Riding on the bus made me very anxious. Would it stop right in front of my home, or would it miss my stop and ride on? I wasn’t sure the bus driver even knew where to stop. After all, I was afraid to walk too far next to the big road that ran by my house. Being six years old and finishing a day in first grade was enough excitement for me. I can still vividly remember the one time the bus driver forgot my stop – it caused me to feel vulnerable. How many memories in our minds have caused us to feel anxious or vulnerable? These natural human feelings can often pile up on us. Whether the emotions are conscious, or unconscious is not the question here. Emotional pain, real or perceived, can affect all of us at some point in our lives.
“The primary objective of the victim archetype is to develop self-esteem and personal power.”
-Caroline Myss, Sacred Contracts, Awakening Your Divine Potential
One of the patterns in our humanness can be how emotional pain sometimes feels like a jail. We may have lost a bit of hope and purpose when dealing with daily life. We may have learned to suppress our fears, angers and yes, even rages. Our culture does not allow us to “lose it” very often. Keeping it together all the time can seem like a victimizer lives in our heads. The light side of the victim archetype pattern in us can work with that bully in our heads. We can choose to nurture our victimized selves with essential oils. The pain that comes from our overachieving society can be one of the biggest victimizers. So how do we cope? How can we choose something immediate and healthy to soothe our souls? We can connect with nature. Using a simple oil blend in an inhaler, cotton hankie, Kleenex or diffuser can help our conscious and unconscious minds relax and calm down not only to cope, but to add a bit of hope. Up to 50% of the inhaled essential oils enters our blood stream and has a very quick effect, lasting up to two hours.
Some helpful essential oils to use when shadow victim thoughts enter our minds and cause emotional pain include the following: Ylang Ylang Cananga odorata, Sandalwood Santalum album for a sense of grounding, Neroli Citrus aurantium or Lavender Lavendula angustifolia for centering, and Petitgrain Citrus aurantium amara or Roman Chamomile Anthemis nobilis for an experience of release. Mixing just three of these oils can give a soothing connection to the spirit. Essential oils work on a conscious and unconscious level. So, we keep in mind the intention of ending the pattern of emotional pain which victimizes ourselves as we use our oil blends to remember who we are, feel a bit better about ourselves, and breath easier.
As always, if you need further and deeper help with emotional pain, please seek professional help by seeing your health care provider, qualified counselor, pastor, or spiritual director.
“Neroli oil may be considered for any deep emotional pain that robs us of hope and joy.”
-Gabriel Mojay, Aromatherapy for the Healing Spirit.
I’m happy to announce that a new audio lecture is available from my friend, mentor and fellow Archetypal Counselor, Jim Curtan. This set of recordings from his workshop for the Minnesota Jung Association last fall is an examination of American Mythology and Archetype. If you are interested in some of the foundational aspects of the United States of America this audio lecture is for you.
Purchase and download the course for $15
Archetypal America by Jim Curtan
An examination of American Mythology & Archetype
A live lecture recording from the Minnesota Jung Association workshop held in October 2015.
The main American theme, I think, is freedom. It’s about individual freedom in opposition to or in tension with collective freedom.”
– Ken Burns, documentary film maker, “The Civil War”
Throughout American history the archetypes which populate our myths and legends and capture our imagination are the Rebel, the Revolutionary, the Liberator, the Scout, the Pioneer, the Cowboy, the Explorer, even the Outlaw: all of them perpetually moving forward in pursuit of their idea of freedom, both on behalf of the common good and at the expense of it. While many of these archetypes appear from the very beginnings of our history, the conflict between the various notions of freedom—personal and collective—solidified in the American psyche in the years leading up to and following the Civil War. They continue to impact us and our ideas of ourselves to this day.
The course lectures introduce these archetypes, light and shadow, and the distinctions between each of them.
This course references the 1939 film Stagecoach directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne. The workshop attendees watched the film along with Jim’s commentary but due to copyright restrictions the film portion of the class are not available to the public.
Purchase and download the course for $15
“Tell me, what is it that you plan to do with your
one wild and precious life?” – Mary Oliver
I am so very excited to present this new Archetypes & a Movie course to you!
The third edition of Archetypes & a Movie examines what happens when our old story has reached the end of it’s shelf life and how we can embrace the grace that change brings us. Using the film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel as contemplation on the choices and opportunities that lead us to an unexpected next chapter of our lives.
This self guided workshop is comprised of lecture and commentary on the film plus a full color illustrated workbook with supplementary information.
People of all ages can learn about moving from crisis to re-birth, discovering a secret chapter to our lives, aligning with grace through chaos, navigating the unexpected and finding beauty and love at any age.
Join spiritual director and archetypal counselor, Jim Curtan in a virtual adventure that will touch your heart & inspire you to claim the beauty of your one wild and precious life!
Listen to a conversation with Jim about working with change on a recent edition of the Archetypal Tarot Podcast.
As a gift to podcast listeners Jim is offering a 20% discount on this course and all others by using this link or entering the code podcast at check out.
Here is an excerpt from my essay included in the course ebook:
Change, Disappointment & Grace
Change: a : to make different in some particular : alter b : to make radically different : transform c : to give a different position, course, or direction to
Disappointment: something (or someone) that fails to meet expectations
Grace: unmerited Divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification
I saw The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the first time with my Mom and we both cried. They were those kind of tears that aren’t just happy or just sad – but the big, slow, salty tears that hold so much as they slide down your cheeks. I called Jim the next day and said “You have to teach this movie!”
Naturally, he was already ahead of me on that.
Why is change often so very difficult? We expect one future and change sweeps in and presents something else. It can feel like a theft of a life, leaving us vulnerable in a waiting room with disappointment as our only company. This film asks us to question our beliefs and entertain the idea that disappointment is a necessary companion inviting us to let go of our expectations and welcome in a new life.
Get this self guided audio course to use with the movie Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for 25% off.
I am super happy to announce that another edition of the Archetypes & A Movie course is now available. As the Producer of this series it’s an especially joyous occasion, not just a ‘job done’ elation but gratitude for how much I have learned throughout the process of producing the course. My dear friend, teacher and client, Jim Curtan is doing something unique – he’s helping us See (and I mean that with a capital S) our lives in a new way by using the popular art of movies.
This new course centers around the idea of a modern pilgrimage, of our journey through the griefs and joys of life and how that path can bring us to the healing power of self acceptance. The film used as contemplation in the course is a beautiful indie film directed by Emilio Estevez called The Way (2010). It stars Emilio’s Father, Martin Sheen and is the story of four very different pilgrims walking the Camino de Compostella de Santiago.
Just as the last course on the Hero’s Journey was about finding out who you are, this course is about remembering who you are and all that your life contains.
The Way: A Journey of Healing and Self Acceptance is a self guided workshop available to download. It contains 3 hours of audio course, 2 pdf books and access to online discussions with Jim and fellow students.
I encourage you to check it out and have included the link to purchase below that will save you $5 off the already very reasonable price. You can get the DVD for less than $5 and stream it for free if you are an Amazon Prime member.
Learn more and download the audio for part one of the course for free.
Click to save $5 on the course
In this course you will delve deeply into the following areas:
- Identifying archetypes as a path of integrating Mind, Heart and Body with the Self.
- Relating the powerful story of integration as seen in The Wizard of Oz, The Way, Sex & the City, The 40 Year Old Virgin, and more.
- Healing and acceptance of ourselves and our relationships.
- Rediscovering who you are and the richness of self acceptance.
- Remembrance and resurrection.
- The power of relationships as mirrors of ourselves.
- The grace of gratitude for all of our experiences, both the griefs and the joys.
Into each life comes information that changes the course of your life, in tiny ways and gargantuan ones. For me, books have always been a source of life-changing information. Fiction and non-fiction alike have turned the rudder of my life for as far back as I can remember. There are some that I sought out, heard about from a friend or teacher and others that literally have leaped off the shelf and fallen at my feet.
If you have a curiosity about meaning, creativity, relationships, connection, philosophy and just what the heck our purpose for being here is, you will get a great deal from these books too.
Of the very, very long list I could create, these are 10 of the most influential in my own life. I have read them all again and again, always gleaning new and delightful truth from them and often at just the right time.
There would be no point in trying to rank them in order of importance or impact but I’ve listed them in the order that I read them for the first time, going back over 20 years.
Over the coming months I will post my thoughts about many of these and invite you into discussion. Their wisdom is evergreen, their ability to bring light and truth as strong today as when they were published.
The 10 Books That Saved My Live (metaphorically anyway!)
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
The Theory of Everything by Ken Wilber
Sacred Contracts by Caroline Myss
How Can I Help? by Ram Dass & Paul Gorman
The Soul’s Code by James Hillman
We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love by Robert A. Johnson
The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self & Relationship by David Whyte
Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life by Gregg Levoy
Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Greg Boyle
If you have a book club and are looking for new exploratory books to read, I highly recommend every single one of these.
image ©Carol VanHook
I’ve been contemplating the fact that we are now almost half way through 2014. How did that happen and where did the last 5 months go? More importantly, what season is it? I mean this metaphorically. It’s almost Summer here in my part of the western United States – but what season is it for me, in my life and business? What needs further tending and what is ready for harvest? So when I read the following from Poet and Author David Whtye’s recent article entitled 10 Questions that Have No Right To Go Away it was thought provoking for me on many levels – at least 10 of them. Below is from Whyte’s list (it’s number 3):
Am I harvesting from this year’s season of life? “Youth is wasted on the young” is the old saying. But it might also be said that midlife is wasted on those in their 50s and eldership is very often wasted on the old.
Most people, I believe, are living four or five years behind the curve of their own transformation. I see it all the time, in my own life and others. The temptation is to stay in a place where we were previously comfortable, making it difficult to move to the frontier that we’re actually on now.
People usually only come to this frontier when they have had a terrible loss in their life or they’ve been fired or some other trauma breaks open their story. Then they can’t tell that story any more. But having spent so much time away from what is real, they hit present reality with such impact that they break apart on contact with the true circumstance. So the trick is to catch up with the conversation and stay with it —where am I now?—and not let ourselves become abstracted from what is actually occurring around us.
