" When we live our lives as if we know what it is to be human, as if maturing were only a matter of becoming more of what we think we already are, the mystery is gone, and life becomes tedious and repetitive."
The Juggler, archetype of the Magician. Edited in PicMonkey and BeFunky
Source: Photo by Sandra Bu
The Road Map
When I was a child, if my family were planning a car trip across the United States, we would have gone to a gasoline station and purchased a road map. Today, of course, you would go to MapQuest and Google the directions. Or better yet, put the end address into your car's GPS and follow the directions of the woman's voice as she softly guided you, step by step.
Life is a journey, similar to driving a car across the country -- without a roadmap or a guide of some kind how can we tell if we're on course. And, when we get off course, how do we know where to turn in order to get back on track. Carol Pearson's AWAKENING THE HEROES WITHIN, encountering the twelve archetypes, can be seen as a kind of road map for our journey. As she says, "Knowing which 'god' calls can open us to receive its gift.
What is an Archetype?
Before launching out onto this somewhat daunting task, I want to be sure that I have adequately explained what an archetype is. I will give a brief description.
The Water Maiden is an archetype.
According to Carl G. Jung, the founder of analytical psychology and a one-time follower of Freud who ultimately disagreed and blazed his own path, archetypes are patterns of energy in the cosmos which we encounter at critical points in our life's journey. These divine energy patterns are very powerful, and when they come into our lives, we must engage with them in such a way as to humanize them and bring them into play in the human drama.
If we are unaware of what these energy patterns are and what they want from us, we can easily be overwhelmed, lose our way in life, and become, at least neurotic, at worst psychotic, as the energy overcomes us. An excellent example is the archetype of the Warrior. When men and women go to war, this archetype must be well integrated and at the disposal of the individual's ego, lest it take possession of the individual and act through him without being humanized. A contemporary example would be the young U.S. military man in Afghanistan who recently used his weapon to slaughter innocent people.
These energies have to be contained and tamed so that they will be our servants and not our masters.
The first four archetypes in Pearson's book are the four that we encounter in the process of developing the ego, which allows us to function in society and in this physical body.
The Innocent, which develops the persona (the mask through which we all meet the outer world) allows us to be trusting enough to learn the basic skills we need in life.
The Orphan, which holds all those parts of ourselves which we repress in our psyche, enables us to be interdependent and do our part for the whole.
The Warrior, which protects the boundaries of the ego, gives us the courage to fight for what we believe in both for ourselves and for others.
The Caregiver, which allows the heart to open, allowing us to feel compassion and to give, sometimes to the point of sacrifice for the greater good.
The Ego's first task is to protect the inner child and to defend its own boundaries from outside attacks. As children, when we first become aware that we can affect our environment -- even in so small a way as when a child builds something with his blocks and then knocks them down -- that is the early stages of ego development.
So, in the early years, ideally, we live in a protected space until the Ego develops sufficiently for us to venture out into the world and test our skills. And it is the integration of these four archetypes -- the innocent, the orphan, the warrior, and the caregiver -- which allow us to start on our journey. Knowing what they are, what they feel like when they possess us, and how best to make use of them, or integrate them, is like having a road map.
As babies, ideally, we are cradled in the arms of a loving and protecting parent.
Source: Photo by sandrabusby
Now, we are ready to look at the Innocent archetype: to name its characteristics, to know how to recognize its presence in our lives, to realize when we have refused its gifts and fall into its shadow (unhealthy) aspects, and especially, to understand how to get back on track and proceed on our journey.
Characteristics of the Innocent
We all start life as the Innocent, protected in our mother's womb where it is warm and quiet and dark, floating in the amniotic fluid, being fed and carried around with no effort on our part. If we are lucky, once propelled into the outer world, we still have parents who fill those needs for us until we are capable of doing so ourselves.
The characteristic of the Innocent then are trust, faith, purity, believing that, no matter what, our needs will be met. For all of us, however, there is always a rude awakening, metaphorically, we are expelled from the Garden of Eden, we fall from grace. Something happens to make us wake up and realize that we are going to have to work, struggle, and even on occasion, fight to sustain ourselves. Somebody lets us down. Somebody betrays us. Somehow we come to realize that the 'big' people in our lives are not perfect.
