“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.
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?
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.
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,
Darryl “DMC” McDaniels
“Everything happens for a reason.” Says Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, who is one third of the pioneering rap group Run DMC and one of the most influential rap artists of all time. At the age of 35, DMC made a startling discovery and suddenly, everything he thought he knew about himself had changed. He told his story on stage at a Moth Storytelling event which was aired on the radio and subsequently published as a podcast. Info on subscribing to the free podcast here.
DMC’s story caught my attention because it’s about purpose, destiny and the seemingly small things that can lead us to it’s discovery. Even something as simple as hearing a song on the radio. The archetypes of the Artist, Midas, Angel and Orphan feature prominently in this true story. I’ve noted them parenthetically.
Darryl had everything he wanted (Midas). An incredible career, top selling records, fame, money, respect, a healthy family, good upbringing – the whole thing and yet he was depressed (Artist). While on tour in Europe he began to have suicidal thoughts. He could sum up all of the things that were wonderful in his life but he couldn’t connect it all together, something was missing. He decided to put off thoughts of suicide until the tour was over. When he returned home, he got in the limo and heard a song on the radio called “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan. As he listened to the song, something in him said “life is beautiful, it’s good to be alive”. (Angel)
Image via Wikipedia
For the next year, listening to Sarah McLachlan’s music was all that kept him going. His obsession with her music confounded his friends and colleagues. He is a rap star after all and what is he doing just sitting at home listening to some chick folk singer? His manager convinced him to leave the house to attend a music industry party. DMC wasn’t interested in going, but agreed to go for an hour. Even though he was surrounded by pop luminaries like Stevie Wonder and Alicia Keyes, DMC couldn’t care less (Orphan). He was counting the minutes until he could leave when Sarah McLachlan walked into the room. He finally had the opportunity to meet her and tell her how much her music meant to him. To hear him tell it, he came off like a bit of a lunatic praising her music and how it changed his life. She demurred and thanked him saying “That is what music is supposed to do”. (Much like an archetypal Angel would do.)
Three years go by and Darryl is still trying to figure out what he is missing. He decides to write an autobiography and calls his Mom to ask her about when he was born. His perspective completely pivots when his parents tell him that he was adopted. (Orphan)
“Now if you think there is really a time to commit suicide, finding out you’re adopted at age 35… but right then and there something happened. I remembered, when I asked myself ‘am I here to be DMC?’ and summed it up, that, was the missing piece, the void was filled. I really wanted to kill myself but then I remembered something, Sarah McLachlan said ‘that’s what music is supposed to do’. So I said ok before I get suicidal, depressed and do something real crazy, I need to write a record that’s going to help that little orphan or that little kid in foster care who thinks they threw me away, I’m worthless, I mean nothin…because I may be DMC but what I really represent is purpose and destiny. I need to make a record that will inspire somebody the way Sarah McLachlan inspired me.” ~ Darryl “DMC” McDaniels
What this revelation brought about was just that. In fact he contacted Sarah McLachlan and they recorded a hip hop mash up of Harry Chapin’s “The Cat’s in the Cradle” together and dedicated it to “every life and every soul touched by the reality and experience of adoption“. Just as Darryl was leaving the recording studio Sarah said “I’ve got to tell you something. I was adopted too, and I didn’t know that.” Everything happens for a reason.
In 2006 Darryl “DMC” McDaniels was presented with the Congressional Angels in Adoption Award for his work with children in foster care promotion of adoption.
Click to watch the video of “Just Like Me” by DMC featuring Sarah McLachlan
Click to watch the video for Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel”
We find ourselves in the middle of the first month of the New Year. The air is still fresh, dreams are new, and heartbeats run fast. Maybe, like me, you are starting to slump under the abundance of material on keeping resolutions for the next twelve months. Instead of yet another piece on holding your intentions for the next month, let’s look at an archetype that can be your ally for the rest of your life.
