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.
In this special update of the Archetypal Tarot Podcast Julienne and Cyndera discuss their most recent archetypal adventures. Cyndera discusses her newly minted deck of reflection cards based on some amazing billion year old stones discovered by her Father, Jim Quakenbush in Death Valley, California over 30 years ago. Her rich and unique inheritance has been to use the stones to create Story Through Stone which, along with her reflection cards, also provides workshops to school age children and adults alike. Julienne and Cyndera discuss how interactions with the images of the ancient Tarot, from dreams, and from nature allow for a creative exploration of individual life themes.
Julienne is excited to announce a project about archetypes and film that she produced with her archetypal consulting Mentor, Jim Curtan. A newly released audio course and workbook on Fate, Destiny & the Hero’s Journey as seen in Pixar’s 2007 animated film Ratatouille. This self-guided audio course takes you on an archetypal adventure of an Artist and the choices that transform a life of dreary fate to one of heroic destiny. Julienne’s blog post on it expands further and you can purchase the course and save $5.00 by using the offer codepodcast (good until May 31st)
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
What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from. ~TS Eliot
Finally we reach the culmination of this heroic journey with card 21 –The World! In this last of the regularly scheduled podcast series, Julienne and Cyndera discuss beginnings, endings, rebirth, transformation and fulfillment.
After all these trials and tribulations of the hero’s journey, we now come to know true balance and connection to our destiny looking back across our past and forward into the future. We feel the benefit of the journey thus far and see that our evolution is not just for ourselves but for the good of others. From this stage onward, our sense of risk is different because we have a greater understanding of the richness of life and recognize both the strength and space to hold challenge and loss as well as joy in the days to come.
In Joesph Campbell’s classic definition of the Hero’s Journey, The World card represents the stage of Master of Two Worlds as well as the Freedom to Live.
The Rider-Waite version of The World
Symbols in the World Card:
Ring of laurels tied with a lemniscate (infinity symbol) – The ring of laurels is also called temenos (Gk) a safe place, asylum, a temple, also reminiscent of the Yoni, laurels are also a symbol of victory.
Infinity symbol seen also in: Magician, Strength (also in the 2 of coins/pentacles card)
Androgynous figure/ Dancer– leg crossed over just as in the Hanged Man card (it’s opposite on this Mobius strip) – a dance , balanced opposites, an act of creation – the Self in equilibrium, perfect union of masculine and feminine.
Lion (Leo), Eagle (Scorpio), Bull (Taurus) and the Human (Aquarius) – 4 fixed signs of astrology – 4 elements (air, earth, water and fire). These 4 symbols also appear in the Wheel of Fortune card. these can also refer to a passage in the Bible’s book of revelation
Suspended between heaven and earth – remember the Fool as she fell over the cliff, suspended for a moment not realizing what’s she’s gotten herself into? The symbolism of suspension this time is of balance and trust.
2 wands – balance – command of opposites (references to both The Magician and The Chariot). Wands are about doing – this is a sign of readiness.
The World as the Bodhisattva Card
Bodhi [enlightenment] and sattva [being]. From the Mahayana tradition of Buddhismm, the bodhisattva vow is the commitment to put others before oneself. It is a statement of willingness to give up one’s own well-being, even one’s own enlightenment, for the sake of others. Taking the bodhisattva vow implies that instead of holding our own individual territory and defending it, we become open to the world that we are living in and are willing to take on greater responsibility.
Film and Fiction References
Cloud Atlas, book (2004) and film (2012)
One of the main themes is of freedom and connection. Eventually leading to the realization that all is one. Redemption and evolution. Characters from each of the weave of stories in both the book and film have revelations of oneness:
Sonmi-451: “Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others. Past and present. And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.”
Robert Frobisher: “And all becomes clear. Wish I could make you see this brightness. Don’t worry, all is well. All is so perfectly, damnably well. I understand now, that boundaries between noise and sound are conventions. All boundaries are conventions, waiting to be transcended. One may transcend any convention, if only one can first conceive of doing so. Moments like this, I can feel your heart beating as clearly as I feel my own, and I know that separation is an illusion. My life extends far beyond the limitations of me.”
