Archetypes: Your Guides to Your Authentic Self. Part II

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The last post shared the first part of my article, “Archetypes: Your Guides to Your Authentic Self,” featured in the spring issue of ‘Inspired” magazine. You can read the whole magazine here. That post ended with a discussion of how your personal experiences with your human mother and father influenced your attitudes toward the universal archetypes of Mother and Father in every psyche. And now to continue:

There’s much more to the archetypes than just what you learned from your parents. Not all mothers and fathers have the same bright and shadow sides that yours did. Think of the recent presidential election in the US. Some of us think highly of Donald Trump, some despise him. This is likewise true of Joe Biden. Do either of these leaders have qualities similar to your parents or caretakers that you have unconsciously adopted? Do you like these qualities or not? How did they influence your vote? To all appearances, Donald Trump and Joe Biden couldn’t be more different, but they’re both examples of the Father archetype, and they both contain all the positive and negative potential of this archetype, whether they manifest it or not. Moreover, they also contain the bright and shadow qualities of the Mother archetype. These also influence their behavior.

Essentially, you voted for the candidate who made you feel more protected and safe. You did that because you associate safety and protection with the Mother and Father archetypes embedded in your psyche. Snakes don’t have an archetype for Mother or Father. The female simply lays her eggs and slithers away, leaving her little snakelings to fend for themselves, and the babies do that just fine without ever knowing they lack anything.  But we humans hang around to protect our young because we instinctively know their survival depends on our nurturance of them. Mother and Father are mental images of our instinct for nurturance. When you were young, your parents were your whole world. Their ability to satisfy your instinctual needs and the quality of their care and love influenced your thoughts, attitudes, and behavior and still do. You probably chose your life partner based on their influence without even knowing it. Do you see the power your archetypes have over you? They’re what make us human, with all our heart-breaking vulnerability, crude folly, and exquisite beauty.

Archetypes are mental images of your physical instincts. They don’t have egos or consciences. They are nature, like animals who simply follow their instincts. Humans are nature too, but we’ve bitten the apple, so we think in terms of good and evil. When you created your self-image as a child, you left out parts of yourself you didn’t like or were taught to think of as bad. But they didn’t go away. What you disowned grew stronger in your unconscious. It’s still there, and it still causes painful conflicts. To resolve your conflicts, you need to accept that you don’t know everything about yourself, recognize your shadow when it shows up, and allow it to humble you instead of projecting it onto others. Then you can choose not to act on your negative impulses.

Your Mother and Father archetypes are your soul’s sovereigns. When healthy, they serve humanity’s need to nurture and be nurtured. Ideally, Mother compassionately protects and serves the physical, psychological, social, and emotional welfare of all that is young, new, innocent, needy, and vulnerable. Father nurtures by perfecting his skills and promoting his selfhood to become a just and morally virtuous leader who provides group stability and sees to the needs of all who depend on him. Together, Mother and Father work to provide the comfort and safety you, your family, and your community need, while encouraging the fullest development of your mature selfhood. Sometimes you act more from your Mother archetype; other times from your Father. But in the big picture, it doesn’t matter. You need them both. Does it make any sense at all to repress one of your soul’s twins because you associate it with gender?

My new book, The Soul’s Twins, describes four archetypal pairs:

  • Mother and Father represent your instinct for nurturance. They seek lawful order and moral virtue.
  • Queen and Warrior represent your instinct for activity. They seek power and success.
  • Mediatrix and Sage represent the instinct for reflection. They seek release from delusion.
  • Beloved and Lover represent the instinct for sex. They seek love and pleasure.

These feminine and masculine pairs are what I call your “soul’s twins”. This book is your personal guide. It will help you distinguish which archetypes are essential to your soul’s purpose, which need more attention, and which are content to stay quiet. Examples from mythology and history illustrate how the archetypes have played out in the lives of others. Suggested exercises help you take steps to change what isn’t working. This knowledge will guide you toward healthier relationships with yourself and others.

As you acknowledge your archetypal twins, embrace their strengths, gentle their shadows, and integrate them into your awareness, a new image for your fifth instinct, the instinct for creativity, gradually emerges at the center of your psyche. This archetype is the Couple, a new name for your spiritual center and your whole, authentic Self. The goal of the Couple is conscious oneness in loving relationships. Evolving into the Couple’s unitive consciousness is your reason for living, your magnum opus, your gift to humanity, and your path to individuation, wholeness, and enlightenment.

Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at KoboBarnes And Noble and Smashwords. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications.com. Her new book, The Soul’s Twins, is available at Schiffer, Red Feather Mind, Body, Spirit and wherever books are sold. Subscribe to her newsletter at www.jeanbenedictraffa.com.

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22 Responses

  1. Dear Jeanie,

    Thank you for shining light on these archetypal parents! Your book positively illuminates that by rejecting my personal father as I grew up, without realising it, I was rejecting my archetypal father too! Hence, I’m no longer surprised that I scored 5 for Mother and 0 for Father, and 5 for Mediatrix and 0 for Sage by using your amazing Partnership Profile tool. It makes so much more sense to me now as my alcoholic, violent, crazy father was very much and remains a Shadow Father and Shadow Sage who believed he was/is “Jesus” incarnate.

    Just to offer a flavour, I grew up in a house with its walls covered with my father’s religious murals, the largest of which “Jesus”, in the likeness of my father, was painted in the middle of the living room … with eyes that followed us everywhere. To say I hated him was an understatement and that had a huge impact with my relationship with men pretty much up until I began to approach midlife. Thankfully, I became aware of this and worked deeply on this but now I sense that it’s time to heal my relationship with my archetypal father too!

    Yes, there’s more to these archetypes than we learn from our parents but oh my god, don’t they have such a huge impact on a child too! This knowledge translates well into my therapy work as when I meet with clients who hold highly-flavoured feelings towards the masculine and feminine in themselves and others, I can explore such issues through more of a Jungian lens which your wonderful books offer, which is where my soul is turning towards more and more these days. Is it too late to train as a Jungian Analyst I wonder?!

    Hmm, with such a strong Mother score, I’m not surprised I became a poet and a psychotherapist with all that looking after, giving birth and nurturing so many others in both roles. Lastly, at the weekend, after a swift read, I’ve finished reading your brilliant book but now will return to the beginning for a slower, deeper read. One I shall dip into as I begin to dig further into the Partnership Profile. Lastly, I love all the images you’ve used in your new book, especially those little dancing bears, who embrace each other with love!

    Love and light, Deborah

  2. Oh, Deborah. I read your comment and thought, “Yes! Yes, yes!! Someone gets it!”

    What a pleasure it is to know that I’ve been able to convey the very real power of these inner forces to another person. This is such a difficult concept for all of us. We’re not used to distinguishing between our subjective egos and the objective contents of our collective unconscious. We don’t see them as something separate from our ego selves when they make themselves known to us in images of the type that must have comprised your father’s murals. Our egos think it’s all coming from “us” and is all about our egos. Some of the stuff that comes up can make us feel terribly ashamed, or alternatively, super-humanly powerful. It’s only a very strong and healthy ego that can resist the temptation to identify with it and act on it.

    As you know, Jung’s brilliant discovery was that It’s only when we identify with the archetypal image, as your father did, instead of accepting it as a separate god-like entity, that it can possess our ego and wreak havoc in our life. I think the reason you of all people understand this so well is because of your fortunate discovery of Jung in midlife. This prepared you to be able to see the difference between your personal father and the Father archetype. That, plus you must have had an inordinate amount of ego strength even as a girl to be able to separate yourself from your father’s toxic influence.

    I’ve been rereading “Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious” in Vol. 9, 1 of Jung’s collected works and ran across this comment just a day or so ago:

    “Archetypes are complexes of experiences that come upon us like fate, and their effects are felt in our most personal life. . . When, for instance, a highly esteemed professor in his seventies abandons his family and runs off with a young red-headed actress, we know that the gods have claimed another victim. This is how daemonic power reveals itself to us. Until not so long ago it would have been an easy matter to do away with the young woman as a witch.”(par. 62)

    You write, “Yes, there’s more to these archetypes than we learn from our parents but oh my god, don’t they have such a huge impact on a child too!” This is the most painful part of all for me. To see how innocent children can be so deeply wounded by parents with no understanding of the destructive power of their unconscious selves, and to know what a difficult journey these children will have to make to reclaim their true and innocent souls, freed from the shadows of the archetypes.

    You have certainly found your calling as a poet and psychotherapist. I think the inner work you’ve done on your own to reclaim your soul, and now, the work you do with your clients to help them reclaim theirs, is brilliant. Thank you for sharing your story with me and the others who will read these words.

    Love, Jeanie

  3. P.S. Someone else saw this image of what I’ve always called “dancing bears” and remarked that they look more like coyotes or dogs…. That may be so. I’m not sure pre-columbian people in the southern hemisphere ever saw bears! 🙂

    1. I just looked it up and there is and was a bear species in South America in the pre-columbian era called a spectacled bear! Maybe that’s what these are!!