Image by Laughing Squid via Flickr
The Zombie, which is only increasing its popularity in films, comic books, and classic novel mash-ups, is an image that hardly needs an introduction. They are dead people returned from the grave, wandering around the land, and groaning after the living. Side-stepping the gory details, the classic Zombie is easy to recognize: Insatiable hunger, a monotonously numbing routine, and a lack of individual choice are three primary characteristics of this pattern. Any act, from voracious spending to pursuing increasing amounts of attention, qualifies as long as what you gain is never enough. This is not consuming for sustenance, but as a temporary fulfillment, stilling any discontent and numbing you to the full experience of life. Where is the ability to make a personal choice if one has glutton-ed themselves to the point of total numbness? That’s why you rarely see a lonely zombie. They’re part of a group, all of them chasing an endless appetite.
Zombies move in groups, lack a personal identity, and are attracted by that which is not like them, namely someone alive. They move together with a singular goal to consume and internalize some part of a person who, through their life, possess a personal share of destiny. Unfortunately, once a living person contacts a zombie they become part of the homogeneous group lacking independent animation and destiny. Instead of claiming their own destiny, zombies are attracted to someone else’s and consume what they can until everyone is in the half-life existence.
The Raising of Lazarus – Vincent Van Gogh
It is the empowered Zombie that wakes up and moves toward her passions and the life that has been calling her. Lazarus in the Gospel of John is a useful illustration to this point. He had been dead and in a cave for several days before Jesus finally rolled into town. After speaking with the deceased’s grieving family members, Jesus stood outside the cave and called to the dead. (This is the voice of destiny urging the zombie to stir from his half-life.) A few moments later Lazarus woke, walked out into the daylight and stood while his face, hands, and feet were unwrapped from the constraining funerary garments.
For you and I, we can detect the presence of the Zombie when we find ourselves deep in our caves, consuming all that spews out of our electric displays, wondering at those who seem to have a slice of their own destiny. We may dream at the possibilities of fame and glazed camera lights instead of making things happen for ourselves. There is a voice outside in the sunlight calling to us every moment to wake up and come out into the world. First, we have to shake off the bindings that block our walking and our talking. We have to struggle to move and at times even to hear the voice itself. But we can walk out into the brightness of the life that we were born to live and follow each our own destinies. What better time to resolve our own longings than right now?
Film & Television: 28 Days Later; The Night of the Living Dead; Shaun of the Dead; Office Space; Clockwatchers; Fido; Zombieland; the Borg in Star Trek
Fiction: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith; the Inferi in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling; 1984 by George Orwell; Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Religion/Myth: Lazarus in The New Testament (John, Chapter 11)
My Zombie, Myself: Why Modern Life Feels Rather Undead (New York Times)
The still life of an Artmonk
How do archetypal motivations become passions that bring something new into the world? Sometimes one enriches another so much as to create a whole new experience. Inspiration is the deity of the Artist and contemplation the mark of the Monk/Nun. These two archetypes might not ordinarily be considered a natural synergistic match but in 2006, Bay Area artists Betsy McCall and Christopher Fülling began such an adventure in creativity and contemplation called The Art Monastery Project.
The Art Monastery Project is a contemporary experiment in social sculpture inspired by the tradition of the Monk/Nun: to apply the disciplined, contemplative, and sustainable monastic way of living to the creative process of the Artist.
Labro, Italy – home of The Art Monastery Project
Betsy and Christopher, along with a growing group of like minded ‘Artmonks’ embarked on a search for a location to put down roots for their project in 2007. Europe is home to many monasteries and convents that now sit empty, virtually waiting for their next community to inhabit them. After a search of over 25 different locations, they found their ideal home in the monastery San Antonio in the medieval hill town of Labro, 70 minutes north east of Rome, Italy. The building dates back to the 17th century when it was a Franciscan monastery and now hosts the artists of the Art Monastery Project, as well as a world-class hotel and a restaurant.
