Archetypes, a concept introduced to Western psychology by Carl Jung, can be especially problematic. Jung said they are mental images of our physical instincts, but “So what?” people wonder. “What do they have to do with me and my life?” My answer is, “Everything!” In this and future posts I’ll explain.
In The Masks of God: Oriental Mythology, Joseph Campbell notes that one of humanity’s four primary goals or “ends” is to attain power and success. We measure this through the things we do with and to our bodies and material objects like money, food, books, houses, weapons, geographical boundaries, natural elements, offices, cars, courtrooms, places of worship. It makes no difference whether we seek power and success primarily in the universe without or the universe within; as long as we inhabit physical bodies achieving our goals is directly tied to our interaction with the physical material world. This is the province of our instinct for activity.
For example, I might see power and success in terms of attaining wholeness and spiritual enlightenment, but even though this is a psycho-spiritual matter I cannot separate it from my physical behavior. I might meditate, write, pray, study scriptures, attend my place of worship, write down my dreams and discuss them with others, take classes in yoga, make a pilgrimage to a holy place, or enter an ashram or nunnery.The Warrior and Mother are the workhorses who embody our instinct for activity. Through their tireless labors, they craft our bodies and souls and effectuate our successful development into our fullest empowerment.
Our Warrior is the motivating force that moves us physically outward into the world, ideologically forward into the future, and spiritually upward toward the heights. He is a diligent worker and a high flyer with the commitment, determination, and perseverance to enter the world, conquer the dragons, and make our own unique mark, therein fulfilling our destinies.
The Mother is the motivating force that moves us into the universe within and down to the depths in a determined effort to excavate our core truths and fully experience our realities. She is an observer, a listener, a digger, an artist, and a befriender of dragons. She is the one who hears our calling and honors our creative genius. In her aspect as Earth Mother she is the fully present, fully alive Earth-dweller who appreciates and relates to life’s mysteries, the marvels of nature and matter, especially our own bodies, and the wonder of being alive.
Separately, neither Warrior nor Mother energy is capable of fulfilling us, but when these twins are mature, reflective, and integrated they comprise the Creator archetype. As the Creator awakens we acquire a profound desire to become powerful and successful at creating our soul’s magnum opus: an authentic life in which we claim our destinies.
Archetypal psychologist Carol S. Pearson says in her book Awakening the Heroes Within (p. 171) that when this happens we are as consumed with the need to create a life as artists are with the need to paint, or poets with the need to write. Just as great painters and poets will be willing to give up money and power and status to create their art, when the Creator is active in our lives, we are pushed to decide to be ourselves, even if it means that we will die unknown, poor, and alone.
Usually, of course, people who empower their authentic selves do not pay this price—indeed many are well known, wealthy, and surrounded with friends and loved ones.But whether it lives in rich or poor, the Creator archetype is a physical reality that empowers us to successfully contribute to healing the world Soul and co-creating the universe. How successful have you been so far in creating and manifesting your individuality?
My newest book, Healing the Sacred Divide, can be purchased at www.amazon.com and http://www.larsonpublications.com.
Thank you to Mr. Cahlil for allowing me to illustrate this post with his exquisite art!
Ego and God-Image: Part VII
Intellectually the Self is no more than a psychological concept, a construct that serves to express an unknowable essence which we cannot grasp as such,
it’s amazing that your article came out just as I was remembering a short paper I wrote in college, about how in popular culture the Hero (who is often of the Warrior type) does not have a mother — think about Superman, Frodo Baggins or Harry Potter (not the only ones, but these spring to mind first). I wondered if it reflects the way in which we are often pushed to fight for success while disregarding our gentler, nourishing side? Any thoughts? Or another viewpoint, perhaps?
Great comment! Yes, indeed, I have some thoughts! I totally agree with your observation. You’ve highlighted the core meaning of Hero myths. They are about our journey during the first half of life, a time when we’re supposed to be developing our individual skills, making our own way, and following our own passions: i.e. becoming more conscious of our unique individuality and learning to be responsible for our own lives and actions! (Or, to use Jung’s word, individuating.) Individuation absolutely does require separating ourselves from the comfortable world of the mothers who try so hard to protect us and meet our every need, and making a heroic effort to find our own way in life by developing our own interests, strengths, and skills. In other words, the Hero is the ego, and its inherent desire to grow more conscious and responsible requires us to develop our masculine sides.