      1. Yes, yes, yes! You’ve conveyed the very real power of those inner forces so well Jeanie in “The Soul’s Twins” book! I simply had no idea of how I had grown up without connecting to an archetypal father and how I spent years avoiding, ranting and ignoring Him … which makes me want to cry because somehow what’s coming up for me is a deeply religious feeling, even though I would swear to you that I’m not religious at all … but it seems that I am. I hope that makes sense!
        Indeed, my father’s ego identified strongly with his religious murals … which makes sense to me as surely a problem with God is really a problem with the Self? Hmm, I’m not sure about having lots of ego strength but my hatred for him as a child was very strong. I just knew he was bad and I never believed his lies. If you’ve read my first collection you’ll find many poems about our relationship which I must reread and cast Him in the archetypal father role because there is so much more for me to dig into I feel.

        Great quote by Jung, so fitting! And this … “This is the most painful part of all for me. To see how innocent children can be so deeply wounded by parents with no understanding of the destructive power of their unconscious selves, and to know what a difficult journey these children will have to make to reclaim their true and innocent souls, freed from the shadows of the archetypes.” I couldn’t off said it any better! Thank you so much for helping me turn towards the archetypal father and perhaps even back to God Himself. Wow! Did I write those words …

        Ha-Ha! Well, let’s call them “spectacular” bears and be done with it!

        1. Hahahaha! Spectacular dancing bears they are and shall be from now on!!

          The fact that you are not religious at all, yet find that what’s coming up for you is a deeply religious feeling makes perfect sense to me!! Here’s what I know about myself. Six years after my father died, I replaced my human father with my heavenly (archetypal) father whom I adored every bit as much as I adored my human one, and onto whom I projected my earthly father by answering an altar call at a Billy Graham crusade. I know now that I needed a Father to keep me safe in a world dominated by males. He served me quite well, until he didn’t. Luckily, I found Jung who then bore my projection of my Father archetype, numinous feelings and all. I’m still in the process of reclaiming that archetype, a part of the Self, for myself. This book has helped me do that. You may have noticed that it’s inffused with numinous feeling. 🙂

          Much love, Jeanie

          1. That’s it! After the disappointment of my personal father and subsequent abandonment of my archetypal Father I gave up on the masculine … until I too met Jung in midlife and unconsciously projected both father and Father onto him/Him! No wonder I would tell my friends “He’s the only man for me!” Hmm, so now I’ve woken up to these insights and find myself in a similar place … having to reclaiming the archetypal Father for myself!

            No wonder I feel deeply religious around this issue as I’m finally exploring my father/Father/masculine mystery! And no wonder I wrote “The Animus Diet” which focuses on finding balance between our feminine and masculine sides … because what better way to engage the Father archetype than to write a book! Wow, what huge insights I’ve gained from our conversation! Thank you Jeanie for helping me dig even further into my own mystery.

  4. Thank you so much Jeanie, I read your post in the earlier hours of the morning and now it is well into the evening after a busy day and there is peace and quiet with time to re-read this more slowly – there is a glowing moon above the trees, while I sit on the patio of the townhouse – my ex study is now my son’s studio. He and my daughter-in-law flew down to Cape Town today, my husband is away back tomorrow evening and time is my own.

    I’ve often wondered if in some way I married my father. Which I have in the past said to my husband – and also that in some way he married his mother, ie me. I do know that at the age of 21 I knew that I did not want to be like my father any longer; aloof, intellectual, reserved. That there was another side of me that needed to go deeper and experience more of life. I can’t say I shrugged him off, I am quite certain I retain many of his qualities which I like to believe serve me well. I had two brief-ish engagements before my husband’s and my long 5 year relationship and subsequent marriage. Those two dear men were so like my father, no wonder he approved of them!

    Sovereign archetypes indeed. We can learn so much from our parents – see what fits what doesn’t. Just yesterday my sweet daughter-in-law and I were talking about the possibility of my son and she having children, whether to have them close together – and get it over with 🙂 – my two cents worth were that a child does not have the emotional or whatever wherewithal to be dethroned by a sibling at a very young age. She was saying that her family was a very traditional and loving one, her parents meant what they said, no white noise. She said when she was very naughty she would be smacked and her parents would say it is for your own good. We don’t want to hurt you, it’s for your own good. She said that this never made sense to her at all … how could it?! Much talking about potential parenting .. and the backdrop to it all … grandparents their etc .. I emphasised the importance of not passing on our own baggage to our children.

    it is an art to articulate The Soul’s Twins so clearly Jeanie and makes me keen to do the profile, which I will in due course. For the moment I’m reminded of Rollo May’s book The Cry for Myth … I don’t have it to hand, it’s at ‘home’ in Plettenberg Bay … it’s a lovely book.