This international group of multi-disciplinary artists seeks to create original, collaborative work and live together as an intentional community. The practices of the Monk not only serve the creative process of the Artist but also honor the community and environment in which they live. The people of Labro have embraced being a part of this symbiotic relationship and are active participants in cultivating their town as a center of art and cultural tourism.
The guiding principles of The Art Monastery Project
Our world has been shaped by passionate people who reflect deeply about what they can give and who embrace their full creative inspiration and dedication to manifest this insight into being. The Artmonks are passionate about artistic excellence, innovative spiritual process and the investigation into the nature and benefits of community living. They are open to new international collaborations as well as new community members. Local Artmonk groups are being formed all over the United States.
For more information on the Art Monastery Project, how you can give your support or even join in on the experience visit their website. They also have a You Tube channel with videos of their stunning dance, music and other artistic productions.
The archetype of the Artist is marked by passion to express a dimension of life that is just beyond the five senses. The Artist psyche is animated with the energy to express it into physical forms. The nature or relative grandeur of any form of expression is irrelevant; a chef can be as much of an artist as a painter or landscaper. The signature of artists is not in what they do but in how intense their motivation is to manifest the extraordinary. Doing what you do in such a way that you create an emotional field that inspires others also indicates the Artist energy at work, as does the emotional and psychological need to express yourself so much that your well-being is wrapped up in this energy.
The archetype of the Monk/Nun is marked by intensity, devotion, dedication, persistence, and wisdom. On the shadow side, the role of a religious recluse could be seen as removed from the real world, overly pious, even privileged in the sense of not having to be concerned about earning a living or raising a family. Yet, historically, monks have been extremely industrious and involved in real-world enterprises, whether draining swamps and planting vineyards in medieval Europe, working the rice fields in Asia, building monasteries, teaching, or copying and preserving texts. Today the Monk archetype may show up in the ability to be single-minded, assiduous, devoted to a spiritual path or to any great achievement that requires intense focus. In this sense, novelists and entrepreneurs can carry the Monk as readily as spiritual adepts.
Image by Loving Earth via Flickr
Know a Martyr? Most people have had the experience of working with or knowing someone with a Martyr archetype, or maybe you even see it in yourself. I’d like to provide some information in order to help understand and work with this pattern.
Bad Reputation The Martyr archetype seems to get a bad rap and I think I know why. It has to do with the Martyr’s very visible shadow form and a motivation behind the behavior that is not always clear. You might be familiar with the ‘hand-on-forehead-oh-I’ll-do-it-because-no-one-else-will’ type of Martyr behavior. This is but one shadow aspect of the pattern that has garnered a bad reputation but there is far more to it than that.
Motivation The heart of any archetypal pattern is its underlying motivations. Unless we are looking for this archetype in ourselves we won’t always know what is motivating the person involved, but being aware of the probable motivators can make all the difference. This awareness enables us to work with the archetype more effectively and take things less personally.
Witness, Sacrifice, Receive The archetype of the Martyr has it’s roots in witnessing as much as in sacrifice. The word ‘martyr’ itself comes from the Greek word for ‘witness’. It is synonymous with a willingness to proceed because of a higher cause or truth despite the risk of injury or sacrifice. While we tend to associate the Martyr with its shadowy side of manipulation, at it’s core it’s about doing the right thing – even if that right thing is just in the mind of the individual. An important and often overlooked facet of this archetype is that of receiving, be it help, praise, recognition or what have you. I found this written about the archetype of the Martyr at work in the Organizational Development Journal helpful:
Healthy martyrdom revolves around sacrifice by choice, which opens the martyr to receive as well as to give. People who feel they must take care of everything and everyone, yet refuse to receive in return, are acting out the shadow aspect of the Martyr archetype. Their ceaseless giving permits them to manipulate and feel superior to those they are helping, even as they complain about how deprived they are.
Mistaken Identity Since the behavior can be similar, maybe people confuse the Martyr with other archetypal patterns. The difference is in the motivation. Below is a list of a couple that I come across frequently in my practice.
- If the core motivation is feeling less valuable and therefore doing more to seem of greater value – it’s not the Martyr but the Prostitute archetype at play.
