Let’s talk about archetypes.
What are they? What do they mean for your life? And, most importantly, how can you harness their power to begin creating your life with intentionality that comes from authenticity?
Archetypes are universal patterns – best thought of as images – that exist in what Carl Jung called the collective unconscious, or the universal mind. Think of them as energetic blueprints that shape reality as we know it. And this included you, too!
Each of us is the embodied expression of numerous archetypes – mother, healer, hero, goddess, rebel, and so many more. Some are more active or more powerful than others. The archetypes manifest within our own psyches, informing our thought patterns, shaping our behaviors, our lives, and the way we relate to others and the world around us.
BY LEARNING TO WORK WITH THE ARCHETYPES YOU CAN BEGIN TO CONSCIOUSLY CREATE YOUR LIFE, SHAPING WHO YOU ARE FROM THE INSIDE-OUT WITH INTENTION.
Simply becoming aware of the archetypes at play in your life can make the difference between feeling like the empowered authoress of your life’s narrative or a victim of happenstance.
HERE ARE TWO WAYS TO GET STARTED WORKING WITH ARCHETYPES:
1. Read Up & See What Resonates
The simplest and most fun way to discover what archetypes are at work in your life is to pick up a deck of Caroline Myss’ Archetype Cards, and follow the instructions. As you read each card, check your ego mind at the door and feel into the imagery, allowing your intuition to guide each selection. You cannot do this wrong! Don’t want to wait? Find Caroline Myss’ online gallery of archetypes here.
Invoking the archetypes you are naturally drawn to and want to cultivate is hands-down my favorite way to work with these powerful energies. Carl Jung taught that we are attracted to that which we want to cultivate within ourselves. This is part of our natural urge toward wholeness. (By the way, it’s also a key player in the famous phenomenon of “opposites attract” – more on that later.)
Think back over the last few weeks or months, even years. Are there any images or figures you’ve been captivated by – characters in a book or film? A regular personality in your dream life? A fabulous friend? (Important note: this feeling needn’t always be pleasant. Envy and admiration are two sides of the same coin – both can point to a part of you awaiting activation.)
Bring your chosen character to mind and begin to to parse out the defining features.
Is she imaginative and exuberant while you’re feeling burnt out? Invoke the archetype of the Child or the Fool to lift your spirits.
Is she relentlessly devoted to her cause or her craft while you’re plagued by procrastination? Call upon the archetype of the Activist, the Hero or the Artist to ignite your passion.
Your next step will be to surround yourself with your chosen archetype. The soul responds powerfully to imagery. Find – even better, sketch or paint – an image of the archetype personified and hang it in a prominent place. Meditate on it everyday.
Ready to get really serious about invoking your chosen archetype?
Summon the sacred with this simple ritual:
Set up a simple altar in a place where you will see it often – this could be your fireplace mantle or a windowsill in your favorite room of the house.
Place your image on the altar, then choose objects your chosen archetype would enjoy being surrounded by. On my altar for Wild Woman, for example, I have a fox tail, a coyote bone found in the woods near my home, a beautiful geode cracked open by my daughter, and various crystals. Often I will bring in seasonal offerings – wildflowers in summer and evergreen sprigs in winter. These simple practices help me stay connected to her and renew my resolve to weave the wildish nature into the mundane aspects of my modern life.
Once you have your altar in place, quiet your mind by taking a few deep breaths, drawing each breath deep into your belly. Take a moment to get in touch with how you would like to feel as a result of working with the archetype.
Light a candle and set your intention to invite your chosen archetype to infuse her particular shade of genius or prowess into your life.
For example, you may ask Wild Woman to help strengthen your powers of intuition or you may invoke the Warrior for the courage to finally start that passion project, go for that promotion, or to simply stand in your truth. Write down your invitation on a small piece of paper, spelling out the specific qualities you are requesting, read it aloud, and place it on your altar. Meditate on your request – remembering to connect with how you want to feel – and let your candle burn (supervised, of course) as long as feels right to you.
Performing this ritual during the new moon is a powerful way to harness the power of the moon to bring your desires into reality (there’s still time for this month’s magical new moon in Scorpio!).
“ARCHETYPES MIGHT ALSO BE COMPARED TO THE ‘BLUEPRINTS’ CONTAINED IN SEEDS. GROWTH FROM SEEDS DEPENDS ON SOIL AND CLIMATE CONDITIONS, PRESENCE OR ABSENCE OF CERTAIN NUTRIENTS, LOVING CARE OR NEGLECT ON THE PART OF GARDENERS, THE SIZE AND DEPTH OF THE CONTAINER, AND THE HARDINESS OF THE VARIETY ITSELF.”
JEAN SHINODA BOLEN, MD
Within each of us is contained the whole realm of human possibility. Visit your altar and meditate on the archetypes as often as needed to help these potent forces take root within the soil of your psyche. A commitment to this practice is a rebellious act of self-love which, over time, will nourish your soul and sustain your resolve to create the life you want to lead.
Now, over to you: Which archetypes are you drawn to lately? Did you give the ritual ceremony a try? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
In Love & Wildness,