What is an Archetype?
Archetypes are universal patterns of behavior and power that we carry in our DNA and are accessible to us through the unconscious and imaginal (and not imaginary - the later term implies they are not real). By using the term imaginal - we refer to the realm of poetry, images, metaphor, and imagination. The term "archetype " was coined and introduced into psychology and our awareness by Carl G. Jung and he is obviously the one to be acknowledged for crafting our path to further exploration.
"Arche" means "first" and "type" means "model" or "kind". This suggest that they were her already before us, before time and this best describes why Jung placed them within our collective unconsciousness and why they are therefore inherent in our existence.
Archetypes can not be suppressed, hidden, gotten rid of, denied or fixed, we inherit them from universe and they express themselves through us.
Our oldest and most universal quest as human beings was our desire to understand and develop archetypes - to build relationship with the multitude of dynamics in ourselves and the world and we are doing that continuously, whether we are conscious or unconscious about it and whether we know the word or not.
Archetypes are general symbols that do not appear in direct form but are accessed also through the art, mythology and religion. Archetypes in the modern world live in fairy tales, films, stories of different nations and cultures and have similar - universal elements.
For sure you all familiar with archetypes such as: Hero, Rebel, Magician, Eternal Child (Peter Pan) etc. Perhaps you were meeting them through important personal relationships, where other people recognized your inner motivational patterns of behavior in every day situations. Like for example, when you're needy and in distress and seeking for attention in dis-empowered way, people may call you a Princess or Damsel, because they can sense you're expecting to be saved or you are waiting "for the Right One" - thinking that you are entitled to meet a Prince who will be able to sense and satisfy your most inner desires without having to articulate them through verbal exchange in conversation.
Archetypes are therefore the metaphorical & symbolical language of your soul.
People tend to mix emotional needs with archetypes and frequently ask me questions like "What archetype is constantly angry?" Emotions are not archetypes. Archetypes are impersonal patterns. Emotions can fit into any pattern. And when this patterns goes into one extreme (positive or negative), also emotions walk that journey.
Archetypes are the glasses through which we perceive the world.
According to Kim Krans, a visionary artist, author, and creator of The New York Times bestseller The Wild Unknown Tarot, archetypes have following qualities and are:
- patterns (key images)
- universal - crossing boundaries, appearing in every culture
- timeless - there are no new archetypes, yet there are infinite new ways the eternal archetypes express themselves
- dark & light - they have contrast and that makes them dynamic, complex and compelling - if something has only a good side, it is not an archetype
- coming to us through image - they choose a channel to come - song, word, memory, poem, dream, painting, story, nature...
- moving us from literal to mythic by getting us out of our heads into the space of sensuous dreams, emotions and imagination
- insisting on multiplicity - from one to the multiple ("right way to many ways, they prefer potentials over convention, dynamism over singularity and inclusion over rejection”
- insisting on the collective
**Awareness of archetypes dates back at least to the time of Plato, who called them Forms. Plato believed that these eternal Forms were reflected in material objects. The Form of Beauty, for example, is abstract and applies to all beautiful things; as different as the individual manifestations of Beauty may be–a beautiful person, horse, or flower–the Form itself never changes. The great Swiss psychologist Carl Jung developed this idea further. For Jung, archetypes comprised psychological patterns derived from historical roles in life, such as the Mother, Child, Trickster, and Servant, as well as universal events or situations, including Initiation or Death and Rebirth. Along with our individual personal unconscious, which is unique to each of us, Jung asserted, “there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature that is identical in all individuals.” This collective unconscious, he believed, was inherited rather than developed, and was composed mainly of archetypes.
Although archetypes are impersonal patterns of influence that are both ancient and universal, they become personalized when they are a part of your individual psyche. It is best to think of archetypes as your intimate companions. They provide the foundation for your personality, drives, feelings, beliefs, motivations, and actions. But archetypes are not passive entities floating around in the psyche - they are VERBS and not NOUNS. They take an active role as guardians and inner allies and influence your life, alerting you when you are in danger of falling into destructive or “shadow” behavior. The Saboteur, for instance, warns you when you are in a situation in which you tend to sabotage your own best interests. Once you learn to recognize such a pattern, instead of ignoring it or denying its presence, it becomes your friend and can help you avoid selling out.
All archetypes have “shadow” manifestations as well as positive aspects. The shadow has power precisely because it remains in the dark; we tend to deny its presence in us because we consider it unacceptable. Only when we face and acknowledge the shadow’s presence can we neutralize its potential negative impact on us. The Rebel archetype, for instance, can be a powerful force leading us to reject illegitimate authority and strike out on a bold new path of action. (Samuel Adams, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr., all had powerful Rebel archetypes.) But if we let our awareness lapse, the archetype’s shadow aspect can induce us to rebel against legitimate leaders, or to fall in love with the image and trappings of rebellion (think of the rebellious angels in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim lore).
