From Caroline’s 2016 Salon
As many of you know, I am introducing a new Reflections series on archetypes entitled, Archetypes Are Everywhere. I’ve taught Sacred Contracts for many years and I have a wonderful Sacred Contracts Online course available through my web site. You would think that I might have depleted this topic by now. (Even I think that at times.) But this is not a topic that can be depleted because it is all about human beings. Archetypal patterns are about what makes us who we are and what drives us. They hold the key to our inner mysteries, power symbols, dreams as well as our cravings, fashion sense, and spending patterns. Absolutely everything about us is connected to one or more of our archetypal patterns. There is always a new perspective from which we can approach this subject, such as the perspective that archetypes really are “everywhere.”
Developing an on-line course is a substantial undertaking. I need to carefully craft each class in a sequential format, for example – and stay mindful of my over enthusiasm and tendency to lecture as if I had all day instead of 90-minutes. But aside from that, I give a great deal of thought to the significance of what I teach and its relevance to you. Is this a subject that would benefit you? Would knowing your archetypes in some way enhance the quality of your life, your relationships, and your capacity to evaluate even the smallest obstacles in your life?
I thought I would share something personal about my own “encounter” with archetypes, as a way of communicating the reality of their presence and authority in our lives. As a teacher of “all things invisible”, from the sacred domain to the psychic, proving the validity of the power and influence of invisible forces in your life is no small matter. We are driven, after all, by our five senses. We “believe” in what we can touch, see, smell, hear, and taste. Of course we do. And yet – and yet – every great spiritual tradition teaches us that these senses deceive us. They are the cause of our distractions and illusions in life because we overestimate their authority.
In other words, our five senses are perfect for getting us around in the physical world, for making sure we don’t fall, for example, and for our survival skills. But when it comes to “interpreting” what we see, for actually “grasping the truth” of what is happening around us and certainly “within” another human being, they fail us completely. Our physical eyes have a minimal capacity to actually “see” the content of another person’s intentions. Our hearing cannot penetrate into the “sound” of someone’s thought processes. But it is in this region of the inner self that we conduct the real business of our Self, is it not? This is where our “invisible Self” resides and operates – and is it not the truth that our invisible Self is our power center? What someone cannot see about us is infinitely more powerful than what they can see, is that not so?
We must, then, rely upon our intuitive instincts and our extended understanding of the forces that operate within the collective energy field of human nature, such as archetypes. It is folly not to know that every person is engaging in archetypal dynamics right in front of your eyes, as you are in front of their eyes! You know, we have become extraordinarily center-focused (aka self-centered). We operate from the perspective, consciously or unconsciously, that we see clearly but others do not. We are “people-watchers” while no one is watching us. We judge others in a second, but of course no one is giving us the once over and deciding we are ordinary mortals. It’s astonishing.
I cannot tell you the number of times I have had conversations with women in my workshops – always women, incidentally – who have openly said that they are thinking about leaving their marriages. Many comment about the difficulties they are in and the stress they are confronting in breaking up their homes and facing a leaner financial future. Their decision is to endure a loveless, unhappy relationship versus financial security. Every time I comment, “So, has it occurred to you that your husband is also thinking of leaving you for the same reasons? I mean, he is obviously as unhappy with you as you are with him. He could be at a workshop right now trying to make this same decision,” the woman freezes right in her seat.
Without a doubt, I have never once met a woman who has admitted that that thought has occurred to her. These women live in a self-consumed bubble in which they believe that somehow all their pain and misery is a well-kept secret and that their husbands, unlike them, are delighted to be married to them. If you ever wanted an example of the All About Me archetypal pattern, there it is. This pattern is a type of subset of the Narcissist to be sure, which is definitely epidemic within our society these days. It is not, however, as oppressive or abusive to everyone as a full-out Narcissist by any means.
An exercise I am very fond of doing in workshops – and one that people actually get a kick out of doing – is having strangers partner with strangers to spontaneously read each other’s archetypes. Often someone will say, “But what is an archetype? I mean, I don’t get it.”
“Yes, you do,” I tell them. “You read archetypes all the time. Every time you “label” someone or “judge” someone, you are doing an archetypal reading. You just don’t use that big word, but it’s the exact same thing.”