- If the core motivation is to protect from being taken advantage of, doing more or showing up in a way so as to fend off criticism, it’s most likely the Victim archetype. Of course it could be a little of both.
The Martyr is also mistaken for the Hero, Advocate, and Avenger archetypes but differs in the fulcrum of it’s motivation. The Martyr can very often be an aspect of the Mother and Father archetypes where the role of witness for the family tends to fall to one or both of the parents in addition to the sacrifice called forth by the archetype.
Statue of Joan of Arc / photo ©Julienne Givot
The Empowered Martyr The empowered Martyr witnesses a higher principle and is willing to go the distance not for themselves but for the benefit of others. It’s the witnessing and not just the sacrifice that makes a Martyr.
Modern Martyrs Lilly Ledbetter was employed by Goodyear Tires for nineteen years before she discovered that she was paid far less for the same work as her male peers. She filed a lawsuit against Goodyear, and after a long legal battle, her case was ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court; she lost. The Supreme Court stated she had taken too long to file a complaint. Ledbetter pursued an effort to persuade congress and the President that there was a need for change. Over a decade later she succeeded and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was signed into law in early 2009. A woman of retirement age, who probably had other things to attend to, decided that the principle of fair pay was worth the effort and sacrifice even if she herself would not be able to take advantage of the goal she worked for. This is the heart of the empowered Martyr.
A mention of modern day representations of the Martyr archetype would be remiss without of course honoring Civil Rights pioneers Martin Luther King Jr. and Harvey Milk, Rwandan genocide survivor Immaculée Ilibagiza, and most recently Aung San Suu Kyi Nobel Peace Prize Winner from Burma.
Films: Paul Scofield in A Man for All Seasons; Meryl Streep in Silkwood; Denzel Washington in Malcolm X; Ben Kingsley in Gandhi; Sean Penn in Milk; Made in Dagenham
Drama: Saint Joan by G.B. Shaw.
Fiction: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens; Little Bee by Chris Cleave
Religion/Myth: Many Christian saints, including Joan of Arc; Mansur al-Hallaj (10th-century Sufi mystic martyred for his belief that God existed within him).
Image via Wikipedia
I try to make a point to write about what could be called the ‘unsung’ archetypes. One’s that don’t seem to have a popular or even a very present place in our culture. Last month I wrote about the archetype of the Scribe to illuminate it’s presence and potential for positive change.
I’ve recently come across some wonderful pieces of poetry and it brought to mind the power of the Poet archetype. For many people poetry can seem lofty , arcane or just downright fluffy in terms of day to day life and yet a good piece of poetry can stop us in our tracks with it’s ability to communicate a deep truth. T.S. Eliot I think puts it best.
“Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.” ~T.S. Eliot
When I come upon genuine poetry as Eliot describes, I am taken aback by its ability to circumvent the mind and drop away all it’s judgment so I can just be with something true.
My recent discovery is that of the contemporary Poet, David Whyte. He embodies the Poet archetype as well as the Teacher, the Philosopher and the Guide. He is not only a respected Poet but also teaches corporate executives and businesses using poetry as well as being the author of several non-fiction books. In reading his work I felt first-hand, the power of the Poet – the transmission of a truth with a capital ‘T’.
Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
the step you don’t want to take.
(Excerpted from “Start Close In” – the full poem can be found here.)
In trying to sum up the deepest power of the Poet archetype, I found exactly what I was looking for in the description of one of Whyte’s workshops:
Poetry as Robust Vulnerability: Language Against Which We Have No Defenses: Poetry is a break for freedom. The discipline of poetry is in overhearing yourself say difficult truths from which it is impossible to retreat. In a sense, all poems are good; all poems are an emblem of courage and the attempt to say the unsayable. Yet only a few are able to speak to something universal yet personal and distinct at the same time; to create a door through which others can walk, into territory that previously seemed unobtainable, in the passage of a few short lines.
