Saturday, December 28, 2013

Awakening the Heroes Within: a Book Review of the Archetypes that Need Integrating

This is a book review of Carol Pearson's AWAKENING THE HEROES WITHIN. It tells how the book is laid out and gives a brief description of the twelve archetypes.

Statue of one of the Greek heroes, sits in the Piazza de la Signoria in Florence
Statue of one of the Greek heroes, sits in the Piazza de la Signoria in Florence
Source: Photo by sandrabusby

Twelve Archetypes

(Note: The photos are intended only to create a mood that reflects soul work.)
AWAKENING THE HEROES WITHIN by Carol S. Pearson is the sequel to her best-selling THE HERO WITHIN. Her first book contained a description of only six archetypes, while this one enlarges that count to twelve. Published in 1991, this book has become the standard for identifying and working with one's archetypes.
The book is divided into five parts:
  • Part I is called "The Dance of Ego, Self, and Soul"
  • Part II "Preparation for the Journey" deals with: The Innocent, The Orphan, The Warrior, and The Caregiver
  • Part III "The Journey--Becoming Real" deals with: The Seeker, The Destroyer, The Lover, and The Creator
  • Part IV "The Return--Becoming Free" deals with: The Ruler, The Magician, The Sage, and The Fool
  • Part V "Honoring Diversity--Transforming Your World" discusses how we can apply all this to our culture
According to this view, each person's life is a specific example of the symbolic journey -- Life. For this journey we need a road map that lays out the plan for our existence. The journey is, thus, divided into three portions: The Preparation, The Journey Itself, and The Return (when we bring what we have learned back and share it with our own individual cultures).

Part I: "The Dance of Ego, Self, and Soul"

Dr. Pearson uses Part I to set the stage for those whose background is not Jungian. She calls herself a Transpersonal Psychologist and explains how this particular brand of psychology is the only one that gives the Ego its rightful place in the trinity of Ego-Self-Soul.
Truly, the Ego has taken quite a beating in today's world as Eastern philosophies, most of which denigrate the Ego, have been brought into the West. It is the view of the East that the Ego is the cause of most of our modern woes and that it must be gotten rid of and replaced by the Self. However, Carol Pearson's view and that of the Transpersonal Psychologist is that the Ego needs first to be strengthened and then to be taught to take its place in the trio that rules our lives.
After all, the author reminds us, "it is the union of Ego and Soul that makes possible the birth of the Self." The rest of the book is devoted to showing how, through the twelve archetypes, "we first develop the Ego, then encounter the Soul, and finally give birth to a unique sense of Self."

A dream image is like a message from our soul
A dream image is like a message from our soul
Source: Photo by sandrabusby

Part II: Preparation for the Journey

Before we embark on the journey to find the Self, we must first be certain that the first four archetypes -- The Innocent, The Orphan, The Warrior, and the Caregiver -- are firmly in place and fully functioning. Otherwise, we cannot hope to be successful and complete the journey to the Self.
You will notice that the archetypes are presented in pairs of polar opposites. We encounter difficulties in our lives when we react from one of these poles, rather than from the balance.
The Innocent is "the part of us that trusts life, ourselves, and other people." Without this basic trust in ourselves and in life we will not be able to learn from our experiences or from other people. The Innocent's goal is to remain safe; and the Innocent's fear is of abandonment. The shadow aspect of the Innocent comes in the form of denial and blaming.
We experience disillusionment, abandonment, and betrayal by others and ourselves many times during our lives. If we are fortunate, each experience leads us back to innocence not only at a new level, but in a way that allows us to bless more of our world with a kind of innocence that is a product not of denial, but of wisdom.
The Orphan has the same experiences as the Innocent, but reacts in the opposite way. When abandoned, the orphan becomes the exploiter -- do it to them before they can do it to you. Where the Innocent is often too trusting, the Orphan is cynical. Unfortunately, the task of the Orphan is to eperience pain and disillisionment so fully that he will be open to receiving help. Just as the seed must be cracked open before it can sprout, the Orphan must be "cracked open" before he can heal.
The point for all of us to remember about the Orphan is that everytime we abandon the "child" within us, we are abandoning ourselves, just as we were abandoned by "the big people" in our lives. As children, we expected our parents to be our caregivers -- some of them did a good job of this and some, not so good a job. But as adults, whenever we expect someone else to "take care of us," we are abandoning our own inner child.
The Warrior is that part of us that has the courage and the strength to develop goals for ourselves, and, if necessary, to fight for them. In some sense the Warrior can be equated to the masculine energy we each have, although a woman has her own way of expressing this. Nevertheless, as women take their places in the workforce and in society in general, they must be well acquainted with their Warrior.
The Caregiver is our internal mother, that part of us that nurtures and gives sustenance to the "inner child" and ultimately to the newborn Self. Some people feel more like warriors and some more like caregivers, but ultimately, we must balance these two archtypes -- or rely on someone else either to fight for us or to take care of us.