If you were a farmer, and you tried to harvest what belonged to the previous season, you’d exhaust yourself trying to bring it in when it’s no longer there. Or attempting to gather fruit too early, too hard or too late and too ripe. A person must understand the conversation happening around them as early in the process as possible and then stay with it until it bears fruit.
If we have a tendency to be operating well behind the curve of our own growth, then how do we go about finding out just what season we are in and not have to wait for a major life issue to do it for us? Undoubtedly we will benefit from having this knowledge so we can harvest what’s ready, re-plant or just let a field lie fallow for a while. In true poetic fashion Whyte doesn’t give us the bullet list of ways to suss this out.
Our first tendency might be to look to the paradigms of where we ‘should’ be in our lives based on age, culture, gender etc., but those no longer really hold true across the board. Rapid fire communications and access to vast amounts of information online has created a cultural diversity not bound by any single society. We are freer now to do our own thing outside of social convention because they’ve been diffused and scattered. You can be 60 and going back to school, 40 unmarried and thrilled about it, 22 and starting your own multi-billion dollar business. So without referencing a cultural norm (which frankly, I think is a great relief) how does one go about assessing their own season? Whyte points to listening for the core conversation of your life. This conversation holds the elements of the season.
I had to give this a try for myself. Archetypes are obviously a core part of what I do, so why not let them do some of the heavy lifting on this job?
When you run your own business you are often many people at once, Administrator, CFO, Boss and Worker Bee. I experimented with letting my archetypal office staff give their answers to the question of season. I conducted a faux interview with each voice and asked them about their accomplishments and experience of 2014 so far. I asked what needed further tending, harvesting or just simply some rest. What I came up with was fascinating and useful.
I also found it helpful to pay close attention to the conversations that were going on in my life with myself and others. I looked at what archetypes were driving the conversations and responding. A week or so in, I realized that the core conversations were pretty clear and some surprising answers to the seasonal question came up.
If you are game to give it a try, here is a simple exercise to help you work out your own seasonality. I bet you’ll be surprised by what you come up with and in turn, gain a clearer understanding of your next steps.
Discovering Your True Season
Every day for a week, before you go to bed, jot down a list of the following. No need to write the entire conversation – just the key points like a newspaper headline. Don’t read the list from the day before.
- 5 situations I worried about today.
- 5 conversations I had with myself today.
- 5 conversations I had with others today. This could be anything, a chat with an office mate, partner, the lady in the check out line.
- 5 things I was excited about today. If you don’t have 5, write down what you wanted to be excited about instead.
- Things I was asked to do today. This could be what you were literally asked to do or something you felt called to do like smile at a stranger, or buy a co-worker a coffee, ignore a phone call.
On the 8th day (maybe a Sunday over coffee and when you have time to relax) take out your notes. Rip out the pages and set them on the table side by side. Read them in order, mix them up and glance over them again. Too many wildly different conversations? Maybe it’s mid-summer and some weeding needs to be done to make room for the truer harvest later on. What’s coming up with no fruit and needs some fertilizer or perhaps a winter’s rest? What has you really excited and needs some planting? Lots of requests for the same thing? Maybe it’s harvest time. Whatever comes up for you, the essential clues come in the form of the season that your ideas need right now, the next steps are naturally going to be clearer.
Movies are one of the best ways to see how archetypes shape our motivations, drive us forward or pull us back. We learn and experience so much when watching a film with the added bonus of being entertained. I had the privilege to learn about archetypes through film from Master Archetypal Teacher Jim Curtan during my archetypal certification training at CMED in Chicago. Each night Jim lead us on a guided tour of the archetypes and spiritual lessons in all sorts of films from Castaway & Erin Brockovich to The Wizard of Oz.
No other method has taught me more about the power of archetypes and the human spirit than watching a film with Jim. This is why I am completely jazzed to share Jim’s first self-guided audio workshop providing in-depth commentary on films so you can learn in the comfort of your own home.
Ratatouille: Fate, Destiny and the Hero’s Journey
The premiere workshop is an examination of the journey to becoming who we are destined to be through the 2007 animated feature film, Ratatouille. Remy’s journey from a rat subsisting on scraps to a grand celebrated Parisian chef is a powerful metaphor for our own desires to leave the known world for one that lies beyond and is envisioned only by our dreams.
You will learn about the choices that transform a fated life into a destined one. You will see how all of us can get trapped by the beliefs, customs and values of society and how our perception of necessity often steers us away from our dreams and into a life marked by confusion, depression and a sense that there is no meaning to life beyond the mundane world. Part of us knows we have a destiny, but to achieve it, we must learn to choose intuitive guidance over the ego’s fear of humiliation and failure. In other words, where most of us get stuck – egoic fear.
You will find excellent depictions of the archetypes of the Artist, Hero, Invisible Child, Rebel, Liberator, Orphan, Companion, Warrior, Miser, Authoritarian, Judge, Priest and many more.
This course allows you to watch the film and listen to Jim’s commentary on your iPod or other digital player, taking your time to watch and learn. You’ll also get a free companion workbook with all kinds of supplemental info on the archetypes in the film, hero’s journey and exercises to apply to your own journey.
It’s a fun way to learn about archetypes and I helped produce it, so I am doubly proud.
Save $5.00 on the purchase by using the offer code: podcast
Find out more: http://jimcurtan.com/audio-workshops/
Ratatouille: Fate, Destiny & The Hero’s Journey Audio Workshop
The Way: A Journey of Healing & Self Acceptance
Ever get super annoyed about a date’s habit of eating loudly, or feel uncomfortable because they have a super hot ex? It can be oh so easy to extrapolate small things into relationship-stopping catastrophes even when other aspects of the situation are great. When your list of deal breaking items gets longer than five, the Saboteur is lurking in your psyche and things are about to get messy.
This archetypal dating guide has a reputation as ‘the Ninja’ because it has a way of being subtle and lethal before you know what hit you. I’m referring to the archetype of the Saboteur which is often cloaked in some pretty typical dating behavior.
The Saboteur shows up when we feel vulnerable and acts as a defense for a wounded part of ourselves (often the Victim). The reasoning of the Saboteur in dating is that if we can beat a potential wound to the punch then we’ll suffer less. Simple, no? Simple but deadly to any possible relationship with another human being. Ever.
We’ve all probably been on one side or the other of the Saboteur’s razor sharp blade and it hurts either way. Truth is, we can’t mitigate our way out of pain or loss but we can be strong enough to hold our vulnerability and make choices with both wisdom and heart.
It is possible to level up our wisdom by being mindful and recognizing what we are really up to before making choices. Recognizing key patterns as archetypes is a good way to get a hand hold on our own internal machinations. If you can spot the sneaky, weirdly well intentioned Saboteur at work you can then review the situation in a different light.
In the words of the urban poet and rap star, Ice Cube:
You better check yo self before you wreck yo self
Cos I’m bad for your health, I come real stealth
Knowledge is power, so here is a primer on the Saboteur in relationships:
The Two Sides of the Saboteur
Unempowered Saboteur Archetype
AKA The Critic, The Cynic Keywords: Reactionary, Fear, Exaggeration, Over-thinking, Cynicism This is the part of us that is consciously or unconsciously ready to sabotage when we feel uncomfortable or get scared. It’s a pattern of over-thinking a situation and/or making extreme judgements as a defense.
The unempowered Saboteur’s voice:
“They do (insert action here) and boom! I’m outta here.”
“I just can’t date a man/woman who (insert annoying thing here).”
“He/she is really great – I wonder what is wrong with them?”
The Saboteur is the chief in charge of trying to figure everything out right away, laying emotional land mines or generally mucking up the works. At it’s worst, the Saboteur is like a pernicious detective drawing all kinds of scary conclusions until we are too confused to know what’s what. Like the Magician, the unempowered Saboteur is a master of creating illusion.
Empowered Saboteur Archetype
Keywords: Listening, Wisdom, Clarity, Faith, Trust This is one of those patterns that the upside is being able to spot when the unempowered side is at play and take a breath to check-in with ourselves. It’s the part of us that says “relax, breathe, be open to the truth before you decide”. The empowered Saboteur’s motto is “Check it before you wreck it”. The empowered Saboteur as a representative of clear thinking can help you understand if doubts and worries are legitimate or just a function of fear. Also like a Magician the empowered Saboteur knows how the tricks work and can see what is an illusion before taking action.
“Old defenses block new success. Every defense is really a fear that forces you to play small, live in lack, and limit what is really possible. In truth, no defense can make you strong, no defense can win you freedom, and no defense can show you your true power.” ~Robert Holden, Ph.D.
4 ways to recognize and work with the Saboteur:
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
~Viktor E. Frankl
Trigger Not So Happy
We often have specific triggers that will set the Saboteur off so it’s good to be conscious of them so we can see them coming before anyone gets hurt. I found this article lays out some ways to find and work with these emotional triggers: 5 Steps to Owning Your Emotional Triggers
Phone a Friend
If you are having an “I’m about to wreck it.” moment, call a friend and ask them to hear you out before you do anything rash. Often times we just need someone to listen and witness that we are scared and having a moment of uncomfortable vulnerability. You might even notice that you are trying to sway them to your thinking – another sign that the Saboteur is on the loose.
Speaking with a trusted friend, coach or therapist is often the way to get the Saboteur to put down the sword and so you can hone in on what you really want. You might even be right about your next action but if you make your choice out of wisdom and not fear you will treat everyone humanely and feel a whole lot better about your choice.
The Price of Admission
If looking for perfection is your own Saboteur style, recognize that imperfection is at the heart of what makes us loveable. We want to be loved and accepted as whole people – flaws and all. Perfection as manufactured by the marketing department in our heads is a complete deception that kills off any hope of being in a real relationship. This talk by Dan Savage on what he calls “The Price of Admission
” sums up how acceptance of our flaws and those of our partners is key to any healthy and lasting relationship. Warning: the video contains potentially offensive language and laughter.
Over-thinking A Square
If you find yourself thinking non-stop and obsessing about a situation from every angle, the Sabotuer has snuck in and amped your brain to the point that nothing can be perceived honestly. It’s time to get out of your head and into your body. Go for a run, go dancing, take a bike ride or a walk – the more strenuous the better. You won’t stop thinking completely of course, but you will switch gears and hopefully give the non-stop-thought-train a rest for a while. If you can’t get away for some exercise, the simple act of putting your hand on your chest and taking 3 deep, slow breaths will calm you and slow down the rapid fire thinking. Repeat as necessary.
