What Are Archetypes?
What Are Archetypes?
I Knew About Archetypes Intellectually
I looked into archetypes in my cross-cultural anthropology studies in university, thanks to the pioneering work of Carl Jung. It made sense and gave me comfort that something connects all human beings, no matter where or when they were raised.
But it wasn't until I found them again a decade later, through Caroline Myss' Sacred Contracts that I went deeper, got them in my blood and bones. I used them to resurrect myself from the near-dead.
If knowledge is power, self-knowledge is a superpower. Wisdom and knowledge can save your life, and the lack of it can be the death of you.
Life is Highly Ordered
Going through the chaos of nearly losing my life to cancer at age 29 taught me that nothing is random. Our universe is highly ordered. After three years of watching my life fall apart, with archetypes, I quickly saw the reasons I'd called chaos into my life. It gave me a way to make sense of my experience and the means to regain the life force draining out of me. Eureka!
Once you start looking for it, order is self-evident everywhere. From the cycles of seasons and earth to the natural laws that govern them, all follow predictable patterns. Not surprising, order underlies both our inner and outer lives — as above, so below.
In the same way that DNA is uniquely patterned to create the physical being, so are the archetypes uniquely combined to express emotional and spiritual nature. On the surface, archetypes can be seen as personality. Deep down, it is about the soul and its purpose.
Why It's Important to Know About Archetypes
By learning the archetype language, you can predict how you're likely to lose and gain energy.
Jung discovered that archetypes are the same and speak in a consistent voice, both from culture to culture and through time. This satisfied my desire to find a universally human spirituality and has allowed me to work with people from around the world without any cultural disconnect.
The Journey Archetypes
There are eight fundamental archetypes that map out the Journey of purpose – the Child, Rebel, Warrior, Nurturer, Lover, Hedonist, King, and Alchemist.
Together they are an archetype cluster, the feminine of which I call "Mer," the "MerPreneurs," and the masculine, King Heroes. These men and women are possessed to use their God-granted gifts to re-nature humanity and God's earth. Their Achilles heel is sacrificing themselves for the cause, and so must learn to establish boundaries or not survive long enough to fulfill their mission and return to their people with the elixir.
They must negotiate their ego, their soul, and their self to find the deeper meaning of what they have been through - what remains to be done to answer their calling.
Speaking in Scripts
In nature, archetypes don't exist one at a time. In living, breathing people, and even in mythological or religious figures such as Jesus, Aphrodite, or the Indian God Shiva, the archetypes cluster. Several archetypes work together to express uniquely in each one's life.
The story of each of the eight Journey archetypes is consistent. They have their own voice, speak about life and their experience through a recognizable filter or lens, and can be downright scripted.
Those with the Child archetype are always protecting their denial. They must face their fears of being betrayed, abandoned, and not surviving, while also having great optimism, far-reaching imagination, and connection with natural forces.
Rebels are predictably up in arms against injustice and struggle to channel their anger to dissent constructively.
Warriors are always in training, building infrastructure, and championing for others, but get stuck with cultivating discipline and doing whatever it takes.
Nurturers who are taking care of everyone, struggle to take care of themselves and give with a free heart.
Lovers are always pursuing their passions, but get stuck in blind obsession and perfectionism.
Hedonists get lost in their pursuit of pleasure at all cost and miss the path to divine awakening.
Kings are always going to be innovating on behalf of their empire and thwarted by their hunger for power.
And Alchemists will always be balancing their awareness of social ills with healing their inner conflict and creating from their visions.
Once you've learned the character and script of an archetype, in both its conscious and shadow expressions, it can be easily recognized.
By recognizing an archetype at play, you can get very precise about two key things: where you are stuck, and what "superpowers" you have available to get unstuck. That way, you can create what you want in life more easily and go through adversity with more purpose.
The Journey Itself is Archetypal
Thanks to Joseph Campbell's book, 'The Hero With a Thousand Faces' (1991), we can see how each being is facing the same calling to get and stay on the Journey in their unique way. Not only are the individual archetypes reflective of our collective psyche, but the Journey itself is archetypal.
By not only studying individual archetype profiles within, but also the archetypal human journey, the whole vision appears – where you've come from, where you have left parts of yourself behind, where you conquered and overcame, and where you have yet to be victorious.
The Hero's Journey shows it's not enough just to conquer the demons and have a nice life. Until everyone has a nice life, no one's mission is complete. Built right into the Journey is the archetypal desire of every living soul to take the wisdom they gleaned back to their people, so others can walk their path more easily and with the support of someone who has been there.
Archetypes are the architecture of God. God's wind blows through them. They are the instruments played in this orchestra. You can choose and change your instrument anytime you like. There are percussion, strings, brass, and wind to give shape, structure, order, infinite variety, and connectivity. Those embody the Divine in a meaningful, co-creative existence.
Finding Lost Energy
By pinpointing shadows — blind spots where you're unable to see your motives, actions, and results, you can see the exact source of an energy loss.