Now that is a power worth treasuring! I’ll agree with Shelley when he said that Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.
Films: Glenda Jackson in Stevie; Philippe Noiret in Il Postino; Sean Connery in A Fine Madness, Leonardo DiCaprio in The Basketball Diaries; Wes Bentley in American Beauty, Ethan Hawke in Dead Poets Society; Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakur in Poetic Justice
Fiction: The Basketball Diaries by Jim Carroll (shadow);
Religion/Myth: King David (ruler of Israel credited with writing many of the Psalms); Orpheus (great musician and poet of Greek myth, capable of charming wild beasts); Bragi (in Norse myth, the god of eloquence and patron of poets); Finn Mac Cumhail (legendary Irish hero and leader who was also greatly skilled as a poet).
This comes on the heels of a similarly themed article that I published in June called “Does productivity = happiness?” which deals with the same topic. Statistician (a Scribe in Archetypal terms) Nic Marks asks why we measure a nation’s success by its productivity — instead of by the happiness and well-being of its people. He introduces the Happy Planet Index, which tracks national well-being against resource use (because a happy life doesn’t have to cost the earth). Which countries rank highest in the HPI? You might be surprised. Here’s his fascinating TED Talk:
I find real world examples of the Visionary, Scribe, Detective and the Advocate in this presentation. The Scribe archetype in particular tends not to get a lot of attention. Clients rarely pick this archetype the first time around. Maybe it’s the name “Scribe”, it just doesn’t have the pizazz that “Alchemist” or “Visionary” do. Anyway, I’d like to use this presentation by a Statistician aka a modern Scribe, to illustrate the power of this archetype. Where would we be if there weren’t Scribes to keep track of our history, our finances and even to use statistics to help enlighten and help us solve real-world issues like happiness and climate change?
The Scribe Archetype – description and history
Variations on this archetype are: Journalist, Documentarian, Accountant, Secretary, Record Keeper and Genealogist.
The Scribe differs from Author or Artist in one significant way: scribes copy or use existing works rather than create new ones. The Hebrew scribes were originally secretaries who wrote down the preachings of the prophets, but evolved into a priestly class charged with writing and maintaining the laws and records, copying previous scrolls, and committing oral traditions to paper. Medieval Christian scribes copied manuscripts and helped preserve learning. In India, the sages who compiled the Vedas are known as vyasa, a Sanskrit word that means “collector” but could be translated as “scribe.” We can expand the definition to cover modern journalists, who also record the existing knowledge and information of their day and uncover secrets (investigative reporters). And we would also have to include that largely anonymous horde of copiers who are busy uploading everything imaginable onto the Internet in the hope of preserving it by distributing it to millions. What makes the Internet the modern equivalent of the medieval scriptorum is that so much information is transcribed onto it not for personal gain but for the sheer joy of preserving and sharing these artifacts with the rest of the world.
The shadow aspect of the Scribe can manifest in altering facts, plagiarizing, or selling information that belongs to others. You could even say that a crooked Accountant is a shadow Scribe or a photo-journalist that sets up images to portray a biased opinion.
Films: Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford in All the President’s Men; Sally Field in Absence of Malice (shadow); Kirk Douglas in Ace in the Hole (shadow); Nicole Kidman in To Die For (shadow); Holly Hunter in Broadcast News.
Fiction: Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville
Religion/Myth: Ezra (Hebrew scribe and priest, best known for collecting and editing the books of the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament, in the fifth century B.C.); Imhotep (in Egyptian myth, an architect, physician, and scribe in the court of the Pharaoh Zoser); Thoth (Egyptian god of wisdom, inventor of writing, and patron of scribes, often depicted as a man with the head of an ibis, holding a scribal tablet and reed pen).
I recently came upon a blog post by Arianna Huffingtoncalled Sarah Palin, “Mama Grizzlies,” Carl Jung, and the Power of Archetypes . Huffington points out the use of the shadow aspects of the Mother and Bear archetypal symbols being used by Palin and her cadre, the self-proclaimed “Mama Grizzlies” as having a powerful and popular appeal among women.
