Archetypes are universal symbolic patterns or ways of being found within the human spirit. They have been around since the beginning of human civilization, demonstrating ways in which humanity has made sense of the trials experienced in each era. They are foundational energetic forces that exist in each of us and depending on life’s experiences, we get opportunities to access these forces and live them out in some way.
As with all of history, it has been written and recorded by the victors, the oppressors, and those in positions of power. The same is true for myths and archetypal stories. For this reason, most of the mythologies and stories we have access to today have a masculine tilt to them, meaning they exemplify the outward, driven nature of humanity. Few stories or myths speak to the softer, more inward and reflective nature of our human existence.
The following archetypes are portrayed often in our historic accounts as well as our modern-day mythological, iconical characters and stories. Each one has a typical strength and a shadow associated with it.
As these are inherent to human nature, each person has the capacity to access these strengths and qualities and call upon them when needed.
Like every other skill we learn, we must also learn how to find these qualities within the self as we grow into more aware and balanced humans. This list is by far not complete; it is merely comprised of archetypes that have been portrayed often throughout history.
Sage: believes that the truth will set you free; uses intelligence and analysis to understand the world
Innocent/Child: Free to be happy, to be me, to be authentic, to play
Explorer: freedom to find out who you are through exploration, adventurous
Ruler:desire for control, like to lead and show the way
Creator: power of the imagination; visionary; creativity; manifest from thought to form
Caregiver: selflessness, compassion, generosity
Magician: understanding the fundamental laws of the universe; catalyst for change
Hero:prove one’s worth through courageous acts; strength; overcoming obstacles
Lover: willingness to be intimate;
Rebel: rule breaker; overturn what isn’t working; radical freedom
Most of these archetypes have a masculine tendency to them. They show us ways to do and achieve and create in the world. Fewer archetypes in our collective history really show us how to Be and Rest and Rejuvenate and Receive. This is one of the reasons we have an imbalance of masculine/feminine energies in our current civilization, focusing more on the doing and the achieving rather than the being, nurturing and loving.
Both the masculine and the feminine energies are necessary for balance.
When an imbalance occurs, this is when we see the pillaging and taking and oppressiveness that have been prevalent for thousands of years.
One example of this is the Hero’s Journey, which is a typical story-line that has been present since the beginning. We see it often in movies and books of this era. Consider stories like Harry Potter, or Star Wars, or Indiana Jones.
The Hero's Journey is the quest of the self.
The hero sees a problem and knows he must leave his current comfort level, his current home, to go out and seek the answer to this problem. Along the way he encounters obstacles and adversaries and learns how to surmount any obstacles by sourcing his strength and resilience from within. This is a quest of personal growth, power, inner strength and overcoming adversary. This story is very valid for us all, as we will at some point along the way go on our own hero’s journey. So when we think of the HERO archetype, we think of questing, overcoming, resourcing within the self.
What of the HEROINE? How is her journey portrayed? Rarely do we hear of her quest, as the details are an inward journey, and lack the flare and excitement we seek in our current entertainment. The Heroine looks within to find her heart and learns to tune into the specific note of her soul. She seeks this wisdom in the natural world. She watches; she listens. She soon may even discover that the natural world, without human interference, is a perfect symphony. It requires nothing external in order to be perfection. If she continues on her quest she may even discover that SHE is in fact a part of the natural world.
Her inner soul resonance plays in harmony with the symphony of the Earth.
There’s nothing she needs to become or to do in order to experience this. She only needs to slow down enough to remember. And in this slowing down she honours her inner world. She isn't afraid of what she finds there. She's knows it's all well and good for her to feel what she's feeling.
As perfect as the natural world, so too is her inner world.
I love our modern-day Heroine story of Wonder Woman. She’s a great example of the balanced masculine/feminine energies. Knowing her strength and her worth, she’s not afraid to be soft and vulnerable. She claims her space and knows her strength lies in her vulnerability and her open heart.
Image by Vassilis
In order to restore harmony and balance, our current mythos must portray the balance of the human spirit – both the masculine AND the feminine. This is the time to give rise to the feminine within us all, to learn to listen and rest and recalibrate our inner world. It is time to remember that we are a part of the natural world and therefore our being-ness is perfect just as we are. There is no need to be anything different for anyone else.
“Be”, Mother Earth says. “Just as you are”.
See the perfection in the natural world and weave yourself into this story.
You too are perfect. Find your soul note and learn to sing it with your whole heart.
From this place we begin to write the new mythos in a balanced way for our current civilization. We are the myth makers, the story tellers, the weavers. The stories and myths we tell and live out today will be the history and Her-story of tomorrow.
What story are you telling? What myth are you writing with your very existence? Be brave. Write the one that makes your heart sing.