“Intellect confuses intuition.” ~Piet Mondrian
Here is a sweet video that represents both aspects of the Saboteur.
photo ©Julienne Givot
Heartbreak is a term most often associated with the unfortunate end of a romantic relationship. It’s also a pervasive pattern that intersects every single human life everywhere. When we hear a friend say, “My heart is broken,” we can relate in an instant without their details. Heartbreak is an archetype that enters our lives on more than one occasion and under differing circumstances but it is not a pattern that organizes a life in the same way that, for example, the Mother does. We don’t meet someone think they were definitely born to for heartbreak. What drives the broken heart is the inability of our expectations to meet the demands of life.
A few years ago, I had my first great experience of heartbreak. The life I thought I would have and where I thought I would be by that time was unfounded and I admitted it. I couldn’t breathe as one image in sequence crashed into the next. I found it hard to stand. In the rubble of my fantasies I fell into despair.
We are forever building cities to our fantasies. We say to ourselves, “I’ll always be with this person,” “I’ll always work here,” “They’ll never die,” and so on. Then the day comes that person doesn’t love us anymore, or we get fired, or that someone dies. One illusion crumbles into another, falling against each other in a long, dusty sequence. Shocked, alternating in loss and denial, we begin a grieving process. We won’t see that the ruin that is our pain is also the opportunity. Whenever we begin something new we have to start with a clear surface to work.
I wandered through my life in the weeks that passed, through the same rooms and spaces I’d known but I wasn’t in them anymore. Whether I was angry at all the time wasted or in denial that the whole fantasy could be resurrected, I was in mourning for the life that had passed away. “Broken heart” became a mantra that I’d repeat to myself and then a visceral experience in my chest. When others saw that something was wrong and asked after it I couldn’t speak to what I was feeling. By myself, I’d weep a great deal. And then I began to ask, “What did break?” I knew I was alive so it could not be my literal heart. Something was broken but if not my heart, then a heart that was never real to begin with. And then there it was: A thrumming in my chest, a sensation that would become a guide back to the present. No longer was I drifting in the past and projecting towards a mythical future. Every motion a moment proceeding steady. With my attention there on my heart, I wasn’t dwelling on what was gone but I stayed here with was already still.
I call the heart that broke was my thimbled heart; cold, hollow, capable of measuring out loves only as much as what was put in, and hard enough to resist intrusion. It didn’t beat much. I had to lay down the remains of my expectations, and in so doing the thimble heart of who I thought I was in order to see what still stood undisturbed.
photo ©Julienne Givot
The magnitude of suffering that quantifies “heartbreak” constitutes a transformational journey, one of such weight and consequence that the issue(s) which began the process cannot be discarded as a measure of coming through the experience and being healed. In fact that would be irresponsible. We don’t leave these things behind, for living bodies carry the scars of the wounds that have been suffered. Only corpses never heal. And let me say that crying on occasion for the person we have been is not an indication that our wounds haven’t healed, but is a signal that our hearts are alive and engaged. If anything we gain the capacity to see the heartbreak in others and a greater compassion for the condition of loss and expectation that beats in all human beings. Born from the tears cried in the suffering of our undesired experiences, a greater heart moves unrelenting. Then it is that we break upon our hearts and breaking open, bear it blazing for all beings everywhere. When we sit with one who is breaking, maybe the best we can offer is a strong witness to the grief they are bearing and allow them their experience. Of all things the greatest helper is time. Perhaps when the broken heart calls once again to visit, we can remember and bring our attention back to what is left as a practical respite from our unbearable grief of letting go.
“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself that you tasted as many as you could.”
The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich
Awesome werewolf cupcake made by my friend Jan.
Halloween is such a great archetypal holiday. What other time do people get to dress up and show their alterna-selves? When my clients are trying to figure which of two similar archetypes fits them the best, I often suggest they try each one on and see how they fit. This is metaphorical but it’s also something one can do more literally by donning a costume. It can also be fun to try on something that is radically different from what you think is the norm for yourself and see how it goes. Halloween is all about this and we have the benefit of stores filled with costume ideas and accessories.
So what will your costume be this year? Does it represent an aspect of who you are or are you trying something different? Costumes can be a great way to explore and express ourselves. Whether you are going in for the whole Halloween costume thing this year (or any other time) try this experiment for some learning fun.
Archetypal Halloween Experiment
1) Visit my Discover Yours page and click the quality that you least identify with. What sort of costumes could you come up with based on the archetypes listed? What sorts of characters have those archetypes? Would you have fun trying on some of those outfits and seeing what would happen?
2) Back on the Discover Yours page click the one quality that you think is the most ‘you’ of all of them. Click to open the box and see what archetypes are there. Could you imagine dressing up in a costume based on one of those listed? What sorts of characters have those archetypes?
Result: My guess is that you have probably dressed up (or thought of dressing up) in probably one from each 1 and 2. Why? We are drawn to what we have an affinity for as well as our opposites. Or I should say perceived opposites.
Carl Jung postulated that all archetypes reside within the collective unconscious and are accessible to everyone. In my practice I use about 12 archetypes with my clients which represent the core patterns they work with throughout their lives. Can we work with more than 12? The answer is yes! I believe along with many other archetypal teachers and researchers that we do work with many, many patterns but some are like situational one offs. For example someone who has the Peacemaker archetype can at times have a need to be a Warrior if circumstances call for it in a situation like defending a loved one. The Warrior might not be a usual archetype the person works with, but it can arise from time to time. Most people have done or said something and wondered “where did that come from?” which I would say is probably a shadow archetype popping up based on the situation. Jung also wrote about the archetype of the Shadow which in essence is the unseen or unacknowledged part of us. The Shadow could contain all sorts of archetypal characters and if you did the experiment above you might have found that one or two cropped up. Many times Shadow is referred to as being bad, but I try not to do that because making a hard judgement about something tends to shut down the learning process.
Have questions or want to post your results? Want some ideas for costumes to go with archetypes? Leave a reply below or shoot me a message!
©Justina Kochansky / Flickr
If dating seems like an ordeal, you are not alone. I’ve heard many versions of “I’m not dating because it sucks” from all sorts of people; gay, straight, men and women of all ages. I’ve expressed that sentiment myself more than a few times, but I also know that it doesn’t HAVE to be that way. Each of the archetypal guides in this series can help illuminate why dating can be difficult and how we can experience the process in a more grounded, wholehearted way.
This next archetypal guide is a biggie – it’s probably the main reason dating can be painful, confusing and un-fun. Just stay with me here because our guide to less vexing and more wholehearted dating in this edition is the archetypeA universal pattern of motivation and behavior. of the Victim.
What did you say woman? Victim?!
(Like I said – hang in there.)
The BIG THING to remember is that the Victim has two sides to it and is all about safety, strength and boundaries. It remains neutral until we feed one side or the other with thoughts, ideas and actions.
Unempowered Victim Archetype
Keywords: Pain, Fear, Blame This is the part of us that is consciously or unconsciously hurt, defensive, pissed off, fearful, vengeful or sad. It’s a tender part that needs care and compassion but it also needs to know it’s not the only game in town. To identify with only the unempowered Victim is how we can end up in dating suckland. Being in the mindset of fear skews our vision and makes for hasty decisions (fight or flight dating anyone?). This is where being present and paying attention to what’s going on in our minds and hearts without judgement can keep us grounded.
Empowered Victim Archetype
Keywords: Strength, Resilience, Courage I like to call this the Victorious part of us but it’s still a part of the Victim – we can’t really have one without the other. This is the archetype of working with the fear, letting stuff go, setting healthy boundaries and getting on with life more informed and stronger than we were before. The empowered Victim is also a wellspring of compassion – for self and others. It opens the door to maintaining vulnerability as a strength, not a weakness. If that sounds like an oxymoron, think of it this way, our ability to truly connect (be vulnerable) allows us to be who we really are beyond the fear we might feel (strength).
Dating means putting yourself out there in a way that could bring old wounds and insecurities to the surface – something most of us instinctively avoid. Hence the Victim archetype rearing it’s head in the middle of our single life saying it’s not safe out there. Here’s the thing though, if we let our fears wall all that stuff up in order to feel safe, we are also walling out what we most deeply want – love and connection.
“A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need in all women, men and children. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.” ~Brené Brown from The Gifts of Imperfection
Love, if it is real, will never be completely safe because it requires vulnerability, which is to say that the soft gooey center of us could get squeezed and maybe not pleasantly so. In order to truly love, our shields have to come down for a connection to be made. This is true of platonic relationships as well but dating can feel like the stakes are much higher.
“No human being has ever lived without knowing heartbreak, and to accept that truth is to give a merciful gift to ourselves.” ~David Whyte
Actively working with our internal Victim can help us cultivate the strength, resilience and spaciousness to experience dating in a whole new way. How we relate to our internal Victim resonates out to how we treat other people, including our potential love partners and sets the tone for our future relationships.
Here are some ways the Victim can be a guide to dating where we feel stronger, more present and grounded:
Know Your Ropes
You know that exercise where someone walks up to you one small step at a time and you tell them to stop when you begin to feel uncomfortable? That’s how we can determine our personal physical boundaries. For some people it’s 5 feet and for others 5 inches. The Victim here is a guide to emotional boundaries, which is all about how we handle our own vulnerability. If we have overly porous dating boundaries we’ll be prone to spilling our emotional guts on the first date, getting hurt unnecessarily or taking on other people’s emotional burdens. Diamond hard boundaries mean we are never going to be able to let anyone in and be a part of an intimate relationship. Understanding how this might work for ourselves emotionally can save a lot of confusion and bruised feelings.
Understanding and developing emotional boundaries is huge topic and there are many resources to support more learning so I’ve provided a few below.
