Why you should care about Archetypes
Which archetypes will be at play in YOUR life this year? Find out inside.
[Hope you enjoy the audio on this one! I think you’ll find it helpful, you’ll have a chance to take in the information in multiple forms, read it, or listen as you walk, or work, or whatever. I go into further explanations of archetypes in the audio as well, which makes it a bit longer than the actual read. Enjoy! It’s like your own private podcast! Or read this essay via the Substack APP while you’re waiting in line instead of surfing Social Media. Let’s make 2023 the year of depth rather than random scrolling].
It’s drizzling here in Southern California. Outside my window a woman strolls by in a rain parka, yoga pants and sneakers. Every so often I scroll the headlines and see that most of the North Eastern United States is obliterated by storms.
Storms have personalities, sometimes – as with Hurricane Katrina – they even have names. They have lives, they’re born, rage, and die out. But the archetypal storm is immortal. The archetypal storm rages for millenia on Jupiter, and belches out licks of radiation on the Sun.
Storms exist across space and time. They have live in myths as storm gods, and make appearances in plays and poetry. Storms are archetypes, but they’re also individuals uniquely embedded in their ecology.
I bring this up because I wanted to talk to you about archetypes today.
I’ve been reading this book by Richard Tarnas, COSMOS AND PSYCHE, and it’s so juicy that I want to share it with you. #MysteryCult.edu.
The word archetype is fundamental to many of the practices we all enjoy: tarot, astrology, mythology, etc. But I worry sometimes that when we talk about them, we’re all talking about different things.
SO WHAT IS AN ARCHETYPE?
In the West the concept of the archetype has been evolving since antiquity. Tarnas defines archetypes as “the tendency of forms to maintain specific patterns.” These patterns are numinous (inspirited). In fact, we can think of them as gods.
By his definition, a god is something more-than-human. A god is immortal, at least from a human perspective, and does not die. Gods exert power or force. They are larger than us in spirit (though not necessarily in size), and they can and do compel us.
Of course, by that definition, many things are gods: rivers, planets, mythological figures, abstractions such as Love or Justice. In fact, all of those things HAVE been considered gods throughout history.
These forces, these gods/archetypes, are things we can interact with — we can step into the body of the god that is the river, we can fall under the thrall of the god that is Love.
Famed Jungian analyst James Hillman says that archetypes have an “emotional possessive effect,” they bedazzle our consciousness so that we become blind to the forces that move us.
In other words, archetypal forces are so strong, so immense, we might not realize we are caught up in them. They are the air we breathe. There is no “outside” of the archetypal universe. We are always enmeshed and entangled with the quantum archetypal forces that make up existence.
The enchanted view is that everything in the universe has an inner world and an outer world.
The outer world of the Storm is wind and rain and sleet and snow, tree branches crashing and slippery ice. The outer world of the storm is both embedded in the ecological context in which it appears, AND is connected to ALL ecological contexts, since storms are affected by the Sun, the tilt of the planet, the oceans, etc.
The inner world of the storm is imaginal. It is Zeus and Thor, Tezcatlipoca and Indra; it is the tempest Prospero causes with his magic; it’s the killer on the road in the Doors song; it’s the place from which the lightning emerges in the Tower card.
Each of the instances above are their OWN specific thing. Archetypes don’t erase specificity. They don’t reduce everything to a grand metanarrative. Archetypes say that grand metanarratives are made of micronarratives, and that the two are inseparable.
We are entangled in a skein of stories and archetypal forms that make up the Pluriverse. When we are able to recognize the nature of the archetypes in which we are embedded, and which in fact give form to us body and soul, then, things start to get interesting. Keep reading.
OK. BUT WHAT DOES ALL THIS HAVE TO DO WITH YOU?
Both the planets in astrology and the Major Arcana of tarot describe archetypal forces.
The point of astrology, tarot, and mythology is, among other things, to help wake us up to which archetypal forces we are currently enmeshed with, so that we can co-create with them, rather than be dominated or ruled by them.
Just as it’s helpful to be able to recognize when there’s a storm coming – because then you can decide what to do to prepare – it’s helpful to be able to recognize archetypal forms as they appear in our lives, and in the world.
When we are ignorant of the archetypal forces, we are more likely to behave unconsciously, essentially becoming their “pawns”, rather than being in co-creative relationship with them.
For example, Saturn in astrology is an archetypal force, a God-like pattern that has the tendency to behave in specific ways.
Saturn is constriction, failure and loss… Saturn is also concentration, restraint, and wisdom.
How the archetypal pattern of Saturn manifests is contingent on the particular circumstances in which it appears — and how YOU RESPOND to its appearance.
Your Saturn return can be a much richer, more satisfying experience if you understand what is happening to you and you recognize your agency within it.
HOW WILL THE ARCHETYPES AFFECT YOU THIS YEAR?
Now is the perfect time to reflect on your card of the year according to tarot numerology and to have a look at your upcoming transits in astrology.
Every natal chart in astrology – including yours – has a “chart ruler”: the planet that “rules” your rising sign. Find your chart ruler and you find one of the primary archetypes within which you exist.
Are there any transits going on with your chart ruler this year? (Hint: there ARE).
Transits are when a planet forms a relationship with another planet through squares, trines, oppositions, conjunctions, etc.
An example: My Rising Sign is in Taurus, which means that Venus is my chart ruler. Her themes are beauty, relationship, creativity, wealth, attraction… so far so great! But Venus also appears in my 8th House, the realm of the Hidden, the occult, power struggles, the house of shame and secrets and death. (So we could unpack that for about a year).
So this year, I might look for the ways my Venus is being activated by other planets forming a relationship with her, paying attention to the houses where they appear, and what their dynamic is with Venus.
Storms don’t have to destroy us.* If we know a storm is coming, we can make life easier for ourselves by wearing a raincoat. Better yet, we can light up the fireplace, get some hot cocoa and some board games and invite our friends over for a cozy night in.
I’ll be writing more on this throughout the year. But in the meantime, please see below, I’ve given Subscribers ten ideas for how you might like to make use of archetypes this year.
Happy New Year!
P.S. The storms currently throttling the Northeastern US have caused a lot of damage, many people have died. Though “natural,” these disasters were mainly man-made in that the people who are the most vulnerable economically will suffer the most because of infrastructure apartheid. Here’s a list of organizations if you’d like to join me in donating to help the people suffering from these disasters.
BTW CHARIOT YEAR WORKSHOP
Speaking of archetypes, next year is the Chariot year!
Each one of us has a specific area in our life where we can make most use of the medicine of the Chariot Year, and it’s different for everyone. You also have your OWN cards of the year to consider.
In our upcoming BTW Workshop* you’ll learn rituals you can use based on your cards; what to do if you feel resistance to your cards of the year; and ways to form deeper relationships to the cards beyond the definitions provided by the “little white book”.
You’ll also reflect on what you learned in 2022, the Lovers Year, and what tools it offered you to support you in 2023.
Join us for this workshop if you’re ready to make the most of the Chariot Year!
*Please note… this workshop is a Between the Worlds Podcast workshop, which means it is NOT included in your Mystery Cult membership or discount program. Sorry about that. They’re just two separate things. But still both great deals tho!
10 WAYS TO WORK WITH ARCHETYPES IN 2023
Here’s a list of ways to work with archetypes in 2023, including astrology, tarot, book recommendations, practices and more…
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