Another soul image of orchids
Another soul image of orchids
Source: Photo by sandrabusby

Part III: The Journey--Becoming Real.

Once these four archetypes are in place and we know how to use them, we are ready to embark on the journey to "become real." If that doesn't happen, we must remain within the confines of the collective and depend on it to carry us along. If we aim for individuation, Jung's word for "becoming real," then we must have these at our disposal.
The Seeker is that part of us that longs for a better life, a better way. What the Seeker most fears is becoming trapped in conformity, but to avoid this he must take the risk of becoming true to himself, to a deeper truth that only he can see for himself. He can no longer depend on others to confirm him in either his words or his actions. There are several levels of seeking starting with trying new things, climbing the ladder of success, and ultimately spiritual seeking. The shadow aspect of the Seeker is pride and excessive ambition.
The Destroyer -- probably the least sought after and the most feared of the archetypes, the Destroyer, comes into our lives whenever we need to learn the lessons of humility and acceptance. If the shadow side of the Seeker becomes too prominent, Life will find a way to give us balance, and this usually comes in the form of the Destroyer. It will take our jobs, our families, our homes, our health. You name it, for until we learn the lessons, this archetype is a continual companion. And acceptance is the only way to rid ourselves of the destruction.
The Lover, the archetype for which we are all preparing ourselves, can come into our lives only after humility and acceptance have paved the way. Eros, the Greek god of love and relatedness, "is the passion that results when Soul and body are in accord." The power of love is much too strong for the Ego to handle; only after we have come this far in the journey, does Eros deign to visit us with his gifts of bliss, oneness, and unity. Again there are levels of the Lover: following what you love, bonding with another human being, and, finally, "radical self-acceptance" which gives birth to the Self.
The Creator comes into our lives only after Love allows us to give birth to our real Self. This is not a physical birth, but a Soul birth, for the Creator enables us to participate in the creation of our own lives and in the life of the universe. "However, it is our Souls, not our Egos, that create our lives." The Soul and the Ego are often at odds about the kind of lives we choose. Sometimes, the Soul chooses a difficult path for the sake of its own development, a path which is anathema to the Ego.

The soul looks out on a different world than the ego
The soul looks out on a different world than the ego
Source: Photo by sandrabusby

Part IV: The Return -- Becoming Free

After giving birth to our real Self, it is our responsibility to return to the world and share what we have learned. The four archetypes that enable us to do that are The Ruler, The Magician, The Sage, and The Fool.
The Ruler is the archetype that encompasses both masculine and feminine energy, and symbolizes the "completion of the alchemical transformational process." We are now prepared to be the soverign of our own lives. A ruler needs both power and wisdom; he must know his limitations; and he must accept responsibility for his decisions. The shadow aspect of the Ruler shows itself in the need to exert abolute control over our lives or the lives of others, rather than trusting the process of the Soul.
The Magician is always aligned with the Self and the Cosmos, because "the power of the Magician is to transform reality by changing consciouosness." A truly awesome responsibility, and the archetype that allows the Ruler to heal himself and transform his kingdom. It is the Magician that allows us to move between worlds, to name things. It is, in fact, the ability to name things -- to reframe our experiences -- that gives us the power to transform our lives.
The Sage does not want to control or to change; he only wants to understand. And when the Sage becomes active in our own lives, we begin to get both distance and perspective. We view things from a different standpoint, and we begin to achieve what the Eastern religions refer to as nonattachment, something Westerners often don't understand and therefore do not prize. The goal of the Sage is to know the Truth.
The Fool is the archetype that allows us to experience enjoyment, pleasure, and aliveness. The fool brings us full circle and we are, in many ways, like the Innocent with which we started, because only a child or a fool could derive pleasure from Life as we know it on this planet. The Fool enables us to laugh at ourselves in our pompousness and to play the game of life with skill. The Trickster, as he is sometimes called, was symbolized in Greek mythology by Hermes, messenger to the gods and he who could cross boundaries.

Part V: Honoring Diversity--Transforming Your World

The message of Part V is that we meet these archetypes not once, but many times in our lives and that everytime we successfully negotiate the energy they represent we are bringing that energy into the world in a softer, more human way. We are, in fact, helping to create not only our own lives, but life as humans experience it. We are participating in the raising of the levels of consciousness, by interacting with these archetypes and their energies.




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