Boundaries vs. Barriers by Pema Chödrön
How to Set Healthy Boundaries: 3 Crucial First Steps
Ten Ways to Build and Preserve Boundaries
Self-victimization can slide in when we aren’t looking; maybe an un-returned call, text message or presumed mistake on a date sends you into a bout of self-flagellation. Whatever the cause, it’s a ripe time to take a moment to remember that:
1) things are not always as they seem
2) you are human and do all sorts of things that might not be intended
3) berating yourself does not help anything (in fact neuro psychology research shows it can make things worse).
Self-vicitmization is a call for self-compassion. Once you’ve stopped beating yourself up you will know what to do next with much clearer vision. You will also have more compassion for those you are dating.
Don't Go It Alone
The Victim can also let us know when we are heading for a situation that we should avoid and to take precautions to be safe out there in dating land. Hopefully we’ve all learned to meet someone new in a public place and continue to do gut check’s about whether we can trust the other person. This can also go overboard. My brother told me about a woman who brought along her BFF to their first date as a sort of guard. Granted, they met on a dating website but her reaction and obvious Victim mentality really turned him off on what could have been an otherwise pleasant date over coffee.
Whether for physical or emotional safety I recommend a ‘date buddy’; someone you can trust to talk something out with and check in with to let them know where you are going and with whom on a date. Our parents might not wait up for us anymore but it’s nice to know someone has our back. I’m blessed to have two date buddies (a man and a woman) and it really, really helps. I get the benefit of having access to both the male and female perspectives on things and get to support them on their dating adventures as well.
Being present to what comes up with the Victim in dating also reminds us that we can call on resources and helpers in the form of Mentors, Therapists or Groups where we can share our experience and receive support.
Avoid Reruns & Red Flags
You’ve heard the quote about doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result as the definition of insanity right? It’s true, but most of us do it anyway and dating is no exception. The Victim is our guide to say “hey we’ve done this before and it didn’t end so well”. It’s a call to clear thinking and discernment knowing that dating re-runs and red flags can be avoided if we choose to.
This reminds me of a scene in ‘When Harry Met Sally’ when Carrie Fisher’s character says “You’re right, you’re right, I know you’re right – he’s never going to leave her.” about the married man who is always proclaiming he’s going to leave his wife to be with her but never does. The Victim can help us recognize when we get into an unhealthy pattern and need to make some different choices or at least look clearly at a situation.
Although dating can bring uncomfortable things up, an honest and compassionate relationship with the Victim means we can be stronger, more loving people for the difficult lessons and heartbreak we’ve been through. My experience with cultivating the lessons of the Victim in relation to dating has helped me immensely. I never thought the process could actually be empowering and compassionate, but it can be and that is what I hope to share with you. Please comment, share, Tweet and link this article if others that you think might benefit. I love when you do that.
©Justina Kochansky / Flickr
They say to always lead with your strength. I’m going to lead with one of my weaknesses – sometimes I feel like I’m not enough. Not smart enough, pretty enough, rich enough, thin enough etc. Basically, take any positive quality and put ‘not’ in front and ‘enough’ behind it and I can, at some point, feel that this is so. It’s a type of nefarious self-judgement that most people can identify with and it can make dating un-fun and stressful. These self-judgements can take over and have us thinking that inadequacy is the only possible reason why we aren’t meeting that great guy or gal. And here’s the thing – a habit of believing ‘I am not enough’ does influence our dating experience and who we meet. Let me explain by wrapping it in the context of the archetype at play here.
Not-enoughness is the purview of the Prostitute archetype, which also goes by the name of the People Pleaser, among others. The Prostitute is symbolic of how we negotiate our integrity and self worth. The moment we begin to doubt our worth is a sign that the unempowered Prostitute is hanging out on our psyche’s street corner. It also encourages us to pretend we are something we aren’t because lack is crowding everything else out. It also means that everyone else is more important than we are. This only leads to more heartache.
There is a way to enable this archetype to work FOR us instead of selling our happiness out. Begin by noticing when you engage with the pattern of the Prostitute. Any thought that says ‘you are not enough’ is the archetypal voice of the unempowered Prostitute giving out bad information. Period. You ARE enough. The voice of the empowered Prostitute reminds you that you are enough as you are right now – an imperfect and amazing person, both. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t things you might want to work on, it means that you aren’t starting with a deficit.
Let me illustrate with some common dating scenarios and how the Prostitute archetype can show up in both unempowered and empowered ways:
You've met someone you like.
unempowered / judging
- Worry that they won’t be interested in you because you are inadequate in some way.
- Allow a list of ‘not-enough’s’ to cascade down the screen of your mind like the numbers and letters in the Matrix.
- Get neurotic about whether you should contact them.
- Check every ten minutes to see if they have called, texted or emailed you first.
empowered / innate worthiness
- Realize that the ‘not enoughs’ are not true and it’s a choice to identify with those thoughts or not. Besides all those crappy thoughts give you a headache.
- You are who you are ‘as is’ and you want to be with someone who accepts and cares for all of you.
- Call them within a time that makes sense and is respectful, in the mean time – enjoy yourself!
- Understand that your value is innate and not based on what other people think.
- If he/she isn’t into you, it is in no way a value judgement of who you are.
Dating someone who isn't good for you.
*Not good for you* generally means they don’t treat you well, take you for granted, put you down or in other ways are not positive for your well being.
unempowered / sell-out
- You keep dating them because you figure you can’t get anyone who is good for you because you aren’t ____ enough.
- You decide there are too many things you lack and it’s better to sell out than be without a date.
- You think that because you are inadequate and they are inadequate you somehow belong together.
empowered / worthy
- Respectfully and compassionately let your unhealthy relationship go (aka break up).
- Notice you spend way more time with the ‘not enough’ thoughts than you do with the truth of who you are and start reversing that situation.
- Spend time doing things you enjoy instead of worrying about Saturday night.
- Realize that dating someone does not make you any more or less valuable as a person.
Dating someone you aren't into.
unempowered / settling
- It’s nice to have someone be nice to you.
- They pay for dinner and/or provide company on Saturday night.
- No one else is on the horizon.
empowered / worthy
- Realize it’s not fair to anyone to stay in a relationship because you feel bad about yourself.
- Be the person who is nice to you.
- Realize that dating someone does not make you any more or less valuable as a person.
- Respectfully and compassionately let the relationship go (aka break up).
- Notice when you spend more time with the ‘not enough’ thoughts than you do with the truth of who you are and start reversing that situation.
Playing Hide and Seek
unempowered / unauthentic
- Wanting to share a part of yourself with your date/boyfriend/girlfriend but not doing it because they might judge you as not being ____ enough.
- Pretending to have traits that you don’t so they will like/love/accept you? (“Oh I love rock climbing” you say to your date when internally you are shuddering at the idea.)
- Saying yes to or asking for another date when you don’t want to.
- Saying you will call when you don’t intend to.
empowered / worthy
- Notice that you want to be known for who you really are and hiding a desire to share something about you is already a rejection.
- Your worth and love-ability are based on who you are and not whether you have the same interests as your date. You can show a genuine curiosity about their interests without having to fake enthusiasm.
- Acting on what you really want and being honest bestows respect and care on both you and your date.
Did you notice that the empowered sides of these scenarios were more loving, respectful, honest and authentic? That’s exactly who we are without the low worth rhetoric and those qualities are SO very attractive! The habit of thinking ‘not enough’ leads to more of the same; it’s focused on settling for whatever we can get which moves us farther and father away from what we actually want. Understanding that you are enough makes space to focus on what you really want in a relationship and changes the dynamic of choices in who you attract and engage with.
There are many books that have principles and stories that can help re-orient the Prostitute archetype from it’s low energy state to one where you hold your head high and stop trading away your innate fabulousness for anxious worries and low self worth. The wildly popular book from a few years ago, He’s Just Not That Into You highlights this perfectly and delivers it with a with a sizable dose of sharp candor. It applies to anyone working with the Prostitute archetype, which is pretty much everyone except for maybe the Dalai Lama.
“Being lonely … being alone … for many people … sucks. I get it, I get it, I get it. But still I have to say that yes, my belief is that being with somebody who makes you feel crappy or doesn’t honor the person you are is worse.” From He’s Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tucillo
The empowered Prostitute holds him or herself with compassion and value, not higher or lower than anyone else but on the firm ground where we can meet others in the same way. It’s the same fertile ground where great relationships can grow. Learning how these internal archetypal patterns play out, can bring us back to center with compassion that begins with ourselves and inevitably out to those around us. And really what could be more attractive than that?
Part 1 of Dating Survival Guides sets up the process of engaging with these patterns with mindfulness and self-compassion. This recent article is a brilliant essay on the power of this archetype and how we compromise for love.
©Jason Blait courtesy of Flickr
Let’s consider for a moment that we all have a container in our psyche that holds the entire history of our being wounded: betrayal, abandonment, shame – the whole painful enchilada. This same container also holds the story of our healing: past, present and future. The archetype of the Victim is our guide through these storylines and shows us either a heroic triumph or an exasperating epic that never seems to end. The difference being which side of the pattern we pay attention to.
The Victim, like the rest of the survival archetypes has a bad reputation which might be why it’s easy to spot in others but sometimes difficult to own in ourselves. This bad rep is due to most of us only seeing the unempowered side. The unempowered version of the Victim is stuck, complains about how they have been wronged and are convinced that they had little to no bearing on the outcome of the wounding incident. We’ve all known “Debbie Downers” who incessantly complain about everything and re-frame their experience to get attention or sympathy. Often times this is seen as the Martyr which shares a good bit of DNA with the Victim, but lacks the element of witnessing a larger truth. The unempowered Victim will hand everything over and expect someone else to ‘fix it’. The balance of power lies outside when the Victim shows up in it’s shadow form.
“It’s your/their fault.”
“It’s all my fault.”
“I’m always getting hurt.”
“No one understands me.”
“I didn’t have a choice.”
“This always happens to me.”
Conversely, the empowered Victim has an intimate understanding of their own trajectory of having been wounded and what it took (or will take) to work with it to come out on the other side stronger and more wise than before. Their power remains within them even if they ask for help. Help for the empowered Victim is not handing the problem over to someone else but to actively engage to work through an issue with some assistance.
“I made a mistake, now I’m going to…”
“This is really hard but I can do this.”
“I’m going to need some help with this.”
“I’m getting back in the game.”
“Live and learn.”