International Council of Grandmothers photo by Marisol Villanueva
The “Mama Grizzlies” are not the only movement of these two archetypes at large today however. The International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers represent a global alliance of prayer, education and healing for our Mother Earth, all Her inhabitants, all the children, and for the next seven generations to come. There is also a non-profit called The Mother Bear Project which is dedicated to providing comfort and hope to children affected by HIV/AIDS.
Archetypes are thought to emerge from the collective unconscious, which in it’s simplest definition, is our communal hopes and fears. There is a great deal of change and chaos afoot so it’s not surprising that these archetypes are coming to the fore. I’d like to expand more on these two powerful archetypes in order to foster a better understanding of them and what might underlie some these movements in our world today.
The Mother archetype in it’s empowered (light) aspect, is one of nurturance and new life, symbolic of a life-giver, a source of nurturing and nourishment, an unconditional fountain of love, patience, devotion, caring, and unselfish acts.
The disempowered (shadow) aspects of the Mother are the same as the empowered but in reverse. If the Mother archetype in its light aspect is about bringing together people as a family, then the shadow is about abusing that relationship to manipulate and meet ends that are not about togetherness but of disharmony, selfishness, power and abuse.
The archetype of Mother will tend to bring with it our own experience of it on a personal level – whatever those personal myths may be. This is where things get tricky – the literal interpretation can cause a strong reaction that can prevent us from seeing anything else. Something along the lines of “this is my experience of Mother and therefore it must be the only truth”.
Mother - Buenos Aires photo by Beatrice Murch
To view the archetype symbolically, we have to pull away from our personal myths and see what the archetype represents universally. The photo of the statue to the left might be a better way to interpret the archetype of the Mother. Everything about the statue is the essence of the empowered Mother archetype, even the older child’s posture leaning against the Mother represents how we naturally lean into that which takes care of us.
The Bear in Native American, Pagan, Celtic and most other mythologies represents strength, introspection and the death/re-birth cycle. From a book on Native American animal symbols by Jamie Sams and David Carson: the light aspect of Bear represents a seeking of inner knowing. The Bear seeks honey, or the sweetness of truth, that which is found by looking inward versus to the outer world’s influence. Hibernation represents the going inward, away from the distractions of the outer world before taking action.
The shadow aspect of Bear represents confused perceptions, reactionary behavior and where one may have forgotten their own wisdom because they are seeking it from others. There are many different interpretations of Bear as a symbol although all mention introspection, strength, wisdom, discernment or reactionary lashing out and intimidation in the shadow.
Combine the archetype of the Mother with that of the Bear and you have a very powerful and evocative symbol – for better or worse depending on the aspects that arise and what people choose to align with in the coming days.
It’s summertime here in the northern hemisphere and it seems our Child archetypes are clamoring to go out and play. I remember as a child, summer was about being outside and hanging out doing whatever we fancied at the time. For most of us, childhood was the only time we’ve felt totally free. Once the archetype of the responsible Adult comes along, any frivolous playtime tends to get reserved for weekends and vacations. We box up the fun and put it on the shelf until the appropriate time.
Summer can bring the Child out in all of us. I’ve noticed it in my clients when assignments are not getting done and lots of appointments are getting re-shuffled. Something in our core nature says it’s time to play during the summer. Most people take their vacations during the summer, the cycle of nature practically demands that we take some time to relax and play.
From personal experience, fighting off the Child archetype and the need to play can make me miserable. It’s as if the Adult in me is punishing the Child by putting off something fun until I deem it totally necessary. Frankly, that sucks and it continues to be so until I open up to an opportunity to play and then totally go for it. Here’s an example of just such a situation. I’ll place the archetypes in parenthesis to illustrate.