Adam Ewing:“What is an ocean but a multitude of drops?”
Issac Sachs: “These forces that often remake time and space, they can shape and alter who we imagine ourselves to be, begin long before we are born, and continue after we perish. Our lives and our choices, like quantum trajectories, are understood moment to moment, at each point of intersection, each encounter, suggest a new potential direction.”
The Matrix (1999) – In the very last scene of The Matrix, Neo makes a phone call , saying: “When I used to look out at this world, all I could see was its edges, its boundaries, its rules and controls, its leaders and laws. But now, I see another world. A different world where all things are possible. […] I can’t tell you how to get there, but I know if you can free your mind, you’ll find the way.”
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 CynicKeywords: Reactionary, Fear, Exaggeration, Over-thinking, CynicismThis 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.
With a trumpet blare and a scene depicting people rising from graves as shown in Judgement – card number 20 of the Tarot, Julienne and Cyndera discuss how the hero of our journey is called to leave the old behind – not just Death and those stages in between. This penultimate edition of the Archetypal Tarot Podcast sees this as a stage of the rebirth process where one is asked to call the old selves back up and with it the old stories to release their particular hold on us and see them in a new light.
Through the lessons and experiences of the journey we can now judge what best action should be taken and rise up to the challenges to embrace our life and answer the greater ‘Calls’ of our life beyond the egoic or the mundane. We see now our true calling is in every breath of our lives playing out in every moment.
Julienne regales us with how this story of redemption and evolution is played out poignantly in the 2012 epic film Cloud Atlas with the compelling stories of lives interwoven over 500 years. Cyndera relays how the academy award winning documentary “Searching for Sugarman” captures the essence of a true calling held within the Judgement card.
Throughout the podcast the ideas of redemption, evolution and levels of change effect how we see our true calling. References and a list of symbols, links and images are below.
Redemption: The old story will always be the old story to contend with to make up for – to redeem.
Evolution: The story is bigger – inclusive of what happened and holds space for the purpose of what happened beyond our limited understanding. What we believed was a mistake is included in a larger connected story.
Symbols seen in the card:
Angel – messenger, not of the earth
Arms – accepting with open arms – embracing the new direction – surrender
Trumpet – the call to the new life – to be reborn – out of complacency – awaken
Flag with the cross – announcement or proclamation – staking a claim to a new territory – the equal armed cross is about balance – possibly the balance of the masculine and feminine – of agency and community – also 4 sections reflect the 4 directions, the 4 elements – a meeting place
Here Comes the Sun! After the dark debacle of the stage represented by the Moon card, the nineteenth card of the Major Arcana shares its rays of light on the Archetypal Tarot Podcast. Inside the protective walls of a golden kingdom, two children (or a child and horse in the Rider Waite) are happily at play. Like Romulus and Remus, suckled from the wolves of the last card, it is as if the birth of a new Rome has taken place as a long-awaited result of this Tarot journey’s recent trials. Julienne Givot and Cyndera Quackenbush explore this stage of rebirth by delving into the child archetype in its many manifestations, including its shadow.
Listen as Julienne and Cyndera share a synchronistic moment and find out how to have fun while even riding a city bus. In the Hollywood realm, Robin Williams as Puer (eternal youth), Tom Hanks in the film “Big” and Shirley Temple are discussed as examples of this stage. In the Sun card enjoy yourself in a land somewhere between the Teletubbies and the Secret Garden.
The Child: Innocence, Fun, Trust
The Child archetype resides in us all and is the first that we come to know. The Child archetype is sometimes called the guardian of innocence and it represents our beginning point. This archetype sets up our earliest perceptions of life, safety, loyalty and family. The heart of the Child archetype is one of dependency and responsibility. Addressing the Child archetype within can awaken a new relationship with life, a new start.