Spotting this pattern as it emerges allows for a broader range of choices where one can decide which side of the Victim card they want to play. Recognizing that the Victim is an archetypal pattern that all humans share can be a first step to take the sting out of a situation and make room for real compassion. After all, compassion is one of the things we seek when we’ve been hurt. Recognition and attention to the situation seen first as a pattern also points us toward discernment and wisdom instead of harsh judgement which can just exacerbate the pain of the situation.
The richer more enlivening place to draw from is that of the path of healing, which is to say the empowered Victim. Healing encompasses the story of the wound as well as what it it took to get to wholeness again. Not only wholeness but an expasiveness that did not exist before the wound. What do I mean by this? This quote from Elizabeth Kubler-Ross the pioneering psychiatrist sums it up nicely.
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These people have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen…”
©Garry Wilmore courtesy of Flickr
Having gone through something difficult and come out the other side with more wisdom, compassion and understanding is the Victim’s ultimate journey. The ways and means of a life with knowledge of the Victim pattern reminds us how strong we can be. A talisman that says we can’t rush healing to a perfection of wholeness but neither can we stay in the pure pain of a wound for very long. Even those who claim they are wounded beyond repair are not immune to what the world brings them as healing salve if they are open to it. The kindness of a friend or a beautiful piece of music can be healing. It’s the choices one makes to accept the gifts of healing and the stories we choose about what happened to us that make the difference. The Victim is a guide to how we work with the painful times as well as a way to be more generous with ourselves and others.
Dating can feel like a trip to the amusement park, filled with excitement, ups, downs and the occasional sense of inertia. Certain archetypes can help serve as guides for keeping grounded while amidst the thrills and spills of dating life. So far I’ve written about archetypal attraction based on shared patterns, paired needs and romantic chemistry. Now it’s time to dig into some of the archetypal characters that will likely show up for everyone dating. They also can play into why some people don’t even dip their toe into the dating pool. I call these our Survival Archetypes. They are roles we take on when we feel vulnerable as well as ones that can guide us to authentically being ourselves.
We all work with the survival archetypes. Some people are so in the thrall of the unempowered aspects of them that they have a hard time seeing beyond their negative effects. It’s my hope to turn this around a bit. Each archetype should be used as a guide – not a way to judge yourself poorly. In fact they are an excellent way of spotting how you might judge yourself and how to make a more empowering choice.
The four dating Survival Guides are: The Victim, The Prostitute, The Child and The Saboteur.
The names of these archetypes might seem to some harsh or intimidating, but that’s because we tend to know them only by their pathology. They also contain a wonderful possibility that often gets overlooked.
I launched this series on dating by recommending attention as a key for getting clear on who you are and who you want to form a relationship with. Paying attention to your thoughts and behaviors by seeing them as patterns helps you get clear on your options. That clarity can get lost however if we use the pattern to judge ourselves poorly or condemn ourselves.
The technology of using archetypes is best served with a practice akin to Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) coupled with self-compassion. The basis of MBSR is moment-to-moment non-judgmental awareness. Awareness and self compassion are powerful practices in life and especially in the necessarily vulnerable experience of dating. Developing awareness and self compassion practices can make all the difference in being able to be authentic (you know, the real you) and attract the right people into your life. This isn’t just me talking, there are increasingly more scientific studies showing how awareness and self compassion are amazing for us in every aspect of our lives, from reducing stress, relieving pain and bringing greater resilience and happiness to practitioners. Two other pioneers in this field are Kelly McGonigal, Phd and Kristen Neff, Phd. Neff’s book Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind is an excellent starting place.
This series will focus on each of the four survival archetypes as they might show up for a single person looking to meet a significant other. They are of course useful to those already in relationship or those thinking about ‘getting back out there’. I’ll share ideas on ways to bring awareness to your actions and choices in a way that helps you enjoy yourself more in the process of creating new relationships. If we are enjoying ourselves from the beginning, we’ll be less prone to heap expectations on the person we are dating and vice versa. Sound good? Look for updates soon and links will be added to the list above so you can jump to the next exciting article.
Little things can mean a lot. Let’s say you’re having a crappy day and you’re at the store when the cashier pulls out a coupon that saves you a dollar. This gives you a boost and you walk out the door in a better mood. Maybe you don’t honk at the numbskull ahead of you for doing whatever it is that annoys you. That person doesn’t get irked with you for being a numbskull honking at them and who knows what other little improvements occur because someone did you a solid just for the heck of it. Little bits of beauty & generosity have a tendency to carry on long after their tipping point. Like watching a TED talk and getting inspired to write an article about something both simple and radically important about the patterns at work in our lives.
Neil Pasricha decided to do something seemingly small when he was going through a very rough patch in his life. His marriage was falling apart, his best friend took his own life and he naturally was finding it really hard to think of anything good. He started a blog in order to record and share what he called 1000 Awesome Things, figuring that it might help him focus on the positive again. Little did he know that this one effort would have him publishing books, calendars, TED talks and receiving a Webby Award for his blog in 2010. All of this AND bringing a grin or a LOL to millions of readers. Neil’s 17 minute talk about how all of this came about is totally worth watching so, go ahead, it’s right down there, I’ll wait. Then you can read about how this talk is an invocation of three of your core archetypes. (Or you can just skip to the next bit.)
Neil calls the major lessons of his experience the three A’s of Awesome: Attitude, Awareness and Authenticity. Each of these invokes one of your core archetypal patterns, the Victim (Attitude), the Child (Awareness) and the Prostitute (Authenticity). These are 3 of the 4 core universal archetypes common to everyone also known as the Survival Archetypes.
Neil’s own story has a lot to do with the Victim archetype. He could have simply wallowed in his circumstances, let them take over and obscure the beauty in his life. The unempowered side of the Victim is the part of us that can get wrapped up in anger, sadness, and blame. We all have a Victim pattern in our lives – we have setbacks, get hurt, make mistakes, have crappy days when we feel like we’ve gotten the fuzzy side of the lollipop. We also have the empowered side of the Victim that makes choices to get out of the mire of blame and move on. Neil calls this ‘Attitude’ and I see it as using the pattern of the Victim to make a gigantic difference in a few small choices.
The second ‘A’ of Awesome is Awareness and this invokes the Child archetype in us. The Child or as Neil says, our inner three year old, can be amazed at the simplest things, see beauty where most adults just see a knot in a piece of wood. Invoking the awareness of the Child archetype can help us enjoy something simple, open our eyes to opportunity or just appreciate something we would ordinarily pass by. This isn’t just a mood lifter, but a way to be in the world with a deeper sense of presence. The Child can be the antidote to a fast paced world where it’s difficult not to become jaded to little pleasures like putting on socks still warm from the dryer.
The third ‘A’ is for Authenticity which believe it or not, invokes Prostitute archetype. The unempowered Prostitute is that part of us that will negotiate our self worth away because of someone elses opinion or keep us doing something we dislike because we feel we can’t do anything else. The empowered Prostitute reminds us that we can be authentic and make choices not based on fear but out of an authentic belief in ourselves. Neil uses the example of pro football player Rosie Grier and his penchant for needlepoint as an example of authenticity. Rosie could have easily kept his passion for something unmanly under wraps and let what other people might think of him control who he was (keep in mind this was the early 1970’s) but he didn’t. In fact he published several books on his interests. It doesn’t get much more authentic than that.
While this archetype has a shocking name, it can be a guide for us to live authentically. Are you not doing something because you are afraid of what people might think of you? Are you putting the opinions of others over your authentic dreams and desires?
I’ve partnered with my friend and colleague Cyndera Quakenbush to publish a new series of podcasts on archetypes. We are exploring the archetypes of the first 22 cards Tarot (also called the Major Arcana) as both individual patterns and as stages of a journey.
Search for ‘Archetypal Tarot’ in your iTunes Store or visit our Podcast site http://archetypaltarot.podbean.com/ to subscribe using the links on the lower right. Each podcast is between 25 and 35 minutes long and is packed with insights, examples of the archetypes in modern life.
Feel free to leave comments, rate the podcast or submit a question.
If you’ve ever thought of the Tarot as just a card game used for fortune telling, you’ll be surprised at the insights found in these ancient images. We go beyond superstition and look a the Tarot as universal stories, stages and characters we see in our lives every day.
What is a podcast?
Verb: Make (a multimedia digital file) available as a podcast.
Noun: A multimedia digital file made available on the Internet for downloading to a portable media player, computer, etc.
In part 2 of this series, I wrote about the ways of Romantic Archetypal Attraction where people are drawn together by the complimentary needs and attributes of their archetypes. Equally important is the kind of an attraction to someone because of shared qualities. If you are interested in seeing how archetypes can help you select better dates, then taking a look at how Shared Archetypal Attraction works will help.
Meeting someone with one or more of the same archetypes can mean near instant bonding as well as attraction. I think of this as a kind of friend chemistry, which when it comes to dating can be really important especially if you are looking for a long term relationship. Friend chemistry doesn’t mean it’s without romantic spark however, just that it doesn’t require it.
You probably share quite a few archetypes with your friends – it’s one of the main ways people bond. Social groups and even companies stick together based on archetypal patterns. The archetypes of a group tend to form the goals and not the other way around.
Take a moment to think about your group of friends. How are you bonded together? Is it through the shared experience of working or sharing activities together? Do you have similar values and tastes? Which archetypes do you share? (here’s a list of some as a refresher). Now as you are interacting with people, possible dates or even looking through online dating profiles, what archetypes are you looking for?
Below are some examples of shared experiences and some of the possible shared archetypes:
- Being outdoors, hiking, biking, kayaking, bird watching, camping, working with animals: Nature Child, Adventurer, Athlete, Explorer
- Trying out new restaurants, cuisines, going to a spa, getting a massage, a mani-pedi, cooking a gourmet meal together: Hedonist, Gourmet (Foodie), God/Goddess (think Venus and Bacchus), Lover, Prince/Princess
- Going to concerts, museums, galleries, attending lectures on creativity, art. Touring a city by going to look at all of the neighborhood murals: Artist, Creator, Dreamer, Lover, Poet
- Pulling practical jokes, writing or performing comedy skits, telling jokes, goofing around, going to comedy shows, doing impersonations, telling funny stories: Clown, Fool, Trickster, Entertainer, Storyteller, Magical or Eternal Child (Peter Pan)
- Book clubs, study groups, classes and workshops: Student, Seeker, Detective, Teacher, Guide
- Volunteering, political rallies, fund raisers: Servant, Advocate, Activist, Philanthropist, Rebel, Revolutionary, Liberator
Sharing an archetype means you just naturally ‘get’ what you share with each other. There is generally little need to explain or cajole the other into an activity or discussion as it pertains to your shared archetype.
