Archetypal / Mythical Observations

The Fountain of Youth: Embodying The Eternal Child

Throughout the ages, myths and legends have spoken of the fabled fountain of youth, an archetypal object that I believe manifests from our collective desire to retain our youth.  

Nowadays, we are seeking the fountain of youth more than ever, trying to remain forever young. We use anti-ageing creams, botox, plastic surgery and all sorts of other things, willing to try almost anything to stave off the ageing process. Being young and beautiful seems to be more valued now than wisdom and experience.  

The fountain of youth archetype manifests through all sorts of beauty regimes, with people greatly identifying with their physical bodies and appearance. It may be that signs of ageing remind us of our own mortality. Indeed, many of us deny death and don’t address it because the ego fears the prospect of annihilation. Death, therefore, is one of our biggest existential struggles, and it is said that all forms of anxiety stem from fear of death. 

Many people associate youth with their physical appearance, while other people believe that it has something to do with one’s outlook and spirit – to live one’s life in a way that is true to them rather than being confined by the narratives of age. For example, I’ve seen many wonderful stories of elderly people doing yoga and extreme sports, still living life to the fullest! 

Eternal youth can be found in this world, but it is through the archetype of the eternal child. This is the energy of being playful and living joyfully in the moment, as children do, being forever curious and fascinated by the world. It is the energy of using one’s active imagination and connecting with the magic and adventure in everything around us, marvelling at the world with awe.  

And so the fountain of youth is not found outside of us – it is found within! The fountain of youth (the Peter Pan energy of remaining forever young) can be embodied as a way of being. People who embody the eternal child have a youthful glow and radiate divine sparkle, often looking years younger than they actually are.  

The question is, what happens to our childlike innocence in the first place? How do we lose touch with the present moment and our active imagination? How do we become disconnected from the playful spirit that flows so freely through children?  

I think the main reason is that many of us fall prey to “adultitus”, being conditioned by parents and society to grow up and become adults. Getting caught up in the rat race and the life scripts imposed upon us, we scramble around to earn a living and run errands and take care of serious business, forgetting that we are Peter Pan.  

However, the magic of the eternal child is still there within us, waiting to be reawakened. Spiritual practices can help this light to radiate once more because they help to shed the layers of illusion and bring one home to the present moment, cultivating one’s curiosity and sense of adventure, being joyful without needing a reason why. 

Children are naturally more connected to spirit, so as we begin to break free from our conditioning, we can reconnect with spirit and therefore embody our eternal child. 

Of course, there are light and shadow aspects to this archetype. For example, there is the danger that the eternal child will want to shirk all worldly responsibilities and just play all day long! Thankfully though, we have a whole host of archetypes that work through us, who form different aspects of our character and can keep us well-balanced! 

Generally speaking, the spirit of the eternal child can be embodied as a way of being, allowing us easy access to playful curiosity, mischievous joy and a sense of adventure that keeps our lives fresh and helps us to remain eternally young. Indeed, the fountain of youth is available to us all.  

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