After emerging from the water’s edge of the lovely Star maiden, the Archetypal Tarot podcast heads to the eighteenth card of the Major Arcana – the Moon. Sounds romantic, doesn’t it? But what’s this – a barking dog, a howling wolf and a …. lobster climbing from the depths?!?! Julienne Givot and Cyndera Quackenbush have a WTF moment as they explore the depths of this surprising, surreal imagery incorporating the archetype of the Artist and the penchant for creative madness.
Our hero of the Tarot Journey has reached her dark night of the soul and finds that she has spiraled back to the dark wisdom behind the High Priestess’s veil. In relation to the “lunacy” encountered in the moon, Julienne presents to us the Artist archetype and its shadow. Cyndera shares some highly personal details and a passage from Carl Jung’s Red Book. The following films, discussed in this edition, beautifully illustrate the Moon themes of madness, creativity and dreams: The Hours, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Science of Sleep.
The lunatic, the lover, and the poet
Are of imagination all compact.
The Artist archetype embodies the 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 shadow Artist comprises many cliches, including an eccentric nature and the madness that often accompanies genius. The Starving Artist represents the fear of financial ruin or the belief that fame and fortune come only after death, which often cause artists to suppress their talents. In evaluating your relationship to this archetype, recognize that the need to bring art to others, such as dedicating part of the energy of your life to supporting artists, is as much an expression of the Artist archetype as actually holding a brush in your hand.
Archetypal Tarot celebrates its 20th podcast! With some much needed respite after the tumult of the falling tower, Julienne Givot and Cyndera Quackenbush cozy up in some Dutch slippers and delve into the nourishing waters of the 17th card of the Major Arcana- The Star.
Picture the Fool (our Hero in this journey) laying on the grass in a field after the sudden liberation of the last stage. She is coming to and is not yet able to articulate what just happened to her. The symbols of the scene represented in the Star feature a naked woman who is both vulnerable and in harmony with the elements as she tends to what needs to be done.
Stripped of clothing (ego identity) and back down to the earthy basics, the beautiful maiden featured in this card helps us to replenish after a shock and (re)discover the true “guiding star” that will help us along on our journey. We see the importance of humility to be open to true guidance.
Another potent symbol of this stage is water. Water is often seen as a symbol of emotions and the unconscious which in this stage flows freely and the woman can been seen as a conduit for letting the waters flow back to their source as well as nourishing the ground. The stars in the sky twinkle above clear and undeniably present, the Fool wonders how she never noticed they were there all along.
Stars have been the symbol of aspiration and guidance since ancient times from the three wisemen following stars to the mythic stories of Mithras. Stars symbolize hope and to look up with an understanding that even we are connected to the stars.
This is a time after the storm where there is clarity. A recollection that grace need only be received and that the first stage of regeneration/rebirth is to be open to follow our true desire – what we are really on the journey for. It’s interesting to note that the word desire itself comes from the old French “of the stars”.
Julienne discusses how the symbolism of the film Beasts of the Southern Wild relates to our taroic hero’s journey so far and Cyndera references the aspect of the Star in relation to Maidentrip, a documentary about a young Dutch girl who completed a solo around the world voyage on a sailboat.
“When it all goes quiet behind my eyes, I see everything that made me flying around in invisible pieces. When I look too hard, it all goes away but when it all goes quiet, I see they are right here. I see that I am a little piece of a big, big universe, and that makes it right.” -Hushpuppy, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Popular associations of the Star:
Calmness —– Free-flowing love —– Trust
Tranquility —– Peace of mind —– Pure essence
Hope – Serenity —– Inspiration —– Generosity
Optimism —– Joy —– Faith —– Regeneration
Good will —– Optimism —– Harmony —– Renewal of forces
Helpful questions for this stage:
• What do I allow to guide me?
• What is the role of nurturing myself and others – is there an imbalance?
• How do I live the connection to nature?
• What can I do to allow more tranquility into my day?
• Am I allowing peace and relaxation to flow through my life?