    I much enjoyed yours and Deborah’s comments thank you both for them. They are illuminating. I wonder if that course we both did long ago (for me around 1985 or so) with the files and interviews and audio tapes with commentaries by Jungian analysts is still available. I can’t remember the name of that US course. It’s at home, I’ll let her know when I’m back sometime next week. Deborah may find that of value? Center – for something …? Center for Jungian Studies?

    Love, Susan

    1. Aaah, yes, Susan. It was called Centerpoint! It was a fabulous in-depth study of Jungian psychology that opened up the whole new world of my unconscious to me. I lapped it up like a parched desert wanderer who comes upon an oasis. That organization ended up being split apart. One part of it actually is centered in Orlando, but the man who “owned” the rights to the name and I think materials was quite elderly when I spoke to him several years ago and as far as I know he’s passed and his program is inactive. I don’t know what happened to the other part. Too bad. It was a brilliant teaching tool.

      I, too, often thought I married my father, whom I lost at the age of ten, and he married his mother, whom he lost at the age of five. The parental projections we made onto each other have formed the essence of our work together over the years. We’re still working and learning. 🙂 I’m so grateful to Jung for giving me the mental framework and tools to guide me through my work and relationships.

      My son has also said he married his mother, but I would say that although we have many qualities in common, she was a far wiser and more prepared and balanced mother to her children than I ever knew how to be. I wish I had known what she knows when I became a mother.

      I can’t wait for you to be able to get your hands on my book and take the Partnership Profile. I so look forward to hearing about your experience with it.

      Much love,

      Jeanie

      1. Thanks Jeanie so much. I can’t but be amazed at synchronicity doing her thing … I met with a dear girlfriend this morning for coffee and this is precisely what she was talking about, her difficulties with her husband and how like her late father he is … what a huge thing it was to talk about in limited time. Barely scratched the surface – but she spoke about finding her voice and seeing things more clearly now and how she’s always been the peacemaker although being gaslighted in the process … words to that effect. Love, Susan

        1. It really is amazing how meaningful coincidences — comments from friends, events, symbols, messages from our books or computers — come to our attention when we’re focused on a certain aspect of our lives that’s very important to us. The more we pay attention to what we’re thinking, the more it happens. We really are deeply connected to others and we can see that connection by engaging our awareness and imagination.

          Your friend’s theme of being the peacemaker in her relationship and being gaslighted and finding her voice is particularly relevant to women in our time. I’ve just been reading and thinking about it myself. The fact that it comes up so often tells me that things are stirring up in the collective unconscious to bring this very ancient and dysfunctional habitual relationship pattern between men and women to light at last.

          We need to carry this awareness in our consciousness so we can identify it when it happens and find new ways to respond. It’s not good for anyone on either side of a relationship. We need to share what we learn, talk about it, write about it. The more people engage, the sooner new healing solutions will emerge. Good for your friend that she’s seeing it. Good for you that you were there to listen. And good for us that we’re talking about it here! 🙂

          Love, Jeanie

  5. I am in such high feeling as I read your post(s) as I also began to read your “The Soul’s Twins”. And now, I enjoy your comments and Deborah’s, just fascinating!
    My relationship with my father was short (he died when I was just seven years old). My father was an inveterate writer, therefore, he had no time to take part in our (Al, my brother, and me) upbringing. That was our mother’s job. My mother wished to have a daughter, and as I was the latest son child, she accepted me instead. Therefore, my anima grows severely. I learned a lot from her, as I have a lot from her. And of course, from my Dad too. But from Mother mostly. And Al had it another way round: mostly from our father. Anyway, I will try to find more time to write about it, but now, I keep learning, learning and learning. Blessing.

    1. You write of another ancient common relationship pattern, this one between parents and children: parents relating differently to different children, bringing out different archetypal energies in them, not necessarily based on the children’s true inclinations, but on the parent’s own unmet needs and expectations. Father’s daughters, mama’s boys, favorite sons, black sheep, etc. Parents have so much unconscious influence on their children, and we all, parent and child alike, have so very much to learn about ourselves and our relationships with our parents and each other.

