The Power of Archetypes

March 2, 2014

Our reader Justine has developed this quick and easy guide to the complex subject of archetypes – which one are you?

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Why do we need to know about archetypes?

Nowadays life demands us so much we sacrifice our personality and individual impulses to exist in a chaotic world world. We ignore our desires and push ourselves to act in a way so we are accepted. This life absorbs us so much that we cannot work out what we want, what we live for and what we are meant for. Exploring the world of archetypes can open a new dimension to our conscience, can colour our life with rich emotions, bring new fresh insight and improve the quality of our reality, while calming the mind and heart. They can help us to see significance of everyday events, to find sense in whatever we do, even in the smallest action.

Tension, stress and speed along with emails, the internet mobile phones make modern life nonstop. Yet most people complain about overwhelming boredom and depression. Knowing archetypes helps you to sort out the whirl of events or enrich your existence with completely new experiences.

Knowing your own archetypes you learn to be more patient with yourself and able to monitor your own desires, impulses and moods. Knowing the archetype of people around you, helps to understand them better, makes you more patient and forgiving and lets you even predict their behaviour. If we know the type of people who surround us, family, and friends and even public figures it is easier to forgive their motives, to appeal to their strong sides, and stop judging and criticizing.

Being universal, archetypes may be called the law of existence. It is like traffic rules; the better you know them less chance you have to be an accident and more chances to travel smoothly along your life path and moreover, enjoy it!

On one hand we cannot avoid problems and hardships; they are present in any archetypical pattern we follow or chose to follow. But the good thing is that it is in our power to influence it, let’s say to switch on to certain way of being and accept it fully, actually having freedom of choice.

So WHAT is an archetype?

The word itself means the primal source, the first model. It is a form, a scheme, a pattern. It is a personality type or way of behaviour. It is universal. It is part of the mythological heritage all over the world and it is extremely powerful. Famous analytical psychologist Dr Carl Jung having explored dreams and mental disorders proved myths and archetypes are still alive in psychic of modern people. He believed that suppressed and denied they can destroy us from the inside but at the same time when studied and used they can give immense possibilities for people. In any case it is power which cannot be ignored and which can explain a lot.

The term archetype can be used for the whole situation or action, for instance, the hero’s quest, the fight against a monster as well as for separate figures or symbols like father god, mother nature, princess, horse, sun etc. The archetypical symbols are everywhere: in our home interior, in the city we walk in, in temples we visit, in arts, in literature, in movies.

The Greek gods and heroes are the closest myths for us westerners. Greek myths offer a huge treasury of rich and developed plots. There are many stories, legends, epos and even later interpretations which allow us to comprehend our own myths and symbols.

Myths can be a symbol of our own world which in turn are a practical manual and offer a totally different view on events and the world around us. Gods fight with their predecessors and we always struggle with the parental influence on our life. Goddesses seduce, love and pursue their rivals and we are in constant search of relationships, harmony and satisfaction. Heroes prepare for a scary journey to the Underworld and we search for improvement and see psychologists, to solve life’s riddles. Some of us are meant for marriage and caring for children, some for a political career, some to be great artists.  So to go back to the Greeks, Demeter did not find understanding with independent Athena, but sociable Aphrodite did get along with introvert Hestia. Some of us are powerful like Zeus or gloomy like Hades, others are a frivolous Dionysus or a hardworking Hephaestus. All life situations like birth, education, marriage, death are so universal and timeless!

HOW can we awake their power?

According to psychologists Shinoda Bolen who developed a wonderful interpretation of Greek myths, their power is activated by three things. The first is People. People we talk to, accept as friends will inevitably cause certain reactions. For instance an academic or scientific discussion will definitely stimulate our logic mind, awakening the Athena archetype, while a good party with dancing would arouse Dionysius being fun and light-mindedness.

The next one is circumstances. Everybody has free will but living in village makes you automatically connect to Demeter the Mother Goddess, the nature archetype. Working in psychology makes you look inside like introspective Persephone and her partner mysterious Hades, the royal couple of Netherworld. Revolution and change bring you face to face with Ares whose energies of destruction and aggression are legendary.

And the last one is our own actions. It refers more to small actions like knitting, cooking, taking bath, cleaning, reading etc. Even one hour filled with some occupation which we really want to complete can slowly step by step awake the archetype we need in our life. But we can balance our energies by using tow or mar archetypes in our life. A woman, who has to be Athena due to her career, still has the option to work with the earth by connecting to peaceful Demeter, or study the Tarot to join Persephone or even clean bringing the integrity and calmness of Hestia. Or she can exercise to feel the freedom of Artemis, as well as dance to create beauty and feel own feminine energy inside her.

To find successful combination and being able to switch the archetype needed is an art of life and brings true happiness and satisfaction.

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