• How do I acknowledge and take peace from knowing I am a little piece of a big universe?
Is it the Tower of Destruction or the House of God? In card number sixteen of the Major Arcana, we are met with yet another image that often inspires fear and superstition.
This is the first podcast in which Julienne Givot and Cyndera Quackenbush are divorced from their own tower (the recording studio) and explore this card’s symbolism from the telephone. With the sudden shock experienced in this stage of the fool’s journey, will those tethered to their addictions be struck from their habits? Does hitting rock bottom ultimately free us?
Cyndera explores how a client once completely dissembled her own psychic castle and Julienne reveals the qualities of the Liberator archetype. A closer look at current events and films such as the Hunger Games, Castaway and Groundhog Day also helps us all to “think outside the tower.” Also, don’t miss this podcast’s first homework assignment to watch Beasts of the Southern Wild through the lens of the Archetypal Tarot Journey. We’ll be discussing it in the next edition along with the 17th card of the major arcana: The Star.
Details and references below.
Questions or suggestions? Email us ATPodcast@archetypist.com
Archetypes related to the Tower card: The Liberator
The Tower from the Marseilles deck
Popular Associations with the Tower Card:
Chaos —– Sudden change —– Impact —– Hard times
Crisis —– Revelation —– Disruption —– Realizing the truth
As we enter the last row of our Tarot Journey (and a new year for the Archetypal Tarot Podcast), we are met with the formidable character of The Devil, the fifteenth card of the Major Arcana. Our hero, well on the path to rebirth, must first meet his own shadow and face addictions and attachments.
Julienne Givot and Cyndera Quackenbush also discuss the Pan-like characteristics of the Devil, who invites human beings to recognize their animal natures that rebel when they are suppressed. As always, this podcast adds to your growing movie list with some subtle and interesting studies of the Devil archetype in film.
Archetypes related to the Devil card: Provocateur, Addict, Scapegoat, Addict/Mystic, Perfectionist
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (2005) and Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory (1971) There are many references to the archetype of the Devil, Provocateur and Addict in these films. Each member of the group (both children and adults) is obsessed with getting something, food (Augustus Gloop), attention (Veruca Salt), being right (Mike Teevee) or even something as innocent as wanting a better life for their family (Charlie). Everyone is tempted and everyone gives in to the temptation, Charlie though is true to the angel of his better nature at the end of the film.
Election (1999) Reeese Whitherspoon & Matthew Broderick.
The Housewives tarot Devil card
The Addict archetype:
Every one of us is touched by the Addict archetype. Besides the usual suspects–drugs, alcohol, food, and sex–one can be addicted to work, sports, television, exercise, computer games, spiritual practice, negative attitudes, and the kinds of thrills that bring on adrenaline rushes.
In its positive aspect, this archetype helps you recognize when an outside substance or influence has more authority over your will power than does your inner spirit.
Confronting addiction and breaking the hold that a pattern or substance has on you can impart great strength to your psyche. Discovering the empowerment that comes with perseverance has a life-long impact, “I know now that if I can quit _______, I can do anything.”
From a symbolic perspective, the shadow aspect of the Addict represents a struggle with will power and the absence of self-control. The shadow Addict compromises your integrity and honesty. The shame associated with addiction.
“What we strive for in perfection is not what turns us into the lit angel we desire.” ~David Whyte
Julienne’s rendition of the Temperance card
With a little rest after the Death card the Archetypal Tarot Podcast explores the beginning of the rebirth cycle with Temperance – the fourteenth card of the Major Arcana. Julienne Givot and Cyndera Quackenbush discuss the Angel archetype and the healing and recovery that can take place internally and even below conscious awareness. At the end of our second row, the Realm of Equilibrium, we have a resolution to the ongoing theme of opposites. Here, two elements are alchemized to create “the third thing” that mediates and transforms opposing realities. Listen to the podcast for more on this next step of the journey.