And as I tell everyone, you label people because it is a survival mechanism. You need to have a sense of the “invisible power” to which the “other” is connected. You can glean some power data from observations, such as clothing, personal comportment, hygiene, manners, speaking skills, education and so on. But physical data does not reveal agendas, motivations, power issues, and shadow patterns. For these, you require archetypes.
Everyone has gotten fooled by someone; that is, they have lived to say, “I thought I knew this person, but then he or she turned out to be a compulsive liar (Shapeshifter archetype), or an Addict or a Hustler or Pirated by personal information. Looking back, your intuition probably alerted you in that it “collided” with the merely observable and more sensual abilities of your five senses. You “heard” what you wanted to hear; you “felt” what you wanted to “feel” and you liked what you “saw.” Those physical senses are difficult to compete with, especially when intuitive hits often lack hardcore evidence. Intuition, after all, is “air data.” When someone says, “Well, where is your proof?”, it is you who often look the fool. To say you have to have great regard for you own gut instincts and profound self-respect is a masterpiece of understatement.
I trust my archetypal hits more than I trust a weatherman telling me it’s raining outside when I can see that it’s pouring. I know archetypal patterns are real and their influence works like the strings manipulating a marionette puppet. I learned this the hard way during the writing of Sacred Contracts. I often describe the writing of that book as an experience of pulling barbed wire out of my throat. It was brutal for a few reasons, one of which is that the subject matter itself was complex and required an enormous effort to organize. But secondly, I had never encountered the “congestion of the archetypal realm.”
For those of you unfamiliar with my book, Sacred Contracts, it presents the thesis that you are born with a soul-bound connection to twelve core archetypes that are the structural governing patterns of your life. We all share the Victim, Saboteur, Prostitute and some expression of the Child archetype (such as the Magical /Nature /Invisible/ Orphan /Wounded /Step, etc.). We each then have a configuration of eight additional archetypes assigned from the cosmos that fill out our twelve. Other archetypal patterns often influence our lives along the way, but our core twelve remain with us, forming that which is “consistent” about our nature throughout our lives.
As part of the writing of this book, I had to dive deep into the myths and stories of about one hundred archetypes. Each archetype, such as Mother, Father, Goddess(es), Warrior, Hero, Damsel, Knight, and so on, has had numerous stories, legends, and myths written about them. The stories that go with the archetypes that we personally identify with become woven into our psyche. So, little girls who think of themselves as Princesses fall in love with Princess stories early on. They start imagining themselves as Princesses and dress like one on Halloween. And make no mistake, as young women they are drawn like magnets to men who psychically have the Knight archetype, as that is their natural archetypal match.
Rescuers, of course, need someone to rescue or they feel unwanted. That need is more than just emotional; it is a necessity for the health of their psychic development.
But in addition to all that information, I had acquired thousands of personal archetypal readings over the course of fifteen years that needed somehow to be represented in this book. Intuitive readings are “psychically alive” data. They are the content of your energy field, a system of living consciousness. Archetypes are not non-living forces but they are not inanimate either. They are active psychic elements that feed off the collective energy of the human life force system. Our archetypal patterns continually evolve in us. People have named several of the socially recognized archetypal passages. For example, the “empty nest syndrome” marks the passage from active parenthood to passive parenthood. You are still a parent, of course, but no longer in that dominant way. I was recently with a woman who had made her name as a dancer. It was obvious to me that the time had come for her Mentor archetype to take over; that is, the hour had come for her to teach her art to the next generation. That is the organic path of life. We cause pain to ourselves when we fight the natural course of life, when we insist that we are still young dancers instead of stepping into the appropriate stage of the brilliant Mentor. Archetypal patterns hold the organic path and passages of life that come to us all. To know your archetypes and the way of archetypes is such a power blessing that you bestow upon yourself.
I am not exactly sure what the right word to use is in describing the many stressful experiences I had during the writing of Sacred Contracts, but they were so extreme that I bought a second home in Sister Bay, Wisconsin, and duplicated my office in order to get out of the energy of my home office. My computer continued to malfunction, chapter pages disappeared constantly, and my new townhome had begun to produce odd noises.
A friend helped me to set up my new office in my Sister Bay home, hauling up a duplicate computer and all the gizmos that went with a new system at the time. Because I am a luddite, I needed the identical IBM system in my cabin that I had in my office. Learning two computer systems was a definite “no” since I barely knew one. My friend returned and said everything was set to go and all was well.