When I became aware of my Rebel-without-a-cause and made necessary adjustments, I went from being a dying person to a living one, practically overnight. It's relatively easy to make the needed adjustments, but it took me three years to find where I needed adjusting.
Once you identify an archetype at play in your negative patterns, tensions, or struggles, you are a million miles ahead on the path of fixing what's "broken."
But nothing is truly broken, it's merely hidden.
Archetype patterns provide inner threads to track and uncover hidden self-knowledge. It means that rather than having to face the inner world as a wall of formidable and overwhelming experiences, it can be practically and meaningfully sorted out.
Archetypes Are Invisible
They can't be seen, tasted, touched, or heard, but they can be sensed and felt, and their voice patterns recognized. The archetype itself can't be seen, but the predictable nature of how the emotional and spiritual underworld churns can be documented.
Archetypes are a blueprint or map of the inner human experience. They are a fixed plan or container — for inspiration, thoughts, feelings, sensations, actions, and life itself to flow through. In the same way that DNA holds physical potential, the archetypes hold emotional and spiritual potential.
The purpose of pinpointing and working with them is to simplify the inward journey to become self-aware, to be the master of the experience, and to stop feeling at the mercy of these patterns. It becomes a fast road to heal, have what is wanted and needed, and to create what is in each one to be created.
Creating from purpose, rather than just consuming what's being fed, is what humanity needs, now more than ever.
Archetypes Have No Life of Their Own
A blueprint needs an architect's will to design it, and a map needs a traveler who takes the journey. Even the finest-crafted instrument is nothing without a player. Archetypes don't practically exist without a human soul and God to co-create through them. They don't do anything on their own.
The seeds of this book have been in me for many years, and while my archetypes don't write this book for me, they are powerful instruments at my disposal. Archetypes are not conscious – they are a container or shell. And as shells do, they filter, channel, and give shape to conscious God-energy.
It's a Matter of Instinct
Newborn babies reach for mom's breast. Animals can sense disturbances in weather patterns well in advance of their human counterparts and tuned in parents know when something is off with their kid before getting a call from the school. Back in 1999, I knew I was in trouble with my health long before tests revealed my cancer. Down the line, I knew I was in the clear from it even when my doctor was recommending more treatment.
Archetypes are closely tied with instincts – the inner knowing whose job is to protect the union of body and soul. Instincts don't just preserve physical life. Eventually, everyone dies, so if instincts preserve life, then they fail 100% of the time. It goes much deeper. Instincts are also about preserving the much longer life and health of the soul.
When I was offered a stem cell transplant as my only hope to live after three years of fighting for my life, I used archetype work to point me to what needed saving. Even more important than my life in a body on earth, is my deeper, more enduring soul. When I stopped running in fear for my life and began running instead for the love of my soul, everything turned around for me, and I never looked back.
Archetypes are code, specifically designed for downloading unique, soul-protecting instincts. And because humanity is a collective soul, until all the souls are protected, no one's work on this earth is complete.
Archetypes Are Everywhere
Archetypes shape the roles that intimately connect each one with its humanity. They can be found in many areas of our life and culture and are most easily seen in three areas of life: art, marketing, and personal development.
Writers, musicians, and all types of visual artists work with archetypes, knowingly or unknowingly. They are a natural filter for creativity. An artist's work doesn't depend on their knowledge about archetypes. It depends on whether they make themselves available to the raw potential of the archetypes by simply picking up and using the brush, the pen, or another creative tool.
In Gustav Klimt's famous painting, Lovers (1908), we clearly see the Lover archetype at play. Viewers are transported by this romantic image into their ideals of beauty, intimacy, and surrender to passion.
If you hold that Lover archetype close to you, you will vibe with Gustav's painting. If it's more remote to your nature, it won't draw you in with the same intensity. You won't notice the angle of the woman's neck, the soft surrender in her closed eyes, the complete absorption of her lover in her, or the way he envelops and contains her.
Archetypes have been used with huge success in the marketing world since the 1990s. Brands like Apple, Nike, Harley Davidson, and multitudes of others have invested heavily in psychic real estate. It works because that real estate is already in the collective psyche. With or without our awareness, we are hardwired to link up parts of our psyches to brands and products through the archetypes.
"Archetypes are the heartbeat of a brand because they convey a meaning that makes customers relate to a product as if it were alive in some way, they have a relationship with it and care about it."
In 2015, after my father passed away, when I discovered the "Mer" cluster of archetypes inside myself, I could barely take myself seriously. But there it was, coming through in technicolor.
I was visited by Mermaids. I immersed in the ocean of emotion that heaves and swells. I navigated the emotional underworld with stealth and power. I found my own magical powers. I owned my sensuality. I found my fierce alignment with nature and resolved to fight for it. But most of all, I found my desire to help the humans on dry land — to guide them to freedom by navigating their watery inner worlds.
It felt like it came to me, but really, I visited that archetype and planted a flag there. I planted it because there was resonance with my life's work. There was no conscious decision about it. It was a match with the energy of freedom that I want for myself and others.