“I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
~Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address
“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” ~Joseph Campbell
Who knew that Death could be so funny? But here it is, card number 13 in the Major Arcana. Join Julienne and Cyndera as they look at the archetype of Death from a symbolic and psychological point of view with a dash of added humor. Learn why this inevitable stage for the Hero isn’t the end but an important element to the rest of the journey.
The Death card liberates all that has reached its end, and cuts away stagnation so that life can continue. Beyond the literal interpretation of this card, there is a rich array of deaths that visit in our daily lives: the end of jobs, relationships and also the visitations of depressions and other forms of “falling apart.” What advantages are there to dismemberment and disintegration? How do Zombies and Batman play a role at exploring this the ultimate mystery of life – it’s end. Or is it the end? You’ll just have to get the podcast and find out.
PS: Listen to all the way to the end for a surprise (and possibly a laugh or two).
Resources Mentioned in the Podcast:
Ending of a cycle – Loss – Conclusion – Sadness
Transition into a new state – Psychological transformation
Finishing up – Regeneration – Elimination of old patterns
Being caught in the inescapable – Good-byes – Deep change
Film / TV References:
The Dark Knight Rises (2012
Sean of the Dead (2004)
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) Bones (2005-present) Dead Like Me (2003-2004)
Julienne’s rendition of Card 13: Death
“Yet through depression we enter depths and in depths find soul. Depression is essential to the tragic sense of life. It moistens the dry soul, and dries the wet. It brings refuge, limitation, focus, gravity, weight, and humble powerlessness. It reminds of death. The true revolution begins in the individual who can be true to his or her depression. Neither jerking oneself out of it, caught in cycles of hope and despair, nor suffering it through till it turns, not theologizing it – but discovering the consciousness and depths it wants. So begins the revolution in behalf of soul.”
~ from Re-Visioning Psychology by James Hillman
The Holy Longing
Tell a wise person, or else keep silent,
because the mass man will mock it right away.
I praise what is truly alive,
what longs to be burned to death.
In the calm water of the love-nights,
where you were begotten, where you have begotten,
a strange feeling comes over you,
when you see the silent candle burning.
Now you are no longer caught in the obsession with darkness,
and a desire for higher love-making sweeps you upward.
Distance does not make you falter.
Now, arriving in magic, flying,
and finally, insane for the light,
you are the butterfly and you are gone.
And so long as you haven’t experienced this: to die and so to grow,
you are only a troubled guest on the dark earth.
(translated by Robert Bly)
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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? Next
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!
We’re pretty pleased to announce that The Archetypal Tarot Podcast is not available on Stitcher Radio. If you haven’t heard of Stitcher from their sponsorship of many great radio shows like “This American Life” or “RadioLab” let me tell you that it is pretty darn cool and a must for those of us who love talk radio and podcasts. Oh and it’s a free app which you can download from your iPhone/iPad or Android app store.
You can even scroll all the way down to the footer of this page to listen to the most recent episode.
What happened!?! Our hero is hanging upside down! In the thirteenth edition of the Archetypal Tarot Podcast Julienne Givot and Cyndera Quackenbush help to dispel the superstition that often surrounds cards such as The Hanged Man, card number twelve in the Major Arcana. After an exploration of the Hanged Man’s symbolic imagery and the martyr archetype, this podcast illuminates an invitation to test the inner strength gained in the previous card and make valuable sacrifices during this period of “hang time” (yes, a sports reference made its way into the podcast). Also join the discussion of movies featuring the martyr archetype – you may just find a new perspective, or your world turned upside down!
For the Hanged Man – pay attention to the course that Paul Giamatti’s character takes in The Lady In The Water (2006) as he is pulled out of his self-induced isolation to become a Hero and what he needs to sacrifice to do so.
