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.
Quickie Edition of the Archetypal Tarot Podcast! (Quickie Editions are 30 mins or less)
In the last podcast on The Moon we discussed being lost and the creative process in relation to the Artist archetype. In this podcast we delve into another aspect of this shadowy archetypal stage – the feminine archetype of deep knowing, agency and connection to nature. Artemis, also known as the Goddess of the Moon, the Hunt, Midwifery and Wilderness.
The Moon card from Kris Waldherr’s Goddess Tarot
The Moon & Transitions
If you think about it, you are probably in some kind of transition in your life right now. It could be small and less noticeable or it could be a huge life transition which leaves you feeling lost and unsure of what will happen next. This ambiguous stage of life is often associated with The Moon card of the Tarot when things are not quite what they appear to be and when we often feel lost in the wilderness. Along comes an archetype that embodies this situation to guide you through. She is called Artemis and she is part of the pantheon of mythological Greek Gods and Goddesses replete with stories to nourish you during this time.
A Recognition of Feminine Aspects
Cyndera and Julienne discuss The Moon card of the Tarot in relation to Artemis who some interpret as a Three-in-One Goddess with different aspects embodying cycles of transition. The new moon seen as Artemis herself (also known as Diana in Roman mythology), the full moon seen in Selena and the waxing moon seen as the goddess Hecate. This triune goddess takes a page out of the archetypal Maiden/Mother/Crone iconography and presents the middle stage as not simply woman as Mother but as woman in full bloom with or without children. It’s a model we have had scarce references to in the past but one that is coming into fruition in the 21st century when a woman can be valued for herself with or without offspring.
Together C & J talk about a recent workshop they attended with the venerable Jungian Psychiatrist and Author Jean Shinoda Bolen. Her new book, Artemis: The Indomitable Spirit in Everywoman delves deeply into the archetypal powers of this feminine character and how her energy is showing up in our lives and the greater culture.
The Indomitable Spirit at Any Stage
The indomitable spirit of Artemis can be seen more and more in films such as Hunger Games with it’s very Artemis inspired Katniss Everdeen, Merida the heroine of Pixar’s Brave as well as icons from years past Wonder Woman and the Six Million Dollar Woman. All of these characters contain aspects of Artemis and work with the adversities and the challenges of the Victim archetype in a way that not only empowers themselves but dedicates them to the protection of others.
The Goddess Selene is seen as the woman in full, empowered with autonomy, generosity and the fulfillment of her choosing. We can see Selene in Minnie Driver’s character Skylar in Good Will Hunting, Gina Torres’s Jessica Pearson in the TV series Suits and Kerry Washington’s Olivia Pope in the show Scandal and many others in film, television and literature.
Goddess Hecate the sage, fair witness and wisdom keeper who no longer gives a d@mn about what other people think, can been seen in Maude from the 1970’s cult classic Harold and Maude as well as in many roles played by both Helen Mirren and Judi Dench.
Do you have an example of one of these indomitable archetypes from film, television or books? Leave it in the comments.
Artemis: The Indomitable Spirit in Everywoman by Jean Shinoda Bolen is a groundbreaking new book that explores the archetype of the activist. Indomitable means untamed, unsubdued. It is the one-in-herself quality in girls and women who will not be victims, no matter what. To bring the Artemis archetype to life, Dr. Bolen delves deeply into the myth of Atalanta, the famous hunter and runner in ancient Greek mythology, a mortal woman who is identified with Artemis the Greek Goddess of the Hunt and Moon. Atalanta began life abandoned and left to die because she was born a girl. She faced the Calydon Boar and drew first blood; she was the runner who would demand to be beaten in a footrace by the man who could claim her as his bride. Atalanta exemplifies the indomitable spirit in competent, courageous girls and in the women they become. This is grit, the passion and persistence to go the distance, to survive, and to succeed.
Dr. Bolen paints a vivid picture of Artemis women in current media, including Princess Merida from the animated film Brave and Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. In all these examples and those of real-life women who grow into their Artemis spirit, she provides the means through which readers can navigate their own personal exploration to become their authentic selves. Bolen dedicates this book to women and girls who embody the archetype of Artemis, who discover her uncrushable spirit in themselves or others.
We highly recommend getting a copy of this book – it’s rich in detail, insight and empowering examples we can see in ourselves. If you are going through a transition, this book is a valuable resource.
The Artemis triune:
Artemis (Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen – Hunger Games)
Selena (Gina Torres as Jessica Pearson – Suits)
Hecate (Helen Mirren – as whatever the bloody hell she wants)
More Artemis characters:
©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.
©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.