Since I claimed some of this psychic real estate, there is scarcely a day that goes by that I don't receive a Mermaid gift, card, video tag, or emoji on a message.
People associate me with this intangible archetype because I've invested with my life force with it. Because of the archetype blueprint that's already parked in the collective psyche, when people see Mermaids, they think of me. It's magic. And that can be used for good and evil purposes.
By choosing to play through and along with the vibe of an archetype, and consciously creating through it, you turn the abstract potential of archetypes into something you can hold in your hand. It's how you take something inanimate and breathe life into it.
A Problem in Life is Something You Think Has to Change
Either you think someone else must change, or you think you do, or both. But the only change needed is to awaken the sleeping archetypes and to reclaim the energy used to keep them submerged in the unconscious.
You need that change because when it's un-awakened, an archetype creates what is unwanted. That way, you spare no expense at getting your attention.
A Sleeping Archetype Isn't Sleeping at All
Rather than going dormant, an unconscious archetype acts out like a four-year-old when you ignore it. From the unconscious, it evokes resistance and aversion and begs disassociation at all costs. By unconsciously suppressing archetypes, essential parts of the self and others are rejected. Because of it, you turn on yourself and experience that part of yourself as an enemy.
By embracing who you authentically are through archetypes, you can use them as a map for getting on the Hero's Journey and fulfilling your purpose on this earth. Working with them, you can re-own and love what you have disowned and hated about yourself. This work is a powerful path to self-compassion.
Whether you become awake to the impact of archetypes by conscious choice or by having to deal with the chaos that erupts from unconsciously choosing against them, both ways are a path – the full awareness of the universal order and freedom that is stored in the hard drive of humanity. It took a stage four lymphoma to inspire my freedom, but it doesn't have to get that dark.
I Nearly Died to My Inner Rebel
When I wrestled with the beast of cancer, the energy I needed to heal or stay well was tied up in suppressing the Rebel. It got me in trouble too many times in my teen years. I was a nay-sayer, a chronic runaway, I got disowned by my family for a time, and even spent a night in jail — a cold, bright cell without a blanket, my scarf, or anything with which I could hang myself. So, when I hit my limit of being banged around with this Rebel energy, I unconsciously decided to put a stop to it.
I denied it entirely and forced myself to be normal. I pursued academic achievement, business, music, and supported my family. At university, I got the gold medal in anthropology. In business, I became a VP at 25. As a musician, I recorded four albums and put my band on stage with Deepak Chopra. I led a double life going to India every year, pursuing the mystical and esoteric, and then wore a suit to work every day in my family's marketing firm.
But like Jung says, "what you resist persists." By trying to get rid of my inner Rebel, I crashed my health, devastated myself financially, lost everything, and was forced to face my death.
For me, being a Rebel with, and without, a cause was literally the difference between life and death. Continuing to awaken that Rebel energy, even to this minute, is increasingly a force for healthy change in my life and in my world.
Everyone Has All of the Archetypes
Deep inward, turning to save my life showed me how incredibly complex we are inside. I discovered in myself an endless parade of archetypes – there were many more than I could have guessed. But even though you have all of them does not mean they all feature prominently in your life. Some you keep close, some you try to keep away, and some you forget ever to express through.
It's what makes each one unique and the same.
As the instrumentalist playing through the archetypes, you need to discover where the strongest resonance is within you. What is most important to you is going to vibe the strongest and attract you the most.
It can also vibe strong and repel you the most. If you go to work on what's most important to you, what attracts you, and the less obvious, what repels you, you will get the most results and have a sense of joy in your heart to show for it.
Are You My Sacred Calling?
There isn't a day that goes by that I don't hear someone express confusion about their calling. Especially in a day when soul survival is a luxury compared with economic survival, it can be difficult to discern. Because it's closely tied with each one's archetypal nature, archetypes are a great place to focus the search for why you are here in this life, what you are meant to do, and who you are meant to do it for.
Many mistakenly wait to find their purpose. But purpose only reveals itself as a result of getting on the Journey and taking action. Without action, there's no reflection.
If you are off course, you will know it because you will be losing energy. If you are on course, you will know it because you will feel a net gain of energy. But you can only know the difference if you act and use the results to grow.
The Purpose Everyone Shares
The ultimate purpose of being alive as a human is to awaken the soul. To do that, you must journey every day, no matter whether you have clarity or a wall of confusion. If you show up for your life every day and take the risk of putting yourself out there, you will feel a sense of accomplishment no matter what they turn out. In that way, you call in synchronicity, and God can work with you to fulfill your desires.
Archetypes are not forces to be called upon. They don't need to be evoked or incanted, and in fact, beware of what you may unknowingly call in that way. If you're going to call on anything, call on God.
God is calling you. It's your job to listen and take action on what you hear. In that way, you can gain momentum, as every action reveals what action is next.
Ready to dive in with archetypes and find your place on the Hero's Journey?