Recently, I was offered an opportunity (Adult) to go to Los Angeles and help test a new game (Child) about archetypes produced by a couple of my instructors from school. I would also get the opportunity to check out a business that trains actors using archetypes, something that I am interested in (Adult). I would need to re-arrange all of my appointments for a few days (Adult) but the opportunity sounded like a lot of fun (Child). I also could catch up on some learning material in the car on the drive down (Adult) so I loaded up my iPod with lectures that I had been meaning to listen to. What happened was my Adult was so busy planning and making things happen, that by the time I got in the car early Wednesday morning my Child archetype had had enough. I happened upon a satellite radio station that plays 80’s new wave and the Child archetype took over. I sang along and danced in my seat all the way to LA. I was filled with child-like joy and didn’t once think about anything that I ‘had’ to do. I got to LA refreshed and ready for anything. My friends and colleagues even remarked about my infectiously happy mood. I realized pretty quickly that I had really done myself a favor by just letting the Child archetype take over for a bit. None of the so-called responsibilities of my trip were neglected and in fact I had a lot more fun doing everything I set out to do during my visit. During the 6 hour drive back home I listened to some of the lectures and sang along to some more songs and caught up with some friends on the phone (yes I used my hands free headset). All in all it was a great exercise in paying attention to what was needed in the moment – neither Child nor Adult archetype was neglected and provided something that I wanted to share with you here.
I invite you to be open to opportunities to let your Child archetype lead you to some fun. Please share your stories, ideas and suggestions for listening to the call of the Child archetype in your life in the comment section bel0w.
This is a true story about one woman, the Storyteller archetype and it’s power for both good and tragic. I came across it on a podcast recording from The Moth which is a not-for-profit storytelling organization.
photo by Eddi
When Nancy Finton was in her early 20’s she had a job as a bartender in New York City. She tells of riding the subway home late at night and walking along dark streets making up stories about how she would defeat any attacker who came her way. Sometimes she would walk with such belief in her own goodness that she imagined that no one would dare hurt her. She relates how these stories would make her feel safe and how they had seemingly worked as she had so far never been assaulted.
A few years later, she was living in Norway and was attacked when walking home from a bar late at night. She escaped the would-be rapist by talking to him, telling him that this was not what he wanted, not really, and asking him about himself. In trying to get his story from him, she disarmed him (figuratively) and got home safely.
A week later she heard a news report that a woman had been raped in the same place where she had been attacked. She had not reported her incident because she told herself (another story) that since she had not seen his face it was useless to report it. The truth was that she was embarrassed that she had taken such a risk walking home alone so late and she feared that the police would mock her. She was also feeling good about herself that her power to tell stories had again kept her safe. She admitted that what she had been telling herself had blinded her to the fact that it was not just her story. The story included others – including the girl who had been raped and who she could have possibly spared by stepping out of her story and taking the opportunity to report it.
There are several layers here that illuminate just how powerful the Storyteller archetype can be:
- She used the Storyteller archetype to feel confident and then when threatened, to distract her attacker.
- The Storyteller also kept her inside her own story and blinded her to the greater context of what happened.
In an act to relay how she herself got ‘storyfied’ (got caught up in her own story) the author chooses to share it via a medium that attracts other Storytellers. I have no way of knowing her real intentions, but it strikes me that her ability to communicate the whole story – including the crappy bits about her actions – has a curative power for her. Could it be catharsis? A cautionary tale? Maybe both. Either way it’s a powerful and real example of the Storyteller in action.
Films: Rod Taylor as Sean O’Casey in Young Cassidy; Laurence Harvey and Karl Boehm in The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm; Judy Davis as George Sand in Impromptu; Barbara Bel Geddes in I Remember Mama.
Fiction:Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad; Beloved by Toni Morrison; A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce.
Religion/Myth: Homer (combined history and mythology in the action adventures of the Odyssey and the Iliad); Blaise (Welsh storyteller who in Arthurian legend became Merlin’s scribe); Thamyris (Thracian minstrel who won so many contests that he challenged the Muses themselves, and in return for his presumption was struck blind).
Fairy Tales: Arabian Nights (Tales of Sheherezade)