Archetypes are inborn patterns of psychological energy. They have enormous influence over our thinking and behavior whether we realize it or not. Usually we do not. The human ego does not take easily to introspection. Some seem content to tolerate life’s sufferings without question or complaint. Others escape through distractions and addictions. But for those who can tolerate the tension between “checking out” and “checking in” long enough, a new, third solution eventually arrives.
My solution arrived when I discovered Jungian psychology and began a regular program of study. One of the early books I read was Carol S. Pearson’s brilliant The Hero Within: Six Archetypes We Live By. The Hero archetype is activated by a painful recognition that there is more to us than meets the eye, and by a powerful need to “experience oneness with other people and with the natural and spiritual worlds.” Carl Jung called this the journey of individuation.
“The need to take the journey is innate in the species. If we do not risk, if we play prescribed social roles instead of taking our journeys, we feel numb; we experience a sense of alienation, a void, an emptiness inside…In shying away from the quest, we experience nonlife and, accordingly, we call forth less life in the culture.” C.S. Pearson
In The Hero Within, Pearson highlights six major archetypes which are influential on the hero’s journey. These are the Innocent, Orphan, Martyr, Wanderer, Warrior and Magician.
“The Innocent and the Orphan set the stage: The Innocent lives in the prefallen state of grace; the Orphan confronts the reality of the Fall. The next few stages are strategies for living in a fallen world: The Wanderer begins the task of finding oneself apart from the others; the Warrior learns to fight to defend oneself and to change the world in one’s own image; and the Martyr learns to give, to commit, and to sacrifice for others. The progression, then, is from suffering, to self-definition, to struggle, to love….the Magician learns to move with the energy of the universe and to attract what is needed by laws of synchronicity, so that the ease of the Magician’s interaction with the universe seems like magic.” C.S.Pearson
But first, you have to get past the Orphan. When I took Pearson’s self-test to determine the strength of these archetypes, the Orphan got zero points and I gave myself a mental pat on the back. Thank goodness I’ve grown beyond that childish mentality I thought. But in my dreams that year, orphans kept popping up demanding my dream ego’s attention. I couldn’t imagine what these sad, needy urchins had to do with me. I was nothing like them. I had high ideals! I was brave, optimistic, tough, competent, independent! I never noticed that this was the socially acceptable persona of Little Orphan Annie. Her unconscious, disowned qualities were so far from my awareness that I could only see them when I projected them outward onto others whom I saw as weak and self-pitying. I did not know I was wearing a plucky Little Orphan Annie mask, and that beneath it lurked the Orphan archetype’s problem: despair.
“What characterizes despair is just this — that it is ignorant of being despair.” Soren Kierkegaard
“The Orphan is a disappointed idealist, and the greater the ideals about the world, the worse reality appears.” C.S.Pearson
Accepting my Orphan within was my first step on the hero’s journey. Carrying The Hero Within in my backpack was one of my Wisewoman’s first choices.
Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc. Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and Diesel Ebooks
Jean, this is so timely for me. I think you just nailed the phenomena I have been experiencing lately. Thanks. Now the sun can come out tomorrow or not..I am okay.
I’m delighted to hear this is of help, Roberta. And if you can consciously tolerate the inner conflict of this situation…and find a creative way to express it…not only will the sun come out tomorrow, but it will begin to cook a solution in the crucible of your soul. It always does.
I love the last two sentences, Jeanie. More than a week ago, I decided to look back for all my abandoned child dreams or dreams of babies who needed my care. (Most recent ones are in the computer so I can search, but older ones are not.) I haven’t started and have a therapy appointment early next week where I hoped to discuss this dream series. You inspire me to begin. Once I begin, I’ll become fascinated w/ my inner child or feel mercy for the orphaned babe and continue. Thank you.
You have reminded me that the Orphan does not always show up as a literal orphan in our dreams, but can be any weak and needy baby. Duh! (Sometimes I fail to make connections between the most obvious things!) Of course I still have those dreams too. In fact I had a couple last week! In one I gave birth to a new baby boy in a hospital. I went to talk to the head nurse to ask her if it was okay to feed him, and when I got back he had grown into an adult man sleeping in his blue jockey shorts! When I woke him up to ask him what he wanted to eat, he could talk and said he’d better have a bottle of milk first, I assumed because he knew he should break in his digestive system slowly! I went out again to find the head nurse and after I asked her I didn’t forget him and went back to feed him. Quite a switch from the dreams where I’ve been neglecting a vulnerable infant! I wish I had a therapist to help me with this one!!! Thanks for writing. You always say such helpful and meaningful things. By the way, if anyone wants to share any associations to this dream, have at it!
I received this comment from Elaine on May 18, 2014, but for some reason it hasn’t shown up here. So I’ve copied it and will respond after it. This is what Elaine wrote:
I ask questions about dreams. It’s a safe way to explore dreams with friends, partners, or children while keeping my associations out of the soup. This is a fascinating dream. What are your associations with baby boys? Blue jockey shorts? Men/baby combinations? Bottles? Digestion? Or any associations with the dream? Do any of these images have a location in your body? How about those jockey shorts? When I explore the sensory images of dreams and connect them to body, something shifts even if I am perplexed or can’t verbally explain the images.
I have not had one dream in 12 days. Highly unusual for me. I imagine my dream maker waits for me to look back and find dreams of needy babies and orphans as I promised to do. There are some thriving babies, too.
Thanks for your wonderful questions, Elaine. You’re right: asking them of myself does open me to possibilities that I might not consider if I were just following my associations. I’ll pursue them as soon as I have the time, hopefully tomorrow morning! I imagine your dream maker may well be nudging you to do a “baby review” before diverting your attention to a different theme. I’ve come to trust his/her wisdom in such things!!