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6th - Senex/witch (Beebe)

According to John Beebe

The senex is an archetype that shadows the good father that I consciously aspire to be when I try to help people. Senex is the Latin word for ‘old man’ and the root word for ‘senator,’ and it takes on the quality of everything that has stood the test of time and now resists change.
The auxiliary function can be used to encourage and enable others—to strengthen and support them in their path—but its shadow, the senex function, does just the opposite: it discourages and disables them; it freezes them in their tracks and makes them doubt the prudence of everything they are doing. This may sound indeed like a very unpleasant archetypal role to fall into—and it often is—but it is sometimes a necessary one. When we are confronted, for example, with a person or plan whose basic direction strikes us as fundamentally destructive and dangerous to the things we value, one effective option can be for us to pull rank and set limits, just as we might if confronted with a misbehaving child. In this sense, the senex archetype or role can also be thought of as the role of the negative or disapproving father, just as the female equivalent, the witch, can be envisioned as a critical mother who seems impossible to please.[1]

According to Michael Pierce

Because the auxiliary function is valued over the sub-auxiliary, its corresponding aspect of existence is also valued over that of the sub-auxiliary. The auxiliary is admitted and appreciated as something necessary and ultimately healthy; but the sub-auxiliary is taken to be relatively unnecessary and unhealthy. It is garnish or dressing, not the meal itself. That the auxiliary function should ever be valued for its own sake, the personality considers odd, but that the sub-auxiliary should be so valued is considered baffling, and even reprehensible.[2]

According to Carol Shumate

The witch/senex archetype defends us by setting limits and stopping others in their tracks. The archetypes of witch and senex imply seniority and the authority that accrues due to experience. When our witch/senex defense is activated, we feel the need to block someone by using an authoritarian tone. These archetypes suggest more than just old woman and old man; they suggest power and the willingness to exercise it to defend against new and unexpected invasions. Bob McAlpine (2010) pioneered the use of the term “critical parent” for this archetype and “good parent” for the second archetype because the sixth function shadows the second function, and the sixth often manifests as harsh criticism, sounding like a voice of authority, but we should not consider the parent archetype “good” and the witch/senex “negative.” Either may be used constructively or destructively. These archetypes act as a fortress to protect our territory. They can also manifest as internal critics, chastising us for youthful transgressions for which we may then chastise others.[3]


[1] Beebe J. (2016), Energies and Patterns in Psychological Type: The reservoir of consciousness
[2] Pierce M. (2020), Motes and Beams: A Neo-Jungian Theory of Personality
[3] Shumate C. (2021), Projection and Personality Development Via the Eight-Function Model

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