When this happens, and it happens to all of us over and over in the course of our lives, it feels like being kicked out of paradise.
An Innocent who is living out of the shadow finds monsters and demons everywhere.
Source: Photo by sandrabusby
Sometimes we refuse to accept the realities of life -- we refuse to acknowledge even to ourselves that the people we have trusted have at the least let us down, and at the worst, abused us. An Innocent who refuses "the fall," uses denial to stay in an abusive relationship at home or even at work. He chooses to see himself and others as either "perfect" or "horrible," not allowing for their humanness. He then heaps shame and guilt upon himself, for it is too painful to see "the other" as less than perfect.
Once in the grasp of the shadow, the Innocent begins to work very hard to be "good," to be very careful not to do anything that would cause anybody, especially the betrayers, to see him as anything other than perfect.
How can we recognize the symptoms of the negative side of the Innocent? The physical symptom is a dull void in the pit of the stomach. The common behavior is to see things as either black or white. Everything is either/or, no in-betweens. No shades of grey. No allowance for human frailties. No secrets; everything is an open book.
The common additions of people who are living in the shadow aspect of their Innocent, rather than in its positive side, are to sugar and consumerism. They buy things. They eat sweets. They stuff themselves and deaden themselves so they don't have to feel that emptiness in their solar plexus.
The lesson all Innocents must learn is to live with the paradox of life.
Source: Photo by sandrabusby
What the Innocent has to learn is how to live in paradox. He must admit his disappointments, his abandonment, his difficulties, without abandoning his own faith in life and his own ideals. Pearson says that we must "be willing to sacrifice our illusions gladly and daily, so we may grow and learn," but we must "never let go of our dreams and ideals."
That's a big task, especially for an Innocent, but as he accomplishes it over and over in his life, rather than falling into the shadow and living in a space that becomes more and more confining and that is peopled by more frightening demons, in our dreams and in our waking life, we actually open ourselves up to a larger reality. "As we lose and regain faith through experience, larger parts of reality move into the realm of safety."
And it is safety, above all else that the Innocent seeks. But paradoxically, in order to "feel safe," the Innocent must accept the expulsion from paradise, go out on his own, and test himself before he can again feel safe in the world.
Pearson says that in more primitive cultures, there is always a sacrifice that is required to appease the gods. Metaphorically, in all our lives, we must sacrific our Innocent in order to take the journey, find our true Selves, and return once again to the "garden" this time as the Fool, or the Wise Innocent.
Is your Innocent functioning in a healthy way? Can you answer yes to both these questions?
In her book AWAKENING THE HEROES WITHIN, Pearson suggests several activities that we can engage in to begin to heal our wounded Innocent. The one that I would like to share with you is the one she calls "Daydreaming." Pick a quiet spot where you will be undisturbed for 30 minutes or so and use your imagination to create "the perfect childhood" for yourself. No matter how devastating your "real" childhood has been, you can always live your perfect childhood in your imagination. Brain research, today, tells us that what we live in our imagination is as powerful as what we live in the outer world.
Try this exercise and see how you feel. One way to enhance your experience is to use your artistic abilities to give your vision substance. Make a collage. Paint a picture. Cut out pictures from magazines and make a fantasy board of what your ideal childhood would look like.
Yes, we all come here as Innocents, and we all get kicked out of our own individual paradise, sooner or later. But if the Innocent in us accepts "the fall," rather than live out our lives in denial and addiction, we will accept the challenge, acknowledge the disappointments, realize the betrayals, and still have faith that life is a magnificent gift where we can, sometimes, make our dreams come true. The Innocent learns to live the paradox and to thrive
WIZARD OF OZ, arguably one of the most famous movies of all times, depicts the Innocent's journey. In this movie, Judy Garland, one of the most famous Innicents of all times, plays the role of an Innocent who accepts " the fall," goes on the admittedly frightening journey to find the Wizard and finds her true Self instead before she returns to Kansas. Unfortunately, in her real life, Judy Garland lived out the shadow side of the Innocent in her addition to drugs.
"Somewhere Over the Rainbow" is the epitome of the Innocent's faith and trust in life.