      Thank you so much for your interest in “The Soul’s Twins.” I hope you will gain some valuable, practical insights from it. My purpose in writing it was to contribute to our understanding of relationships by bringing certain unconscious archetypal forces into our awareness. As you know well from your studies, there are numberless archetypes. Some seem to have personalities that we can relate to, like the ones you see in my book. These are also the subjects of myths and legends.

      But there are many other kinds, for example those that deal with processes of transformation, those that pertain to nature and the elements, and so on. Although the archetypes themselves are essentially unknowable, we can recognize their presence in collective, cultural and personal images and symbols, and also in the strong emotions they carry. The fact that you are in “such high feeling” as you read these posts suggests to me that you’ve been gripped by an archetype or archetypes. It sounds as if you’re getting an idea of which ones!! 🙂 Blessings on you as you open to more learning, growth, and change. It’s an exciting journey.

      1. I thank You, my dear teacher. I read a lot of truth in your words. And as you say; I have gripped more than one Archetype, it might because of my traumatic childhood. As I’ve learned to change my character so often, and therefore, I was very successful later in the theater. Though it is a long story 😉. And I promise to keep learning. 🙏💖💖

  6. Deborah, WordPress won’t let me respond immediately after your third comment above so I’m doing it here. You wrote:

    “Hmm, so now I’ve woken up to these insights and find myself in a similar place … having to reclaiming the archetypal Father for myself! No wonder I feel deeply religious around this issue as I’m finally exploring my father/Father/masculine mystery! And no wonder I wrote “The Animus Diet” which focuses on finding balance between our feminine and masculine sides … because what better way to engage the Father archetype than to write a book! Wow, what huge insights I’ve gained from our conversation! Thank you Jeanie for helping me dig even further into my own mystery.”

    Yes. I too, have written my books to clarify the mystery of my feminine and masculine sides, and ultimately their integration in union in the Sacred Self, my God-image. And through of it all, my “religious” sense, my sense of the presence of the sacred in my life, has been growing. It feels like a homecoming.

    Each book contained pieces of the unconscious puzzle I was uncovering in an effort to understand the mystery of myself and my growth up to that time. I always felt good about what I had learned up to that time, but in retrospect I can say that I had little idea of the big picture I was bringing to light; I just knew I had to write about what felt pressing. Now I can see how each book represents a new level of awareness. It not only connects me to the previous levels, but also prepares the way for the next, whatever that may be.

    I would suggest that’s true of you as well. Every stage of your growth throughout your life has led you to this next step of re-membering your dis-membered masculine side and re-connecting it with your feminine side. Uncovering your mystery and coming home to your true, pure, soul.

    As I wrote “your true, pure soul” just now I had a flashback to a very strange dream I had the night before last and worked on yesterday. I want to to tell it here because it goes along so well with what we’re talking about, but I’m afraid it’s too long for a comment. It occurs to me however, that it might make a good blog post for next week! So I’ll save it for then. Much love on your bold, courageous adventure. Jeanie

    1. “I would suggest that’s true of you as well. Every stage of your growth throughout your life has led you to this next step of re-membering your dis-membered masculine side and re-connecting it with your feminine side. Uncovering your mystery and coming home to your true, pure, soul.”

      Yes! Yes, yes! Thank you so much Jeanie for your kind-hearted and generous reply! Re-membering my dis-membered masculine side is exactly what the last five years of my life has all been about … even down to starting my poetry and Jungian thought blog in 2015. I just had to put myself and my journey, my heart, my soul out there!

      This “religious” feeling is new to me, well, not exactly brand new but it feels like it was a lifetime ago when I left the church in anger … hating both my personal and archetypal Father. This is so exciting for me to explore! It feels like although I dipped out on my personal father, I get a second opportunity with my archetypal Father.

      I’m very much looking forward to re-reading your “The Soul’s Twins” book in the coming days and weeks … and hearing all about your recent dream next week. In sisterhood and in soul, Deborah.

      1. Oh, and a huge thank you goes out to Susan and Aladin! I loved reading your wonderful, in-depth comments and have noted “Centerpoint” perhaps this could be a way forward as the Jungian Dream Group I attended for over a decade sadly disbanded two years ago now … and I miss this rich, symbolic loving community of fellow dreamers so much. Or maybe, I’ll start my own “in person” Jungian themed Dream Group after things settle down following the pandemic. Maybe, we’ll see.

      2. As to the “religious” feeling, the journey to individuation is both a psychological and spiritual journey. As you heal yourself, you heal the artificial divide between psyche and spirit, psychology and religion. They have always been one. It’s just taken us a long time to figure that out! Hopefully, academia will come to that realization one day too. Love and blessings.

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