April 2013 - Understanding Archetypes and what they Represent. By Bran Collingwood
A talk – Presented to the Community Church of Religious Science.
Good morning –Understanding Archetypes and what they represent – little is known or understood about archetypes, yet they are the background to our psychological, philosophical and physical existence.
I want you to ask yourself: what is it that brings us all together, are we seeking support, is it knowledge, is it friendship or is it love, perhaps it is all of that and more.
I know for me those positive strokes really help, but there are times when they don’t come when I really need them. That is when I have to lift my own spirit, so in the end it’s really up to me. This is your life and only you can live it.
I was about 18 when I picked up the book “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale, it started me on a quest to fulfill those questions like, who am I, why am I me, what is God and made me realize that my mind had a lot of information I wanted to know about, and after many years I have come to realize that my mind has put me in this space, my mind has made me who I am. My thinking creates the space that I am in. So if you want to change your life change your thinking.
I am a seeker if you like – I’m on a path, like many of you here. A seeker in my case looks for the common thread “What is it that brings us together and makes us feel connected? May be it is because my parents were seekers of understanding and attracted people of a psychokinetic nature.
What I have come to see is that everyone has a Mind, Body, Spirit and Soul and it is through these 4 identities or bodies that we live our lives. The mind giving us our mental ability to compute information and make choices, the body giving us a physical existence a home for our being, the spirit giving us energy to move and express ourselves, and the soul giving us emotion and feeling making us who we are and what we become. It is impossible to live without one of these 4 bodies whatever ones culture, religion or nationality; it is the same for all of us.
We are all individuals so we get to choose how we live through these 4 bodies, some of us are more mindful, some more physical or spiritual or emotional (but a mixture of all), whether we live through these in a positive way or a negative way it’s your path to choose.
Now what I am getting at here is our personality traits. There’s a series of common expressions in our personalities that we all share and recognize automatically and this is the common thread that brings us together.
If I stand here like this (strong) my spirit is in my body and I am strong – I have control of my own power and I can fulfill my goals.
On the other hand if I go like this and surrender myself (hands surrendered open feeling) I have a sense of wonder, a dreamlike state – my soul is with my mind I can visualize whatever I wish, and take time to dream.
If I stand here at the podium and preach to you what I believe then I am coming from my mind over my soul.
Sometimes we are in a situation where our power is taken away from us and I’m sure you know how that feels – your power is your right. So do not throw it away.
If our inner child is pushed down because of fear then all our dreams get lost.
If our power becomes negative we become a bully we pick on the weak we become greedy, we become destructive.
If our inner child lives in fear we become a victim, lost, hopeless and weak.
All our challenges become our lessons in life – and if we can overcome them then we will evolve. Otherwise they have a tendency to repeat themselves.
Now I am getting into the realm of archetypes, Jung came up with the idea of archetype images when it comes to understanding how our psyche evolves. Jung coined the phrase ‘Collective Unconscious’ which if you like is a universal pool from which our psyche has evolved.
Every successful civilization in the world is steeped in myth because myth is the forerunner of our knowledge therefore our belief system, our religion, our art and history. Myth stories date back to primitive people who gathered and shared tales – this form of storytelling carried the heart and soul of our forefathers.
The word archetype basically means ‘first print’ the original prototype. Metaphorically, it is the initial image that breaks ground as we step from one stage to the next, therefore representing the power of transformation – all myths and fairy stories are about the interaction of the archetypes that represent our basic and essential instincts that connect us to our survival and evolutional development.
Basically what happens is that the archetypes unfold through our psyche and into our personality, which is expressed through the mind, body, spirit and soul. There is a particular pattern in which things unfold so life will take one inward or outward depending on the lessons ones psyche wants you to learn.
The amazing thing about myths and fairy stories is they can show us the journey we could take or run away from, because the images are so powerful in our psyche. No matter how we look at life it is a journey of crossroads, gateways and walls up hills and down hills – whatever way we look at it, we all have our lessons to overcome (that our psyche gives us).
Our psyche is if you like our true self or our essence and our personality is the part of our self that works things out and creates the journey in our lives. The journey we choose will depend on the information that the psyche holds, because whatever you take on becomes you. It’s a catch 22 situation. One could say what is outside of you is also inside of you.
We naturally think in pictures therefore archetypal images are very vivid in our imagination and they correlate to particular dynamics that drive us.
Again if I stand here like this (strong) I am in my power I am the Warrior archetype, the Hero, a Soldier, a Fighter, or an Athlete, I am someone who stands in their power. If as a child I were pushed down every time I tried to stand up, my power could be taken from me, I would feel depleted and would feel angry inside; therefore I would wake up the shadow Warrior ‘the Destroyer’ and the more that gets fed the more one could become destructive. How often does it happen when someone bites your head off and then you (kick the dog) take it out on someone else? So keep your power, your confidence, know your goals and keep in control, don’t be controlled or held prisoner. It is important to keep in control of this power – if it gets to your head and one starts controlling others then the shadow jumps in, and people in power like this are or could be dangerous.
