aesternus” (shortened as "puer") means Divine Child in Latin and is used in depth psychology as one of the basic archetypes. We are indebted to C. G. Jung for discovering this archetype as he was the first to provide its content. On the other hand, the word “kora” (koré) comes from Greek and means girl or daughter; in Greek mythology the goddess Persephone is also called Kore or Cora. The mutual friendship of puer-kora, so oft described in tales and myths, is the unifying factor to which people vainly longing for youth attempt to draw closer. Children’s friendship is pure, since the antitheses anima – animus (female – male) do not enter into it. The role of the Divine Child is not reserved for either the male or female principle! The emergence of the antitheses of the sexes in the child’s consciousness transforms the unity into contradiction as the person advancing toward adulthood seeks unity in intercourse with the opposite sex.  The model of the Divine Child that every human individual carries in his heart becomes a path to parenthood. Yet mythology has revealed to us another rightful path for finding unity in the existence of the hermaphrodite as unities of two antithetical aspects of the same being, which could best be described through the union of the female and male principle of yin-yang in the consciousness in accordance with ancient Chinese Taoist philosophy. Naturally then, the most cosmogonic gods have a bisexual nature through which they unite the strongest and most marked antitheses. This union returns to the original divine state of the mind. The Divine Child is synonymous with an existence undivided from non-existence, it is synonymous with the entry to a sphere in which the antitheses of the world are united in a single whole and it is does not matter if we call it the universe, nothingness, nirvana, love, the kingdom of God or God. Psychology describes in early childhood the so-called pre-conscious state from which are derived remarkable archetypal features. Yoga calls the pre-conscious state the “a position beyond thinking” and to achieve it they advise that the individual free himself from thoughts, whereby the person’s consciousness is freed from material objects, journeying beyond thinking to the kingdom of bliss.

    To begin examining the archetype of the Divine Child means delving into mythology, which contains in it a depiction of the primal image of the Divine Child, an image resonating within man. I will just briefly touch on Greek mythology in order to explain the classical image of the Divine Child. Depicting God as a child does not in any way mean that he would be as weak as an individual in childhood. The child God has the same power and significance as the adult God. The young, maturing God then symbolizes cosmic growth. The most renowned Greek gods, whose heroic childhoods grasped the human desire for perfection, are Hermes, Zeus, Apollo, Dionysus, Eros or their counterpart – Aphrodite (as the primal virgin), Artemis, Athena and Persephone. I would also point out from other mythologies the renowned child gods Krishna and Balarama from Indian myths.

    The motif of the Divine Child does not represent a distant mythological past, but that which continues to exist in the present and that which is concealed within a person beyond the sensory world.

    The divine Puer and Kora become the enlightened and have the opportunity to achieve immortality. The divine child is a symbol of the soul’s existence before consciousness. Puer and Kora appear or are miraculously born and then suddenly change into adults, indicating that the psychological basis of the myths does not grow like a human child, but exists full-grown in latent form under the surface of waking consciousness. Then only fragments of the essence of the Divine Child enter the human consciousness and do not illuminate the essence of the Puer – Kora archetype for the development of the human individual. The divine model, lying beneath the surface of the waking consciousness, closely relates to the self, which can be considered the essence of a person devoid of the embellishment of personality, while family relations generally form the persona (mask of personality). As I have already mentioned, the Divine Child begins with a miraculous conception, a miraculous creation or birth from a virgin, so that the miracle is then turned into the insignificance of existence, helplessness in the essential threat, in abandonment. Abandonment is the necessary condition that separates the child from his origin and directs him toward independence. Paradoxically contributing to the helpless state of the Divine Child are the miraculous acts with which it manages that greatest threat. The Divine Child’s objective is to grow into a hero, to vanquish the lower instincts, as evident in allegories of e.g. monsters or dark forces, and to achieve a triumphal victory over ignorance. He thus becomes the bearer of light and achieves higher consciousness as knowledge of that which exceeds our waking consciousness. Turning to the process by which the Divine Child fulfills his life, we then take the brief path toward spiritual attainment: We first abandon the ignorance represented by the temptations of the material world in order to discover our inner feelings, to understand the processes that fray our souls. Here in the rugged interior we discover a terrible monster, devil or other personification of darkness and evil. After an immense struggle, described in detail in the Shadow archetype, the hero must change into the Divine Child, must die in order to rid himself of his burdensome ego. He thus attains miraculous qualities that I describe in the archive of the Active Imagination, and if he adds to the miraculous abilities the wisdom to surrender to higher principles, represented in mythology by the miraculous creation or birth from a virgin, he will thus reach the border that mystics call “Realization,” “Attainment” or the “Other Shore,” that Buddhists call “Nirvana” and Christians “the Kingdom of God.” 

    The case of the Kora is slightly different, for she is considered in mythology an untouched virgin, a dewy bud, although she develops and also contains within the entire world.  The Greek and later Roman poets identified the Kora with the most beautiful flower. Another interesting characteristic of the Kora is the forced loss of virginity, for which she is sent to death. Why such a harsh punishment for the innocence wrested away by somebody else? Why add to the feeling of rape the death sentence of an innocent divine creature? Much contemplation does not provide the right answers to these questions. Yet once again the myth obviously does not have much in common with the material phenomena that surround us, does not have anything in common with the bodies that man tragically clings to. The Kora myth (e.g. Persephone and her rape by Hades) points to the spiritual state and consequences of its loss. The Japanese myth about the divine virgin Hainuwele tells a similar story. If the being dwells in the spiritual world, its soul is virginal, which is why it deals with matters of a divine and spiritual nature. Nobody can expel it from the divine world and there is no outer force that can remove the virginal individual from the divine milieu. The only force that can change the virginal state of the soul is an inner urge and the subsequent involvement in the network of the material, sensual world, which is represented in Greek myth of Persephone by Hades.  The virginal soul thus loses its virginity and, stained by earthly relations, must also abandon the divine world, which from the perspective of the Gods can only be explained as death. The question of guilt and innocence is not answered here, only the question of inner dispositions. Turning to the process by which the unfortunate Kore/Persephone lost her life, we can reascend the same stairs to the spiritual heights of divine experience. I would also like to point out the strange link between weddings and death with Kora figures in many of the world’s mythologies. The bridal chamber equals the grave; this is an unacceptable link for the average person. Yet from a mythological perspective the equivalence of wedding and death is inevitable and even welcomed, since it confirms the individual's spiritual development. The wedding symbolizes the birth of a new dimension of understanding the spiritual world; yet at the same time a death must occur that ends the once warm relations to the material world as the only reality.


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