Explore Your Archetypes

What are archetypes?

It is surprising to me that the word “archetype” isn’t more ingrained in our common knowledge today.  It should be because we are literally surrounded by archetypes in art, dreams, books, movies, computer games, the media, corporate branding, psychology, mythology, sacred myths of cultures, oracle cards, storytelling, and even the tarot.

Archetypes are like an energetic blueprint that can be seen at the individual level and at societal levels.  Consider the mythological archetype of Zeus, or the hero archetype in Star Wars. 

I first learned about archetypes in my 20’s when I discovered the MBTI and the work of Carl Jung.

As a young manager, I had begun recognizing that my team and co-workers seemed to have patterns that were a bit predictable.  Some were very thoughtful.  Some were quiet and reserved.  Others were energetic and outgoing.  Some were very decisive, and others waited to get lots of information before drawing conclusions.

Not only are archetypes universal patterns of behavior and myths that everyone just automatically recognizes. They are, in their own way, conscious.

Learning about these patterns helps us to learn more about ourselves and the world around us.

We also see these energetic patterns showing up in career choices.  Those who love helping are often found in professions like teaching, nursing,  therapy, and coaching ;).  Those who love research are often found in professions like science, tech, and data science. These patterns can show up in all aspects of our lives.

What Carl Jung teaches us is that there is a universality of characters and situations.  Just as there are certain musical tones that resonate across cultures, there are similarly a universal set of roles, situations, and themes that are recognized by everyone. 

After delving into the MBTI and Carl Jung’s work, I then discovered Carolyn Myss, an author and speaker in the fields of human consciousness, spirituality, mysticism, health, energy medicine and the study of archetypes. 

In her work on archetypes, Carolyn Myss has many archetypal patterns and distilled them to 12 patterns that show up most frequently.

We also have the philosopher Joseph Campbell, who teaches us the archetypal pattern of the Hero’s Journey, a model for the individual process of finding yourself and connecting to your depth and full potential.

Every life situation carries within it a call to live a story that offers experiences that can make us great – or, conversely, bring out what is petty, small or harmful within us.

Understanding our archetypal patterns and stories can expand our insight and self-awareness and they enable us to break free of destructive patterns.

What is the Visual Journaler Method?

Exploring archetypes is well suited to The Visual Journaler method.

The Visual Journaler is a method I created that blends a coaching approach of self-inquiry with creative expression.  There aren’t any rules when working in a visual journal.  It’s a place to go deeper with our selves that is deeper than words alone. 

We can write, paint, collage, doodle, and draw all in service of the inner exploration. We learn and have fun.

Since we’re not creating art products, we lean into what is trying to be expressed and, later, deepen the meaning of what has emerged on the page.  With these types of pages, usually there are not step-by-step instructions because they are not intended to be duplicated exactly.  The pages are entirely your own.

Layering Pyramids

As an alternative to step-by-step art instructions, what I provide in the Visual Journaler classes are layering pyramids.  These pyramids contain visual actions that can be done at the foundational, middle, and top layers of a spread.  We can also add these layers intuitively as our unconscious minds are drawn to what holds interest.

Over time, you begin to see your own patterns and archetypes emerging.  You begin to appreciate yourcreative style – including many of us non-artists who hadn’t touched art supplies in a very long time.

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