The Martyr in Film:
Meryl Streep in Silkwood
Ben Kingsley in Gandhi
Sean Penn in Milk
The Martyr in Books:
Little Bee by Chris Cleave
The Happy Prince by Oscar Wilde
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The Strength card as depicted in the Rider Waite deck
The Archetypal Podcast returns from its Summer Sabbatical with its Twelfth Edition starring the eleventh Tarot card, Strength. After a turn on the Wheel of Fortune our Hero/Fool is taken in a new direction and learns from the Lion and Maiden depicted in this card. Inner strength is called for with the knowledge that it’s made up of patience, self-control, and the awareness of one’s instincts and drives. Archetypal Consultant Julienne Givot gives us the breakdown of the empowered and disempowered archetype of the Damsel and reflections on Beauty and the Beast. Tarot Consultant Cyndera Quackenbush regales us with a retelling of an ancient Korean myth about a woman’s lesson in true courage. See below for a written version of the story.
Fortitude – Lust – Courage – Patience
Self-control – Being solid – Patience – Compassion
Wizard of Oz (The Cowardly Lion and Dorothy) (1939)
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The Tiger’s Whisker – A Korean Folktale
A young woman came one day to the house of a mountain hermit to seek his help. The hermit was a sage of great renown and a maker of charms and magic potions. When the young woman entered his house, the hermit said, without raising his eyes from the fireplace: “Why are you here?”
She said: “Oh, Famous Sage, I am in distress! My husband, who has just returned from fighting in the wars, hardly speaks to me and is as cold as ice. If he does speak it is with the most explosive fire in his voice! And he no longer enjoys the delicious food that he used savor at our supper table. I want a potion to give my husband so that he will be loving and gentle, as he used to be.””Ha, so simple is it? Can we cure a sick world with a potion?” the hermit said.”Master,” said the woman, if you do not help me, I am truly lost!”
Resigned at last, the hermit said, “Very well; I will help you to make a potion. But it requires an ingredient which I do not possess. The most essential ingredient is a the whisker of a living tiger.”
“The whisker of a living tiger!” She exclaimed. “How will I possibly get that?”
“If the potion is important enough, you will succeed,” the hermit said. He turned his head away, not wishing to talk anymore.
The young woman went home. She thought a great deal about how she would get the tiger’s whisker. Then one night she crept from her house with the most delicious morsels she had cooked especially for her task. She went to the place on the mountainside where the tiger was known to live. Standing far off from the tiger’s cave, she held out the food, calling the tiger to come and eat. The tiger did not come.
The next night She went again with some well-prepared food, this time a bit closer. Again she offered the food to the tiger. Every night she went to the mountain, each time a few steps nearer to the tiger’s cave and even though fear caused her knees to shake she took these footsteps forward.
Little did the young woman know, but the tiger was becoming accustomed to her presence and every night was also creeping closer in her direction. Eventually, one night, the two could see eachother in the moonlight just a stone’s throw apart. It happened again the next night and they were so close she could feel the warmth of the great feline’s breath. As the tiger knelt to eat the food she had given him, She reached out a hand very quickly and plucked a whisker from the Tiger’s face-
And the tiger
not to notice…
Clutching the whisker tightly in her hand, she backed away slowly, thanking the tiger softly and then went down the path, walking not running, towards the mountain hermit’s house.
“Oh, Famous One!” She cried, ” I have it! I have the tiger’s whisker! Now you can make me the potion you promised so that my husband will be loving and gentle again!”
The hermit took the whisker and examined it, his face alit by the flames of his firepit. Satisfied that it had really come from a tiger, he leaned forward and dropped it into the fire. It vanished immediately in the smoke.
“Oh sir!” the young woman called in anguish. “What have you done!” She proceeded to tell him the story of how patiently, over many weeks she had approached the tiger. “But you have thrown the whisker in the fire! It is all for nothing.”
“No, I do not think it is all for nothing,” explained the hermit. “Is any person more vicious than a tiger? The potion in which you sought was your own courage. You thought you did not have courage because you were afraid of a man. But true courage is being able to feel the fear and still take those steps forward. If you can win the confidence of such a wild creature, surely you can do the same with your husband?”
Hearing this, the young woman stood speechless for a moment. Then she went down the trail, walking but not running, towards home.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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…”
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.