One may ask, “Well how do I get my power back” self-control and know what your passion in life is which will give one focus as apposed to spontaneous outburst and anger.
I have found that every so often through life one has an awakening or a revelation that is a gift given to you out of the blue, of course one has to recognize this, but it is a chance that we are given that could change our life. I have also seen that there are hard lessons thrown upon us that could push us into insanity. (I won’t talk about my hard lessons but I will give you an example of gifts that came to me.)
I had my first gift (revelation) when I was 5, I found this incredible fossil imprinted in a flint stone – I learned that it was millions of years old and I wanted to understand how this could be, as a result I got fascinated in natural history and throughout my childhood I would wonder through the woodlands observing nature, and of course I collected many fossils.
Then another time when I was 7 at one of our big garden parties a lady that use to baby sit me and read Russian fairy stories, made this beautiful fairy den by collecting natural mosses and things from nature, when I came across this in our woodlands it so took me in, I realized that there is an inner sanctuary within us and on that path there are many treasures. Basically it showed me that there is an inner life a journey to discover or uncover. It was from here that I learned to appreciate art and later I went to Art College.
When I was 15 a group of Jungian people came down from London during one of our great garden parties which we would put on every year at Whitsun around the end of May, and they talked about archetypes, their views deviated from Jung but I knew then that this was the path I was going to follow and discover what the archetypes bring us.
The archetypes give us a basic knowledge structure that we all inherit as part of a collective unconscious, and they are our pathways to our mythological journey. All stories myths tales around the world no matter what culture and how different, all ring with the same under current knowledge structure that our psyche holds within us.
As Joseph Campbell said, “life is about pairs and opposites” the coming together and falling apart - good and bad, hard and soft, weak and strong, light and dark etc. During our journey we need to find a way of affirming the good and resolving the bad.
Now there is one other thing that is very potent in the archetypes and this hinges on our very existence and that is the polarity of feminine and masculine.
I think John Gray got it right when he said Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus at least metaphorically speaking. Basically women want to talk about their feelings and men want to fix everything. However there is more to it because the feminine and the masculine live together in all of us. Body and soul are feminine and mind and spirit are masculine so the polarities of these two pairs switch around in us. Basically a man will veer naturally toward the masculine though he could be passive in nature, and women will veer naturally toward the feminine though they could be more outgoing. So nature has a way of sorting out this polarity because if it did not happen we could become extinct.
Now to pull together this archetype picture – Just like the primary colors and secondary colors, the sky at night, the sky by day, the four seasons, the 12 months cycle of the year, there’s no beginning and no end, but the pattern remains. The archetypes fit into this pattern representing every aspect of life. It is the blue print to our evolution.
The king, the Queen, the Prince, the Princess, the Witch, the Wiseman, the Fool, the Magician, the Joker, Mother Earth, the Enchantress, the Angel, they all live in us whether it is the shadow side or the light-force side. Whatever names the archetypes are given it doesn’t matter as long as they express and represent the mind and body, spirit and soul in essence and personality.
What is your story? Does the Fool in you give you your freedom and spontaneity? Does the Princess in you feel good about herself or does the Witch give you a hard time? Can the Prince find his shining armor and fight all his dragons? Can the Angel find her inner child or does she live in fear of dragons? (and is a victim).
As we read into fairy tales – the curse put on Snow White by the Witch because she was too beautiful and the Prince whose passion for the Princess kept him searching for her and finally finding her and with a magic kiss that pulled her out of her curse. If one has passion then one will not give up – it is the key to fulfilling ones dreams and goals.
The mythological tale of Parsifal in search for the Holy Grail (12th century court literature) and the story of Eros and Psyche from Greek mythology, again these two myths are about following ones true passion and never giving up. Life is about survival and evolution, it is up to us to find our true purpose and grow with it.
Religions are full of stories and tales, The birth of Jesus representing our Christmas celebrations bringing us Peace, Love and Joy the essence of Christianity, showing us the child in a manger with all the beautiful qualities of life adoring respecting the child reminding us that children are innocent and pure. The Divine Child quality does live in all of us.
Archetypes represent specific aspects of our personality like the Warrior represents our power, will and ego, (Spirit and body), while the Angel (Divine Child) represents our imagination, dreams, love and beauty (soul and mind) the opposite. So the whole process of the personality is to sort out the opposite energies and affirm their qualities and learn to reconcile the differences so one can evolve through all the qualities of the personality that reflect the Mind Body Spirit and soul.
After all: the world is a stage and we are here to live on it.