Two days later, I headed up for my first ten-day excursion at my new Wisconsin cabin, both excited and nervous. I had no idea where anything was in this small town. I didn’t know anyone but I had lived in a town of less than 800 people for ten years. Small towns are, well, small. I wasn’t so sure about country life any more – I have to admit that. But anyway, I had a book to write and an editor pounding on her desk waiting for chapters.
After I got organized in the cabin – and checked for snakes, bugs, and bats – I sat at my new desk to get the “feel” of it. I am extremely – and I mean extremely – a one-office, one-desk only writer. I do not write anywhere else but my office. Ever. Never. Not ever. How any writer can write in a hotel room is beyond even my imagination – which is by all standards of measurements fairly active. But come on – hotel rooms? And never in some one else’s home. And never, ever in the country … my God. All those critters. Did that. Been there. No thanks.
So, are you getting the message that this was a big deal for me? It was an act of desperation – not a country getaway or a writer’s retreat. There was something seriously aggressive going on in my house and after calling in a genuine shaman to sage it, a Catholic priest for “that” type of blessing – if you know what I mean – and another ritual, nothing changed. Knocks and noises kept up. My computer broke down constantly, my back-up system did not back up, discs went blank, and more than once I sat shaking at my desk. Shaking. I don’t shake. And I don’t frighten easily of things that go bump in the night. I have too many “friends” on the other side – and a ferocious Catholic soul. But this got to me.
That I ended up sitting at a desk in a cabin in Sister Bay, Wisconsin, in order to write my book, was as much a mystery to me at that point as anything else. How did this happen to me? I don’t want this cabin, I thought, as I looked around at it. I never wanted to live in this place. And yet, I was bloody fascinated by it. I had actually been driven out of my home by … by what? What the heck was doing this? It wasn’t demonic. It was aliens, for God’s sake. It had to be these archetypal energy patterns. But how in the world was that possible?
I locked in to write the second chapter of Sacred Contracts for the next ten days, more determined than ever. I had something else to prove at this point. The other possibility of course was that I couldn’t write the book and had begun to imagine distractions. How’s that for scary? (I’d face an army of ghosts rather than the absence of my writing ability and the joy of creating – not kidding you.)
I wrote Chapter Two that week. It was 36 pages long, single spaced. That’s 72 double-spaced pages. Wow, right? And it was good. I was one happy camper. Now remember, I was working on an IBM computer twenty-years-ago. Those discs came sealed. You took the wrapping off and popped the disc in the side of your computer – remember those? And then you copied your file to that disc, popped the disc out and filed it away. In my case, I took that previously unused fresh disc with Chapter Two on it back home with me. I popped it into my home office computer to find that not only was Chapter Two missing, not on it, no evidence on it at all – BUT Chapter One was on it! And not only that, Chapter One was now 368 pages long, have duplicated itself and scrambled all the pages.
I nearly had a breakdown at the point. I needed help – but what kind of help? I needed the help of another strong psyche who was also a writer. Enter my dear friend, Peter Occhiogrosso. This archetypal emergency is actually how and why we met. Peter arrived in Chicago from his home base of New York, calm, centered, talented, dry-witted, and deeply immersed in mysticism. My perfect Knight in Shining Pens and Pencils. If I could not write the book, I could dictate it. And so I did. Peter dusted off his journalism skills and I shifted to lecturer and off we went. And then I transcribed.
It took months of hard, hard writing, re-writing and editing but the finished product led to decades of work based upon Sacred Contracts – work that continues and thrives. So many people have studied with me and every time I begin a class, I recall how I began with these alive forces that hide in plain sight in our world. Archetypal energies are active in every world event, in the people running for office, in the challenges we face and why – in everything. Archetypes are, as I say, everywhere.
Oh, let me add this. The day I finished Sacred Contracts, all went quiet in my home again. Wild, huh? Tis the truth.
Perhaps some of you will join me for my Reflections class, Archetypes Are Everywhere. That would be great. If not, let me suggest that you at least pay attention to the truth that others see right through you, as you do through them. Never think that people do not read you clearly. Everyone is an intuitive these days. Another wild thought –
Image via Caroline Myss