Likewise, the Queen archetype can help you assert your power, take charge of situations, delegate authority, and act with benevolence. But the shadow Queen may run around barking out orders, making impossible demands, and cutting off heads! Once you learn to recognize the difference between the two responses — and their common source — you can harness the Queen’s constructive power while mitigating her shadow wrath.**
"An archetype isn’t just about how you act. It is about how you love, the environment you find yourself in, the life you are given, the karma you carry, the history you repeat, and the contracts you have in relationships. An archetype determines the style of introversion or extroversion. An archetype has a much, much wider field of influence than a personality trait." Stacey L.L.Couch
What is Sacred Contract?
It is best to perceive Sacred Contracts as a range of agreements upon lessons/assignments we need to learn in this lifetime. It is a key of understanding relationships better, because every opportunity for growth is hidden within a relationship. Sacred Contracts are based on a belief that we each agree to the terms of our Contract before entering the physical realm of this world. Fascinating parallel of this concept occurs in the writings of Plato. In the tenth and final book of his great work The Republic, Plato relates the Myth of Er.
Whether we take this myth literally or simply as a teaching device of Plato’s, we can use it to gain a higher perspective on our life. If you think of your life’s direction as something to which you have agreed, then what formerly seemed like arbitrary or even absurd conditions can be seen in another light. They are part of the roadmap that you’ve agreed to follow.
Each event, each person of any significance whom you encounter, has an agreed-on role in your learning experience.
Sometimes the learning is difficult because you don’t always surrender to the situation. It may take time for you to see the reasons for it. But the sooner you do, the less painful it becomes. In time, you can learn to accept each event as it happens without struggling against it and prolonging your psychic — and physical — suffering. To have a serious illness or injury is difficult enough; seeing it as a punishment or the cruel caprice of fate only makes it harder to bear. The resulting stress will probably also make it worse, and you will take longer to heal or recover.
Naturally, you can’t be expected to see everything immediately, or in advance. But if you have a way of looking at the symbolic meaning of your experiences, you will be better prepared to accept the inevitable changes to your life. Fighting change builds up emotional scar tissue. Surrendering to divine will allows you to accept the changes, and get on with your life.
To help you understand and fulfill the terms of your Sacred Contract, you have been encoded with a set of 12 primary archetypes. Four of these are universal archetypes of survival: the Child, Victim, Prostitute, and Saboteur. The other eight are drawn from the vast storehouse of archetypes dating back to the dawn of human history.
To identify your Sacred Contract means to find where is your treasure and start sharing it. Sacred Contract is about the power dynamics - a setup of challenges with people, place or things, where you are engaged in learning arrangement in which you need to be thought the wisdom of not falling into illusion.
Who si Caroline Myss?
Caroline Myss is a five-time New York Times bestselling author and internationally renowned speaker in the fields of human consciousness, spirituality and mysticism, health, energy medicine, and the science of medical intuition.
Caroline established her own educational institute in 2003, CMED (Caroline Myss Education), which offers a diverse array of programs devoted to personal development.
Caroline then pursued her interest in the language of symbols, myths, and archetypes, conducting research that enabled her to profile an individual’s “Sacred Contract,” a complex of 12 archetypal patterns that reflect in mythic language the agreements the soul made prior to birth. Based on this work, Caroline released SACRED CONTRACTS, which became her third New York Times bestseller.Caroline refined her skills as a medical intuitive, with the assistance of C. Norman Shealy, M.D., Ph.D., a Harvard-trained neurosurgeon. She is also a pioneer at the field of Energy Anatomy, a science that correlates specific emotional/psychological/physical/spiritual stress patterns with diseases.
I highly recommend reading all of her works, as you will be intuitively triggered by healing processes and, above all, you will be confronted with a refreshed perspective at your health and the purpose you live in your life.
In me, archetype exploration has fostered a series of transformation processes that have helped me, among other things, find a deeper meaning in understanding dance and its meaning in our interconnectedness at the heart level, expressing and transforming difficult and painful emotions, finding inner personal strength and understanding some complex personal relationships.
What are 3 Wheels of Consciousness? Chronos, Kairos & Cosmos?
Caroline defines 3 inter-connected wheels of consciousness on which we operate within our power of archetypal exchanges.
Chronos Wheel - is basic survival, physical level of consciousness that can be embraced within our five-sensory sight. In this level our ego operates. Here we identify our wounds & problems. Our Chart of Origin is based on a Chronos level - because archetypes here are consistent patterns throughout our life. Chronos wheel is connected to chakras 1-3.
Kairos level - moves from literal to emotional view and higher perception of energy consciousness. It is the domain of our conscious choices, based on decisions of our rational self. It is embraced within our multi-sensory sight and it is a solution oriented level of consciousness. Kairos wheel is connected to chakras 4-7.
