Five modern reasons to learn the ancient language of archetypes
Updated: Jan 19, 2019
I’m going to be profiling a wide variety of archetypes on this blog. The first profile in this series will focus on the Empath archetype- those good hearted people who often find themselves working for less, taken for granted, or taken advantage of but who are critical to a well functioning society. However, since this is the very first in this Archetype Series let’s take a moment to define what archetypes are, and understand the practical use for
Archetypes are psychological shorthand for the characters in your life. Understanding archetypes is like being able to speak another language except that it’s a language you’re already familiar with. You may have just forgotten this hidden language or not realized that you speak it. It's the language of childhood fairytales, ancient myths, and modern movies. And it’s a language understood in every single country in every single century. It’s truly a universal language.
If you’ve ever found yourself describing someone as a Martyr, Hero, Princess, Vampire, etc. you are speaking archespeak.
An archetype is an extreme shorthand for describing an energy pattern of behaviors, motivations, talents, character flaws and predictable strategies for life. It is a character in a story. If I say someone is a Midas, you understand in one word that this person can make a lot of money- probably in their sleep. Perhaps you form an instantaneous picture of a fleet of Mercedes in this person’s driveway and experience the sharp pang of jealousy or admiration. Maybe you decide to ask this person to teach you.
If I say someone is a Bully you’re going to make another set of calculations about how close you want to get to this person. And if I say a person is a Victim you may experience disdain or compassion or have a desire to rescue them. All from a super efficient one word description.
According to Carolyn Myss in her book Sacred Contracts, we each have twelve primary archetypes that guide our choices and write our life story. Four of those twelve archetypes are survival archetypes that we all share in common (Child, Victim, Saboteur, and Prostitute) but the other eight are unique to us. Understanding the survival archetypes alone opens up an incredible vista of psychological understanding of both of yourself and others. Adding your unique eight archetypes to the picture paints a broader more colorful understanding regarding your life story and your life purpose that can be used in every area of your life.
Five arenas where archespeak is invaluable
1.Romantic relationships- helps you understand the makeup of your partner and how to work with him/her.
2. Family relationships- helps you recognize patterns that help or hurt you and inherited family archetypal patterns.
3. Self awareness- Gain keen insight into yourself and a a deeper understanding of your talents and how you block your own success
4. Group dynamics- who are the "characters" in your group at work or elsewhere? How might we expect them to get along? Where might we expect them to clash? How can we get them to bring out the best in each other through knowing their energy patterns and motivations?
5. Advertising/marketing- Go beyond the analytics of demographics and complex aggregation of data and analysis to understand the key archetype/s that your business serves. Suddenly you understand the one thing all your potential customers have in common: the central desire, the core fears, and they way they operate. When you understand this you understand the energetic signature of your business- the core genius you offer. Understanding yourself helps you to understand your customers better. Then craft a marketing plan that speaks to them at an archetypal level. You're going to know what matters to them at the heart. And you’re going to know where they struggle even if they can’t articulate it. Steve Jobs was famous for saying people don’t know what they want. It’s often true at a conscious level, but rarely true at an archetypal level. At an archetypal level desires and fears are encoded in the energy pattern and fairly predictable.
When you look at the world through the lens of archetypes you begin to see it in a whole new way. I invite you to play around with archetypes this week. What archetypal characters are you noticing in your world? Warrior, Goddess, Joker, Vampire, Prostitute, Victim, Mentor, Midas, Avenger, Scribe, Bully, Storyteller, Don Juan/Femme Fatale, Mother, Prince, Knight, King, Queen, Wounded Child, Philanthropist, Artist, Beggar, Martyr, Saboteur, Pioneer, etc