Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Soul [Part 2: Archetypes]

  Our soul has roles to play, Carl Jung describes these roles as archetypes- such as The King/Queen, The Lover, The Warrior,  and The Priest/Priestess. My grandmother, Valerie Gersch, N.D, added descriptors to these archetypal roles in addition to Carl Jung's work -- the confident King/Queen, the competent Lover, the courageous Warrior, and the compassionate Priest/Priestess. What these archetypes indicate are the soul's instinctive trends in behavior. We vacillate between the archetypal roles as a means of expressing different aspects of ourselves. However, we are not these roles, we are Spirit employing these archetypes to animate our lives.    

   Archetypes are many in number, yet the four listed above are considered the main categories. To find oneself in the role of Warrior can be exhilarating and heroic in nature, as when one rescues a child from harm, or takes a stand against injustice. The role of King/Queen might be where you find the confidence to give an inspiring speech, or head up an organization. These roles merely define our behavior.     Jungian Mandala of the Unconscious Self    Such as, playing the role of manager at work, or taking on a mother/father role at home. 

   There are positive and negative ways of expressing ourselves, and each archetype can be linked to both healthy and unhealthy behavior. A healthy expression of self often comes in the form of a genuine connection with one's feelings being communicated in a positive way. Whereas an unhealthy expression can be seen as acting from an negative place, such as communicating in anger or frustration. This means that one may not be living in true reality in that moment. The negative feeling may be a result of a deception or delusion, believing something to be true that isn't.  Most of the time a negative emotion is the result of drawing a conclusion before all the evidence is in, a form of judgement.  In the case of unhealthy behavior and mental illness, it has been found that most sufferers identify themselves with an archetype, not realizing they are not the role they play.

   In the healthy minded individual, these archetypes can provide wonderful stages to express love and passion. However, since we are human, our minds are not always going to remember who we are. When someone identifies themselves with any one archetypal role, instead of realizing they are a child of Infinite Spirit, they can become mentally unstable. Depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, and many other mental conditions can all be traced to a mistaken identification with a certain archetype. An over identification with a certain archetype can be developed through an early childhood life experience, or through any emotionally charged decision made about life. A false identity can be amplified by an inherited family emotional tendency (Miasms).  Remembering who we are from a spiritual standpoint is the key to mental stability and a successful life.

   Sages of every generation have taught us not to get caught up in the delusions of the mind. Not getting caught up in the roles we play is one way to overcome delusion. Observing ourselves can take us out of a negative state of mind by noticing thoughts and feelings to be just a part of being human, and not our true self (see article on Being Human*)Anytime you are having a negative feeling ask yourself:  "What am I believing about my life that isn't true?" If you are unsure what your mistaken beliefs are, try decoding the false messages your mind is sending you by listening for the underlying theme hidden in your mental chatter. If you're driving down the freeway and everything seems normal, then all the sudden you panic and think something must be about to go horribly wrong - pull the car over, take some long deep breathes, and observe your thoughts. What is your mind telling you? Is it making up some non-sense story about why you need to be in fear to survive? Probably. You can uproot the lies you tell yourself about life by discovering the truth. In this case, being in fear while you drive will likely cause an accident, not prevent one, as the fear believes it can. So, the truth is, you need to be calm to survive while driving. Knowing the truth will set you free.

   If you are suffering from any type of mental instability, you might try to identify which role you are in so that you can find the culprit- the mistaken belief about life that is negatively influencing your thoughts or behavior. Are you finding yourself in solitude most of the time in order to maintain a sense of mental stability? Are you struggling with self-pity and can't seem to get anything done? Are you feeling detached or ambivalent?  Is it guilt or shame making you think you deserve the punishment of grief?  These are all questions you can ask yourself while playing the priest/priestess roll. Every archetypal role has an updraft and a downdraft. An updraft is the healthy expression of self in a role, while the downdraft is the unhealthy expression. If you're playing the role of the warrior, you would ask yourself different questions, such as, are you so overwhelmed with saving the people around you that you cannot sit still or take time for yourself? Do you lack discipline?  Do you find yourself trying to comfort your friends and family through their trauma or troubles while you're suffocating under the responsibility you took on? Whatever story you find yourself in, identifying the role you play in it, noticing if you are in the updraft or downdraft, and realizing that the role is not who you are can free you from its debilitating grip.  Through this divine awareness you can overcome your emotional instabilities.

   Another method to overcome negative emotions and destructive behavior is to change your perceived needs into preferences. Such as, "I need to be happy today," can turn into "I prefer to be happy today." By truly changing needs into preferences, the anger, fear, disappointment, and frustration can disappear. If you find that you are happy today, you can be glad you got your preference. If, however, you find that circumstances have left you feeling unhappy today, you can have compassion for yourself. Not getting your preference doesn't bring a further sense of failure, after all it was only a preference.

   In the archetypal roles our soul plays we find freedom of expression.  Everyone is a leader, a lover, a priest and a warrior, yet not at the same time or in the same way. Observing yourself while playing a role can empower you to choose a positive way of expressing yourself. Behind your role with its thoughts and emotions is a soul wanting to be realized.

Qualities and Character Traits of Each Archetype
Leader, confident, self-controlled, assertive, fair, decisive, independent, productive, pro-active, creative, respectful, synergistic, integral, empowered 

Arrogant, insensitive, critical of others, selfish, obsessive, domineeringcalculating, tactless, aggressive, angry,  manipulative, rule-bound, hypocriticalimpatient

Intimate, trusting, vulnerable, desirous, sharing, assuring, deliberate, nurturing, cooperative, open-minded, loving, meek, submissive, self-discovering

Self-centered, overly sensitive, self-critical, worry prone, jealous, perfectionist, suspicious, guilt prone, moody, insecure, pleaser type, role-bound, pretentious, obsessed, judgemental


Follower of truth, peaceful, assuring, disciplined, accepting, caring, passive, flexible, adaptable, considerate, friendly, attuned, self-aware

Self-deprecating, apathetic, avoiding conflict, lazy, indifferent, unmotivated, silently stubborn, ambivalent, un-involved, in denial, disconnected, conformist, rationalizing, detached, indirect

Fighter for truth, committed, brave, available, courageous, justice bound, dedicated, enthusiastic, lively, outgoing, confident, open to trust, takes responsibility for themselves, knowing the truth

Disruptive, irresponsible, obnoxious, impulsive, naive, uncommitted, afraid to face the facts, undisciplined, inconsistent, fearful, plays the victim, judgemental, unethical, tyrannical, vain