Cosmos level - moves from emotional to archetypal and symbolic sight. It is a divine logic, that governs the best decisions for your soul. Choices are based on compassion. Consciousness is embraced in holographic sight. On this level we are learning the higher meaning and purpose of life. Cosmos wheel is connected to chakras 8-9.
Why learning about archetypes is needed?
Through archetypes we develop relationships with our inner being and develop the potential of our soul. Exploring archetypes is bringing the language we were born knowing into our consciousness, to the surface.
When we can identify these dialogues and patterns in ourselves from a detached point of view, we can clearly see where our motivations, fears, desires, passions and choices come from; allowing us to then make an informed and conscious decision versus running our lives on “default” mode, according to the perceptions inherent in each archetype.
Archetypes also help us to move beyond stereotypes. Imagine yourself sitting in a middle of the square of a big city and observe people passing by. Unconsciously you are scanning their behavior and stereotyping them and by doing that you limit your capacity to listen and learn. We reduce people’s multilayered complexity as we make assumptions, judgments, and decisions by thinking we know their stories. Out of fear we don’t make bridges and provide smooth connections, but instead we alienate ourselves as separate.
When we make first steps in learning to relate to people archetypally, we become curious, we see their inner coexisting potentials, their struggle and shine and we start making deeper contacts that craft our path to healing, as we suddenly realize they are valuable mirrors, giving us opportunity to see ourselves in them.
"With archetypes come the freedom of expansion - everything belongs. When we step out of our STORY and see it is thread woven into the fabric of the STORY, we are looking through archetypal lens. The power of this story is that we are building compassion and understanding for the world and ourselves" Kim Krans
Why do we need Archetypes in Motion, in Movement, in Embodiment?
This is how I embodied my own Sacred Contract - my personal 12 archetypes of Artist, Judge, Saboteur, Athlete, Victim, Aphrodite, Student, Mentor, Child, Prostitute, Explorer and Outsider.
What we constantly do (consciously or unconsciously) is to monitor & categorize people. We look for symbolic coordinates and describe them according to patterns we sense. Those patterns are archetypes - the way how our soul speaks through us and how symbolical & mythological manifests through life events.
We can understand and interpret archetypes with our mind (left brain). But working through body - movement - can bring us to more holistic experience, deeper understanding. Recognizing archetypes within yourself demands alertness and attention.
To bring them into awareness and embodiment demands training. When we work with embodiment of archetypes, we somehow unravel complex and difficult features of our natures. When we dance our archetypes, we recognize our weaknesses, habits and automated movements. In this way we better understand them and navigate more smoothly through their dynamics.
How do we discern our own archetypes?
Usually we tend to choose archetypes we like, adore, admire and respect. We choose what we want to become and what we want to be, but not what we ARE. Personal set of archetypes are deeper patterns, patterns of the soul that has always been there.
This "soul" stands as the mirror to the personality. Archetypes are not personality traits. Personality traits are learned and controlled patterns of behavior. Archetypes scream from the depths of our instinctive nature. They are consistently present throughout your life. In depicting your personal 8 archetypes, you need to focus on questions such as:
- What has always been your favourite things to do?
- What have you always been attracted to?
- What was your fear?
- What do you always do - that is not good - but you do it anyway?
- What are your consistent characteristics?
What about other archetypes, why do I feel connected?
Of course you can be engaged with other archetypes throughout your life, but at the end of the day, you always come back to your personal. We feel connected with others, because they are all part of our collective unconscious. Perceive them as "masks" or different clothes you can put on, but only some of them are truly resonating with your soul.
Does an archetype mature?
No, we do! You are never done with your contract and your archetypes, you just move to another level of power and different phase of it. You are probably familiar with the phrases such as: "I knew this will happen with him/her. I knew this change within was inevitable." This is the way how our unconscious already posses knowledge about the development of an archetypal pattern and its mythology. We constantly got through ARCHETYPE TRANSITIONS - sometimes smoothly (f.e.puberty & menopause are natural and biological), but sometimes a shift is so fast and we are not ready yet. This is how we get lost in ARCHETYPAL CRISIS.
In archetypal crisis you are facing dis-connection with a pattern coordinates for which the time has come to withdraw.
This is why learning and exploring archetypes is valuable. It is a practice of entering your inner world and practice of silent contemplation.
To enter your inner world through the gates of body, with movement & dance , gives the process a multi- dimensional perspective and dynamic interactive power of transformation.
Some archetypes are just not the part of our contract in this lifetime and we need to bypass them. When you don't let go a dying archetype, you are engaging with the shadow part of it.
List of Archetypes
The language and list of archetypes is endless. Caroline Myss described only most common that come from our collective (mostly western) culture. There is numerous other patterns among other cultures and tribes that we need to learn from. THE ULTIMATE LIST OF ARCHETYPES - by SCOTT JEFFREY