Identifying your Archetypes
Identifying your Archetypes is a quest we embark on in the SoulArt Master Class. After that, we learn even more about archetypes by including them in our art journals.
Before we begin to identify Archetypes, we do some other foundational work. For example, The Superhero, Imagination, and Sacred Feminine class segments provide a solid foundation for our deeper dive into Archetypes.
In the SoulArt Master Class, we discuss various ways to think about archetypes and each Soul Artist decides what resonates.
Together with studying the teachings of various thought leaders, we form our own conclusions understanding that our beliefs are our own choice. In other words, we don’t simply adopt the advice or teaching of another. Our beliefs are not foisted on us by someone else. Each of us forms our opinions based upon our own personal experiences.
Awareness of archetypes dates back at least to the time of Plato, who called them Forms.
The great Swiss psychologist Carl Jung taught that archetypes are universal, archaic symbols. These images derive from the collective unconscious.
For Jung, archetypes comprised psychological patterns derived from historical roles in life. The Mother, Child, and Trickster are examples of universally understood roles. Jung also identified events or situations that are universally understood, for example; initiation, death and rebirth, and the flood.
In addition to our own individual unconscious, which is unique to each of us, Jung explained, “there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature that is identical in all individuals.”
This collective unconscious, he asserted, is inherited rather than developed. Furthermore, this collection of universally understood roles and patterns is composed of archetypes.
These images and motifs are understood by humans on an instinctive level. For example, a child may instinctively view a paternal figure through an archetypal lens understood as a father role.
On my spiritual path, I encountered a number of teachers who are knowledgeable about archetypes.
Caroline Myss is a spiritual teacher who teaches about sacred contracts among other subjects. Archetypes are fundamental to her teachings. Myss teaches that each human has a sacred contract, or contracts, to fulfill in an incarnation. In order to help you understand and fulfill the terms of your sacred contracts, you have been encoded with a set of twelve primary archetypes.
Four of these, Myss asserts, are universal archetypes related to survival. We all have these because they are vital to our growth and functioning as adults. The other eight are drawn from a vast storehouse of 70 or so archetypes dating back to the dawn of human history.
Myss explains that our archetypes play valuable roles. They relate to our work, our relationships, our spirituality, finances, values, and our highest potential.
She teaches a specific methodology to help you determine your archetypes.
Dr. Deepak Chopra talks about archetypes as the gods and goddesses that reside deep inside us. They are already within us and we can access them.
Jean Houston teaches about human potential and the dynamic purposiveness of our lives.
She uses the term entelechy. For example, it is the entelechy of an acorn to be an oak tree; it’s the entelechy of a baby to be a grown-up human being; it’s the entelechy of a caterpillar to be a butterfly. Houston further inspires by saying that it is the entelechy of you and me to be so much more than we have any reason to believe.
One strategy Houston employs to begin to tap into our potentials is to have an inner dialogue with an archetypal principle. For example, she might dialogue with a mythological figure such as Athena.
Not only could you think of Athena as a sensibility about civilization, but also as an emblematic form to explore capabilities within yourself.
Houston also talks about humans being polyphrenic. When I was in her salon, she encouraged us to use playful polyphrenia.
She says we all have a vast crew within ourselves. We can think of these as sub-personalities. For instance, we each have the potential within to harness our internal ‘cook’, ‘healer’, ‘therapist’, ‘mechanic’ or ‘accountant.’
Not only can we playfully call on these inner capabilities when we have to clean the house or pay bills, but also make life fun to call on these aspects of ourselves.
Furthermore, Houston explains that these mundane capabilities of cooking a meal and changing a light bulb are as real as our other inner potentials.
As we learn to cultivate polyphrenia in the mundane areas of our lives, we can also learn to call on higher capabilities.
Perhaps we could learn to display more courage, compassion, abundance, or creativity. We may cultivate these larger capabilities by calling on our inner Athena, Saraswati, Lakshmi, Durga, or Kwan Yin.
Archetypal astrologer, Dr. Laurence Hillman, says the planets are archetypal beings; they are universal; everyone has them within. Archetypes are universal patterns that we all recognize such as the lover, the warrior, the sovereign. You find these figures everywhere you go. For instance, we see them in art, music, poetry, conversation, and fashion.
Hillman says life is a play, and we are peopled inside by these characters. Depending on the situation we find ourselves in, that archetypal energy within us will come forward.
For example, when you fall in love, your inner lover steps forward; it’s an automatic archetypal response. Hillman explains; there are universal physical conditions to falling in love; such as butterflies in your stomach. You may feel like singing and dreaming of your lover.
As I went on my Vision Quest, I began to become more comfortable with what my friend and teacher Robin Rice calls ‘the irrational way.’
Though my left brain often rebelled, I learned to accept that there are unseen forces out there beyond our five senses that we can call upon. We can enlist the help of those forces to make our way through our human experience.
We learn in the laws of the universe that everything is connected. Energy and vibration underlie everything in the universe. Whether we think of non-physical energy as angels, archetypes, or our true selves, we are part of an energy and vibrational system.
An analogy I love is to imagine an individual wave in the ocean.
The wave rises and crests and then crashes back into the ocean and is inseparable from it. The wave is made up of the same substance as the ocean. It is identifiable as an individual entity for a moment and then it dissolves back into the larger entity of the ocean.
We are made up of the same source of energy as the non-physical. Before we had our physical body and when we no longer have our physical bodies we will still be a part of that energy.
In the SoulArt Master Class, we do a special meditation session to awaken archetypes inspired by a collaboration between Deepak Chopra and Jean Houston.
In this imaginative exercise, we experience what it is like to have the consciousness of powerful, mythological, and archetypal figures.
We imagine what it is like to feel the emotions and see through the eyes of gods and goddesses.
Playing with our creative energy, we imagine experiencing the world as a soaring bird, an underwater being, and other mythical images.
After this exercise, we go to our art journals.
We create pages that show archetypal images, symbols, words, or phrases that resonate within us. These are focused on experiences that inspire and motivate us.
These archetypes may be gods or goddesses, animals or symbols. They may be characters from popular culture; movies and books.
We ask male Soul Artists to choose at least one female or feminine archetype, and women to choose at least one male or masculine archetype.
This is because we all have both masculine and feminine qualities inside us, and to ignore one particular side of ourselves is to smother that source of personal passion.
In our art journals, we include images, artwork, pictures, and symbols that pay homage to our archetypes.
Identifying your archetypes teaches you that deep inside you lies the potential for connecting to a universal flow of knowledge and creativity.
If you are an athlete who is in top condition, you have the muscle tone to be able to spring into action instantly. Similarly, if you regularly access your core creativity, you become more creatively fit.
When you develop your ‘creative muscles’, the wellspring of inspiration opens up easily, naturally, and often. This allows you access to spontaneous and dramatic breakthroughs.
In conclusion, you can navigate through any self-limiting thoughts by calling on your internal resources. Calling upon your archetypes can help transform your unwholesome beliefs into powerful responses to whatever life brings.
If this Archetype work resonates with you, I encourage you to enroll in SoulArt Meditation and begin the journey.
Thank you to Soul Artists Teresa Henke, Kathy Kellum, Tricia Strahler and Cheryl Thompson for sharing your Archetype art journal pages.