The next in the series about Archetypal Attraction and Romantic Chemistry
The Knight and the Damsel are a matched set of patterns with naturally occurring complimentary attributes and dysfunctions. This can be true of any couple with these archetypes no matter their gender, same, different or otherwise. While we think of the Knight as a man and the Damsel a woman, that’s not always the case. I’m going to go the traditional route here but keep an open mind that the archetypes are not necessarily gender specific.
The painting to the right is an eloquent image of the romantic chemistry of the Knight and the Damsel.
Notice the Damsel, who I’m going to call Miriam, stands above George (her Knight) which is symbolic of the pedestal of her more delicate nature, in other words, that which needs or wants protection. Miriam is dressed beautifully, her hair perfectly combed as she leans gracefully to tie her scarf (a token of her love and support) onto his armor before he goes off to battle the nasty icky dragon.
Miriam has a civilizing effect on George, whom she believes would probably be just another brute in jangling armor were it not for her inspiring beauty and attention. For George, Miriam is the reflection of his inner feminine nature, emotional, delicate and not something he generally sees in himself. For George, going off to slay the dragon is natural, Miriam’s support makes it all the more noble and important because he can do the manly things he needs to do knowing that she will be safe and there when he returns. Symbolically he can leave his own feminine nature safely at home while Miriam can see a reflection of her masculine side go off to do the tough and dangerous work.
The romantic chemistry for the Knight and the Damsel is so complimentary that it goes a long way by creating deep bonds and mutual admiration. It often imbues that sense of puzzle pieces fitting together that I mentioned in a previous article. But then there are the dragons, which in this image are both looming in the distance and perched at home on the balustrade.
The dragons rear up when one or the other get tired of all this projecting of what they want to see in themselves in the other person. George doesn’t want to deal with his emotions – especially when Miriam practically demands that he take off all his armor and do just that. Or when Miriam feels stifled up on that pedestal, maintaining her beauty for him and generally waiting for George to stop being so bloody insensitive. What attracts these two archetypes can be exactly what drives them nuts. The path back to being complimentary patterns who support each other (from co-dependent to interdependent) is often a truce of sorts that allows each to see the others nature as a reflection rather than a projection. George is able to see his own feminine nature and Miriam her ability to protect herself as they work to integrate the full breadth of these archetypes. When these two archetypes get together in a healthy way and honor each other for who they are – it’s a power team to be sure.
There are several sets of fictional characters that I can think of that model the empowered Knight and Damsel coupling. Interesting to note that several of them come from the mystery genre of fiction – both authored by men. Nick and Nora Charles are fictional characters created by Dashiell Hammett in his novel The Thin Man. While also boozily humorous, these two play off each other well in the generally empowered Knight and Damsel roles. Susan Silverman and Spenser in the long running series of Spenser mysteries by Robert B. Parker excel at being a Knight/Damsel power couple. Throughout the series of nearly 40 novels the two go through pretty much every archetypal peril and triumph with both heart and wisdom.
More recently, the BBC/PBS series Downton Abbey features an excellent example of an empowered Knight and Damsel in the characters of John Bates and Anna Smith. They remain steadfast and trusting of each other but not demanding. Bates does not treat Anna as if she is weak but he is protective. They both honor the masculine and feminine in each other.
Volumes have been written about Venus and Mars and their challenges which the Knight and the Damsel are rooted in. For a deeper , non-fiction insight into these archetypal relationships and the Western concept of Romance, I highly recommend Jungian psychologist Robert A. Johnson’s “We: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love“.
Read Archetype attraction part 1: The Basics
Romantic Archetypal Chemistry is based on complimentary needs. Typically it’s either an archetype we value or one that reflects qualities we want to see in ourselves. This is the kind of attraction we usually think of in terms of romance and dating. You know, that subtle “the puzzle pieces just fit together” kind of attraction. That’s great right? Who doesn’t like feeling that way? Of course there are some pitfalls to Romantic Archetypal Chemistry because the ingrained traits and their shadowy bits can make for a rough time once the heady days of romance wane. This, my friends, is where the archetypal view becomes even more helpful.
Romantic Archetypal Chemistry means that there are qualities that you both have that work well together because each feels the one has something the other lacks. The big reality check is that this isn’t always strictly true, it just seems like it. Call it mirroring or projection, each need and need not fulfilled by the other can either be an ugly wedge into a relationship or a way to gain a much bigger understanding.
Take these classic Romantic Archetypal Chemistry combinations below for example. It’s not hard to see where the interdependence starts to form. And from that, guilt and resentment can grow like mold in a frat house fridge.
- Victim & Rescuer (or Healer, Caregiver,Hero)
Is this really considered Romantic, you might ask? In the way of Western Psychological Romance, I believe so. Look to many the romantic novel or film and you’ll see the dynamic of perceiving that the other has something one lacks and is attracted for that very reason. It’s based on a belief that you and the other person somehow complete a circuit, but many times it’s a circuit of lack and not necessarily fruition.
Are these combinations doomed because of their inherent attraction and difficulties? Not at all. Knowing what the expectations are can make all the difference. If you know you have a Rescuer archetype you have a much greater understanding of how you operate and can choose not to enter into a relationship with someone who needs rescuing or not. This is something one of my clients took on and found it life changing – read about it in this case-study.
Next in the series: Romantic Chemistry: The Knight and the Damsel
Stay tuned for more!
Commments? Questions? Leave a message below.
We are attracted to people by archetypal patterns. For most people it can be so subtle that you don’t know what’s going on, but paying attention to these powerful patterns can really improve your dating experience. I mean, wouldn’t you want something to help guide you through the sometimes dark and murky forest of dating life and toward what you are really looking for?
No need to take tests, get astrological information, blood type or genealogy, just pay attention, suss out the patterns and go from there. In this series I’m going to break archetypal attraction down to some usable basics. The key to all of this is to pay attention in a new way – one that is a bit less emotionally cloudy. You needn’t be a detective, but someone who can see, listen and be present to what is going on with yourself and the people you are meeting.
There are two basic ways to look at archetype attraction, Romantic Archetypal Chemistry and Shared Archetypal Chemistry. We are repelled by certain archetypes too but I’ll cover that in another post.
Archetypes are short hand for an indelible collection of behaviors, personality traits and most importantly motivations. They have a light side and a dark side. Unless you are living on another planet, you can bet that it’s only the happy shiny version of the archetype that’s showing up for dates for the first few months.
“When you date…have you ever noticed when you meet somebody for the first time, you’re not meeting them. You’re meeting their “representative”. Then after a about 3 months you meet the REAL Candidate” ~Chris Rock
Knowing the archetypal makeup of yourself (both the shiny and the dark) and the one(s) you are dating is a good way to have an idea of what the potential is for the relationship as well as steer clear of some unwanted dating mismatches. How do you do this? Well naturally working with someone like myself will give you that edge but I’m hoping that these articles will have you beginning to use these ideas.
To get you started – think about the relationship you are looking for – what archetypes do you want that person to have? What attracts you to those archetypes in another person? Use the archetype list here as a reference.
Archetype attraction part 2: Romantic Chemistry
Not an endorsement of the book, but a funny picture. Photo©Isaach Hsieh
I was at a gathering recently and mentioned that I was thinking of writing about archetypes and dating. Heads swiveled, glasses stopped clinking and I had the feeling that I was in some sort of TV commercial with all eyes on me. Everyone wanted to know more and where they could go to read up on my insights. The response, beyond being kinda funny, has been pretty much the same for everyone I’ve floated the idea out to. It’s a fascinating topic and with that kind of response, how could refuse?
Do archetypes play a part in dating? Oh indeed they do! In fact dating might be one of those activities that bring out some patterns that you might not have thought much about before or just took to be typical dating neurosis.
For some, dating is a joy, to others it’s a chore or even akin to a trip to the dentist. For those of you in the latter camps, here’s some good news, there is a different way to look at dating beyond the love it/hate it quotient. One that is as multi-contextual and fascinating as life itself and yet totally practical. Archetypes might be one of the best ways to get clear on who you are and what you want before you pick up the phone, go out to the bars, start that online profile or flirt with the girl/guy in line with you at Trader Joes.
So friends, fellow singles and interested parties I’m going to put what I know about archetypes and dating out there and include some of the things I’ve learned from other sources into this new series of posts. My style will be a bit more casual, and a bit more comical. Posts will always have the comment section open for questions and feedback. You could even start now by adding your own 2 cents worth, request or question.
Here is a list of all of the Archetypes and Dating posts
Are you the hub that connects a diverse group of people? If someone mentions they are looking for a new job or a place to have great Korean Barbecue do you have a list of suggestions for them? Do you make it a habit of never throwing out business cards or deleting numbers out of your phone, just in case you want to contact them or share their info with someone else (not counting ex-boyfriends/girlfriends). These are all traits of the Networker archetype.
We are in an age of connectivity and it doesn’t appear that we can ever really go back to a time of slow paced communications. It’s as if technology is making Networkers of all of us to one degree or another.
I had a chance to observe how people socialize in a Networker environment during last week’s Small Business Week in San Francisco. I could see people with a natural penchant for the Networker chatting up one person after another, exchanging business cards and moving on to the next. Others seemed a bit more reticent to walk up to a stranger and introduce themselves. If you fall into the latter category, here’s good news – you needn’t have the Networker archetype to make new connections, you just need to pay attention and find someone who is. The next step might be the most difficult for the shy, but will pay off with a deep breath and a “Hello, my name is. . .” to a Networker. If they are worth their salt in networking they will be glad to meet you and introduce you to more people with little prompting. Often times it’s as simple as staying in their orbit and letting them do what they do best. These are the social butterflies with the smart phone filled with contacts and are often the key to finding the people, resources and excellent gelato that you have been looking for.
Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference is an ode to the power of this particular archetype. Imagine how many times in your life you have met just the right person or found just the right thing because you made one little contact. Gladwell goes even further to show us just how incredibly powerful the archetype of the Networker is to spread ideas and bring about change. He breaks the process down and provides real life case studies that apply to everything from political, ideological to fashion trends. He describes what I would call flavors of the Networker archetype, the Connector, The Maven and the Salesperson each with their own behaviors and motivations.
- The Connector has friends and acquaintances everywhere – they are the social glue that spreads an idea.
- The Maven collects knowledge and loves sharing it on the basis of educating. They are the information brokers or data banks of information. They are motivated not just by networking but by teaching (Teacher) and serving (Servant).
- The Salesperson enjoys helping and building relationships with optimism and physicality. They are natural persuaders and are able to connect people to ideas and products.
Little things can indeed make a big difference. Social Media websites like Facebook, Twitter and Yelp were created to facilitate just such things and have been known to make or break ideas, careers and products with their speed of communication and sheer reach into our collective consciousness.
There is of course an empowered side and a dis-empowered side to each archetype. The Networker can use it’s power for good or for selfish. Like many other archetypes, it’s shadow side is the reverse of it’s empowered behavior. The Networker can use it’s skills and connections for purely self-serving or manipulative purposes, pitting one connection against another, withholding information or delving into another related archetype with a pernicious bent, the Gossip.
So if you are a Networker, Connector, Maven or Salesperson you have what it takes to facilitate all sorts of connections, hopefully using your powers for good.
Archetype Crib Sheet:
Networker (Messenger, Herald, Courier, Journalist, Communicator)
Although networking seems like a very modern skill tied to career advancement in the media age, it is actually quite ancient. Networkers expand their sphere of influence by forging alliances and making connections among vastly different groups of people, and can be traced back to the intrigues of the Middle Ages, Greece, Rome, and ancient China. Networking would also have been an integral part of any military alliance as well as all social and clan confederations in prehistory. In its positive aspect, this archetype has a it helps us develop social flexibility and empathy that enables it to find commonality with others who might not at first seem to be potential friends, allies, or confederates. Like the related archetypes of Messenger and Communicator, the Networker has the skills to bring information–or power– and inspiration to disparate groups of people. The shadow Networker merely uses others for personal gain.
Films: John Boles in A Message to Garcia; Stewart Peterson in Pony Express Rider; Jeff Goldblum in Between the Lines; Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde; Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame
Religion/Myth: Almost every culture on earth has or had a messenger of the gods who networks between the divine and human realms, including the angel Raphael (Judaism); Gabriel (Christianity); Jibril (Islam); Matarisvan (Vedic India); Eagle, Coyote (American Indian); Iris, Hermes (Greece); Mercury (Rome); Sraosa (Zoroastrianism); Nusku (Assyria); Nirah (Sumeria); Srosh (Persia); Paynal (Aztec); Savali (Samoa); Gou Mang (China); Narada (Java); Gna, Hermod (Norse)
Image courtesy of Identity Pursuit
“So much is happening in the world, earthquakes, revolutions and wars and you’re writing about the archetype of the Lover?” My reply: “Heck yeah, with all this chaos how do we approach what needs to be done without the passion of a Lover!?” She gave me a look of kind incredulity. “But the Lover? what could be more dreamy and ungrounded?”. I love my friend (pun intended), and her point is well made, the archetype of the Lover can be fluffy. The Casablanca version of this archetype is ubiquitous and needs little explanation, but to limit the Lover to only romantic endeavors would be carving out but a tiny slice of it’s potential expression.
At the risk of sounding like a tragically optimistic hippie – what the world needs now is love. There I said it. How about this – peace is sexy! Why does peace need to be a meek dove awaiting release from a cage? It doesn’t. It’s a succulent main course not a delicate dessert.
We’ve got war, strife, stress, anxiety and for some reason we fight fire with fire. That or we just tune it out with distractions. Both approaches take a lot of energy. The Lover is marked by passion, devotion and exuberance. All qualities we need to counterbalance the fear and confusion of the world scene today.
There are many forms of love and all can be expressed within the pattern of the Lover archetype. The ancient Greeks spoke of ‘agape’ or brotherly love as well as the erotic love related to the god Eros. It matters not which form, the Lover wants to be in touch with it both literally and figuratively. The Lover is about action and expression. It calls us to move out into the world or to at least take on a fuller more sense related (sensual) experience in our lives.
The 1989 film Dead Poets Society tells the story of the many forms of the Lover archetype. This 5 minute clip sets up the theme for the film which is centered around the ethos of the Lover – to devote oneself to passion and expression, in other words to love life and “Seize the Day”. It also tells of the potential cost of doing so in a society that might not support your efforts. Go ahead, watch the clip.
The film uses the context of a stuffy boarding school in the 1950s as a metaphor for the hemmed-in life of society’s expectations and boundaries. Robin Williams plays Mr. Keating the Teacher/Liberator encouraging the boys to be ignited by their passions, to devote themselves to what their souls call them to do. The many iterations of the Lover are portrayed in the film interlaced with archetypes: hopeful Knox Overtstreet madly in love with the blonde cheerleader, rebellious Charlie Dalton enamored with freedom and expression, Todd the painfully shy Invisible Child who longs to express himself and Neil, the Artist who finds his souls expression in acting. I won’t spoil the end for you but just as in life, requiring approval can be disastrous especially with an archetype such as the Lover. The shadow of the Lover looms large towards the end of the film and evokes tragedy when love leads to obsession, desperation and a loss of faith.
Love is not something that you can save up and put in a bank account. It can’t be bottled, lent or borrowed. By nature it’s fiery and must be expressed in some way. An energy that must move can be channeled into our daily challenges, both personal and social.
How much more connected to purpose can one be than when they are in love? Imagine what it would be like to love a problem. The Lover is able to see the essence of the beloved and can hold that image through thick and thin. I realize this goes against many notions of how to take action or work with something as fractious as the problems we face now, but the old paradigms are crumbling and we are in need of some new patterns.
Archetype Crib Sheet:
This archetype appears not only in those who are romantically inclined, but also in anyone who exhibits great passion and devotion. One can be a Lover of art, music, gardening, Persian carpets, nature, or needlepoint. The key is having a sense of unbridled and exaggerated affection and appreciation of someone or something that influences the organization of your life and environment. The Lover is connected to issues of self-esteem because this archetype is so strongly represented by one’s physical appearance. Even if you have the Lover archetype prominently in your psyche, you may repress this pattern out of a lack of self-esteem, especially regarding your physical attractiveness. The shadow lover manifests as an exaggerated obsessive passion that has a destructive effect on one’s physical or mental health and self-esteem.
Films: Nicholas Cage in Moonstruck; Charles Denner in The Man Who Loved Women (Truffaut version); Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca; Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge, Dead Poets Society, John Hannah in Sliding Doors, Donna Reed in It’s A Wonderful Life, Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward in Moonrise Kingdom
Drama: Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare Books:
Fiction – Stealing Heaven by Marion Meade (Abelard and Heloise),
Non-fiction – King, Warrior, Magician, Lover by Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette
“The problem, if you love it, is as beautiful as a sunset.”
(With thanks to my client, Val for reminding me of this great quote!)
Here’s a great post on Peace is Sexy.
Emily Dickinson Image via Wikipedia
In his biography of Emily Dickinson, Alfred Habeggar describes a scene where Emily sits happily in the lap of a male acquaintance in the front room of her family home. During her later years, she found pleasure in this man’s attentions long after mysteriously absenting herself from Amhearst’s social life and an almost complete inaccessibility to all but the most intimate and trusted friends and family. We know her to be an eccentric and quite likely a virgin, yet this example contradicts all that we assume about virgins. How can someone who rejects physical intimacy and normal human sexuality be comfortable canoodling with a widowed judge? As well, there are many accounts of Queen Elizabeth I being overly demonstrative and affectionate with male courtiers and visiting dignitaries while also cultivating a reputation as the Virgin Queen. Notes written in the private papers of her Council members and others close to her affirm their belief in her sexual inexperience. The question bears repeating: How can a virgin be at once physically inaccessible and sexually expressive?
Typically, a virgin is seen as one who cannot bear to be touched, inexperience, naive, and traditionally female. These barriers to intimacy comprise an over-identification of the self with intangibles in an inviolable sense of purity, or the Damaged Virgin. We see similar expressions in ourselves when we recoil from an object that is unclean, like scrubbing a toilet on our hands and knees or laying flat on our backs to change the oil in a car. Our wider culture has limited the state of the Virgin to the purity and separateness of her body, specifically the state of her hymen. “Virgin” is often used in reference to an individual’s state of pre-initation before a particular experience (a vessel’s first trip is a “maiden voyage”). This usage refers to a lack of experience in an individual or object, implying a transitional consciousness, a Before and After expression when looking back tat the event.
Unfortunately for the damaged virgin, very few people on this planet have arrived without the benefit of at least one person having an orgasm. Sexuality and physical intimacy is an experience that all of us share in common, both in our own experiences and that of our forebears. For some, engaging in a mutual sexual experience is the basis for expectation and ownership. As the comedian Sommore says in The Queens of Comedy, “…you f*ck with me, you stuck with me.” [Censorship added] For much of human history, the act of marriage has transferred the exercise of a woman’s power of choice from her father to her husband,
Vestal Virgin engraving by Sir Edward Leighton
demonstrated most visibly in the change of her name. But in ancient Rome, when a girl was selected to enter the service of the Goddess Vesta, she escaped the common social practice of her culture and moved beyond the strict bondage of a male relative. She was expected to remain celibate, (to be more specific, uninitiated in the ways of physical intimacy with a man) in her 30 years or more in Vesta’s service. Serving the goddess effectively and exemplifying an unimpeachable character for Rome’s citizens required a great degree of training (education), consequentially enabling a personal mind, her own view of herself and the world. Whether she decided at the end of her term to remain within the Temple or to go out into the world and marry a man of her choice, in her late-thirties on, neither the Vestals’ mind nor body would be owned by husband, father, son or brother.