What the Hero myths don’t address is that the second half of life is about connecting with and integrating our feminine sides which Jung called the unconscious world of the Mothers. So the symbolism of Hero myths is right on; it’s just that they’re incomplete. Human consciousness has evolved to the point where we know something’s missing and are ready to start writing some new myths that can help us make meaning of the second half of life.
And this is the purpose of my blog: to help us find our way back to the unconscious world of the Mothers— hence, the title, Matri (Mother) gnosis (knowing)—during the second half of life. Or perhaps even earlier, as some young people already seem to be doing. By the way, in case you haven’t read my newest book yet, it ends with a new myth that’s meant to help us make sense of this, the second great task of our lives! I hope you’ll check it out. I think you’ll find it very meaningful.
Thank you for writing!
The Cahlil paintings are absolutely wonderful. Thanks for posting.
I think they’re exquisite, and am so grateful to Mr. Cahlil for permitting me to use them here. They were such perfect illustrations of the best of the Warrior and Mother! You’re the second person who’s mentioned them to me!
Many thanks for your telephone message requesting my permission for you to use images of my paintings on my website…
I’m delighted to see my paintings (‘Warrior With A Paintbrush’ and ‘Loved Into Life’) illustrating your piece on ‘Partnership Between The Warrior And Mother’! You are most welcome.Your writings and my paintings seem in tune, with the essence.
As you may have seen when you visited my art website, this November (weekend 17-18) I’ll be holding an ‘open studio exhibition’ of my paintings here in Oxford UK. (Both paintings you have used will be in this exhibition.) Why I’m showing my work in my home is that over here galleries say my work doesn’t fit with the kind of paintings they show. My work is neither conventional nor fashionable. Also, I’ve realised my images are profoundly ‘intimate’ – so can trigger discomfort in those people as yet not ready to experience what is deep ‘within’. …So, I do welcome the opportunity to share my paintings more widely.
As a psychotherapist (my original training was in fine art, my later training in transpersonal psychotherapy), I feel drawn to your books, I shall certainly get myself a copy of your ‘Awakening The Heroes Within’.
Sending you my warm best wishes,
I’m delighted to receive the blessing of your permission to use your exquisite paintings here. When I look at them I sigh with pleasure. They reverberate with strength, tenderness and compassion. I’d love to see them in person and am sitting here trying to figure out how I can attend your exhibition in November!! I understand your difficulties with galleries, as I face some of the same issues with my books. The Spirit of the Depths is rarely in tune with the Spirit of the Times, but is nonetheless the source of its slow awakening.
I’d love to claim authorship of Awakening the Heroes Within, but alas, this honor belongs to Carol S. Pearson! But I can’t recommend it more highly. It will surely inspire new understandings and directions in your art, as it did for me. Of course, I recommend my three books as well, especially the latest, Healing the Sacred Divide.
I’m very serious about wanting to visit your exhibition. We have dear friends in the UK with whom we’ve been wanting to connect as well. If you’d be willing to share your e-mail address with me I’ll let you know if we manage to arrange something. You can contact me privately at email@example.com.
Thank you for writing.
Continue working from the emotional side of these complex ideas. As a male I have difficulty connecting with that side, and it’s a relief to hear that other perspective. Thank you,
Thanks, Evan. That’s valuable input. I’ll do my best to address the “other” perspective in a way that “your” perspective can connect with!! Appreciate the comment.
I grew up without a father (he died when I was two) and have wondered what effect that had on me. Then I just read in Cheryl Strayed’s book Wild that : “The father’s job is to teach his children how to be warriors, to give them the confidence to get on the horse and ride into battle when it’s necessary to do so. If you don’t get that from your father, you have to teach yourself.” Can you comment? bett
That’s a wonderful quote. It feels right on to me. Even the horse part! (A heroine of mine has been Jeanne d’ Arc. She was a warrior who rode a horse too!)
While I absorbed many good Warrior qualities from my mother’s Warrior side, including dedication to my cause/work and the ability to persevere, I sorely needed a father image to embolden me to face my fears, find my voice and speak my truths. For the first half of my life I projected this energy onto male heroes: The Lone Ranger, my heavenly father, Abraham Lincoln, etc. And I married a man with a very well-developed Warrior onto whom I projected much of it as well. But in the end, I’ve had to do the inner work to reclaim the projections I’ve made onto these outer others and develop them in myself. I’ve made great progress, but I’m still work at it.
Thank you for sharing this quote with me! It’s one I’ll hold on to.
Thank you for this re-blog! I hope your readers enjoy it! Jeanie