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You can’t plan this stuff! In card number 10, the Archetypal Podcast is met with the Wheel of Fortune – a fortuitous card that marks a new stage of awareness in the Fool’s journey. After evaluating new moral issues presented by Justice, and time to reflect with the Hermit, the Fool/Hero is ready to chance life more consciously with The Wheel of Fortune. Though she thinks she may have control, the Wheel (often a favorable card when appearing in Tarot readings) quickly shows her that much of life is an inexorable force operating out of our control. Taking their own risks with this card, Julienne and Cyndera discuss an archetype addressing the fortune seekers of the world – The Gambler. Also the voice of the Victim emerged in the podcast, whispering woes from the bottom of the Wheel and warning against buying furniture in “Suckland”. From lessons learned in both life’s wins as well as losses, the message of this card is to let go and spin where the wheel takes you. As always, there is a lively discussion of film, psychological inquiry and insight.
Examples of the Gambler/Wheel of Fortune Archetype in film:
Catch Me If You Can (2002) Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks
Ocean’s Eleven (2001), Twelve (2004) and Thirteen (2007)
• Turning point —– Opportunities —– Possibilities
• Destiny —– Fate —– Superior Forces —– Movement
• Development —– Activity —– Surprises —– Expansion
• Sudden Events —– Speed —– New Developments —– Life Cycles
• Interpretation —– Sudden Change —– Dissension —– Approachability
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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.
The film “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” provides a prime example of the hero’s journey of each of the four core (or survival) archetypes: the Child, the Victim, the Prostitute, and the Saboteur. This film is an archetypal treasure trove, but for brevity’s sake I will concentrate mainly on these four.
The first character that we meet in the film is Dorothy – the Child. She looks for attention and is struggling to be heard and recognized by the adults (the Child seeking self-authority, responsibility). She longs for a place “somewhere over the rainbow” where she can have both authority and innocence – that is to say, a home of her own. The Child is the guardian of innocence and is the part of us that both wants and shuns responsibility and protection. Her hero’s journey begins when she is whisked out of Kansas by a tornado (chaos) and is taken to Oz where she finds new friends who will aid her on her journey back home.
After being recognized as a Hero by the Munchkins for doing away with the Wicked Witch of the East, she asks how to get home and is told that she needs to go ask the Wizard in the Emerald City for help. And so with a gift of ruby slippers on her feet, she starts out on the yellow brick road and happens upon the Scarecrow, her first ally on the journey.
The Scarecrow – the Saboteur, points in one direction and then another because he can’t make up his mind. He is stuck on a pole and announces that he is a failure because he hasn’t got a brain. The Scarecrow sings about all the things he would do ‘if only’ he had a brain. This is the Saboteur in the shadow aspect. The Saboteur is the guardian of self-esteem and choice. It represents both the voice in ourselves that sees things as confusion, lack or ‘if only’ as well as the voice that sees the attributes, resources and abilities available to transcend difficulties. In this sense the Saboteur is both our best ally and worst critic depending on what aspect we choose to imbue (shadow or light). You’ll see throughout the film the Scarecrow claiming he isn’t smart (shadow) and then using his intelligence (light) to help Dorothy and the others succeed in their quest.
Next our heroes meet the Tin Man – the Prostitute. He is standing alone, frozen and unable to speak in the forest. With the aid of Dorothy and the Scarecrow his joints are oiled (is given attention and love) and he can once again move and speak. The Tin Man’s complaint is that he hasn’t got a heart and sings about how loving he would be if he had one. He could then love freely without becoming frozen in fear. The heart here is symbolic of his faith in himself. The Prostitute archetype represents our internal negotiator, our guardian of faith and integrity. Like the Tin Man we can become frozen in fear when we feel our survival is threatened and will negotiate a price for ourselves to feel safe again. When Dorothy asks the Tin Man to join them he asks “Suppose I got there and he wouldn’t give me a heart?” – another question of faith.
The Cowardly Lion comes on as the Bully/Coward archetype but quickly transitions to the fourth and final Survival Archetype – The Victim. He claims that he has no courage and is therefore always the Victim (shadow). He is tormented by his fears and even scares himself. He complains about how unbearable life has been (seeking pity – shadow) and wants the Wizard to give him courage so he could be victorious (light). Later in the film he sings about how he would be transformed into a gracious and compassionate King (light) once he gets some courage.
Each of these characters is on a quest to get what they perceive as lacking from someone outside of themselves.
They have given the Wizard of Oz the authority to grant them what they need and have to face their fears and obstacles on their way to meet him. Each of these fears and obstacles are conquered using the exact thing that each of them believes they are missing. Only when they discover the Wizard to be a fraud do they begin to realize that they had what they were seeking all along. Being gracious though, they accept the blessing of the Wizard along with the symbols of their quest; a medal for courage (empowerment and self-esteem), a scroll for intelligence (choice and esteem), and a heart shaped pin for love (faith and integrity). Dorothy was carrying her symbol, the ruby slippers, the whole time and so too was her ability to get home (self authority).
We all have these powerful and transforming archetypal patterns in us and like the characters in the Wizard of Oz, we are on a quest to re-discover them. These are some of your powers – use them for good and not evil ;).
Interested to know more about how these archetypes work in dating and relationships? Dating Survival Guide series