We can examine a virgin’s sexuality as a means of seeing this pattern symbolically: Sexuality is a way of expressing a person’s accessibility . Literally, a virgin’s crotch is closed for business. We can say ‘access’ is also ‘proximity’ in that we often do not allow ourselves to be near certain experiences, ideas, and individuals. When we hold ourselves apart from the truth, when we won’t allow certain people near us for whatever reason though simultaneously we long to be with them, we are expressing a damaged virginity.
The Virgin’s association with purity applies deeper than a physical condition and contacts an inherently internal intimacy. This archetype enters our lives when we feel a need to draw inward, pursuing exquisitely personal questions that are commonly suppressed in the social expressions of ourselves. In the doldrums of personal awareness we may not access others in the same ways we had before, lacking connection professionally, socially, sexually, and conversationally that were once so automatic and assured. The Virgin can be seen as a gatekeeper of the spiritual path, an advocate for personal introduction. But the expression of the Virgin as a spiritual mentor is temporary and wisely recognized as a pause for the sake of upgrading ourselves. Once our lives open up again, we return in possession not only of new understandings, but of ourselves too.
More than a sexual experience with a cast of one (or for some of us, hundreds), this archetype contacts an outrageous expression of one’s personal identity. “Outrageous” because this pattern has the potential to embody an inviolability that is independent of our experiences, lays beyond our physical location, is separate from our familial lineages. Virgins contain a knowledge of themselves that can be seen by others, but never tainted, claimed, co-opted, or violated. Going through the experience of isolation and self-focus earns the Virgin attributes that extend beyond any physical grasp.
One answer to the question how can a virgin be at once physically inaccessible and sexually expressive may be:
I am myself. My body, my attention, my affections are all mine to share and intimacy at any level comes from me, not as a reward or certificate of ownership, but as part of that which I have to offer those of my choosing.
Mythology/Religion: Artemis/Diana; The Madonna; Hestia/Vesta; Minerva/Athena; Vestal Virgins
Historical Figures: Queen Elizabeth I; Emily Dickinson; Joan of Arc
Movies: The Forty Year Old Virgin; Sean Connery in The Medicine Man; Kirstin Dunst et al. in The Virgin Suicides; Jennifer Jason Leigh in Fast Times at Ridgemont High
I haven’t found a more potent and exciting combination of the Hedonist and the Revolutionary archetypes than in Jamie Oliver (formerly know as the Naked Chef). One of the the UK’s brightest culinary exports is taking America by storm and I for one love him all the more for it. He won the TED prize in 2010 and began by using his 100k grant to start a Food Revolution!. One year later his progress is stunning and includes a partnership with the American Heart Association and numerous thriving community projects. You can read more about it here at TED.com
Jamie is an archetypal Hedonist – he loves food – good food – nutritious and delicious food. He is rebelling against the status quo (Rebel) of processed food and unhealthy diets and is a Revolutionary leading a movement to change the way we eat, what we feed our children and how we treat food in general. Watch his impassioned speech from the TED Awards and you’ll see this Hedonist/Revolutionary using his powers for good and not evil.
Jamie’s mad as hell that American children are being fed so poorly and he’s not going to take it any more! This Food Revolution was televised last year on ABC and now can be seen online at Hulu.com. Besides being educational, the program was entertaining and engaging in a way only someone with a great deal of passion for change and a good bit of playful sensibility could. Along with the Hedonist, Rebel and Revolutionary archetypes, I’ve observed the Divine Child, Father, Teacher and the Fool playing out in Jamie both on television and how he presents himself in his work.
“This Food Revolution is about saving America’s health by changing the way people eat. It’s not just a TV show; it’s a movement for you, your family and your community. If you care about your kids and their future, take this revolution and make it your own. Educate yourself about food and cooking, and find out what your child is eating at school. Make only a few small changes and magical things will happen. Switching from processed to fresh food will not only make you feel better, it will also add years to your life.” ~ Jamie Oliver
What is most exciting for me is that the combination of Hedonist and Revolutionary presents a deeply personal examination of both how we care for our health in terms what we eat and the pleasurable, social aspects of eating as a joyous and healing experience.
Image via Wikipedia
Jamie is not the first Hedonist-Revolutionary however. Alice Waters of the famed restaurant, Chez Panisse began her crusade decades ago and continues to revolutionize how we grow, cook and share food through her Chez Panisse Foundation and the Edible Schoolyard.
Archetype Crib Sheet:
Hedonist (Related archetypes Bon Vivant, Chef, Gourmet, Sybarite) This archetype has an immense appetite for the pleasurable aspects of life, from good food and wine to sexuality and sensuality. Indulging the self is central to the psyche of this archetype, whether treating oneself to a health spa or creating and indulging in delicious food. The Hedonist celebrates life in all it’s pleasure, with joy and sensuality. The shadow Hedonist may manifest as being self-indulgent without regard for other people or one’s own good health.
Films: Babbette’s Feast, Like Water for Chocolate, Big Night, Tampopo, 91/2 Weeks, Sex and the City 2
Fiction: Tom Jones by Henry Fielding; The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera; Les Liaisons Dangereuses by P. Choderlos DeLaclos.
Revolutionary This archetype of the Revolutionary is motivated to radically transform the conventional order. The Revolutionary awakens consciousness and works for change in any area from politics to science, art and in the case of Jamie Oliver & Alice Waters, the way we view and consume food. Revolutionaries are also inventors and business people who create and promote ground-breaking new products and services that create change. Director Lars von Trier and his Dogme 95 Collective are an excellent example of revolutionary ideas in action in the art of film making.
Films: Motorcycle Diaries, The Corporation, V for Vendetta, Fahrenheit 9/11, Exit Through The Gift Shop, Star Wars (original trilogy), The Social Network.
Theater: Bertolt Brecht
Books: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein, Dune by Frank Herbert, The Future of Revolutions: Rethinking Radical Change in the Age of Globalization edited by John Foran,
Understanding archetypes goes much deeper than a chat about a movie and beyond the confines of a psychology textbook. An archetype is not just a pattern “out there” in theory but it is a recurring set of experiences that unfold through the course of a human life. Our ability to spot when a particular pattern walks in the door makes the difference between acting out and making a conscious choice. We begin to view the shape of our lives within an archetypal language by introducing ourselves to four patterns that we all share, the Survival Archetypes. Let’s imagine that four well-known television characters become clothed for a time with each her own version of a pattern. Rose, Blanche, Dorothy and Sophia share a home somewhere in Miami in the Emmy winning television sitcom, The Golden Girls.
‘Rose’ image via Wikipedia
This pattern and the next are the most obvious to match with characters from the show. Rose captures the essence of the Child perfectly. Her wide, gullible eyes lack any indication of doubt because she accepts anything an adult tells her. The pattern itself balances innocence and responsibility. Forced to make her way through life by her own efforts, Rose gathers herself up from a fantasy world where she is taken care of by her husband’s pension plan or a steady job and takes life on directly. This is significant because the Child has to leave the safety of the family and enter a harsh world populated by sharply critical adults. When we want to run away from a situation and deny what is happening, we are confronting the Child within us. Yet this is also the pattern where we can choose to see each situation as overflowing with limitless potential and see things as new again.
‘Blanche’ image via Wikipedia
Of course it’s Blanche. In almost every episode, she decides to assign a value to her body by comparing her looks to another woman or using her body to advance her own interests. At every turn Blanche is chasing a man or furious that her wiles haven’t produced the results she expected. The Prostitute grabs a price scanner and makes its mark on every part of us it can so that we feel safe in the world, often by remaining in a relationship or a job. Whenever she is confronted with a problem, Blanche throws on a negligee and adjusts her makeup in order to barter her way through. She never fully believes in her own capacity to solve her problems beyond her salable attributes. Only by the end of an episode does Blanche find what is truly valuable: Her friendships and sense of herself beyond her outward appearance.
‘Dorothy’ image via Wikipedia
Dorothy is the “smart” one with the cold stares and the newspaper in her hand, ever expounding on the failures of society with its potential to violate and betray us. It is her voice that speaks up after silently burning for a few moments, waiting for the assault to stop, and sets appropriate boundaries. More than a few times Dorothy picks up a newspaper and hits Rose over the head when the St. Olaf stories go on too long. This is the Victim, present when we feel unable to defend ourselves but also when we go after someone else for revenge. Its empowerment isn’t in aggression and dominance but in being clear about our boundaries as they relate to who gets “in” as well as how far you get “out.”
‘Sophia’ image via Wikipedia
Sophia’s entrance is often preceded by someone starting to dream about a wonderful new idea or vision of themselves. She shuts them down with a opinion based on how they will fail, often gouging out a chunk of self esteem in the process. The Saboteur does the same. Dorothy, for her part the empowered Victim, slaps her hand across Sophia’s mouth to prevent the impending criticism. When you are about to make a choice that will interrupt a new opportunity for you to build self-esteem and connect to your destiny, the Saboteur has entered the room. Through the entire series, Sophia exemplifies the Saboteur in her attempts to pursue a vibrant, active life for a woman in her eighties and confronts the view that she is hastening towards senility and the grave. The ability to step into a new life for ourselves is guarded by the Saboteur, but make no mistake: This is the pattern where WE are blocking our way forward, not anybody else.
Blanche: What do you think of my new dress? Is it me?
Sophia: It’s too tight, it’s too short and shows too much cleavage for a woman your age.
Dorothy: Yes, Blanche. It’s you.
Picture it: One night you can’t get to sleep. Something’s really bothering you at work or you’re ashamed of your bank account. Maybe you’re not with the person you love anymore. Whatever it is, you get up and shuffle into the kitchen. Soon, you are surrounded by four of your lifelong archetypal pals, only they’re doing all the talking. You sit there on the table while they pick at you, bicker and lay into each other with their concerns and fears. Basically, you’re a cheesecake, slowly eaten away bite after bite. Instead of becoming a pile of crumbs when these voices are in control, we can take the time to pursue a relationship with them. We can know when we are making a choice that obscures or magnifies our destiny. At first a silent partner, studying our deeper motivations, but in time we claim our place at the table. Eventually, we will distance ourselves from their automatic choices and see what has been waiting beyond our fears in front of us the whole time.
More articles about the Survival Archetypes