When I was a senior in high school in New York state (Lewiston, NY), our English professors came up with a great idea for that year. Called “Universal Man”, the study year was segmented into a series of 3 or 4 week modules each on a different theme. Man the Lover, Man the Prisoner, Man the Seeker, Man the Adventurer, Man the Thinker, etcetera (now it would be Man or Woman…), was the basis of the themes. For each module we would choose relevant literature to read and we would write about it, plus we would reflect on that aspect of our own lives as well. Only many years later would I come to appreciate that these themes were “archetypal” in nature. I really enjoyed that year’s English program. It helped me see how all these threads or energies interweave within everyone, giving us special qualities from each perspective.
Each archetypal character MODE has a unique viewpoint and stance in our overall Psyche. Some are more active and others are more suppressed, depending on the situation or context. This week I am inviting you to choose one of your own archetypal sub-selves to get to know better and to enlist in your adventure toward achieving a meaningful life goal. Since goals are usually related to some active role or career that we are already engaged with, let’s begin by selecting a goal associated with a role with which we are highly identified at this time. (For example, for me right now, it is my Writer/Author role that carries the most poignant goal; that of publishing LIFE PATHS.) So, after identifying your ardent goal related to some active role in your life, you can then identify an archetypal member (or more than one) from your unconscious ‘ensemble cast’ that could be most helpful aligning with you as you advance toward realizing your goal.
I will repeat Sunday’s lineup of archetypal character modes below. Which of these is most closely connected with the Role and Goal you are interested in strengthening?
Elder Leader: Strength mode—strong authority figure, self-confidence, director, leader; Shadow mode—harsh authoritarian, strict, imposing
Lover: In Strength—romantic intimacy, self-sacrificing, passionate; In Shadow—over-attachment, selfish desires
Warrior: In Strength—fighter for a good cause, courage, blazing new paths; In Shadow—attacker, domination or exertion of power
Nurturer: In Strength–Caregiver, gentleness, supporter, giver of consolation or understanding; In Shadow—stingy, over-protective, undue worrier
Artist: In Strength—expressive, talented performer/artist, creative, innovator; In Shadow—blocked creativity, inhibited, introversion, negative fantasy
Idealist: In Strength—High ideals, far-ranging vision, traveler, manifesting change; In Shadow—frustration, feelings of persecution, criticism, over-perfectionism
Golden Child: In Strength—charismatic, mover and shaker, destined for success, generous with largesse; In Shadow—overly controlling, vain, needs to be onstage or center of attention, fickle
Descender: In Strength—introspective, reflective, thoughtful, cocooning; In Shadow—depression, self-restriction, hiding, avoidance, introversion
Teacher: In Strength—imparts knowledge with enthusiasm, studious researcher, reader, notetaker, patient instructor, coach; In Shadow—overly didactic, my way or the highway, micro-manager, overbearing
Communicator: In Strength—public speaker, writer/author, workshop presenter, interpersonal communicator, promoter, a good listener; In Shadow—tight-lipped, withholding viewpoint, holding ideas close to chest, suspicious, or overly extroverted, “rabble rouser”
Healer: In Strength—doctor or nurse, concern with diet and exercise, natural energy, implementing positive change; In Shadow—masochism, perpetuating pain or sense of fatalism
Mystic: In Strength—seeker, prayerful, contemplation or meditation, dreamer, focus on cosmos, monk-like, alchemy; In Shadow—addictive personality, dwelling in Darkness, isolated hermit, withdrawn
Have you identified one or more potential character allies? Next then, I invite you to engage with this archetypal aspect-of-Self in an active imagination and/or in a journaling DIALOGUE. Get to know this energetic part of yourself. What are his or her own goals for you? What are their greatest loves, fears, worries, hopes? How and when do they show up for you? How are they part of the ROLES you enact day to day? When and why do you sometimes suppress them or why do they sometimes retreat?
How can they help you to realize your Goal?
As a sample, while I find many of the 12 archetypes have qualities essential to my current goals as a writer/author, I want to get to know The Healer better this week, because I think that is a part of myself to which I do not give enough room overall in my life. I catch from the character description that Healer can be helpful with “implementing positive change” and has a quality of “natural energy”. I feel the need for a second wind lately to help circumvent some of my own habitual self-limiting attitudes. So I seek out HEALER as an ALLY on this leg of my journey.
First then, dive Down into the Deeps of your personal unconscious realms. Do not expect your archetypal sub-selves to necessarily come “up” to your world of consciousness to meet with you. You can use an active contemplation or meditation mode to “sink” into an imagistic realm that you share with your archetypal cast.
LW: Is one I can call Healer present here? Can we talk?
H: I am here. How are you?
LW: Worried. I feel like I’ve been sabotaging myself lately; I need a dose of some positive self-confidence for taking the next big—or small—step. I am scared.
H: Why then is it me you seek help from? Why not some of the Others? Elder Leader or Artist, or Descender even?
LW: I feel I need your Healing energy to help me assuage self-doubt in order for me to be more empowered to communicate from a greater strength of awareness.
H: Who injured you? When?
LW: Wow! You are right, this goes way back to my father and others who led me to inhibit or to subdue my sense of confidence in life overall. Better to stay in the shadows they would tell me. Be silent; don’t make waves. The world will beat you down if you stick your neck out, they would say.
H: There is more. What did your father say that inhibits you so deeply? He is down here still you know, both as what you call Shadow and as Strength. Do you want to see him?
LW: …not right now. I remember several disparaging remarks, most of which I don’t want to include in the public blog…so I’ll reflect upon them privately instead.
H: What do you need a healing for then?
LW: For hiding from him all these years—or the Shadow side of him. I am still grateful for the rest and I know he ‘meant well’ and had his own dragons affecting him.
H: What do you need from me?
LW: Just to be with me as I forgive him. To be my Ally as I take a step to communicate ‘forward’ this week. I need you to acknowledge the purpose I aim to fulfill with this goal.
H: Many others can benefit; the time has come to release this child of yours into the world.
LW: Will you mid-wife then?
H: Yes if you will allow me to.
H: Then remember to BREATHE, okay? Breathe and review where things are at. Breathe and communicate forward.
Enough from me. I hope that the process is clear for how you can engage with your own archetypal parts of Self. I invite you to do so. Identify a goal that matters to a role you seek to strengthen in your life right now. Identify an archetypal part of Self that could help you. Get to know that archetypal persona and invite that one to serve as an Ally.
I encourage and look forward to YOUR insights and STORIES!