“Archetypes have been around since at least the time of Plato, who referred to preexisting ideal templates as Forms. Plato believed that these eternal Forms were reflected in material objects. The Form of Beauty, for example, is abstract and applies to all beautiful things. As different as the individual manifestations of Beauty may be – a beautiful person, horse or flower – the Form itself never changes. Other philosophers referred to the concept in passing, but it was the 20th-century Swiss psychologist Carl Jung who put archetypes on the map of modern consciousness.
In essence, most archetypes are psychological patterns derived from historical roles in life, such as the Mother, Child, Trickster, Prostitute, and Servant; they can also be universal events or situations, such as Initiation or Death and Rebirth.” Caroline Myss, Archetype Cards Guidebook
I have found archetypes to be a highly valuable tool in my self work. Myss has a book called Sacred Contracts in which she talks about how each of us are made up primarily of 12 archetypes. Every archetype has a light side and a shadow side that we can manifest in our interactions. Four of these archetypes are universal to everyone – the Child, Saboteur, Prostitute and Victim. Eight are a combination unique to each of us based the strongest ways we relate to the world around us.
As I play with the idea of format for a memoir, I am thinking about exploring my story through my archetypes, at least some of them. I know that the Mystic, Mother, Lover and Child are all significant aspects of my journey. I am playing with the idea of including others, but first need to determine how significant they are to the specific story I want to tell. I am not going to try to write a memoir of my entire life. The arc of my story is the family we have created through our Magic Baby.
The other archetypes that I resonate with are the Artist, Healer, Heroine, Rebel, Servant and Martyr. This is one more than eight. The Servant and Martyr are similar but I haven’t been able to tease one out as more “me” than the other. All of these play into my story, but some much more prominently than others. The entire story is a Heroine’s journey. I’ve thought about my propensity for emotional adventuring as a thread that binds the story together. The Artist is expressed through the act of writing itself. The Rebel and Healer are expressed in many of my choices, but I’m not sure it’s appropriate to separate them out as explorations of their own.
I’m just beginning to piece this together. I know that I want to do something unique in my story telling. For as long as I’ve imagined writing a memoir I have also imagined doing so in a non-traditional format. When I was young I considered a combination of writing forms – poetry, prose, and creative non-fiction. Now I think about a series of essays, each centered on an archetype. Perhaps something else altogether will come out of process.
I am excited. The momentum is building inside of me to bring this project into the world. Writing nearly every day for the last 13 days is breathing new life into the Artist in me. That brings a particular happiness I hadn’t tasted in a long, long time.